On Friday at Comic-Con International: San Diego, Boom! Studios hosted a panel discussing upcoming and ongoing projects for the company. The panel was moderated by Boom! Studios Marketing Director Chip Mosher and included: E-i-C Mark Waid, CEO Ross Richie, Andrew Cosby, and Matt Gagnon. The panel opened with the announcement of a new Farscape project which would be discussed in detail later in the weekend at a Boom!/ Farscape panel.
Mosher turned to Mark Waid to discuss the current success of both Irredeemable and The Unknown—showing several slides from both projects. Their exchange warranted information about Waid’s signing times over the weekend and they jokingly talked about the importance of timely books; since both of Waid’s titles have been successfully published in a timely fashion since they launched earlier this year. Waid also plugged The Unknown artist, Minck Oosterveer, and the panel detailed some of the illustrators accomplished career. This lead Waid to reveal the launch of a new The Unknown mini-series: The Devil Made Flesh. Waid explained, “Catherine [Allingham] is alive…but don’t count on her making it out alive this time around.”
Mosher then displayed a number of slides—briefly plugging other books from Boom! Studios like Unthinkable, Dead Run, Swordsmith Assassin, and Poe. Ross Richie spoke about Edgar Allen Poe and his importance to fiction/ genre writing and how this importance ties into the Poe comic series.
An announcement was made regarding a new comic project from Coheed and Cambria frontman, Claudio Sanchez—Killaudio. Matt Gagnon, Managing Editor at Boom!, commented, “It’s a really fun project […] very surreal—Mr. Sheldon’s artwork is trippy but without the drugs.” He went on to describe the lead character in the story as an immortal who can’t die with a strange array of supporting characters.
Mosher changed gears again and announced the launch of The Anchor—from Phil Hester and Brian Churilla. Described as “God’s Own Legbreaker”, both Gagnon and Richie spoke about their elation over the original pitch for the project—depicting the lead character as a “two-fisted hero in the vein of The Goon and Hellboy."
Mosher spoke briefly about the success of Fall of Cthulhu and the fact that the series of projects was coming to an end. Ross Richie remarked, “It’s the end of an era for us—the book was phenomenal.” The series lasted 26 issues—a healthy accomplishment for an indie title on the direct market. Andrew Cosby added, “It’s crazy—but the origins of our work on Fall of Cthulhu began here at Comic-Con.”Two new Eureka projects were announced connected with Brendan Hay and Diego Barreto—one of which, Eureka: Dormant Gene, is focusing on the popular character Zoe Carter.
Phillip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” was mentioned—the initial issue of the 24 issue maxi-series recently sold out and has been quickly sent back for a second printing. The discussion from the panel made note of the importance of Dick’s work to science fiction—and everyone gushed over Bill Sienkiewicz’s cover art for the project. Mosher announced that the first four issues of the maxi-series would be collected into a deluxe hardcover project later in the year.
The panel joked about the previous night’s festivities at the Hyatt in regards to the company’s new cross-promotion for Jennifer’s Body. Ross Richie noted the mid-September release date for the first issue—and he explained the importance of the OGN material and how it will tie-in to the movie.
The next announcement revealed the launch of two projects related to popular movie franchises; first, was a 28 Days Later monthly focusing on the character Selena and her trials and tribulations between the first and second films. Mosher also mentioned Die Hard: Year One—with both Cosby and Richie discussing the relevance of the book to the mythos of the John McClane character and how the focus of the series will enlighten readers to the McClane’s experiences as a street cop.
The panel continued with a mention of the launch of Boom! Kids in conjunction with Disney/ PIXAR. Nodding to the success of The Incredibles and The World of Cars projects, Boom announced further adaptations—including: Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. Mosher was also happy to announce the launch of a monthly Incredibles book written by Mark Waid slated for later in the year.
Crammed with so much information the panel quickly wrapped with a couple more announcements involving a new The Muppet Show monthly as well as projects involving Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and a hardcover called The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.The BOOM! Studios/ Farscape panel followed up on Saturday at SDCC, was moderated by series editor Ian Brill, and attended by series scripter Keith R.A. DeCandido , series creator and comic co-writer Rockne O’Bannon, interior and cover artist Joe Corroney, and cover artist Dennis Calero.
Brill began the panel sharing his personal history with the Farscape property, beginning when he first heard of Farscape’s Peacekeeper Wars television miniseries, giving his first reaction, “What the hell is Farscape!? From there, the team went on to talk about the just issued Farscape hardcover, and made their highly anticipated announcement that the series will now be an ongoing. The panel thanked the fans, saying it was their support, and the reflection of that support in sales, that allowed for this new era of Farscape.
After the returns came in for the first three miniseries, Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning, Gone and Back, and the latest, Strange Detractors, BOOM! decided the series warranted an ongoing. Brill even went so far as to say that the property has changed the landscape for BOOM! and their capabilities.
The panelists profusely thanked the fans. The first story arc of the ongoing, Tangled Roots was called by DeCandido “an Aeryn story.” The villainous Red Eye will return, as a heavy for fans to look out for.
DeCandido said the current series will make a great run-up to Tangled Roots, as there are still lots of surprises to come about Aeryn.
The panel shifted to the origins of the property coming to BOOM! DeCandido cited the unpredictability of the market; for example, the Kevin Costner/ Clint Eastwood film A Perfect World as a sure-fire picture that emerged as a dud. So the creators didn’t know what to expect in terms of viability from this series. It was a risky proposition, but they always had hope in the fan base. DeCandido had done a novel in 2001, but just didn’t know what the market would bear. That’s why the first story was built to stand on its own. But as fans bought up the works, through second and third printings, a new life was breathed into the franchise.
DeCandido moved on to his various Dargo series. Dargo’s Lament just wrapped, and will be followed up by Dargo’s Trial, a four part mini starting August 12th. The panel then announced a third book, Dargo’s Quest, starting in December.
The Trial book will serve as primer on Dargo’s backstory, building on what was teased at in Lament, with the flashback to the campaigns of the Luxan army.
The book will shed new light on the machinations of a Peacekeeper trial, which has yet to be portrayed. The just announced Dargo’s Quest will fill in the gaps between seasons 3 and 4 of the show, portraying his solo missions.
Brill asked about the origins of BOOM! and Farscape’s alliance.
O’Bannon got a call from Mark Waid a year ago. As the show’s creator, he knew the characters still had stories to tell, and he decided to take the opportunity to get them out there. He decided this, he joked, even if Mark Waid is evil.
When the creators were asked what attracted them to do the stories as comics, they replied that, basically, the show was done. The freedom of comics was an allure, too. Live- puppetry was so complicated, so there were limitations, like they couldn’t have too many aliens like Rygel on frame at one time. When writing a show, they had to be careful, but now they can have whatever creature sets they want, without fear of overtaxing a team of puppeteers.
They then shared that Farscape and the Creature Shop had just made the Guinness Book of World Records as the show with the most visual effects.
They then got into new aspects of the universe, like the inclusion of a new race in Strange Detractors. Artist Dennis Calero then talked about his history in architecture, and how Farscape has allowed him to work limitlessly in designing alien worlds. He expressed his joy in designing Rygel’s aquatic homeworld.
Corroney discussed the difficulty in creating a new villain, Red Eyes, and trying to design him to fit in with photo-real film characters. He said he tried to channel his own high-contrast graphic style, and worked to play that high-contrast style in fitting into the broader universe. He also discussed the difficulty in drawing from photo reference, and the pitfalls artist fall prey to. He strives to really ad detail and emotion to characters, rather than just, say, coloring a photo.
Brill then asked O’Bannon what he thought it was about these characters that the creator kept having more stories with them.
With 4 years of show as foundation, O’Bannon explained, there was a lot to work from. Also, the Peacekeeper Wars television event created new questions. He also stressed that he enjoyed the still-new dynamic of Chrichton and Aeryn as on-the-go parents, learning their parental instincts.
Calero asked O’Bannon, "if a live-action Farscape project arose, would it be impacted by the comics work? "
O’Bannon emphatically stated that, "absolutely," this is all in-cannon. In fact, the webisodes, a hot topic at the con, are meant to serve as a bridge between Peacekeepers and the comics.
Calero appreciated the acknowledgement of the validity of comics.
The team reflected on their shared history, and DeCandido told a story that at the release party of his House of Cards novel, the first thing O'Bannon told him was “you get it,” which was a thrill. The two stayed in touch, and that lead to this project, which was a perfect fit.
A fan asked if the comics had unique constraints, compared to the TV series.O’Bannon said there were relatively few. He writes the story breakdown for the comic the same way he would a 4-hour miniseries. From there, DeCandido translates it to a comic book script. DeCandido talked about the standard constraint of a 22-page comic: the need to be straight to the point. He sees each page as a unit unto itself. So it’s less a restraint, and more like the fundamental structure of a story.