SAM, Storytelling Across Media

Past Events

Here’s a look back at SAM 2019, which was held at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park. Explore our complete program schedule and panelist.

Photo: C. Norland © 2019 SDCC

Panelists speaking at a panel during SAM 2019

Programming Schedule

SAM: Storytelling Across Media

SAM 2019 was presented by Comic-Con as a FREE event at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego.


The Theater

11:00–12:00 Spotlight on Jim Lee—DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee (Batman, Justice League, Superman Unchained) talks about the journey from page to screen and sketches your favorite characters live on the big screen in this engaging panel. Watch the creative process first-hand and learn what brings DC Entertainment’s characters to life. The Theater, Comic-Con Museum

12:15–1:00 Author Storytelling—It takes more than an idea! Authors discuss the necessary, hard, and joyful process from the first spark of “what if?” to the finished work. Join Kali Wallace (Salvation Day), Aminah Mae Safi (Tell Me How You Really Feel), Jonathan Maberry (V-Wars, Broken Lands), and Adalyn Grace (All the Stars and Teeth) as they share their experiences in determining which ideas are viable to nurture for success, and which must be discarded, no matter how shiny, with moderator Maryelizabeth Yturralde (Mysterious Galaxy co-founder). The Theater, Comic-Con Museum

1:15–2:00 Storytelling with Sound and Music—Featuring creatives behind The Walking Dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Arrow, Wu-Tang: American Saga, Spirited Away Live, Escape the Night, The Jade Pendant, and American Factory, experts in the sound field dive into their work for film, television, and live concerts! Together they discuss the importance sound and music have in media and they detail their creative process for these projects. Panelists include Chad Cannon (American Factory), Anne-Kathrin Dern (The Jade Pendant), Sam Ewing (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), Shie Rozow (Wu-Tang: American Saga), and George Shaw (Escape the Night). Moderated by Kaya Savas of Film.Music.Media. The Theater, Comic-Con Museum

2:15–3:15 Spotlight on Kevin Eastman—Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, has been drawing and writing Turtles since 1984. Kevin has “dabbled” in all things storytelling from animation in both TV and film, comic books, movies, and successful toy lines! He is also the creator of several other projects, publisher of Heavy Metal magazine, and spearheads a wildly popular fan club. Kevin Eastman will discuss all things storytelling along with his newest projects: Drawing Blood and the Radically Rearranged Ronin RagdollsThe Theater, Comic-Con Museum

3:30–4:15 Storytelling in Comics—Jessica Tseang (comic book historian, Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics) will moderate a discussion with Barbara Randall Kesel (former head writer at CrossGen Comics, editor at DC Comics), Keith Davidsen (senior PR manager at IDW/ comic book writer), Jimmy S. Jay (25-year veteran retailer, Jay Comics Company), AJ Dungo (writer/artist, In Waves), and other comic book artists about what key components are needed to perfect storytelling in comics. A Q&A follows the discussion for inspiring professionals. The Theater, Comic-Con Museum

4:30–5:00 Rats, Rods, Monsters, and Burgers—Funko founder Mike Becker tells the story of how one boy’s childhood friends developed into a lifetime obsession to never grow up! Each 20-minute program followed by a brief 10-minute Q&A. The Theater, Comic-Con Museum

5:30–6:00 Encore of Rats, Rods, Monsters, and Burgers—Funko founder Mike Becker tells the story of how one boy’s childhood friends developed into a lifetime obsession to never grow up! Each 20-minute program followed by a brief 10-minute Q&A. The Theater, Comic-Con Museum

The Boardroom

11:15–12:00 Cinematic Storytelling as a Means—This panel will explore how cinematic storytelling can be used as a means of sharing passions, shedding light on obscure subjects, advocating for social change, and just exposing people to another point of view. The Boardroom, Comic-Con Museum

12:15–1:00 Telling Stories for Kids—From an early age, stories can shape and guide us. A good story can be so valuable to a child’s development. Join David Hedgecock (associate publisher for IDW Publishing), Jeff Sayers (Nickelodeon Writers Program, The Loud House)Arune Singh (VP, Marketing for BOOM! Studios, writer, WWE comics), Barbara Kesel (writer), and Moni Barrette (local librarian, children’s programming specialist) as they discuss storytelling specifically for children. Moderated by Justin Mallari (Geek Say What Network, Geek Offensive podcast host). The Boardroom, Comic-Con Museum

1:15–2:00 EverQuest and EverQuest II: Decades of Continuous MMORPG Storytelling—EverQuest and EverQuest II developers discuss the rigors of maintaining and expanding upon the living story of a fantasy world for decades. Both games hit major milestones this year: EverQuest celebrated 20 years and EverQuest II is about to celebrate its 15th anniversary in November! From art, character, and narrative design, developers will share the joy and complexities of threading all the gaming disciplines together to create a world of deep stories that players get lost in and return to day after day. The Boardroom, Comic-Con Museum

2:15–3:00 Storytelling and Board Games—Join tabletop designers, creators, and artists as they share about storytelling in tabletop gaming—from design aspects, art choices, and tone to what goes into making a compelling game. Jonathan Ying (designer of Imperial Assault and Bargain Quest), Caleb Cleveland (illustrator for ABCs and 123s of D&D, professor of art and design), Geoffery Zatkin (creative director of Experiment 7 and an original designer for Everquest), and Andrew Lowen (designer of Deliverance), moderated by Jeff Hamby (Casual Gamers podcast and producer at Alt 949). The Boardroom, Comic-Con Museum

3:15–4:00 Costumes, Cosplay, and the Design of Worn Narratives—Glenne Campbell (costume designer), Jonelle Edwards (independent costume designer), and Tori McKenna (freelance costume designer/cosplayer) discuss the role of costumes as carriers of stories, both scripted and personal, and how the medium of wearable art shapes the perception of a narrative. The panel is moderated by Kate Edwards (game industry veteran/cosplayer) and will include a Q&A session. The Boardroom, Comic-Con Museum

4:15–5:00 Storytelling Across the Border—Adalisa Zarate (Building Blocks) comes to talk about the differences and similitudes between American and Mexican storytelling in comics, as well as the creative ways in which editorials bridged that difference when it came to importing American superheroes to Mexican audiences. The Boardroom, Comic-Con Museum

5:15–6:00 Storytelling in Wrestling—Good stories start with conflict, and great storytellers make us feel complex and invigorating emotions. No experience is more imbued with conflict and emotion than the stories brought to the squared circle. Join Dirty Ron McDonald (pro wrestler and producer of FIST Combat TV), Arune Singh (VP Marketing BOOM! Studios and writer of WWE comic books), and Scott Lost (former pro wrestler, co-founder of Pro Wrestling Guerrila, comic book artist) as they discuss storytelling in wrestling. Moderated by Justin Mallari (Geek Say What Network, Pencil Neck Geeks podcast host). The Boardroom, Comic-Con Museum

Networking Events

Advance online registration is encouraged for each Creator Connection program.

The Commons / Upper Level

12:30–1:30 Comic Creator Connection—Have you always wanted to create a comic book, but needed a creative partner? New to SAM is the Comic Creator Connection, a fast-paced networking event popularized at Comic-Con that puts writers and artists together to help them meet potential new creative partners.Commons, Upper Level

4:00–6:00 Gaming Creator Connection—The Gaming Creator Connection (GCC) is organized and run by a professional game creator with 25+ years of experience, along with the participation of seasoned veterans from across the game industry. The GCC is a perfect opportunity to seek expert guidance in one of three core areas: art/design (general, character, environment, UI, etc.); narrative (writers, narrative designers, editors, world builders, etc.); and business (a range of topics pertaining to indie start-ups, funding, marketing, pitching skills, etc.). Pre-registration encouraged. Commons, Upper Level

Additional Events

Main Level

11:00–6:00 Miniature Monthly Paint and Take—Have you ever wanted to paint the miniatures from your favorite board game? Stop by the Miniature Monthly Paint and Take and join Aaron Lovejoy, Liz Hunt, and their team as they share their love of painting miniatures. There will be an assortment of figures from Dark Sword Miniatures, CMON, and Reaper Miniatures available for everyone to paint. They will provide brushes, paint (these paints may stain clothes, so be careful!), and a wet palette for all your hobby needs! Sign up at our registration table to pick up your free miniature, and Aaron and Liz will get you set up for your one hour of non-stop painting fun! This is an event for all ages. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. This is a wonderful family event, so we encourage parents and guardians to paint with their little ones! East Wing, Main Level

11:00–5:00 Tabletop Gaming Demos—Explore the world of tabletop gaming with this dedicated gaming area! There will have role-playing game demos, board games, and a chance to play unpublished tabletop games with designers. These tables are for all ages and open to everyone! Come play games, play new ones, and demo unpublished games, and give your feedback. Sit down, roll some dice, and find a new story on the tabletop. Cathedral, Main Level

1:00–2:00 IDW Portfolio Review—An editor from IDW will review your artwork and offer advice on your portfolio. South Wing, Main Level

4:30–5:30 IDW Portfolio Review—An editor from IDW will review your artwork and offer advice on your portfolio. South Wing, Main Level


The following panelists appeared at SAM 2019, Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Comic-Con Museum.

Spotlight on Jim Lee (The Theater • 11:00 AM)

Jim Lee is a renowned comic book artist and the chief creative officer–publisher of DC Entertainment. In addition to his duties at DC, he is the artist for many of DC Comics’ bestselling 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.

Cinematic Storytelling as a Means (The Boardroom • 11:15 AM)

Beth Accomando (panel moderator) is the KPBS arts and culture reporter and host of the Cinema Junkie blog and podcast; she also programs film as part of the group Film Geeks SD.

Frank H. Woodward is a producer, director, writer, editor, and documentary filmmaker. With films such as Men in Suits and Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, he uses documentary storytelling to share his passion for the under-appreciated art of suit acting and for the sometimes misunderstood horror literature of H. P. Lovecraft.

Moisés Esparza is lead programmer for the San Diego Latino Film Festival and for Digital Gym Cinema and uses film as a means of showcasing diverse voices to not only advocate for social change and better representation across race, gender, and religion but also for artistic experimentation.

Carmela Prudencio is marketing & communications manager for Pacific Arts Movement, which works through its San Diego Asian Film Festival and youth programs to use films as a springboard for discussion about a broad range of topics and to offer contextualization for what we see on the screen.

Author Storytelling (The Theater • 12:15 PM)

Debut novelist Adalyn Grace studied storytelling as an intern on Nickelodeon’s popular series The Legend of Korra before moving to San Diego, where she lives with her bossy cat and two dorky dogs.

2017 Comic-Con special guest Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, five-time Bram Stoker Award winner, and comic book writer.

Aminah Mae Safi was the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest; the young adult Muslim-American romance writer lives in Los Angeles with her partner and cat.

Kali Wallace has had a lifelong passion for both science and storytelling, and she earned a PhD in geophysics before becoming an author; Kali lives in a witches’ cottage in San Diego.

Maryelizabeth Yturralde received an Inkpot Award from Comic-Con in 2019 for her contributions to speculative fiction as a bookseller.

Telling Stories for Kids (The Boardroom • 12:15 PM)

David Hedgecock is the associate publisher for IDW Publishing. Making comics for young readers is his passion.

Barbara Randall Kesel is a comic book writer/editor now creative director for a tech startup putting a new spin on the medium.

Moni Barrette is the principal librarian at Chula Vista Public Library and board member for American Library Association’s Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table.

Arune Singh is the VP of Marketing for BOOM! Studios and a writer of the company’s WWE comics.

Jeff Sayers is an alumni of the Nickelodeon Writers Program and is currently a staff writer on The Loud House.

Justin Mallari is the host of the Geek Offensive podcast, part of the Geek Say What Network.

Storytelling with Sound and Music (The Theater • 1:15 PM)

Chad Cannon is the composer on Netflix’s American Factory, produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, and an orchestrator for the Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away live concerts.

Anne-Kathrin Dern is a composer for projects like The Jade Pendant and Help, I Shrunk My Parents!

Sam Ewing is the composer of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the co-composer of The Walking Dead alongside Bear McCreary.

Shie Rozow is a music editor know for projects like Wu-Tang: American Saga, Krypton, and Arrow.

George Shaw is a composer for projects like Youtube’s Escape the Night series and his Star Wars Musical (Disney Parody).

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.

EverQuest and EverQuest II: Decades of Continuous MMORPG Storytelling (The Boardroom • 1:15 PM)

Holly Longdale (executive producer of the EverQuest Franchise) has been a gamer since the 80s and a dev since 2003. Starting as a game designer on EverQuest in 2003, she acknowledged over several years that great games come from great people and moved into leading game teams in 2011 and has been doing that ever since.

Alan VanCouvering (senior game designer, assistant lead content, EverQuest) started in the industry as a community manager nineteen years ago. Moved to design about four years later and has been writing content and making raids ever since.

Nathan McCall (lead content designer at Daybreak Game company) is a world builder and writer of lore, characters, progression, and dialogue for EverQuest II, with more than 16 years and 1300 quests under his hat. He’s always looking for effective ways to entice players to read the words they’re clicking on.

Timothy Heydelaar (art director) hates tomatoes, loves creating worlds.

Kyle Vallee (creative director) has been a gamer since he was 10. Started in the Industry 18 years ago, as a Game Master. Was given the opportunity to apprentice as a designer and never looked back.

Spotlight on Kevin Eastman (The Theater • 2:15 PM)

Kevin Eastman is the writer/artist/co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In between TMNT projects, Eastman found time to establish the Words and Pictures Museum of Cartoon Art, created an artist-friendly publishing company, Tundra Publishing, where projects like The Crow, From Hell, and American Splendor first flourished, as well as purchased world renowned Heavy Metal magazine.

Storytelling and Board Games (The Boardroom • 2:15 PM)

Jonathan Ying is a designer on Imperial Assault and Bargain Quest.

Caleb Cleveland is an illustrator for ABCs and 123s of D&D and a professor of art and design.

Geoffery Zatkin is the creative director of Experiment 7 and an original designer for Everquest.

Andrew Lowen is the designer of Deliverance.

Jeff Hamby cohost the Casual Gamers podcast and is a producer at Alt 949.

Costumes, Cosplay, and the Design of Worn Narratives (The Boardroom • 3:15 PM)

Glenne Campbell is a costume designer with a varied career including costuming for science fiction, period, Westerns, and contemporary films and television. Her 35 years of costuming have included BattleStar Galactica, Outlander, Lonesome Dove: the Series, and the original 21 Jumpstreet.

Jonelle Edwards is an independent costume designer, professional pattern maker, and cosplayer based in Southern California.

Tori McKenna is a freelance artist/costume designer/cosplayer with a focus on both creating and designing unique spins on existing and original characters.

Kate Edwards is a geographer, culturalization consultant, and executive director of the Global Game Jam. She has worked in the game industry for 26+ years on a wide variety of titles, including Halo, Age of Empires, Tomb Raider, Call of Duty, Mass Effect, and many others.

Storytelling in Comics (The Theater • 3:30 PM)

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 one of the judges for the San Diego Comic-Con Independent Film Festival and UCLA’s Geek Week finale speaker.

Barbara Randall Kesel is a comic book writer/editor now creative director for a tech startup putting a new spin on the medium.

Jimmy S. Jay is a veteran of the comics industry serving as a retailer for over 25 years; charting trends and industry changes have kept Jay Comic Company one of the leading voices of the current comic market.

Keith Davidsen is the senior PR manager at IDW and writer of Reanimator and Poison Elves.

AJ Dungo is the writer and artist for In Waves.

Storytelling Across the Border (The Boardroom • 4:15 PM)

Adalisa Zarate has been creating comics since she was 16 years old. She’s currently working on the webcomic Building Blocks.

Rats, Rods, Monsters, and Burgers (The Theater • 4:30 & 5:30 PM Encore)

Michael Becker is a life-long entrepreneur and current VP at Funko. Besides founding Funko in 1998, he has started several ventures all of which embrace his basic motto to “never grow up”! Michael says, “Most of what I learned and still use today came from paper routes, lemonade stands, monster cereals, and Speed Racer cartoons.” Becker continues to work on toys, apparel, movies, acting, song writing and just about anything that makes people happy!

Storytelling in Wrestling (The Boardroom • 5:15 PM)

Dirty Ron McDonald is a pro wrestling promoter of 12 years, wrestler for 18 years, and tours as a stand-up comedian in his “off time” while producing multiple monthly live events in San Diego under the @FISTCombatTV banner.

Arune Singh is VP of Marketing for BOOM! Studios and a writer for the company’s official WWE comic books.

Scott Lost, former pro wrestler of 10 years, helped co-found the world renowned Pro Wrestling Guerrila (PWG) and is now a comic book artist and co-founder of San Diego based art studio Accidental Aliens.

Justin Mallari is the host of the Geek Offensive podcast, part of the Geek Say What Network.

News & Updates

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