SDCC '08 - Oni Press vs. The Universe

SDCC 08: Oni Press vs. The Universe

Scott Pilgrim returns this February from Oni Press, and this time, he’s taking on the universe.

Creator Bryan Lee O’Malley announced at the Oni Press panel at Comic-Con International that the fifth volume of his popular series is titled Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe and will debut at the New York Comic Con in February.

James Lucas Jones moderated Oni’s panel, which featured a packed room of fans and at least a dozen Oni creators who Jones invited to the podium to talk about their titles as he announced them.

The panel kicked off with artwork for Billy Smoke by B. Clay Moore and Eric Kim. The book is about an elite hit man who’s nearly killed during a botched assignment. He decides his only path to redemption is to kill his former hit man associates.

Jones called it an “adrenaline-fueled thrill ride about an assassin on the path to redemption.” It debuts in early 2009. Matthew Fox has signed on to star in the film adaptation and was at the Oni booth some of the weekend signing autographs.

Next up was The Return of King Doug, written by Greg Erb and Jason Oremland, with art by Hunter Clark. This original graphic novel focuses on a man who must return to the fantasy world he abandoned three decades earlier. It comes out in 2009.

“It really came out of Jason’s and my love of The Lord of the Rings and Chronicle of Narnia, Erb said, adding that their story would have a “comedic twist.”

The writers, who worked on The Princess and the Frog for Disney, are also working on the screenplay. Ben Stiller is set to produce it for DreamWorks.

Jones also said Oni is working on a “new floppy comics initiative” that will debut next spring with several color monthly series. Those series include Stumptown, the Greg Rucka-written private investigator series that was announced in San Diego last year; Resurrection, which ends its black and white run with issue #6 and starts up again next year in color; and a new title called Bad Medicine by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir. Jones said the initiative would include a few other books they weren’t ready to announce.

DeFilippis joked that Bad Medicine was the first in a line of comics named after Bon Jovi songs. Really, though, it’s a medical procedural/horror mash-up that introduces a team of CDC operatives led by a doctor haunted by the ghost of someone he killed. They investigate cases involving spontaneous combustion, werewolves, the undead and the invisible man.

Joe Harris, whose previous work includes Slingers and Bishop: The Last X-Man for Marvel, was on hand to announce two new projects with Oni. The first is a five-issue series called Ghost Project that features art by Steve Rolston. The story takes place in the former Soviet Union and revolves around the idea that during the Cold War, the Soviets experimented with all sorts of weapons of mass destruction, including the supernatural.

An American weapons inspector discovers a project that involved the Soviets trying to weaponize ghosts that “went horribly wrong,” Harris said. It’s due in late 2009 or early 2010.

His second project, The Hashishian, is an original graphic novel with art by Trevor McCarthy. Harris said the name comes from a sect of assassins during the Crusades who were sent out to perform assassinations “drugged out of their minds,” Harris said.

“But that’s not exactly what our story is about,” he added. It’s about two Brooklyn stoners who find a magical stash of marijuana, and when they smoke it, “they have flashbacks to the 12th century where these characters were alive and well and doing their duty,” he said. The owner of the pot, one of these 12th century assassins, shows up and hunts them down to reclaim his pot – later they learn he’s there to assassinate the president.

Cullen Bunn, writer of The Damned, and Jeremy Haun, artist of The Leading Man, announced a new graphic novel called The Hollows. Bunn described it as a cross between “Lovecraftian horrors and rednecks.”

“I grew up in rural North Carolina, around tobacco barns and pig slats. I thought I lived in the most countrified part of the country. Then when I was 18 I moved to the Missouri Ozarks,” Bunn said. The graphic novel is set in the Ozarks and features a character named Cole returning to the town of Black Oaks “and finds some things have changed for the much, much worse.”

Jeffrey C. Burandt and Zack Finfrock will team for a new ongoing series called Odd Schnozz and the Odd Squad. It’s about a punk band in Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

“They start to realize that Plano has an odd side,” he said. The lead singer has a sixth sense in her nose that itches when something weird is happening. The first story arc introduces a science fiction research and development lab in Plano that the band investigates.

Timeshare, a science fiction comedy by Patrick Keller and Dan McDaid, features an array of different time travelers and their adventures together.

After introducing Oni’s new projects, Jones gave quick updates on existing or previously announced Oni projects:

• Chynna Clugston’s Blue Monday series returns this fall with Blue Monday: Thieves Like Us. The five issue mini-series features Bleu L. Finnegan trying to lose her virginity.

• Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumin returns in December with a Courtney Crumrin and the Nowhere Prince, a 48-page one-shot.

• A second volume of North World comes out in February.

• Eisner Award winner Chuck BB is drawing an issue of Wasteland that comes out in September. He’s also working on the next volume of Black Metal, which comes out early next year.

Labor Days by Philip Gelatt and Rick Lacy is due in October.

• The second Last Call by Vasilis Lolos has been taken off the schedule. Lolos has “had kind of a rough year,” Jones said. It will be resolicited at a later time.

• The second Shark Knife by Corey Lewis is due in September.

• The second Salt Water Taffy is due in October.

• Jones said The Big Book of Barry Ween, Boy Genius, a collection of all of the previous issues of Judd Winnick’s humor title, should be in stores soon. “We’ve been talking to Judd a lot about it,” Jones said. Although Winnick is busy with DC right now, Jones said he hoped they’d be able to announce a new Barry Ween project before next year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

Oni ended the panel by handing out free comics to attendees.

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