With the arrival of summer at EFF, you can hear the excitement in the stuffing of luggage and locking of office doors as our team prepares for some of the most important conventions in the world. Black Hat starts on July 27, with DEF CON immediately after. But before those two kick off, there's San Diego Comic-Con, the largest celebration of the popular arts. For the first time, an EFF staffer will be pounding the plush conference carpet (and maneuvering around cosplayers) to take the pulse of the entertainment industry and catch up with some of our friends and fans.

After all, the geeks and nerds and fan-kids at Comic-Con are our peeps. In preparation, we threw together this quick guide to the panels that are bound to engage anyone following our issues, whether that's surveillance, free speech, or intellectual property.

If you're a creator with a booth at Comic-Con, drop me an email at dm@eff.org, and I'll swing by with some swag (as long as it lasts). If you're doing something EFF-friendly, maybe we'll even feature your work on our Deeplinks blog.

A quick note in advance on information safety: It's easy to lapse into the comfort of trust that comes with mingling with 100,000 like-minded folks. Still, you should take some basic precautions. If you're logging onto public Wi-Fi, make sure you use HTTPS Everywhere. Remember also that paying for goods in cash is always safer than swiping your credit card through a mobile device. Finally, when you’re signing up on mailing lists, or trading personal information for goodies, make sure to read the fine print about how that information will be shared.

Now for the fun stuff.

UPDATE: Alyssa Milano has a new graphic novel out called Hacktivist, which obviously has us intrigued. Her publisher, Archaia, will be distributing 500 copies of a limited preview at booth #2229. See the panel details below.

For the Surveillance-Heads

As the U.S. chases Edward Snowden and his trail of NSA documents around the world, it’s worth contemplating whether truth has finally proved itself stranger than fiction. How can sci-fi even keep up with real world? Two TV shows and a video game have panels that, at least in some way, will touch on the issue.

Intelligence: Let's imagine all the spying power of the NSA and more: direct access to the global information grid, WiFi, cell phones, satellites, all channeled through the brain of Sawyer from Lost, or at least Josh Holloway, the actor who played the sly con-man. That’s the premise of Intelligence, a show set to start airing in February 2014 on CBS. Holloway and other members of the cast, and its executive producers, will sit on a panel moderated by the president and editor-in-chief of TV Guide.  The booth on the convention floor will also feature a special “experience” with Google Glass.

Thursday, July 18, 10am to 11am - Ballroom 20

Person of Interest: With the third season starting this fall, Person of Interest is about what happens when you combine predictive technology with big-data collected through video surveillance—and the secret operatives who act on the information. There will be a Q&A with the cast on Saturday, but former supervising producer Amy Berg will also be part of a panel discussing how much “science” exists in contemporary “science fiction.”  The CBS show this year has also sponsored hotel key cards (see above) that capture the sentiment at EFF these days in the wake of the NSA leaks.

The Science of Science Fiction  - Thursday July 18,  6:30pm - 7:30pm - Room 24ABC

Person of Interest Special Video Presentation and Q&A - Saturday July 20, 4:00pm - 4:45pm - Room 6BCF

Watch_Dogs: Does Privacy Exist? In this new, cross-platform video game, the user plays a hacker in Chicago with the power to manipulate the city’s digital infrastructure, including traffic signals and surveillance cameras. So-far unnamed security consultants are joining the lead story designer in a discussion about the technological truths (and stretches of truth) in the video game.

Saturday July 20, 6:00pm - 7:00pm - Room 9

For the Legal Nerds

At EFF, we love the law like Browncoats love Firefly. So, of course we’re keeping an eye on the robust legal programming at Comic-Con.

Comic Book Law School:  Michael Lovitz, author of The Trademark and Copyright Book comic book, is leading a three-part series of panels on the intersection of intellectual property and pop culture. It’s designed for both creators and lawyers, with progressing levels of advancement—101, 202 and 303. (Bonus for attorneys: You’ll earn California MCLE credits.)  

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 10:30am - 12:00pm - Room 30CDE

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: CBLDF is a legal-nonprofit that joins us on the front lines of free-speech, standing up for comic-book artists wherever in the world they face oppression. This year, the organization is featuring a panel on manga in Japan and an in-depth, three-part examination of the most important courtroom battles over comics. In another panel, they’ll go over the list of comics banned from public libraries and gear up support for Banned Book Week (Sept. 22-28).

Banned Comics - Thursday, July 18, 12:00pm - 1:00pm - Room 30CDE

Comics on Trial, Part 1, 2, 3 - Thursday, Friday, Saturday 1:00pm - 2:00pm - Room 30CDE

Defending Manga - Saturday, July 20, 2013 12:00pm - 1:00pm - Room 30CDE

Banned Comics Jam - Sunday July 21, 12:15pm - 1:45pm - Room 5AB

CBLDF will also have a welcome party on Thursday night. Details and RSVP here.

Comics Arts Conference Session #12: Superman on Trial: The Secret History of the Siegel and Shuster Lawsuits:  The copyright dispute over Superman dates back more than 60 years, and only just in January received a major decision in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A biographer and an intellectual-property professor will bring attendees up to speed on the case.
Sunday July 21, 10:30am - 11:30am - Room 26AB

For the Geektivists

If you were to take a tour of EFF’s office, you’d immediately notice our love of activist art with the posters lining our halls and office walls. While the following panels don’t directly address digital issues, they do reflect how art can be a powerful tool in affecting change.

Comic-Con How-To: Social Practice: Guerilla Art Tactics for Sharing Your Vision with the World

Thursday July 18, 3:00pm - 5:00pm - Room 2

Black Mask: Bringing a Punk Rock Sensibility, Activism, and Wu-Tang to Comics

Thursday July 18, 8:30pm - 9:30pm - Room 8

Comics Arts Conference Session #7: Heroes/Creators: The Comic Art Creations of Civil Rights Legends

Friday July 19, 2013 1:00pm - 2:00pm - Room 26AB


Archaia Entertainment: Announcements, Sneak Previews, and What's Next! Actress and writer Alyssa Milano will join a panel discussing her new graphic novel, Hacktivist, which launches summer 2014.

Saturday July 20, 4:30pm - 5:30pm Room 8

Friends of EFF

Ode to Nerds: EFF fellow and Pioneer Award winner Cory Doctorow (whose young-adult novel Little Brother is San Francisco's One City One Book selection) joins io9.com writer and EFF buddy Charlie Jane Anders in a panel about nerd culture, featuring non-other than Fight Club’s Chuck Palahniuk. They'll be signing autographs at 3:15 p.m. as well in the Comic-Con Sails Pavillion.

Thursday, July 18, 1:45pm - 2:45pm - Room 6A

Publishing SF/F in the Digital Age:  Doctorow, also a champion of DRM-free e-books, will join a panel of authors and booksellers discussing the evolution of fiction in an increasingly digital world.

Friday July 19, 7:00pm - 8:00pm - Room 25ABC

Science Fiction That Will Change Your Life:  Anders and io9 editor and former EFF staffer Annalee Newitz are leading a panel on the most inspiring science fiction of the past year.

Friday July 19, 6:45pm - 7:45pm - Room 5AB

Adam and Jamie Look Toward the Future: The Mythbusters team have long been supporters of EFF’s work and now’s the time to return the favor. We’ll be in line early to check out the show’s 10 year retrospective discussion and the duo's plans moving forward.

Friday July 19, 7:00pm - 8:00pm - Room 6BCF