Comics@SDSU Comic-Con Panel Reveals Exciting Future for Comic Studies

SDSU held a panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con about the upcoming Major and Minor in Comic Studies here at SDSU. It was such an exciting thing to witness, not only as my first time at SDCC, but also as a student at SDSU to see so many faculty speaking about comics in such a passionate and educational way. The panel structured how the upcoming curriculum would lay out as well as all the various focuses that can be selected within the Comics Studies area.


The faculty talked about how the long history of great artists that have been creating comics for 100’s of years had inspired them to look into this possible future education path. But it wasn’t until they all noticed that so many professors were making small, one off classes focused on pop culture and comics that they realized how viable this curriculum could be. 

During the pandemic, the staff spent months over Zoom putting together the curriculum to win SDSU’s Great Big Idea Program, a grant given to those projects that SDSU deems worth it. What they currently have created is 4 workshops open to the public (one a semester) with the aim of Fall 2024 to have one new Comic Studies Certificate. There are many different focuses revolving around comics such as censorship, global panic, and even the LGBTQ+ movement. The specific image below showcases the modern iterations of comics’ example of “Queer Coding”, which will be one of the focuses in an upcoming course.

If any of this is of interest, there is currently the Center for Comics Studies at San Diego State University which explores all types of comics through an analytical and research-oriented approach. Within SDSU’s library, you can have access to over 100,000 comics, learn about how comics can transform humanity, and even join an active student comics club. 

There are many exciting new programs coming to San Diego State University, and pretty soon Comic Studies will be jumping off the page and into the classroom.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, set to be fun romp through Roleplaying Games

It’s no secret that Dungeons and Dragons has made a significant return into popular media after its recent inclusion in hugely popular shows like Stranger Things and Critical Role. It’s thanks to these, and so many other passion projects, that D&D has become much less of a taboo topic and more of a welcomed piece of pop-culture. 

KCR was able to cover San Diego Comic-Con including the Hall H panel for the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves film. Not only that, I was able to experience the Tavern Experience that came to downtown San Diego as a promotion for the 2023 movie.

When I realized the D&D movie panel was going to be one the first day and held in Hall H, the largest hall at the SDCC Convention Center, I was excited to say the least. After sitting with an older woman who was dressed as a character from the 1999 cult-classic film The Mummy for two hours, the panel finally started. Being an avid fan of the tabletop roleplaying game already, I was cautiously optimistic to see what the creative team had to present to the audience of 6,000 people piled into that one room. What they had to showcase was entertaining, to say the least.

So after the creative heads make their entrance on the stage they introduce the cast… I was not even remotely prepared for the caliber of talent they have for this movie. The proceed to announce Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, and Hugh Grant making his Comic Con debut. You could tell the moment they hit the stage that everyone in the cast was excited to be a part of this project, even Hugh Grant despite most of his answers to questions showing that he may not be entirely sure what Dungeons and Dragons is. 


The end of the panel released a trailer for everyone in the hall that would then be released to the public after the panel was over. In addition to that there was a QR code for everyone in attendance to experience the D&D Tavern Experience without having to wait in line! A chance to pretend I’m in a fantasy bar and I get to a dragon themed drink, sign me up!


Once I followed the address to the correct location, I was staring at this massive building with large wood pillars and a giant logo for D&D; I think I made it to the right spot. When it was my turn to enter the tavern I was awestruck by just how much detail and effort was put into the whole experience. There were skilled bartenders, workers dressed in knight armor, and even a few cultists! Not exactly sure if they were working there or not, but it added to the atmosphere for sure.

When I received my drink I quickly realized that it was just a Moscow Mule with some added color, but it did not take me out of the experience for a second. The staff gathered everyone around to take part in a bar chant and the faces everyone made while doing it was hysterical. It was so nice to see so many people who clearly enjoyed this fandom and realizing that they are not only allowed to enjoy this game but that it is getting its own movie too was such a surreal experience. 


As much as I wanted to stay in that tavern forever, a black dragon attacked everyone and the staff had to usher everyone out (between you and me, I think the dragon was just a cover so that way people weren’t waiting outside to get into the tavern forever). As much as I would love to recommend this to everyone reading to go and experience first hand, the tavern has already been stripped down and was gone before the last day of Comic Con. Hopefully, the tavern will make a return when the movie hits theaters in March 2023.

The main reason I wanted to write about this experience is to reassure anyone who may be hesitant about trying something new or experiencing something just because people tell you it is boring or a waste of time. If you are able to find enjoyment in something or you want to try something that people have deemed lame, just go for it. You may not be seen as cool for a little while, but who knows, maybe your interest will get its own movie starring Chris Pine. Try something new and grab life by the dice.

“Marvel’s Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing”, a true testament to the legacy this wall-crawler has created

Spider-Man is swinging over from the skyscrapers of New York for a stint at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park.

In July, the park’s newest museum opened the world premiere of the first-ever Spider-Man exclusive exhibit, “Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition” celebrating 60 years of the character Marvel’s Stan Lee and Steve Ditko first introduced to the world in 1962.

I was lucky enough to preview this incredible exhibit at the San Diego Comic Con Museum and was blown away with how much history they were able to tell in such an interactive way. Not only are you shown the original sketches of famous comic book artists that brought Spider-Man to life, you also get to learn about the situations that led to each new costume and character that has been added to the wall-crawlers 60 years of existence!

There are various screens within the walkthrough exhibit that show the farthest reaches of how impactful the legacy of Spider-Man has become. These include references made by comic book covers, countless outfits that Spider-Man dons in his comic book run, and some of the most iconic moments of Spider-Man’s comic book run. While the webhead is one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time, his comics also led to the introduction of famous comic book heroes, like the Punisher, and even the most shocking moments in Marvel Comics’ history including the death of Peter Parker’s first love interest, Gwen Stacy.


Now it would go without saying that most people know Spider-Man from one of his many outings in television and film. So it goes without saying that this exhibit would touch on the absolute phenomenon of Spider-Man’s silver screen appearances. But rather than just simple mentions that highlight the combined total of over $3.2 billion domestically and $8 billion worldwide gathered by the saga of Spider-Man films from over 20 years, there are actually props from the films at the exhibit!

My excitement could not even come close to being described when I was staring face to face with the tentacle and goggles of Doctor Octopus from the Spider-Man 2 film directed by Sam Raimi back in 2004. Every iteration of Peter Parker has their fair share of representation in the exhibit, with even more versions of the character you may have no idea of getting highlighted as well. 

One of the best aspects of the mythos of Spider-Man is that everyone can be a hero. This sentiment is reflected throughout the experience and you can find the exact point in Spidey’s history that the title of Spider-Man explodes into so many unique and inspiring characters. There is so much representation in comic books for everyone to find a character to see themselves in, but Spider-Man may be the only character where you can find a version of the wall-crawler that you can see yourself in. Even a cartoon pig.

I could continue to tell you about all the amazing Spider-Man paraphernalia that is sprinkled throughout the exhibit, but some things are best left as surprises to see in person when you can get to the Comic-Con Museum and experience this beyond amazing exhibit (pun fully intended) yourself.

If you are worried about missing your chance to see “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition”, don’t be. This exhibit will be at Balboa Park until January 3rd, 2023. So whenever you find time to swing your way to the Comic Con Museum, enjoy this incredible examination of the spanning history of Spider-Man and the exciting future he holds for the next 60 years to come!

The Invisible Man: Movie Review, Why It Works

Does The Invisible Man live up to the hype? Well seeing is believing (and although you can’t see the antagonist of this film), The Invisible Man breathes life into this once thought dead style of horror with compelling characters and suspense that will leave you on the edge of your seat and begging to see more! 

WARNING: IF YOU WANT TO GO INTO THIS FILM WITH ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA OF WHAT IS HAPPENING READ CAREFULLY. THERE WILL BE A SPOILER WARNING WHEN MAJOR PLOT POINTS ARE DISCUSSED BUT IF YOU WANT NOTHING ABOUT THIS FILM TALKED ABOUT, COME BACK AFTER YOU WATCH THE MOVIE.

If you are still here, I commend you for your bravery. Let’s get into The Invisible Man.

Overview

The Invisible Man was released on February 28, 2020. It stars Elizabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass, a troubled woman who escapes an abusive relationship from Adrian Griffin, this manipulative scientific inventor played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen. Once she escapes, Cecilia is so terrified of being found by Adrian that she can’t even walk outside. This all changes when she finds out that Adrian has passed away and can’t hurt her anymore. She is able to start living her life without the constant fear of being watched… or so she thinks.

What this film does so well is that it plays with the audience’s perception of what’s happening to Cecilia. The first forty minutes of the film are a slow burn of odd happenings that take place in the house. From the stove turning on with no one near, to a knife falling off the table without a sound. As you watch this film you think at any moment this invisible entity could kill Cecilia. But the film makes it clear that it is not their goal to kill her. It’s to torment her.

Someone is torturing Cecilia throughout the story and the film uses that to make you feel just as paranoid. No one is willing to believe what is happening with Cecilia which infuriates you because you know she’s not crazy. You are rooting for her to prove that there is someone there, but the film makes you question maybe Cecilia is imagining this all. Then the film takes a hard left and makes it very clear to the audience and Cecilia that her suspicions were right.

What Makes It Work

The elements that make this horror/thriller movie work more than the atrocious The Mummy (2017) and Dracula Untold (2014), is that it does not try to be more than it is. Tom Cruise’s The Mummy wanted so badly to be the next big cinematic universe that would rival Marvel. But that was the film’s goal. Not to scare us, or to tell a unique story. It was to make money and be the next big thing. The Invisible Man is doing what I’m sure most modern horror films wanted to be, truly scary.

This film knows it’s a thriller that has a classic monster attached to it, so it tells a modernized version of what would make that idea so terrifying. A controlling and abusive partner that no one can see. If that isn’t symbolism, I don’t know what is.

If you are looking for a truly entertaining film that makes you question everything that you are watching on screen, go see this unseeable monster movie!

Image result for Invisible man

~If you watched the film and would like to see what I felt worked well and what didn’t, or you simply don’t care about spoilers, feel free to read below~

*SPOILER WARNING*

With a film called The Invisible Man, you know there is going to be some way the film explains how a person can be invisible. Magic? Invisible Spray? John Cena? Nope. This universe’s answer to how to make a man invisible is shown in the first scene in the background. A suit comprised of cameras that can cloak itself into its surroundings and be invisible to the unseen eye. Sure this is still a stretch. But it is the most believable reason to have a man be invisible in this modern revamp.

What Worked

I thought the premise of having Adrian be so determined to make Cecilia think he willing to fake his own death sickening. It made him more terrifying than any paranormal beings that have been put to screen over the last five years. Cecilia is also not an idiot and thinks her plans through which makes the movie so much better. She is so clever that at certain points in the film you have no idea what she is going to do!

What Did Not Work

At a certain point in the film, the invisible suit gets damaged and is shown that it is broken and can not become fully invisible anymore. But in the very next scene the suit is in perfect condition again. The invisible suit is covered in so much plot armor it is unstoppable, unless the film wants the suit to brake. It just made the final conflict a little inconsistent with what was established in other shots.

Hopefully, these mild spoilers were not enough to ruin the film for those of you who were daring enough to read this section before watching the film. Thank you for reading and I hope you come back for my next review, take care!

Written by: Danan Pacheco