Droves of fans lined up on Saturday at New York Comic Con for the latest Image Comics panel, I is for Impact. Featuring an all-star line-up of guests including Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction, Brian K. Vaughan, Roc Upchurch, Frank Quitely, Wes Craig, Steve Orlando, and James Robinson, the panel was a noisy affair of applause and laughter, which many fans said was the high point of their NYCC weekend while leaving the crowded room.
To start things off, the moderator went down the table, asking the creators to explain the general concept of their works.
“Well, Undertow is a reverse-Atlantis story,” said Orlando.” I decided to make an Atlantis that was just as disgusting as the modern world, so we have fish people that are angry and political and lusty and have all sorts of relationships.”
Vaughan said of Saga, “I just wanted to do a book that didn’t have a big elevator pitch, high concept to it. It’s just a story about parenthood that’s not boring.”
“It was very much the intention to do an alien comic like Them and The Thing,” said Robinson of his new book Saviors. “All those 50’s movies with paranoia and not knowing who the enemy was” inspired the series.
“I just want to say that the guy the main character of Saviors is based on, is the same guy that Jon from Sex Criminals is based on. A guy named Alex in Toronto,” added Zdarsky.
Upchurch said he always tells people that Rat Queens is “Mean Girls meets D&D.”
“Deadly Class is a bit of a weird pitch because it’s a school for assassins,” said Craig. “But it’s set in the 1980’s in San Francisco, and some of it is based on Rick Remender’s experience and the punk scene mixed in with some crazy comic-booky ninjas and assassins and all of that stuff.”
Quitely paused for a moment before saying that Jupiter’s Legacy is, “A generational thing. Family drama and all that. I’ve only seen the first five scripts.”
Sex Criminals was described by Fraction as a “Game of Thrones porn parody” while Zdarsky disagreed, stating that it’s really more of a “Star Wars porn parody,” showing that the pair’s sense of snark and humor moves beyond the comic book page and their social media presence.
With the summaries taken care of, the panel moved on directly to the fan Q&A portion of the discussion.
The first question from the audience was to Fraction, who was asked if he would ever consider a Hawkeye movie
“I think it would make a terrible movie,” he replied. “It would be a better TV show.”
“I think it would be Jim Jarmusch’s perfect superhero movie,” joked Robinson.
When asked about the creative process that goes into the making of these comics, Quitely said, “It’s super laborious. I read the script until I can really see it all, and then I start thumbnailing. Sometimes it flows the way I want it to, and sometimes it’s not quite working, so I do several thumbnails for each panel. This is why I’m late with everything. I’m really slow and I overthink everything and it’s never good enough. I think we see the mistakes in our work more than the good points. It’s never quite as good as the way it was in my head, so it’s always kind of a disappointment. It’s not glamorous, it’s all insecurity.”
“It’s very chaotic and weird, there are notebooks everywhere. It’s the most laborious thing trying to make the words fall in the right place,” said Fraction, before adding jokingly, “IT’S A JOY, EVERYTHING IS EASY! It’s really chill.”
“You just gotta hope that people are into the same weird stuff as you,” said Craig.
The next topic was how it feels to work with a team of collaborators - is it a pleasure or a pain? Are there arguments?
“Fiona is the star of Saga,” replied Vaughan. “It’s just my job to get out of her way. It’s mostly just being lazy and letting Fiona do her thing, It’s working out great so far!”
Upchurch mentioned that, “Kurtis doesn’t give me many notes, he trusts me. There are a lot of dicks and things when I do rough pages, but I think it serves the story well.”
“I want collaborators, not employees,” said Fraction. “Working with someone and not knowing what you’re gonna get is the best part.”
Upchurch was singled out by a member of the audience as being one of the only people in the industry drawing women in actual armor rather than “boob plate.” What inspired his designs?
“Boob plate doesn’t serve any purpose except jerking off,” he responded. “My designs are based off of actual armor that exists, and then I weird it up - put in the fantasy and whimsical elements.”
Vaughan was next up, being asked if he enjoys writing the “horrible, gut-wrenching cliffhangers” that he ends every issue with.
“It’s just an old carney trick to try and make you come back next month,” he said. But then he added, “Yes, I enjoy torturing you.”
Vaughan was also asked to describe how the character Isabel was created. “Isabel was based on a babysitter my kids had. She was a teenager and her name was Isabel,” he replied. “I have no imagination.”
The last question for the panelists regarded how they get going each day - if there is a person, or music, or any specific thing that gets them in the right headspace for creating comics. Zdarsky and Fraction leaned in close to each other and smiled lovingly.
“Deadlinesssss,” whispered Zdarsky.
“Having issues with depression and mental health!” Fraction said exuberantly.
“I have three kids so there is no quiet ever,” said Upchurch. “I just had to teach myself to work like it wasn’t there. It doesn’t matter that there is a 4 year-old on my head, it’s gonna get done.”