I’m as excited about Star Wars and The Walking Dead as the next nerd, but when you go to San Diego Comic-Con and commit yourself to Hall H and Ballroom 20 panels, you don’t just miss out on precious, precious sleep; you miss out on all the other wide and varied programming the con has to offer. So here’s what I’m pumped about that won’t require getting in line at 5 AM.

David Aja

The multiple Eisner Award winning artist behind The Immortal Iron Fist and Hawkeye is making what I believe is his first appearance in San Diego. The flight from Spain to California is long and expensive, so it’s a rare treat to meet a creator from across the pond. Aja is on a few panels this year, including a solo Spotlight panel Thursday morning.

Kelly Sue DeConnick’s New TV Venture

Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, a.k.a. comic power couple Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction are getting in on the TV biz with adaptations of Sex Criminals and The Wicked + The Divine. Fraction has unfortunately had to pull out of the con, but Kelly Sue (and surprise guests!) will be on hand talking comics, TV, and “the best donuts in Portland”.

Jonathan Hickman Talks Secret Wars

Marvel’s big event this summer is the multiverse-destroying Secret Wars, and writer Jonathan Hickman has spent nearly his entire career at the House of Ideas planting the seeds for it. He’ll be talking about it on a panel Friday, and he has his own Spotlight panel Sunday for a more far-ranging discussion.

The Eisner Awards

Every year, Comic-Con hosts the biggest awards show in comics, and this year’s ballot is particularly impressive. It’s not quite as flashy as the Oscars, but it’s still filled with celebrity presenters and occasionally inebriated winners. It’s also a great way to find out about comics that flew under your radar. More than once I’ve gone back on the con floor the day after the awards hunting down winners that sounded fascinating.