The American Original panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego made it clear that everyone from comedians to special effects specialists are coming into the world of comics, and the world of comics is intertwined with Hollywood.
Scott Aukerman, comedian and writer of Mr. Show, was on hand to talk about the Comedy Death-Ray comic book, which was announced by American Original founder Jeff Katz last month. Aukerman announced the comedians who have already agreed to contribute to the anthology comic, including:
- Mr. Show writers David Cross and Bob Odenkirk
- Comedian Paul F. Tompkins
- B.J. Novak from The Office
- Actress Janeane Garofalo
- Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live
- Actor/comedian Brian Posehn
- Actor Patton Oswalt
- Comedian Sarah Silverman
- Writer Rob Schrab of Scud: The Disposable Assassin fame
- Comedian Zach Galifianakis
Katz led the panel, which took place late Saturday, and had dozens of other announcements about American Original projects, revealing everything from new comic books to new movie properties to a new branding division of the company.
The former film executive and Booster Gold co-writer reiterated the goals of American Original, the self-described "nerd machine" he formed after abruptly leaving FOX Studios last year. In short, he's hoping to help geeks take advantage of their power in the entertainment world. (See Newsarama's in-depth interview with Katz for more details of the company's mission.)
Katz also directly challenged the people in the audience who are involved with the entertainment industry, reiterating that his deal-making structure is first-dollar gross after cash break-even. After pointing out that the deal includes his producer fees, he quipped, "All my producer friends in the room, match my f__king deal, or I will go after you."
Matt Hawkins, president of Top Cow Productions, was introduced on the panel when Katz explained American Original will publish up to 10 comic book titles per year in conjunction with Top Cow.
Katz then ran down a list of all American Original's new projects, introducing special guests involved:
- Blastosaurus will be targeted toward a kids market and is drawn and written by 24-year-old Richard Fairgray from New Zealand, who is legally blind with only 3 percent vision in one eye, which means he sees in two dimensions. American Original has also acquired Falling Leaves, another property created by Fairgray.
- The Boys artist Darick Robertson will draw covers for Blastosaurus for American Original. The artist said he had just recently visited New Zealand where he met Richard Fairgray and was now looking forward to doing the covers for the issues.
- Vengeance is Mine will be written by Katz with art by Thomas Nachlik. It's a mix of the "Payback" or "Get Carter" model and the monster world of movies like "Nightbreed."
- Brian Lynch and Gary Whitta will write Daybreak with art by Marco Castiello. It features the ultimate bad-ass in a prison break story, but there's something special about the prison.
- Creature designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff will be working on a project tentatively titled "The Galaxy Project" that will create a brand new yet interconnected sci-fi galaxy. Sci-fi writers and artists will come into the world and write stories with the design and conceptual work done by Gillis and Woodruff.
- Katz announced that Marc Bernardin, writer of The Highwaymen, will be writing a comic targeting the "urban" market. Bernardin said it will be a street-level thriller, although the title was not announced. "It's really lean, really mean, lots of stuff gets blown up and everyone goes home happy," Bernardin said.
- Tim Simmons, who does the Spy6teen comic for Zuda, will be writing a comic about gods from different cultures fighting in a "biblical battle royales to end all biblical battle royales," Katz said.
- Katz said American Original will announce titles written by Academy-nominated and one Academy Award-winning writers, most likely in Chicago in two weeks.
- Paul Heyman of Extreme Championship Wrestling will be writing a comic called Heyman Hustle for American Original that takes place in the Subways of New York, like a modern day version of Warriors.
- As its first announced film project, American Original will develop a theatrical version of the documentary, Bigger Stronger Faster. The film examines the use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs. Everyone attending the panel was given the DVD of the documentary.
- In support of alternative animation, American Original will be working with animation studio Titmouse Inc. Chris Prynoski and Keith Fay were at the panel and announced that they'll be doing four movies with American Original. "The first one we're probably going to do, although we can't announce it yet, is possibly the most twisted empowerment movie in the history of mankind," Katz said. American Original may be doing something with the Titmouse Games division as well.
- American Original will work with Longbox to develop digital comics, and Longbox put Katz on their board.
- American Original will do branding for individuals and companies who want to market to the comic book audience.
- The first corporate client for American Original branding will be TNA Wrestling.