SAM Guests and Program Participants

The following special guests will be appearing at SAM: Storytelling Across Media.


Julie Benson and Shawna Benson at SAM: Storytelling Across Media on Nov. 3 at the Comic-Con Museum
Julie Benson and Shawna Benson
Writers, The 100, Wu Assassins (TV series), Green Arrow (comics series)

Born on the same day, three years apart, Julie and Shawna Benson grew up in Illinois with access to their father’s Silver Age comic collection and a mutual love of TV and Film, particularly, sci-fi, westerns, mysteries, and screwball comedies. They’ve penned episodes of the Emmy-winning webseries, Emma Approved, wrote on Seasons 3 through 5 of The CW’s The 100, and are currently co-producers on a new Netflix show, Wu Assassins. They also have written Batgirl and the Birds of Prey and currently write Green Arrow for DC Comics.


Jim Lee at SAM: Storytelling Across Media on Nov. 3 at the Comic-Con Museum
Jim Lee
Publisher-CCO, DC Comics; Artist, Justice League, Superman Unchained

Jim Lee is a renowned comic book artist and the Publisher-Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment. In addition to his duties as DC’s Publisher-Chief Creative Officer, he is the artist for many of DC Comics’ best-selling comic books and graphic novels, including All Star Batman and Robin, Superman: For Tomorrow, Justice League: Origin, Superman Unchained, and Suicide Squad. He also served as the Executive Creative Director for the DC Universe Online (DCUO) massively multiplayer action game from Daybreak Games.


J. Michael Straczynski at SAM: Storytelling Across Media on Nov. 3 at the Comic-Con Museum
J. Michael Straczynski
Writer, Thor, Amazing Spider-Man (comics), Babylon 5, Sense8 (TV), Changeling, World War Z (movies)

J. Michael Straczynski's entire career has been based on storytelling across media. Starting as a journalist for newspapers and magazines (LA Times, TIME Inc, Writer's Digest), he transitioned to animation (He-Man, Real Ghostbusters), live-action TV (Twilight Zone, Babylon 5, Sense8), comics for Marvel, Image, and DC, and movies (Changeling, Thor, World War Z). Along the way, his work has earned him two Hugo Awards, the Eisner, Comic-Con’s Inkpot Award and Icon Award, the GLAAD Media Award, the Saturn Award, and a nomination for a British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Changeling.  His autobiography, Becoming Superman, debuts July 28, 2019 from HarperCollins Voyager.


SAM Panel Participants

The following creators are scheduled to appear on panels being held at SAM: Storytelling Across Media

Storytelling in Animation:

David Derks is the vice president of ASIFA-Hollywood.

Nic Gregory is an illustrator/concept artist at Thinkwell Group.
Benson Shum is an animator for Walt Disney Feature Animation (Ralph Breaks the Internet, Moana, Zootopia) and a children's book author and illustrator.

Chrystin Garland is a visual development artist working at DreamWorks TV Animation. She also worked on Niko and the Sword of Light and Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems series.

Storytelling with Sound and Music:

Paula Fairfield is a sound designer for projects such as HBO’s Game of Thrones, Amazon’s Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Snow White and the Huntsman, Mother!, and the upcoming VR experience Caliban Below.

Michael Conelly, founder of Blackthorn Media, is a visual effects designer and VR director for immersive projects such as Caliban Below, Dragonflight, The Abbot's Book, and more.

Jake Monaco is a film and TV composer for projects such as Warner Bros. Animation's Be Cool, Scooby Doo and currently Amazon’s The Stinky and Dirty Show.

Guy Toubes is a writer, and currently he is the executive producer and showrunner of Amazon Prime's The Stinky and Dirty Show and story editor of the upcoming Disney Junior show T.O.T.S.

David Norland is a film and TV composer for 20/20, Nightline, The View, Good Morning America, the film November Criminals, and the upcoming HBO television film My Dinner with Hervé.

Sacha Gervasi is the director, writer, and producer of the upcoming HBO film My Dinner with Hervé.  

Kaya Savas is a film music journalist and founder of Film.Music.Media, one of the leading outlets providing film music resources on the internet.

Dan Bern is a songwriter for film and television projects such as Amazon Prime’s The Stinky and Dirty Show and Judd Apatow’s Get Him to the Greek.

Storytelling in Film:

Fernando Jay Huerto is a stuntman, fight choreographer, and filmmaker whose fan film Harley Quinn has nearly 2 million views on YouTube.

Neal and Jana Hallford paid homage to the atmospheric horror films of the 30s and 40s with the award-winning short A Case of Evil, and they recently created Uncharted Regions, an old-school style anthology radio show.

Michael Foster is the director of the award-winning short Hush and recently completed the feature film To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This.

Pia Thrasher is a visual artist with a flair for capturing macabre beauty, and her film acting and directing also reveal a penchant for dark themes.

Jonathan Hammond is an actor and filmmaker; his most recent short is Isabel.

Beth Accomando is the KPBS film critic and host of the podcast Cinema Junkie; she is also the co-founder of Film Geeks SD.

Storytelling in Comics:

Barbara Randall Kesel is a writer and editor whose bibliography includes works from CrossGen Comics, DC Comics, Image, and Marvel. She is currently with Urus Entertainment Creative. 

Whilce Portacio started as an inker on Alien Legion and Longshot in 1984 before launching his three decades career as a penciler. He has been a leading comic book talent ever since his big break on Marvel titles Punisher, X-Factor, and Uncanny X-Men in the early 90s and created Bishop. Portacio was also one of the seven founders of Image Comics. He created Wetworks for Image. Whilce has worked on Marvel, DC, and Image titles.

Chris Ryall was the editor-in-chief at IDW Publishing, overseeing works that include NYT bestselling franchises such as Star Trek/Doctor Who, Transformers, TMNT, My Little Pony, and countless others. He is currently the editor-in-chief for Skybound Entertainment. 

Scott Tipton is a New York Times best-selling author and comic-book historian with a wide variety of both graphic novel and prose works to his credit, including The Star Trek Vault: 40 Years from the ArchivesComic Books 101, and dozens of comic books and graphic novels for publishers like IDW Publishing and Archie Comics. His newest event comic-book series, Star Trek: The Q Conflict, will debut in January 2019.

Jessica Tseang is a comic book historian and public speaker. Tseang has appeared on AMC’s Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics and will be seen next on Ghost Empire, a documentary about Harvey Comics. She was San Diego Comic-Con’s Independent Film Festival judge and UCLA’s Geek Week finale speaker. 

Storytelling and Board Games:

Jonathan Ying designs board games with some of your favorite licenses from lightsabers to mighty morphin' rangers.

Bridgette Reuther leads a studio of San Diego artists and designers to publish modern classic and wonderful hobby games. 

Jon Cohn is secretly a ninja turtle but brings his passion for gaming to the tabletop. 

Kami Mandell designs games for witches and wizards of all ages. 

Ross Thompson is often found playing games, travelling to conventions and hitting friends with sticks.

Storytelling in Games: Shaping the Future of Narrative:

Jana Hallford is a former background contributor to the SyFy Channel, and an executive producer and writer for the sci-fi audio drama series Uncharted Regions

Neal Hallford has been a narrative designer in the computer gaming industry for over 28+ years, and is co-showrunner for the sci-fi audio drama series Uncharted Regions

Shanon M. Ingles is an award-winning game writer and narrative designer best known for her work on Batman: A Telltale Series, Batman: The Enemy Within, Tales from the Borderlands, Minecraft: Story Mode, and two unannounced titles for Ken Levine's new studio Ghost Story Games and Midboss.

Desirée Proctor and Erica Harrell are television and game writers whose credits include MTV’s Happyland, Hulu’s Betch: A Sketch Show, Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Michonne and the upcoming Skydance Interactive VR experience The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners.

Anne Toole has written for games, digital series, comics, and more, including Horizon Zero Dawn, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and a comic adaptation of Through the Looking Glass.

Author Storytelling:

C.B. Lee is super queer and writes super queer YA books. Her latest novel Not Your Villain is part of the Sidekick Squad series, a queer dystopian superhero adventure.

Cindy Pon writes all Asian all the time because she never saw herself in any of the books she read. Want is her latest young adult cyberpunk set in Taipei.

Greg Van Eekhout has published seven novels for middle-grade and adult audiences, including his latest, the middle-grade science fiction novel Voyage of the Dogs from Harper Collins.

Sarah Kuhn writes books and comic books about superheroines, geeks, aliens, romance, and Barbie.

Maryelizabeth Yturralde co-founded independent genre bookstore Mysterious Galaxy in Southern California in 1993; she is a regular contributor to programming at literary conventions all over the country and is passionate about connecting readers and stories. 

Storytelling Across Augmented and Virtual Reality:

Johannes Saam, senior creative developer at Framestore, has over 12 years of experience in visual effects and has worked on feature films such as Legend of the Guardians, Mad Max: Fury Road, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Prometheus, as well as on a number of emerging technology projects for brand partners including Time Inc., BMW, CarFax, Facebook, and Dreamscape. 

Mark Harwood, global producer of VR at Starbreeze/Star VR, has produced games, film, and VR for over 20 years and is adept at herding cats.

Christina Heller is the CEO of Metastage. Metastage is an XR studio that brings authentic human performance into interactive digital worlds through volumetric capture and complementary tools. Metastage is located at The Culver Studios in Culver City.

Mark Murphy is the co-creator of the upcoming immersive Space Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson and a producer of the Future Tech Live pavilion at SDCC.

Storytelling in Museums:

Keegan Chetwynd is the director of public programs for the Comic-Con Museum. 

Joshua Colover is the CEO/president of Aperture Films.

John Chiodo is the senior planner for Gallagher and Associates.

SAM Front Page SAM Program ScheduleSAM Registration Information