SDCC '08 - Dark Horse Comics Panel

Gerard Way on The Umbrella Academy

By Vaneta Rogers

The Dark Horse panel focused on new titles, existing properties like Hellboy and Buffy, and two surprise guests: Bruce Campbell and Mark Verheiden.

Verheiden and Campbell came to the panel to talk about their upcoming movie My Name is Bruce, previewing a couple scenes for the enthusiastic audience. As expected from the movie, the scenes were filled with Campbell's usual over-the-top horror gags.

The panel was opened up by Jeremy Atkins, director of publicity, and Scott Allie, editor.

Allie told the crowd that several Dark Horse comics won Eisner Awards, including Eric Powell, best painter on The Goon: Chinatown; James Jean, best cover artist on Umbrella Academy and Fables; Dave Stewart, best colorist; Umbrella Academy, best limited series; Perry Bible Fellowship, best humor publication; Eric Powell, best writer artist/humor; Sugarshock, best digital comic; and Buffy Season 8, best new series.

"We're really proud of the people we work with," Allie said.

Allie talked about the status of several new projects from Dark Horse, including:

- BPRD 1947, a five-issue series, will follow up on the Hellboy 1946 spin-off, which looked at the origins of the team. Josh Dysart will write with Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba on art with Mike Mignola.

- Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch, a one issue story written and drawn by Mike Mignola. Not a sequel to Darkness Calls. That comes a little later. "This is just Mike doing a one-off like The Corpse," Allie said.

- Buffy Season 8 will finish up a crossover with characters from Whedon's former comic series Fray, then Jeph Loeb is coming on for a single issue that will pick up on a "couple of things they weren't able to do with Buffy." After that, Jane Espenson, who was a writer for the Buffy television show, will kick off a five-issue arc featuring stories by the show's TV writers. In the story, Buffy's world goes public. "Vampires become common knowledge and it changes everything for the slayers," Allie said. Following that arc, Espenson comes back for five-issue arc featuring Oz. Then Brad Meltzer will be writing five issues before the series wraps up.

- B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs by John Arcudi will be followed up with an Issue #2 in November. "We wanted to do a BPRD kind of story told sort of like the original Aliens," Allie said, following the tale of "a bunch of grunts in an enclosed space trying to deal with frog monsters." John Severin will be artist on the issue.

- The Captain Hammer eight-page webcomic featuring art by Eric Canete, which tells more about the character featured in Joss Whedon's online film Dr. Horrible.

- Dean Motter's Mister X will be returning to comics along with Mister X: The Archives, which will collect the series.

- September's Solomon Kane, a five-issue mini-series that Allie is doing himself. "It was the first time I said, 'no, I want to write this,'" he said. It will have covers by John Cassaday and will feature interior art by Mario Guevara.

- On Nov. 26, Umbrella Academy 2 will launch, continuing the story by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. "We've got a really crazy and surprising story for you," Allie said. The new volume focuses a lot on Number Five, the time-traveling character who disappeared and went into the future. Allie said the character left out a lot when he told the story of what happened in the future. "We'll also find out who those guys were in the diner who came after him," he said.

The story will take place in America this time, and Allie said "it's the first time Gerard's done anything vaguely political, because he's kind of avoided that in the music. But he's going to do that in the comic." Allie showed a preview image by Way that said "Series Two of Umbrella academy: November 1963" but then the 1963 was crossed out and "2008" was hand-written in. Dark Horse also showed that Jim Lee did a cover for the series.

- Serenity: Better Days is being collected, and early next year, another Serenity three-issue series will focus on the origin story of Shep. The creative team has not been "ironed out," Allie said, but Whedon would be working with another writer similar to what was done with Better Day. The series will also feature a different art team than previously.

- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will be a new series that ties into a new game from LucasArts. "It's an adaptation of the game and gives more backstory," Allie said.

- Clone Wars will be released two versions monthly comic and also a series of book that are digest-sized.

- A new Indiana Jones series called The Tomb of Gods will debut this fall with art by Tony Harris.

- In manga news, Dark Horse announced that next summer the company will create a series of 80-page manga that will be simultaneously released in Japan and the United States by the group of creators called Clamp. Dark Horse will also be releasing an Omnibus collecting all the Clover stories next year.

- A fan asked if the publisher is going to release the announced hardcover of "20 Years at Dark Horse. Allie said it's been tabled due to time constraints and will be retitled, "25 years of Dark Horse" for a 2011 release.

- Another fan asked if Dark Times is coming back. Allie: Yes. Dark Times will continue.

After Campbell came in a side door with Mike Richardson, publisher, and Verheiden, fans watched the scenes from the new movie, including an outdoor scene where a group of teens (trying to have sex, of course) are murdered by an evil demon, then one where Campbell is recruited to help his fans hunt the demons.

"I had this idea about a movie star who gets kidnapped by a bunch of imbeciles in a small town who want him to fight demons. This came together incredibly easy for a movie," Verheiden explained.

After that, the panel was opened up to questions from fans.

- What are they working on?

Campbell: "We're talking about a sequel to this called 'My Name is Still Bruce.'" He also said RIPD is being developed as a film. And he plugged his Burn Notice television show.

Verheiden: He just finished wrapping up Battlestar Galactica, and a pilot called Caprica, which is a prequel spin-off from BSG. He's also doing a film called Arc "based on a comic book we did" for Sony.

- Will Campbell be going through any more physical abuse in My Name is Bruce? Campbell: "No, 'cause Sam didn't direct it."

"There's just enough abuse to make the fans glad I'm being abused," Campbell said. "I like just enough pain. And I like it when the pain goes away on payday."

- Will there be another Bubba Ho-Tep? Campbell: No. "We were seriously talking about it, but we couldn't come to an agreement on what it should be."

- Any more Evil Dead plans? Campbell: No. "Sam Raimi is a little busy. Have you noticed?"

- More Army of Darkness comics? Richardson: There's one series licensed from Sam Raimi -- the Dark Horse Evil Dead series written by Mark Verheiden. Richardson said the others "pale in comparison." Campbell: "Other comics are not endorsed. They're licensed from a sub-licenser to a sub-licenser."

- Does he have a dream role? Campbell: "My dream role is playing myself in a movie, where I can make myself as much of a jerk as I want."

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