WonderCon '09 - Dark Horse Comics Panel

Aliens & Predators & Chris Warner

Attendees of were let in on some of the details of Dark Horse Comics' plans for the future during the Saturday afternoon Dark Horse panel. Jeremy Atkins, Director of Publicity for Dark Horse and Shawna Gore (Emily the Strange, Creepy, Criminal Macabre) made their voices heard during the panel.

After coming clean about having forgotten to bring the original presentation they intended to show during the panel, Atkins decided to show the crowd in attendance a sort of "best of" Dark Horse, using images and slideshows already on the equipment he was using.

Starting with the Aliens franchise, Atkins touched on Dark Horse's re-launching of the Aliens proper book to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the original film, with Predator coming along for the ride. To go along with the announcement, Atkins showed off the covers to both the Aliens and Predator issues as well as a couple of pages of interior pencils.

Moving on to Eric Powell's The Goon, Atkins displayed the cover to 10th anniversary issue of the book. The cover was a "take off of the first issue of the comic", according to Atkins.

Continuing on the theme of anniversaries, Atkins indicated that Stan Sakai would be producing the first original Usagi Yojimbo graphic novel in full color this November in honor of the character's 25th anniversary.

Gore took the mic to shed some light on the new Creepy Magazine, which is scheduled to launch this July. Gore explained that Eric Powell is assisting in the development of the new publication and that the book will keep the same style and aesthetic as the original Creepy Magazine, describing it as a "series of one or two page short, little stories" that introduce readers to the Creepy family. Powell will also be painting the covers for the first three issues of the quarterly series with Neal Adams contributing his services to the book down the line.

Atkins took over again to talk about the Star Wars line of books that Dark Horse has slated for release this year. Starting with Star Wars: Legacy, Atkins described it was being his favorite Star Wars book coming out this year as he directed the audience's attention to a couple of covers from upcoming issues of the series.

As for Knights of the Old Republic, Atkins announced a bi-weekly online comic that will eventually be collected into a trade. In describing Knights of the Old Republic, Atkins said that he feels that it's "a good jumping off point, as Star Wars is kind of intimidating".

Star Wars: Dark Times has hit delays due to artist Doug Wheatley being his own worst critic according to Atkins. Atkins also displayed an image of the first issue in the ongoing series.

Following the big announcement of Star Wars: Invasion at the , the series that takes place 25 years aver the Battle of Yavin and lets readers in on the movies' beloved characters whereabouts, Atkins made it known that Jo Chen would be doing the covers for Invasion, directing those in attendance to the official Star Wars website in order to check one of the covers out.

Continuing, Atkins showed images from The End League and Gigantic, announcing a trade for the former to be on the way later this year.

Returning to The Goon, Atkins told everyone to keep an eye out online, most likely on the official Dark Horse site, for a big announcement regarding the 10th anniversary of the series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer's next story arc revolves around "slayers being outlaws and trying to regroup since vampires took charge during the reality show that took place in the last arc", said Atkins. Along with that tidbit of information regarding the main Buffy series, Atkins announced a Tales of the Vampire one shot coming this July, which will essentially be a vampire love story set in season eight of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

A couple of cover images were shown for Mike Oeming and Taki Soma's Rapture and Amazon from Tim Sale, which is a republishing of some of his very early work.

Gore took the reigns again for a minute to explain the history of Domo and his Japanese background to audience members as Atkins drew attention to a shot of some of the new blind box Domo keys that were recently shown off at in New York.

The Umbrella Academy proved to be a huge hit for Dark Horse, but Atkins admitted that he was "a little bit skeptical because you've got this guy who is this massive rock star and says [to Dark Horse] I want to publish a comic with you guys". Atkins went into how Umbrella Academy creator Gerard Way actually wanted to do comics before My Chemical Romance, implying that it is easier to become an international rock star than a comic book artist. Atkins did set the record straight though in confirming that comic artists make more money than rock stars, much to the enjoyment of the panel attendees. Atkins detailed a set of PVC Umbrella Academy figures and special edition of the first trade paperback coming later this year.

Atkins mentioned Joe Linsner's Conan: The Cimmerian as re-launching the character into the next phase of his life as he showed cover images for Conan and Kull.

In regards to Mike Mignola, Atkins said that he has a lot of books coming, keeping the momentum from last year's release going strong with B.P.R.D. 1947 on the way, as well as Sir Edward Grey: Witch Hunter and Lobster Johnson.

Werewolves on the Moon Versus Vampires was described as "one of those moments in your life where you're like how in the hell did I not think of it" by Atkins. Dave Land is writing this quirky title.

Moving on to Beasts of Burden, a new, fully-painted series about a group of animals that hunts ghosts, Atkins related that it is a "dark Milo and Otis. Beasts of Burden launches in July.

Gore took the opportunity to mention Emily the Strange, a character that she works on, announcing a new four issue series that launches this July, which takes the character into uncharted territory. This new series will be the first full-length story featuring Emily and starts on her 13th birthday, before she becomes the Emily she is now. She also mentioned an Art of Emily book, collecting 15 years of history, on the way from creator Rob Reger.

She was able to touch on The Cleaners, saying she has received more fan letters about this book than anything else she has ever worked on, save for the Kiss comics she has contributed to. She said that she hopes to be able to make an announcement about a second The Cleaners series by the time the rolls around.

Due to the nature of having to develop their presentation on the fly, Atkins and Gore were only able to field a couple of questions before the panel ended.

When asked about whether Dark Horse generates any revenue from free comic sources online such as Dark Horse Presents, Gore stated that they were looked upon more as outreach to fans to engender excitement in their properties and introduce them to lesser known titles, but that the comics published online is oftentimes collected into anthologies for print at the end of the year.

As The Umbrella Academy and Emily the Strange are being made into movies, a fan asked the panelists whether there were any plans for other Dark Horse based movies in the works, to which Atkins announced that there were quite a few sitting in studios right now, with Universal getting first right of refusal on everything, but was not ready to talk about any specifics at the moment. He did mention an animated movie based on The Goon, being produced by David Fincher, which is on the way as well as the fact that both Criminal Macabre and Freaks of the Heartland having been optioned.

When asked about the whereabouts of the Dark Horse 20th anniversary commemoration, Atkins said they had fallen behind schedule and felt like it would be more appropriate to hold them off until Dark Horse's 25th anniversary, citing it as it being better to celebrate "being old enough to rent a car than being of legal drinking age".

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