Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid, Managing Editor Matt Gagnon, Publisher Ross Richie and Marketing Director Chip Mosher kicked off the panel by thanking readers and retailers for helping make the publisher Diamond's Best Publisher Under 4% in 2009. "We just want to thank everybody," Waid said. "We appreciate you for coming out to the panel this year and supporting us, and we couldn't have done it without people like you."The team then showcased the seven Eisner nominations, with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Irredeemable getting nominated for Best New Series, The Muppet Show being nominated for Best Humor Series, Sean Phillips and John Cassaday getting nods for Best Cover Artist for 28 Days Later and Incorruptible, and Mark Waid receiving two nominations for Best Writer for Irredeemable and the Incredibles. "All I know is, you're going down, Phillip K. Dick," Waid cracked.
Waid then talked about Irredeemable Special #1, which came out last week in lieu of Issue #13. With Paul Azaceta, Emma Rios and the legendary Howard Chaykin on board for the issue, Waid said that "it's a primer as to how the world works -- a one-issue buy-in... at the same time, if you have been reading it, there will be some plot points that will be very crucial and very important to the plot in year two."
Richie and Waid then talked a bit about bringing Chaykin on board, before showing some Irredeemable covers and cards by Paul Azaceta and Chriscross. "I've been a huge Howard Chaykin fan," Richie said. "I was terrified of working with Howard, because Howard is an industry legend to me too," Waid said. "You don't want to disappoint Howard, because he's a really nice guy. Unless he's angry."
Moving onto The Muppet Show, Richie said that Roger Langridge would be taking a break from primary art duties, writing scripts for new artist Amy Mebberson. Showing a page with former Muppet Babies character Skeeter joining the cast as a grown-up, Richie said that Mebberson's style "tries to preserve the idea that the hand is inside the muppet." "Wait," Waid interrupted. "There's hands inside the Muppets?" To which Gagnon sighed, "You're ruining everything."
After Waid and company gave a brief look at Samuel L. Jackson's Cold Space -- with Waid playing a Samuel L. Jackson iPhone app into the mike that shouted, "hey, that didn't suck!" -- BOOM! made a big announcement regarding its Farscape titles. "They've been building up to this for centuries. They destroy civilizations. And they're called the Kkore," the overhead read, as well as teasing relationships that both the Delvians and the archvillain Scorpius have with the Kkore.
"[Scorpius's influence] will have a huge impact to the series of events," Gagnon said, beginning with War for the Uncharted Territories, which started in the Scorpius prelude. "We wouldn't have written a series about Scorpius without letting him break a few things... this is a huge shift in the Farscape universe."
The BOOM! team then shone a spotlight on one of their most prolific writers -- Michael Alan Nelson, writer of 28 Days Later, Fall of Cthulu, Dingo and more. Referring to Dingo, Richie said that "I don't think we've done a book outside of Irredeemable that has gotten so much universal praise." "He's really, really good," Waid said. Discussing Nelson's upcoming work on Pale Horse, Gagnon described it as "rough and tumble revenge action." Focusing on a freed slave who searches for his family's killers, "we're hoping to do something that's unique and something you've never seen in the western genre."
Waid then introduced BOOM's U.S. printing of 7 Psychopaths, a story about seven people who team up to try to kill Hitler. Written by French comics star Fabien Vehlmann and drawn by Sean Phillips, Waid said "I've seen the pages, and anyone who's seen Sean's work, Criminal, Incognito, his covers for 28 Days Later, everything this guy does is spectacular. His pages are just stunning in this book."
Meanwhile, Claudio Sanchez will be returning to Heaven's Fence with Amory Wars Vol. 3, as well as an ultimate edition for those who haven't read the Coheed & Cambria frontman's earlier comics. "Claudio is really a big comic fan," Richie said. "He puts in everything and the kitchen sink as a fan of the collectors, to make sure this really is the ultimate edition."
Yet BOOM! isn't limited to its regular or kids' lineups -- which is when the team began to discuss new titles for the BOOM Town imprint, including CBGB, a music-influenced comic featuring work from Jaime Hernandez, Ana Matronic, Kieron Gillen, Chuck BB, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kim Krizan, Rob G, Sam Humphries and Marc Ellerby. "We think this is a collection of some of the best voices in indie comics," Richie said.
Gagnon then announced a new title in June called Hawks of Outremer, which is based on a Robert E. Howard story from the 1930s featuring a character named Cormac FitzGeoffrey. Michael Alan Nelson will write the series with Nola's Damian Couciero will do interiors for the four-issue series. Meanwhile, Joe Jusko and Karl Richardson will provide cover art. The story focuses on a nomadic warrior who goes on a quest of bloody vengeance when a close friend is put to the sword. "Lots of decapitating action," Richie said. "There is no action that you will not see in this book," Gagnon added.
Nelson's plate continued to grow, as Richie then announced his next project -- a return to his successful Cthulu series with The Calling: The Cthulu Chronicles, due out in July with artist Johanna Stokes. "This is a completely different approach to Cthulu," Richie said. "This is more about the shadows, the implication of madness and insanity... it's going to be a very grounded, very real world take on Lovecraft's mythology."
At that point, the panel laughed that now was a fitting time to talk about the BOOM! Kids lineup. Their first announcement was that they would be printing a graphic adaptation of Tim Burton's Alice and Wonderland in both hardcover and softcover in June. They then revealed that the top secret confidential team in Previews for a new Mickey Mouse book was none other than Italian comics creator Casty, who will be writing and drawing Mickey Mouse on Quandomai Island. "It's Mickey Mouse and dinosaurs, how awesome is that?" "Casty is a staggeringly good artist," Waid said.
The panelists confirmed that Disney will continue to provide plenty of books for the publisher, with the team stating that they would not only be collecting books like Donald Duck and Friends into trades, but also classic Disney creators like Floyd Gottfredson, Dick Moores, Bill Walsh, Paul Murray and Manuel Gonzales. Additionally, Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Vol. 2 -- considered the Dark Knight Returns of the duck world by some on the panel -- will also come out next week, complete with corrections that were not made in the initial Gemstone edition.
Richie said he was enthusiastic about the "thunderous Internet reaction" over Darkwing Duck, and said that the company's "Disney afternoon publishing initiative" was in full swing, with Ducktales taking over the Uncle Scrooge title, complete with a teaser image asking Who is the New Gizmoduck? "If you needed to get your Launchpad on, this is the place to go." And for those who are curious about the next big kids item -- the panelists said to keep an eye open for a comic on Cars 2, which is slated for 2011.
Finally, the last big announcement of the panel was the "Stan's Back!" campaign, in which Stan Lee will develop three ongoing series based on superhero characters, with Mark Waid writing one of the books. While additional details would be parsed out over the summer, Waid raved about working with the living legend. "He's one of the greatest comic creators of all time -- and he's not stopping... he wants to leave his mark on the 21st century as he did on the 20th," he said. While Waid was originally skeptic about the idea, "I came away just stunned how energetic and how on the ball he was and how stupid I felt next to this guy."
"We are dead bang-on serious about making these books the best Stan Lee book you've ever read, even looking at the Marvel books," Waid continued. "Stan is not familiar to a new generation -- believe me, we're on this." Richie added that "there's a certain amount of responsibility you have as a comics fan to do the best work you've ever done because you don't want to let him down."