SDCC 09: IDW Panel: Wait, Bat Boy?


Early on the first full day of Comic-Con International, IDW’s IDW Publishing: The Evolution of Comics panel kicked things off. The panel was moderated by IDW editor in chief and publisher Chris Ryall, and attended by Greg Oldstein, eBooks editor Jeff Weber, Star Trek: Countdown and Nero writers Tim Jones and Mike Johnson, editor Scott Dunbier, and writer Bill Willingham, who expressed his dismay that this wasn’t the Fables panel. In guerilla fashion, the newest addition to IDW’s team stayed stowed away in the crowds.

The panel begun with a review of the many successes of IDW’s 10 years. They celebrated their design work, and their high water marks, such as 30 Days of Night. Oldstein teased that while IDW had accomplished much, there was more to come. Most specifically in Weber and IDW’s new-media forays. There was much excitement as to the direction of their digital endeavors, Weber iphone comics, expansion.

From here, Oldstein took his leave, and introduced IDW’s newest editor, industry stalwart Bob Schreck, as was announced earlier on Newsarama.

Weber delved more into the company’s plans to distribute the company’s complete back catalogue, whole also reviving older, outside properties for iTunes consumption. Larger properties like  G.I. Joe and Transformers will be at the forefront. The idea would be that there would always be new comics available from IDW on iTunes.

At this point, J. Scott Campbell was brought up to the stage, and an annocement was made that there was now a free issue of Danger Girl available on iTunes now from IDW.

There will be IDW Danger Girl collections starting next year, and there are discussions to a  potential new series with Campbell on covers. As of today, the preview issue was available as a free app for the Iphone now.

Campbell: “At this point, IDW was a natural fit for me. I’d ran my course at DC. Danger Girl started at Widlstorm, and was later grandfathered in to DC, where we had successes. But with editor Scott Dunbier at IDW, and the book up for renewal, I felt as though IDW today is the old school Wildstorm. I’m hopeful there’s an exciting future at IDW to come.”

Weber boasted that with issues and collections, IDW already has 80 titles available on iTunes now. There are still lots to come, movie titles, old classics and new classics. There are plans forLock and Key, The Next Men, Grim Jack, Tank Girl, Sable, The Parker novels and more.

Here they showcased the ease of download process. Also raised was the fact that iPhone availability offers new opportunities for non-comics readers, as were the Star Trek books.

Dunbier shared his initial aversion to iPhone comics, but was won over after the harshest critics, the artists, like J. Scott Campbell, came around. When even the creator is pleased, everyone is impressed.

Ryall expressed his satisfaction that while sitting firmly as the industry’s number three, they are still small enough, nimble enough to try new things. They try things out, like page transitions, and then once the process is successful, they can translate it elsewhere.

Everyone on the panel gave their own ‘changeover’ anecdote.

Star Trek Countdown has dominated book section on iTunes. After looking at a few examples, Ryall concluded that 20% of top 100% of book sales on iTunes have been IDW.

It was announced that a new site,, would be offering the series’ older issues.

This ended the tech portion of the panel, and the group welcomed Bob Schreck to what they called  “IDW’s Dream Team.” Schreck took his seat next to Dunbier, and a slide showed off some of Schreck’s considerable credentials.

Schreck: “It’s been an interesting four and a half months since the layoff, but first email was this opportunity. I had to stay quiet and make a decision slowly due to the contract, but from early on this was the frontrunner. I don’t start officially until October 5th, but I’m confident that a few of my friends will be along shortly. Really look forward to a lot of fun.

Keep your eyes peeled for some weird stuff.”

“Willingham: “We are going to be doing Fables…. No, kidding.”

The discustion transitioned to Willingham. Dunbier had wanted to work with Willingham for a while. A project was announced with artist Gene Ha, Back Roads in 2010. Ha’s work here was called subtle, gorgeous, and Willingham’s unofficial tagline for Back Roads “Maxfield Parish with guns.”

 Willngham says Ha’s been a favorite artist for about 7 years, and they’ve been trying to work together. Could never work with him because Willingham was at DC, and Ha was at…. DC. Willingham stressed that here were difficulties, but if they couldn’t do anything at DC, they’d find a way elsewhere. Dunbier’s “weird radar,” knew it was something wanted to happen, and so he brought the two to work together at IDW.

Williingham complained that “Wherever I show up, Bob Schreck follows. First at Comico, then to DC, to IDW now. “

Schreck: “Let’s ruin another one!”

Getting into Back Roads, it was called "everything Ha always wanted to draw, and will never draw again." All places have back entrances that some people have access to. It will start with 6 issues at 22 pages, with prospect for ongoing.

Dunbier got into the other IDW projects. Winter World, a classic 3 issue mini from Eclipse, written by Chuck Dixon, drawn by Jorge Zaffino, will be rereleased by IDW. Zaffino, a South American artist who later passed away, was a "brilliant" artist, who drew Dunbier to story at first. In a world where all is covered in ice, this story has a Mad Max influence, and tells of a young orphan girl. A follow up series was created but never published, and will be released in two follow up one-shots.

Next, art from the upcoming Rocketeer collections were shown off, with Laura Martin on color art. Dave Stevens was a perfectionist, never truly happy with way the series was colored. It was his wish to completely recolor, and Laura Martin was hand picked to color the reissue.

Collecting  both series, the second as an absolutely Deluxe hardcover. 8x12, include 104 pages of prelims and drawings by mostly unpublished Dave Stevens stuff. Cover compositions, and hidden gems.

Jones and Johnson, of Star Trek: Countdown,  will be working on a 6 issue mini movie adaptation official “writer’s cut.” With extended scenes, and beats.

After deliberatly not doing a movie adaptation originally, the writers found a new way to do it. Moments and beats that were passed over became the focus, and working with higher- ups, they managed to make real new, recut product. Artist Messina was described as an  MVP of the Star Trek books.  In accordance with the company’s new technological excursions, Johnson claimed they were also writing on the iphone!

Also announced was Clive Barker’s Seuth, created and co-written by Barker, his first real new comic in 2 decades. With art by Eisner nominated Gabriel Rodriguez, the October one-shot will also feature 3D art by Ray Zone.

Next was Jennifer Love Hewitt’s The Music  Box. Ryall described Love as genuine in her approach, with an idea for anthology in the Twilight Zone fashion. All connected by music boxes, clever and formed from start.  It will be scripted by Scott Lobdell, featuring all mysterious standalone tales with a twist. Coming in November, Ryall called it a revistation to the horror and mystery IDW made its caling card.

Next was a project by Billy Martin, the drummer of pop band Good Charlotte. Originally an artist, Martin will be co-writing and drawing the monster hunter story Vitriol the Hunter. It will be released early next year.

We Will Bury You, by Heroes' Brea Grant and brother Zane Austin Grant, with art by Kyle Strahm, and covers by Ben Templesmith was also announced.  It stars zombies in 1920’s.

Here Ryall got to his pet project annoucment, a comic version of the Weekly World News Starring Bat Boy! Ed Anger! Manigator! PhD Ape! Lemmie the Lake Erie Serpent. All the classic, ridiculous tabloid characters in new book coming January 2010, from Ryall and Alan Robinson.

Dunbier called it Ryall’s dream project. Agreeing, Ryall said that was true and ridiculous.

A few novel adapatations were announced, Last Unicorn and Prone and Private Place from Peter Beagle, and also Harlan Ellison’s Phoenix Without Ashes.

During the Q and A, plans were revealed for a follow up Zombies and Robots book next year, an omnibus of all the Star Trek Movie adaptations, and a complete Bloom County library, to come in October.

Given the excitement, a fan asked, should World Weekly News prove suffessful,, will there be a follow up National Enquier?

Ryall: “Oh that’s just silly.”

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