After making it through Day 2, you would think that my convention experience had peaked! Surely after meeting comic greats like Dan Slott and Daniel Warren Johnson, and getting a sneak peek at the upcoming Dragon Ball Super movie, I would be content…right?
Nope! Saturday was chock full of even more amazing experiences, starting with my interview with Michael Kelly, Hasbro’s Vice President of Global Publishing.
Mr. Kelly was kind enough to lend me a few minutes of his precious time at San Diego Comic Con, and my first interest was to know what his vision was for the next generation of GI Joe and Transformers comics. For those that are unaware: the license for both of these properties is transferring out of IDW’s hands at the end of the year, so there’s some interest in who will be managing these properties in the years to come. When asked about his hope for the next generation of comics, Mr. Kelly had the following to say:
“We’re certainly looking forward to another great 15 years ahead of us. I think from my perspective what’s important is to really be able to capture that excitement of newness, if you will – Really get us back to the point of starting fresh and has a new perspective. At the same time both capturing our existing fans and giving them the things they get excited about and love about the brands, but also what’s really important for me is also engaging new fans – potentially younger audiences in some cases depending on the story that we’re telling but really get more people engaged in both Joe and Transformers as we go forward.”
Following up on the point of bringing in new fans while satisfying the core demographic, I asked what Hasbro’s strategies are in trying to walk that very thin line between welcoming in new fans while addressing the core fanbase.
“I think what’s really important when you’re trying to engage new fans while also satisfying existing fans is making sure you have a build where you’re introducing people to the concept of the brand: bringing new people on board by reintroducing characters. It’s not from an excitement or drama standpoint, but starting slowly in terms of the cast of characters. There’s so many characters in both Transformers and Joe that if you come out of the gate with all of them it becomes kind of confusing; so really building them up, giving them time to shine, getting people interested again, that’s the way we engage existing fans because they get to be reintroduced to some of their favorites, but also how we bring in new fans and saying here’s a small core of really great characters and then we build on that as we go.
The other thing of course is formats – we can certainly do comics directed at that core fan with more sophistication and reading, but then we can do other stories that are actually geared towards a younger audience and balance that with the heroism of the characters.”
After some…mixed reviews to say the least, I was curious to pick Mr. Kelly’s brain on the Snake Eyes movie, and what his thoughts were on the film:
“I enjoyed the Snake Eyes movie – really loved Henry Golding’s portrayal in the movie and thought that he hit that well. In terms of my involvement I would say my biggest contribution was introducing the filmmakers to Larry Hama and getting them to have great conversations with him which were helpful for both parties. As far as anything else is concerned I usually get asked for background on characters, things from the lore that they may or may not have done to keep characters faithful to their origins. In terms of plots and stories, I leave that to the Hollywood guys. *laughs*”
I closed the interview by asking Mr. Kelly what was on his agenda for the rest of the show:
“I always love getting out to artist alley and seeing the artists. For me that’s an important part of my trip because I love to scout out new talent and find people that would be a great fit for our comics and our books. I also love going down to the independent publishers and smaller groups just to see what people are telling stories about. Those two ends of the hall are where I’ll be spending most of my time today.”
Overall, it was a great chat, and as a Millennial that has fond memories of both Transformers and GI Joe burned deep into my subconscious, I left the conversation hopeful for the next iteration of comics for both of these franchises.
After my conversation with Mr. Kelly, I headed up to the IDW Panel to see what new goodies they had in store. The big takeaway from the panel was Kevin Eastman’s reveal of The Last Ronin: The Lost Years – a prequel series to the immensely popular Last Ronin series that helps fill in the gap and expand on many of the flashback sequences readers saw in the latter issues of the series.
The series will be arriving in November 2022, so keep an eye on your local comic shop for some more amazing turtle action later this year!
Now, fans of Comic Con know that the big guns come out on Saturday in Hall H. While we were unable to make it into Hall H for the “main events”, there was plenty of hype abound – from The Rock’s appearance at DC’s Hall H event, to The Sandman panel presented by Amazon Prime video, featuring Neil Gaiman and the cast of the highly anticipated series. Of course, Marvel’s Hall H panels are the stuff of legend, and this year’s presentation did not disappoint, as the trailers, previews, and phase layout ran the gamut of emotions – including a touching tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman:
There has already been tons of coverage and hype around Marvel’s plans for Phase 5 and 6, including an appearance by The High Evolutionary himself, a sneak peek at Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and much more.
While we were unable to partake in the legendary panels in Hall H, you all know that we here at The Geekly Grind are pretty serious Critters. So, we were very happy to be spending our Saturday evening at the Critical Role Q&A panel.
Christian Navarro of 13 Reasons Why fame headed up the panel, which featured the entire cast, minus the infamous Sam Riegel. After a brief reflection of all that’s changed since the last live Q&A panel, such as the conclusion of Campaign 2, the release of the animated series Legend of Vox Machina, and introduction to Campaign 3 and Bell’s Hells, the panel launched straight into the Q&A portion.
The questions ran the gamut – from funny hypothetical rosters of the Dallas Cowboys composed of Critical Role characters, to insightful commentary from Liam on how the presentation of Caleb’s trauma was important and purposeful.
The full video of the panel is due to be posted tomorrow, 7/28, but you can scroll through our Twitter feed for many of the highlights and answers.
Even though we had already done so many awesome things, the real highlight of our convention was yet to come: Lance (Roguesymbiote) and I had a chance to get dinner with some amazing podcasters – good friends that we’ve connected with over Twitter that included Chris Hacker of Oblivion Bar, Brandon and John of GalacticDads, and the legendary Lisa and Brad of Comic Book Couples Counseling.
We met up at an amazing mexican food place called Lolita’s (San Diego natives know what that’s about!) and exchanged our comic book origin stories, convention memories, and hopes for the future of our respective outlets. It was a fantastic time and really reminded us of the value that exists within the comic podcasting community. Numbers were exchanged, plans for a panel next year were set, and we look forward to deepening this bond in the coming weeks and months.
And so our Saturday came to a close. Lance and I had already seen and done so much – but we still had one more day ahead of us! Stay tuned for our Day 4 recap of San Diego Comic Con!