I have a love-hate relationship with comic book convention panels.
Most conventions will have a “breaking in” panel or six. After one or two of these, you’ll come to find out that they all sound the same. (They’re either anecdotes of how those particular creators broke in, or they’re telling you to follow the rules of the company, or both.) I understand the necessity of the panels—they’re popular and there are always waves of new creators that “need” the info—but they aren’t for me. Once you realize just how actionable (not) the information is (it’s really just common sense), you’ll find they’re a waste of time.
Then there are what I consider to be the teaser panels. These are the panels that the companies put on to tease the information given in Previews, tease new projects, and give some face time of the creators to the public. These can be pretty fun.
Those are the two panels that seem to be the most attended—outside of teases for television shows and blockbuster films. I personally avoid those like the plague. I don’t like to be spoiled for movies, and I’m not often swayed by trailers for shows. I’ll either watch them or I won’t.
Then it becomes a matter of branching out and going to panels that seem interesting, or could be. You could spend all your time “upstairs” at a convention, barely ever going to the convention floor.
Breaking out of your comfort zone and going to different types of panels will open you up to things (and people) that you normally wouldn’t encounter. As a creator, we could be at least tangentially interested in the other disciplines of making comics. Going to these different kinds of panels can help make you a more well-rounded creator.
What do I mean? If you’re writer, go to an artist’s panel and see what it’s about, what they go through. If you’re an artist, try catching a writer’s workshop and see their challenges. Interested in games, even a little bit? Try catching a gaming panel and hear the stories of how some games were developed and pitched. Ever been told you’d be a good actor? Try heading to a voice-over or animation panel and seeing what that’s about.
Once you branch out of the breaking in, teaser, and screenings, you’ll see just what a wealth of information and interesting things are out there. Things that could spark a hidden or unknown passion. You just need to get out there and see them.