<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=252463768261371&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

San Diego Comic-Con: Inside the Writers' Room with Mark A. Altman

July 17, 2018
4 min read time

If you notice fewer geeks, fangirls and nerds in your neighborhood this week, it could be because they’ve fled to Comic-Con International: San Diego 2018 (SDCC).

The convention is where comic book, movie and science fiction aficionados gather for five days to shamelessly geek out; a place where fans rub elbows with their heroes, find out what’s coming next and blissfully cruise the massive show floor in search of prized collectibles.

For those who haven’t been, it’s overwhelming, exhausting and almost always an eye-popping, fun experience.

If anyone knows this, it’s Mark A. Altman, a writer-producer for television (The Librarians, Castle), film (The Specials, House of the Dead) and author of sci-fi classics (So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica).

To put it simply, Altman's geek cred should not be questioned. Year after year, he’s at SDCC.

As in the past, this year Altman will hold court with a number of panels in San Diego, speaking before hundreds of smiling, like-minded enthusiasts.

He says he’s been going to SDCC for longer than he’d like to admit and has watched it become something much bigger than anyone could have anticipated at its beginning in 1970.

From that day to now, the convention has changed but, Altman says, SDCC’s foundation is the same.

“It’s remained a mecca of pop culture for fans around the world,” he said.

The main event for Altman is Inside the Writers Room, where a panel of television scribes from different shows and genres come together to talk shop with the world’s biggest fans. It was the result of a group of Altman’s showbiz friends working on television series in different roles.

"As time passed … we all moved up to higher levels; showrunners, creators, co-EP’s," he said.

So, they got together to talk about it.

Now, more than 10 years later, Altman has contributed to discussions with some of TV’s greatest.

“A few years ago we were lucky enough to rope in Chris Parnell, co-president at Sony Pictures Television … He’s been moderating the panel ever since,” he said.

This July’s offering will be no different; fans can expect legacy panelists including Amy Berg (Counterpart), Steven Melching (Star Wars Rebels), Gabrielle Stanton (The Vampire Diaries) and Ryan Condal (Rampage).

There will also be “new blood,” according to Altman, who specifically named Deric Hughes of Arrow.

The panel, which Altman calls scholarly compared to the legendary and “silly” Starship Smackdown panel (the traditional end to the convention), is always changing.

“[This year], we'll be doing a live break of an episode in the room showcasing how writers create an hour of television,” he said.

Fans can expect a panel on Altman’s book, So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica, which comes out in August.

There will be a panel on the films of 1968 and 1978, too.

“[That one] combines the scholarly and the silly, which makes it so enjoyable,” Altman said.

Scholarly and silly isn’t a bad way to describe what goes on inside the walls of the San Diego Convention Center, where attendees marvel over their pastimes. The folks who trek (pun intended) to SDCC are alternately serious and self-deprecating, which you'd probably have to be to pledge so much time to shows featuring androids, dragons, zombies and other fantastical characters.

For his part, Altman established his geek status — as well as his love for behind-the-scenes tell-alls — at an early age and with a wide array of influences.

In another of his books, The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years, Altman writes about the importance of Gene Roddenberry and Stephen E. Whitfield’s The Making of Star Trek.

“[It was] a very formative tome in terms of letting us know that you could have a career as a television writer,” he said.

“I also found that The Jaws Log and, of course, Bill Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade, were all very seminal for me …  I've always been fascinated by entertainment journalism and these great books about movies and TV."

All those years of being a genuine fan has paid off for Altman, who knows his consistent presence at SDCC, where there is always new to compete with the old, is unique.

"I've been to a lot of conventions all over the world as a guest, but nothing compares to San Diego," he said.

"As M tells Bond in Thunderball, 'this is the big one, 007.' I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the people that put on San Diego are genuine fans and never lost their love of comic books, movies and television. So, as big as it gets, the DNA remains the same.”

Preview night for Comic-Con International: San Diego is Wednesday July 18, 2018 and the convention runs between Thursday July 19 and Sunday July 22, 2018. For more information, visit SDCC’s website here.

Untitled Document