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20 Manga Must-Sees / Must-Do's at San Diego Comic-Con 2009

By July 21, 2009

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It's that time of year again, when comics, manga, movies, sci-fi, TV and pop culture fanatics, movie stars, comics creators and animators from all over the U.S. and around the world make their annual pilgrimage to Southern California for San Diego Comic-Con International 2009.

The fun kicks off on Wednesday night, July 22 with Preview Night, then keeps going from Thursday, July 23 through Sunday, July 26 as over 125,000 fans will be grabbing schwag at the exhibit hall, queueing up for panels, cheering for the stars of their favorite TV shows or upcoming movies, oohing and ahhing over the latest comics, manga, video games, collectible toys or that one-of-a-kind piece of art by the artists, cartoonists, animators and illustrators who make Comic-Con the must-see event of the season.

There's always lots to see at Comic-Con, and this year's line-up is no different. While manga and anime isn't the sole focus of this show, there are many must-see events that manga readers should definitely make time to check out. Here's my list of 20 Must-Sees / Must-Do's for the weekend.

#1 - Make a game attempt to see Hayao Miyazaki in person

  • Friday, July 24, 12:45 pm - 2:15 pm at Hall H
  • Friday, July 24, 8:00 pm (doors open at 7:00 pm) at the Pacific Gaslamp 15 Theaters at 701 5th Ave.
In anime and manga circles, Hayao Miyazaki almost needs no introduction -- but hey, being the creator of beloved animated classics like My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and his latest U.S. release, Ponyo can do that for a guy. That's why the Disney Animation panel (featuring other luminaries from the House of Mouse including John Lasseter) is sure to be a heavily-attended affair that will require some advance preparation from you.

First of all, don't try to go to Hall H at 12:45 pm. You won't get in. Trust me. If you're serious about seeing Miyazaki-sensei, start camping out now -- or at least as early as you can bear standing in line on Friday morning, and ask yourself: when's the next time you'll ever get to see this guy talk in the U.S.? I rest my case.

UPDATE: If you miss seeing Miyazaki-sensei at this panel appearance, you've got one more shot. He'll be introducing the Friday evening screening of Ponyo at the nearby Pacific Gaslamp 15 theaters at 701 5th Ave. (cross street: G Street). Doors open at 7:00 pm. It's first come, first-in, so no tickets will be distributed beforehand. Good luck!

#2 - Meet Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei, creators of Ultimo

  • 10:30 am - 11:30 am at Shonen Jump Panel, Room 10
  • 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm at VIZ Media Booth #2813
A momentous meeting of cross-cultural comics creators will happen at Comic-Con, as legendary American comics creator Stan Lee and Japanese manga-ka Hiroyuki Takei (Shaman King) join forces to promote their co-creation, Ultimo. Get there early for the panel, because seats are limited and you don't want to miss this one.

Want to get a souvenir from this event? The first 40 fans to purchase the July 2009 issue of Shonen Jump magazine (featuring Ultimo on the cover) from the VIZ Media retail shop in booth 2813 every day from Wednesday through Friday will receive a ticket to meet these comics creators and have their issue autographed by Mr. Lee and Takei-sensei on Friday afternoon.

There's lots more going on at the VIZ Media booth, including tons of giveaways, games and much more. Check out VIZ Media's San Diego Comic-Con schedule for more info.

#3 - Check out the Women in Manga Panel with editors from VIZ, TokyoPop and Yen Press

  • Saturday, July 25, 10:00 am - 11:00 pm, Room 24A
We're here and we're not going away. Yes fanboy, get used to it -- girls read, buy and make comics, and the arrival of manga in the American comics market has had a lot to do with it. See what editors JuYoun Lee (Yen Press), Lillian Diaz-Pryzbyl (TokyoPop), Leyla Acker (VIZ Media), artist Becky Cloonan (Pixu, Demo), librarian, author and graphic novel evangelist Robin Brenner and I have to say on this hot n' timely Comic-Con 2009 topic.

#4 - Get a sneak peek of the Astro Boy movie, and see the Q&A session with the director, the producer and the stars of this film

  • Thursday, July 23 - 10:15 am - 11:15 am at Astro Boy Panel, Room 6BCF
  • Thursday, July 23 - 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm at Summit Entertainment Preview, Hall H
  • All weekend long at Imagi Studios Booth 3635, at Summit Entertainment Booth 3920 and D3 Publisher Booth 5233
Kick off your Comic-Con weekend with an exclusive preview clip from this Fall flick from Summit Entertainment and Imagi Studios featuring a very different, updated version of Osamu Tezuka's iconic robot boy, Astro Boy . Get the inside scoop on the making of this film with director David Bowers and producer Maryanne Grager with stars Freddy Highmore (Astro) and Kristen Bell (Cora) -- wait, Cora? Who's Cora? We'll find out then, I guess!

Also, visit the Imagi Studios booth to see clips from Astro Boy and Gatchaman, their other upcoming 3D-animated feature film based on the Tatsunoko Studios anime from years gone by. D3 Publishers will be previewing the new Astro Boy video games too.

#5 - Hop on the IKKI Train at the panel and launch party

  • Saturday, July 25, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm, Room 3
  • Saturday, July 25, 3:00 - 5:00 pm at the San Diego Railroad Museum
Well, I'm talking figuratively of course, since VIZ Media's IKKI launch party will be held at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in nearby Balboa Park. Take a break from the convention center madness and schmooze with both the Japanese and American editors of IKKI manga, including founding editor Hideki Egami and Yuji Sato, editor of Bokurano: Ours, Kingyo Used Books, and I'll Give It My All...Tomorrow.

And if that wasn't enough, check out some of the incredibly cool schwag that they'll be giving away at this soiree. Getting there is easy - just hop on the trolley that'll be picking up party people in front of the Marriott Hotel fountain (adjacent to the convention center).

If you haven't already check out some of the innovative and interesting manga that's coming your way from IKKI, go to sigikki.com now. You won't be sorry.

#6 -Get your copy of Maximum Ride signed by NaRae Lee

  • Friday, July 24, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm at Yen Press Booth #1116 - 1120
She came all the way from Korea to see you, so the least you could do is give manhwa creator NaRae Lee a rousing welcome to her first Comic-Con. Bring your copy of Maximum Ride with you, or get your free copy of the August issue of Yen Plus signed. If you're lucky and you ask very nicely, she just might draw something for you. Either way, it's sure to be a cool momento of your visit to Comic-Con that's well worth standing in line for.

#7 - Meet Yoshinori Natsume, creator of Togari and artist of Batman: Death Mask

  • Thursday, July 23: 11:00 am - 12:00 noon at the CMX / DC Comics booth 1915
  • Friday, July 24: 2:00 -3:00 pm at the CMX / DC Comics booth 1915
  • Saturday, July 25: 3:00 - 4:00 pm at the CMX / DC Comics booth 1915
  • Sunday, July 26: 12:30 - 1:30 pm at the CMX / DC Comics booth 1915
You'll get several chances to meet Natsume-sensei, and it's a good thing you will, because several of his appearances directly conflict with some of the other manga must-sees on this list. Natsume-sensei will be amidst all the mayhem at the DC Comics / Wildstorm booth, so represent for manga fandom and give him a big Comic-Con welcome!

While you're at booth 1915, pick up your copy of the latest CMX Manga sampler. It's chock full of manga goodness, including sample chapters from Broken Blade, Oh! My Brother, and lots more. Also, be sure to check out CMX Manga's Sunday morning panel from 11:00 am - 12 noon in Room 4 to see what's new and coming soon for the rest of 2009 and onwards into 2010.

#8 -Represent for manga at the Will Eisner Awards

  • Friday, July 24, 8:30 pm - 11:00 pm at the Indigo Ballroom in the Hilton Bayfront Hotel
Monster by Naoki Urasawa. Cat-Eyed Boy by Kazuo Umezu. The Quest for the Missing Girl by Jiro Taniguchi. Dororo by Osamu Tezuka. Solanin by Asano Inio. Which of these five nominees will take home the Eisner Award for the Best U.S. Edition of International Material - Japan, the category that ensures that every year at least one manga title takes home a prize? You'll just have to attend that night's ceremony to find out first and see if COWA! by Akira Toriyama, Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi pick up awards in other categories or even "Murder He Wrote," a Simpsons' Halloween story by Nina Matsumoto (Yokaiden) Ian Boothby and Andrew Pepoy takes home an Eisner for the Best Short Story.

#9 -Get a free copy of Yokaiden and get it signed by Nina Matsumoto

  • Saturday, July 25, 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm at the Del Rey Manga booth 1128
Speaking of Nina Matsumoto and Yokaiden, you can meet this Canadian comics creator in person at the Del Rey Manga booth on Saturday afternoon. Get your copy of her hilarious supernatural adventure manga signed, or if you've forgotten to bring it, not to worry! Del Rey Manga is giving them away for this autograph session. Such a deal, right?

#10 - Score some schwag From Yen Press at their booth and their panel

  • Friday, July 24 - 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm at Room 4
  • All weekend long at the Yen Press Booth 1116-1120
If you've ever been to a Yen Press panel, you know that they can be raucous, fun affairs where new, drool-worthy manga titles are announced, punctuated by the occasional giveaway and PowerPoint mishap. They've already announced the addition of Black Butler (a.k.a. Kuroshitsuji) to the pages of Yen Plus, and gave vampire fans lots to drool over with last week's announcement of the upcoming Twilight graphic novels. What else do they have up their sleeves? You'll just have to check out this panel to find out.

Even if you can't make it to the panel, head over to Yen Press' booth at 1116 - 1120 to pick up your free copy of the August 2009 issue of Yen Plus, with Black Butler and Maximum Ride on the cover.

#11 - Find out what were the Best and Worst Manga of 2008 - 2009

  • Thursday, July 23 - 4:30 pm -5:30 pm , Room 3
It isn't exactly the Eisner Awards, but there certainly has been lot of great new manga that has come out between now and the last Comic-Con. Catch up with the best manga worth reading, and some of the worst that deserve a quick trip to the recycle bin with publishing pundits Jason Thompson (Manga: The Complete Guide, Otaku USA), Kai-Ming Cha (Publisher's Weekly), Eva Volin (Chair, YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens), Ed Chavez (Vertical Inc.) and me, as Gia Manry of Anime Vice fame keeps us all in check.

#12 - Discover how manga gets "Lost in Translation"

  • Thursday, July 23, 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm in Room 3
Stick around after the Best and Worst Manga panel for a lively roundtable featuring the unsung heroes of the manga publishing world, the translators. William Flanagan (xxxHOLiC), Jonathan Tarbox (Black Cat), Jason Thompson (Manga: The Complete Guide), Mari Morimoto (Naruto), Stephen Paul (Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad), Mark Simmons (Consultant for Bandai Entertainment) and Julie Davis (former editor-in-chief of Animerica Magazine) all share harrowing tales of deciphering the sometimes inscrutable Japanese sense of humor for American readers and other unique challenges that come with their job.

#13 - Take a shot at getting your copy of Trigun autographed by Yasuhiro Nightow

  • Friday, July 24 - 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm at Dark Horse booth 2615
So you say you missed your chance to meet Nightow-sensei at Anime Expo 2009? Well, here's another chance for you to tell him how much you love Vash the Stampede and how excited you are about the upcoming Trigun animated movie.

But before you stand in line for this, take note! This is a ticketed event, which means (if Dark Horse is handling things the same way as last year) you'll need to go to the Dark Horse booth prior to the signing, pick up a numbered ticket, then return later to see if your number was pulled and posted. Only these lucky pre-designated winners will be able to stand in line to meet Nightow-sensei. Make sense?

Of course, you should check with the Dark Horse staff members on site to confirm all this once you're at the Con and grab one of those new "eco-friendly" Dark Horse tote bags while you're there. Also, check out Dark Horse's schedule of other scheduled signings and events at Comic-Con.

#14 - Be the first on your block to pick up the latest Jiro Taniguchi graphic novels from Fanfare-Ponent Mon

  • All weekend long at Fanfare - Ponent Mon booth 2102
Fanfare publisher Stephen Robson has promised fans their first crack at Fanfare-Ponent Mon's two newest releases, A Distant Neighborhood Volume 1 and Summit of the Gods Volume 1, both by manga master Jiro Taniguchi. But get there early -- He's only bringing a limited amount from an express shipment from their overseas printer. If you want your copy of these two astonishingly beautiful books, make a point in your Exhibit Hall travels to get there sooner than later.

#15 - See what's new and coming soon from VIZ Media in 2010

  • Friday, July 24 - 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm at Room 32AB
So you want to know more about the new Shonen Sunday online magazine? Curious about what hot new VIZ Signature, Shojo Beat or VIZ Kids titles will be coming out in the coming year? Dying to know about which anime will be released next? The answers to all of these questions and more will be revealed at Friday afternoon's VIZ Media panel. All I can say is that it must be lots of good stuff if they need an hour and a half to share it all. If past VIZ Comic-Con panels are any indicator, this should, indeed be worth your while to check out.

#16 - Play some games for prizes, sing a song, grab some freebies and see what's new at TokyoPop

  • All weekend long at TokyoPop booth 2400
Play a game of Dai Hin Min (the favorite game of the Sohma Family of Fruits Basket fame), take home Exclusive SDCC posters featuring Fruits Basket, Domo, Warcraft and Princess Ai, sing a little Princess Ai karaoke, and if you're one of the first 25 people to buy manga from TokyoPop's retail shop on any given day of the show, you'll get a free t-shirt. Visit the TokyoPop booth for a complete schedule or check out TokyoPop.com's list of SDCC events.

#17 - See the Street Fightin' men of Udon Entertainment in action

  • All weekend long at Udon Entertainment - booth 5112
No, they aren't going to wrassle, but Udon artists Omar Dogan, Chamba, Joe Ng, Long Vo, Eric Vedder and Alex Milne will be throwin' down Street Fighter sketches and taking commissions all weekend long as they impress gamers who are checking out the video game action at the nearby Capcom booth.

While you're there, pick up your copy of the new Darkstalkers Tribute artbook. It's been selling out fast at the last few cons that the Udon crew has been at, so make tracks to booth 5112 'lest you be sent home emptyhanded.

#18 - See what's new and coming soon from Del Rey Manga

  • Saturday, July 25 - 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm at Room 4
  • All weekend long at the Del Rey Manga Booth 1128
With the recent release of the shonen manga-influenced Wolverine: Prodigal Son and the imminent release of the shojo manga-influenced X-Men: Misfits and Moyasimon in the months to come, what will Del Rey Manga be revealing to fans at their Saturday afternoon panel? Probably something good, but you'll have to hang out on Saturday to see what Associate Publisher Dallas Middaugh, Marketing dude Ali Kokmen and the rest of the Del Rey crew are going to throw (sometimes literally!) our way.

Even if you miss this panel, stop by the Del Rey Manga booth for assorted freebies, including the latest edition of their preview sampler.

#19 - Celebrate 25 years of Usagi Yojimbo with Stan Sakai

  • Friday, July 24 - 10:00 am - 11:00 am Autograph session at Dark Horse booth 2615
  • Saturday, July 25 - 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm at the "Graphic Novels: Sense of History" panel at Room 8
  • Sunday, July 26 - 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm at the 25 Years of Usagi Yojimbo Spotlight Panel at Room 8
  • All weekend long at Stan Sakai's booth 4906
It's hard to believe, but Stan Sakai's wandering swordsman… uhm, swords-rabbit for hire has been around for a quarter century! An Inkpot award, several Eisner Awards and too many other honors to mention later, Sakai is still going strong, with his upcoming full-color graphic novel Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai due in the stores in Fall 2009. Find out more about Sakai's creative process and how his attention to historical detail has influenced Usagi's past, present and future adventures.

#20 - Check out what Bandai Entertainment has up their sleeves

  • Thursday, July 23 - 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm at Room 3
Bandai is well-known for their releases of fan-favorite anime titles like Gurren Lagann, but did you know that they are a manga publisher too? This year alone, they've brought out manga editions of Code Geass, Lucky Star and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Hang out with the Bandai crew and see what they have planned for the rest of 2009 and beyond.

What? That's still not enough to do? Don't worry, I'll be posting daily "manga-centric" guides to what to do and see at Comic-Con each day. Also, if you're keen on getting the latest updates straight from the convention floor, follow me on Twitter, or get the Comic-Con wrap-up delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for my weekly newsletter. See you at the show!


July 21, 2009 at 9:35 pm
(1) Nichole says:

Will Hayao Miyazaki really be there on the 24th? :D

July 21, 2009 at 9:51 pm
(2) manga says:

Yes, indeed! I’m still trying to figure out how to make it to that panel, since I have a few schedule conflicts. @_@

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