Nerd Herds! The LGBT guide to Comic-Con 2011

SAN DIEGO -- Downtown has officially been taken over by superheroes, as this year's Comic-Con convention is underway through Sunday, July 24.

The San Diego Gay & Lesbian News guide highlights the events geared specifically toward the LGBT community, as well a few of the main events that are sure to thrill all comic fans, and highlights the parties happening around town. If you didn't get a ticket but want to see some stars, downtown is the place to be, with many Comic-Con themed events.

Comic-Con practically takes over the convention center, with its large exhibit hall, and several panel discussions, film screenings and dozens of guest speakers. Comic fans can attend Q&A sessions with stars from their favorite TV shows, as well as learn just about everything to do with the comic industry, from writing for comics to bringing a comic story to life on the big screen.

These are the events geared specifically for LGBT comic fans, view a complete list of the Comic-Con event schedule online.

Thursday, July 21

5-6 pm Buffy The Vampire Slayer and LGBT Comics Fandom — LGBT fans reveled in the romantic relationship between one the show's main characters, Willow and Tara. That groundbreaking relationship has been built upon in the Buffy comic books, and it helped to propel Buffy into one the most queer-friendly properties in pop culture. Moderator Charles "Zan" Christensen (Prism Comics president) discusses the special relationship between the Buffyverse and LGBT comic book fans with Buffy creators and actors, including Scott Allie, Andrew Chambliss, Jane Espenson, Drew Greenberg, Tom Lenk, and a special guest. Room 32AB

5:30-7:30 pm Showtime : Tired of Ordinary Television? This 2-hour event begins with an exclusive look into the new season of "Dexter" and a Q&A session with the shows stars and producers. Immediately afterward, meet the cast and creative team of Showtime's new original series "Shameless". Through one of the show's main characters, gay teenager Ian Gallagher, the show touches on issues that deal with gay sex, acceptance, and coming out to your family. Following the "Shameless" session, Showtime fans will get a sneak peek at the new series "Homeland."

6-7 pm Her Universe: What Women Want in Their Female Sci-Fi Heroes — Join a lively discussion featuring a dynamic panel that explores the early days of sci-fi, female characters who were portrayed as the designated damsels in distress, to the new generation of strong, intelligent, and powerful female roles we see in some sci-fi films, TV shows, comics and other media. on to the forefront. Room 25ABC

6-7 pm LGBTX: The X-Men's Queer Characters, Themes, and Fans — The X-Men and their universe is popular with LGBT comics fans because they have created compelling queer characters, such as the first gay superhero, Northstar. The idea of mutants is seen as an allegory for the reality of difference and persecution, as well as community and power, experienced by LGBT community. Join a creative panel as they discuss the history of gay characters in X-Men and reveal what is in store for the future. Room 32AB

8:30-10 pm Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog— Sing along at this screening of the original three acts of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day. Room 6BCF

Friday, July 22

1-2 pm Publishing Queer: Producing LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels — Queer-themed comics, once solely the domain of the gay press, are breaking into the mainstream. Learn about the challenges and rewards of producing such work, and how to market and reach LGBT readership and beyond. Room 9

3:30-4:15 pm The Military in Film— The U.S. military has long been portrayed in films, and this discussion looks at the authenticity of such portrayals. Moderated by U.S. Air Force veteran Jon Huertas, actor on ABC's Castle and HBO's Generation Kill and chairman for SAG Armed Forces Task Force. Marriott Hall 2, Marriott Marquis & Marina

5:30-6:30 pm True Blood Panel and Q&A session — The gayest show on TV recently began its 4th season on HBO and this is your chance to participate in a discussion with your favorite vampires and creatures from True Blood. Panel features Ryan Kwanten as Jason Stackhouse, Sam Trammell as Sam Merlotte, Rutina Wesley as Tara Thornton, Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette, Deborah Ann Woll as Jessica Hamby, Kristin Bauer van Straten as Pam, Joe Manganiello as Alcide, and Kevin Alejandro as Jesus. Moderated by Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly. Ballroom 20

5:45-6:45 Spartacus: Vengeance— Join Lucy Lawless and the cast of this exciting show, as they discuss the upcoming second season, titled, "Spartacus: Vengeance", expected to air on Starz in January 2012, and the exclusive content found on the "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" Blu-ray discs, available September 13. Room 6BCF

6:00-7:00 pm Girls Gone Genre— Learn from the women who write, read, game, and perform in arenas that are statistically dominated by men. This panel includes many talented women who have redefined masculinity, like Marti Noxon (screenwriter/producer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Mad Men, Fright Night). Room 25ABC

8:30-11:30 pm The 23rd annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are the "Oscars" of the comics industry - need we say more. Admission to the Eisners is free to all Comic-Con attendees, doors open for pro and VIP seating at 7:30 pm and for attendees at 8:15 pm. Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Saturday, 23

11 am-noon Archie Comics: The Future of Riverdale and Beyond — Archie Comics has continued to be a trailblazing publisher in comics, and recently added its first gay character. Join Archie's co-CEO Jon Goldwater, and the creative team for a look into the future of Archie stories, major announcements, special guest stars, digital plans, and much more. Room 23ABC

2-3:30 pm Comics Arts Conference Session #12: Poster Session— Get scholarly with a panel of scholars arranged around the room discussing their presentations in small-group and one-on-one sessions. The Queer Poster Group includes Courtney Schneider (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) who compares the treatment of homosexuality in mainstream and non-mainstream serialized media; Ashley Pitcock (Henderson State University) who asks whether Buffy the Vampire Slayer's movement into bisexuality was a sign of the times or a gimmick to sell Season Eight comics; and Michael Harrison (Monmouth College), who investigates how Spanish comics authors La Penya in Mondo Lirondo and Ivan Garcia inCapitan Eclipse use fantasy in distinct ways to communicate a 21st century queer Spanish identity.

The Gender Poster Group includes April Murphy (University of North Texas) who examines how fears of female power, depicted in the new Batwoman and the relaunched Wonder Woman, are tied to a pattern of historical uneasiness with same-sex bonding

4-5 pm Bent Comix: The Next Wave of Gay Cartooning — A small band of independent gay cartoonists joined forces in 2008 to create Bent Comix, and last year they created Bent Con, the world's first queer comics show. Initially intended as a distribution cooperative, Bent has morphed into something much more dynamic: a true creative community. Now they're expanding the convention, their membership, and their mission. Panelists will speak about their part in creating the future of gay comics. Room 4

5:30-7 pm Gays in Comics: Year 24! — As mainstream companies DC and Marvel continue to frontline gay characters such as Batwoman and Northstar and hire top-level gay or gay-friendly creators, independent publishers and creators are publishing unequivocal content spotlighting LGBT characters. Join many of these comic innovators for a lively discussion, that promises a few surprises. Room 6A

7-8 pm Gays in Comics Mixer and Silent Auction— Mingle with comics fans and creators plus stay for the special drawing of a Comics Gift Basket and the silent auction of hot comics items, including original art by Alex Ross and Dan Parent! Hosted by and benefiting Prism Comics, the nonprofit organization that supports LGBT comics, creators, and readers. Room 6A

8:30-11:30 HBO's True Blood Presents the Comic-Con International Masquerade — Strut your stuff and support the fabulous original and re-created costumes crafted by talented attendees. With impressive awards and cash prizes bestowed to those judged most outstanding. Doors will open for audience seating at 7:45 pm, but the line will start much earlier. Tickets will be required for seating, and will be given out free to those lining up near Ballroom 20 beginning at 2:00 pm Saturday until all tickets are gone. Overflow seating is available in Rooms 5AB, 6A and in the Sails Pavilion; tickets not required for overflow areas.

Sunday, 24

10-11 am Glee — Join creators and executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, along with stars of "Glee" for a special sneak peek at "Glee The 3D Concert Movie" featuring never-before-seen footage, behind-the-scenes secrets, and Q&A session. Hall H

11:15 am -12:15 pm Marvel: Women of Marvel— Meet the real Ms. Marvels of the comic world! Join women from every discipline in the creative process at Marvel to hear what it's like working as a woman in comics today. Guests include host Grace Randolph (The Weekly Watcher), writer Marjorie Liu (X-23), artist Christina Strain(Runaways), and many more. Room 5AB

2:30-5 pm Comic-Con Masquerade Replay— Saturday night's impressive costuming event is reviewed and a big-screen video of the entire show is presented for those who missed it or who simply want a second look. Room 8

4-5 pm Buffy the Musical — End the show with a bang, with a screening of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode "Once More With Feeling." Many say this is the finest, funniest, most ingenious episode ever to come out of the Buffyverse. And the best part is the audience gets to participate, as well as sing, shout, and dance in the aisles. Hall H

All Comic-Con ticket holders will receive special restaurant discounts at participating downtown locations. If you could not get a ticket, check out the parties, and be a part of the comic action.

The Parties & Special Events

Cirque du Soleil celebrates its first Comic-Con appearance with a free show outside Petco Park on Thursday, July 21, at 9:30 pm. The special “KÀ” performance, which is in residence at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, will take place on Tony Gwynn Drive, facing the Convention Center.

Director Jon Favreau's "Cowboys and Aliens" will premiere on Saturday, July 23, as part of Comic Con's many film screenings. The red carpet event starts at 7 pm with stars Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde making their way into the Civic Theatre on Third Avenue. For a chance to win one of 2,000 tickets for 9 p.m. like the movie's Facebook page, or follow @jon_favreau on Twitter.

For a complete list of all of the parties and celebrations taking place downtown Thursday, July 21, through Monday, July 25, check out media partner's 2011 San Diego Comic-Con Party Guide.

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