Saturday afternoon at Comic-Con International: San Diego, Jim Lee severed up cookies and bottled water to the comic book hungry convention-goers who attended the Wildstorm panel. The panel was packed with professionals; the moderator, VP of Publicity, Hank Kanalz, quickly introduced the panel: Brian Wood, Kurt Busiek, Christos Gage, Ben Abernathy, Darick Robertson, Fiona Staples, Rebecca Isaacs, Brent Anderson, Simon Furman and a number of others.
Kanalz opened up with the announcement that Planetary #27 goes on sale in October and that poster-sized version of the cover to the issue was being given away at the Wildstorm booth He also mentioned the reprinting of the previous editions of Absolute Planetary. Kanalz turned to Editor Ben Abernathy to discuss the return of Welcome to Tranquility; Abernathy described the new project as a direct sequel to the original 12 issue series.
Kanalz then announced the launch of a new DV8 title written by Brian Wood with artwork by Rebecca Isaacs. Wood remarked, “I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time; I’ve pitched this 4-5 times over the years.” The new project is an 8 issue mini-series set for early 2010. Wood teased, “These types of books aren’t usually what I like to do…but this project will fit in very well with all the other projects I’m currently writing.” Wood complimented the work of Rebecca Isaacs and they exchanged pleasantries. Isaacs then briefly described how she became involved with the project via networking.
Next up, Kanalz discussed The Authority: The Lost Year; written by Keith Giffen with artwork from a number of artists, the project picks up with issue #3 of the Grant Morrison/Gene Ha Authority project which fell behind schedule. Scott Peterson, editor of the project, informed the panel that Morrison had actually conferred with Giffen while he completed the project; so, technically, the book is still co-plotted by Grant Morrison. The story depicts The Authority as they attempt to return home after being lost in The Bleed. Darick Robertson, artist of the project, was excited and explained that Giffen had paid him a great compliment, “Normally, [Giffen] draws little thumbnails for his artists; so, they see exactly how he wants the pages done. With me, he doesn’t do that; it’s a huge compliment that he trusts me.” Ha will provide covers for the story.
Next up, Ben Abernathy and Christos Gage discussed the next 6 issue arc of WildCATs which also features Team 7 as they try to take down Tao, a character made popular as a villain in the book Sleeper. Gage noted the return of Max Faraday to the book and described the next arc as “a Jim Starlin epic storyline”. Abernathy introduced Adam Beechen who takes over in WildCATs #19 with Tim Seeley on art duties. Beechen described the new direction as “the biggest team-up you’ve ever seen” and described the storyline as, “We’re putting the Earth back into a livable situation for the remaining 10% of humanity that remains on the planet.”
Abernathy then announced the new creative team for the current Authority book written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; the new creative team will be Highwaymen writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman who briefly described a story arc involving the Carrier being recalled by its creators. Bernandin remarked, “There are like forty heroes who are going to be torn over whether or not to stay or try and find something better out there.”
Shannon Eric Denton was introduced and he talked about changes in Gen 13 and how the book was the lightest, most carefree of the three titles; he added, “…but it’s time to grow up a little bit. This is a Gen 13 you’ve never seen before.” Peterson announced that Phil Hester would be joining the book as the new writer and reassured the audience, “This is still going to be the lightest of the books.”
Kanalz switched the presentation to the creator-owned projects being published by Wildstorm; he briefly spoke about Ex Machina and admitted sadness that the book was coming to an end with issue #50. Abernathy added, “Things get a little crazy starting with issue #45."
The next project announced, Garrison, features writer Jeff Mariotte and penciller Francesco Francavilla. The series was described as an action adventure book and Mariotte praised Francavilla, comparing his work to the early work of John Cassaday.
Several other projects were quickly announced and/or discussed: the currently-shipping Killapalooza was first, which Beechen described as “rockers by night, covert super spies by later that night”; he also said that the book could be compared to “Behind the Music with superpowers. North 40 with Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples is a 6 issue action/ adventure mini-series with elements of horror. Fiona Staples stated, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had drawing a comic.” The next project announced was Red Herring; it was described as a conspiracy book with humor by its writer, David Tischman. Kanalz also announced Sparta USA, written by David Lapham; Abernathy described the project as “mysterious” with a lead character who is an ex-football star turned barbarian warrior who returns home after being swept away to a strange fantasy realm.
Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson were introduced after a number of jokes were made throughout the panel by the two men who kept holding up a sign that said “MONTHLY” on it. They could confirm that Astro City would become a monthly series later in the year. Busiek also talked about his new project, American Gothic, which would be putting a Twilight Zone/ Outer Limits type of spin on contemporary stories. He described it as, “a way of inventing an American mythology.”
To close the panel, Kanalz briefly ran down a list of licensed properties and projects being produced by Wildstorm including World of Warcraft and the launch of a Horde title and an Alliance title; a StarCraft book written by Simon Furman; Gears of War with artwork by Liam Sharp; Prototype by Palmiotti and Gray and a book called Free Realms. Free Realms was described as “World of Warcraft for kids—it’s pippy and fun” by series writer JS Lewis. The final announcements of the panel regarded two new licensed books for videogames: Dante’s Inferno, written by Gage, and a God of War project written by Marv Wolfman that would segue the gap between the first and second game.