Attending Comic-Con International can certainly be about granting the imagination carte blanche to explore every fevered dream and act out the most outlandish childhood fantasies.
But there also exist opportunities — albeit typically overshadowed by the elaborate cosplaying and relentless corporate focus-testing — to think big thoughts and ruminate about where we’re all headed as a society.
While some will likely devote every waking moment of the weekend-long entertainment blitz (happening Thursday through Sunday) to stalking action movie stars or cable series regulars, many attendees will fill the rows of far-flung meeting rooms reserved for lively socio-political discourse. A few of the wonkier panels to pop up on HOH’s programming radar include:
Comics and STEM Education : Russell Shilling, the Department of Education official tasked with whipping up interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is scheduled to moderate a panel about harnessing the potential of comics and games.
Turning Science-Fiction Into Fact : What better way to chart a course for the next Final Frontier than tapping into boundless creativity and burning desire to boldly go where no man has gone before that courses through this community. Kevin Hand, deputy chief scientist for solar system exploration at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is on the hook for a spirited talk about infinity (and beyond).
The Secret History of Free Speech in Comics : Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Deputy Director Alex Cox will attempt to delineate the flight by censorship-wary contributors from traditional comics to subversive outlets — “giving artists a safe haven to openly deal with adult content, provide more horror and suspense, and be frank about sexuality,” the program guide suggests — such as Mad Magazine and Heavy Metal.
Queer Imagery in Animation : Having trouble wrapping your head around how to address the whole Caitlyn Jenner thing to young ones? A group of animators and advocates are slated to discuss the intersection of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender issues and modern cartoons.
Now, go get thy learn on.