Baltimore Comic Con '08: The Boom Studios Panel

Baltimore: The Boom Studios Panel

The Boom! Studios panel took place on Sunday at Baltimore Comic Con with Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid and company co-founder Ross Richie talking to the crowd without microphones because of technical difficulties.

The biggest announcement during the panel was that Mark Waid will be writing three new comics beginning in March 2009. That will be a big month for Waid, who is also launching his new Incredibles comic in March and is bringing back Potter's Field for an issue that month.

To start off the panel, Waid asked what people have been reading. Many named series that were already finished, but one person said he was reading Challenger Deep, which is only halfway finished. This prompted Waid and Richie to begin talking about some of their current comics and upcoming releases:

- Challenger Deep is a four-issue mini-series created by Boom! co-founder Andrew Cosby and written by Andy Schmidt. The premise is based on real science and the idea of methane ice under the Earth's water. "They thought for a long time it was only on the outer rim planets, but it turns out we had it in some of the deeper surfaces," Waid explained. In the story, a submarine is trapped on the methane ice, and the order from the military is that nuclear subs should discharge their nuclear weapons if they are trapped. But if they launch the weapons, the explosion from the methane would be disastrous.

- There will be more Potter's Field with Paul Azaceta in March. That issue along with the former three-issue series will be available in trade in April.

- Farscape will be written by Rockne S. O'Bannon, the creator of the show. "He's really excited about writing the comic," Richie said. "It's a chance for him to do the stuff he couldn't do with the show because of the budget," Waid said. The series will begin with Issue #1 in November.

- Disney-Pixar has given Boom! Studios the license to produce comics based on its movies. Beginning in March 2009, the all-ages Pixar comics will launch with a four-issue series of The Incredibles, which will be written by Mark Waid. "We heard there's a rumor kids like comics," Waid quipped. Cars is the second Pixar property being launched and will be the Boom! issue featured on Free Comic Book Day. Toy Story and Finding Nemo will be next, followed by Monsters Inc. and Wall-E. "We're investigating tying into the next Pixar movie coming out next year," Richie said. Waid said comic shops are always important, but with this line, big box retailers are interested. "We want to work with our best retail businesses to get these comics in their store," he said," but we expect to launch this much broader than that."

- The Muppets is the other comics license that is going to be at Boom! Studios. Roger Langridge, who did the Disney Adventures Magazine comic strip featuring the Muppets, will also be working on the comics. "I think it really captures the off-kilter flavor the Muppets have," Richie said. The people who are approving the comics are thrilled because the topics covered in the comics are things they weren't able to do with the show. "The idea is not just to do The Muppet Show, but Muppet Robin Hood, Muppet Sleeping Beauty, Muppet Prince Charming, Muppet King Arthur, or titles like that," Richie explained. "Our ongoing publishing plan over the next three years is to do the bulk of our stuff in that way."

- Galveston by Tom Peyer and Mark Rahner ships in two weeks. The idea came from Johanna Stokes and Ross Richie, who discovered that legendary pirate Jean LaFitte and Texas legend Jim Bowie not only knew each other, but were friends. Waid said when he heard about it, "suddenly that whole Shanghai Noon thing came in my head," Waid said. The four issues begin shipping in late October.

- The Remnant is a new series by a group of writers who are scripting an idea by actor Stephen Baldwin. Waid said a "big part of me died inside [when he heard Boom was talking to Baldwin] because it was like, oh great, another actor doing a comic." But Waid said he loves the idea and the way the comic has turned out. He described it as a "Supernatural 24. It's high-tech, superspy stuff." The premise is that a former intelligence agent gets recruited back to track terrorists and realizes they're not tracking Al Qaeda, but are instead following a group dabbling in the supernatural and trying to bring about Armageddon.

- Richie mentioned that although Boom! usually sticks to other genres, the company will be doing some superhero stories in 2009.

- Hexed, which starts in November, is by Michael Alan Nelson, who Richie called "our superstar writer at Boom!," will explore a story about a Brazilian street thief who always finds herself involved in supernatural situations. Richie said he calls it, "What is Hellblazer was Gwen Stefani?" The penciler is Emma Rios, and the inker and colorist are female as well, Richie pointed out. Joe Pekar is doing fully painted digital covers. "That is going to be one of our break-out books," Waid said.

- Mr. Stuffins, the story about a Teddy bear secret agent, is back on schedule for the spring with a new art team. The story is based on a story that begins with a guy who works for a government project to create artificial intelligence, but he finds out he's not working for government, but instead working for bad guys. So he goes into a mall, ducks into toy store, and downloads the artificial intelligence program into a mechanical talking bear. The man is captured, and later, the teddy bear is purchased. When the boy activates that bear's programming, Mr. Stuffins has the artificial intelligence and thinks he's a Navy SEAL with the mission of protecting the boy. The story is by Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes.

- Unthinkable is a new series by Mark Sable, who did the Two-Face special at DC and the Cyborg mini-series. The five-issue series is based on the premise of the government putting together a think tank of imaginative writers and asking them to come up with creative scenarios of how someone could destroy the United States. Richie said this is based on real life, because the government has done that. But in the story, they find out it's not the government, and "weird and bizarre stuff is happening around the planet and only they know how to right it," Waid said. The mini-series will start in April or May of 2009.

- March of 2009 is going to be a really important time period, Richie said, because the Pixar and Muppets lines will launch. That month will also see changes to some of the company's Warhammer series. And March will also see the launch from Waid of three new series that Richie is calling "Mark Waid's little boutique line" comics. Potter's Field will also re-start in March from Waid, along with his Incredibles comic. On top of those two, Waid will write these three others. "I don't know when I'm going to sleep, but it should be awesome," Waid said.

- December will see the release of Kathryn and Stuart Immonen's Never As Bad As You Think, a 64-page hardcover collecting comic strips that the two have been selling at conventions. They will be in landscape format in a deluxe hardcover for $14.99 that is being designed by Stuart.

The panel was opened up to questions:

- Will the Farscape series introduce the premise and characters to anyone that didn't watch it? Waid: We were very cognizant of that. We will introduce the concept and the characters to people who are new to the Farscape universe.

- Will Boom be putting more comics online at their website? Richie: will have five new pages a day of six comics: Schmobots, Heroes Squared, 2 Guns, Zombie Tales, Chtulhu Tales, and Ninja Tales.

- Can they add their own concepts to the Pixar line? Richie: These are new, original stories set within the Pixar movies universes. Waid: The story arcs will be four issues at a time, but will continue with new four-issue story arcs. The first Incredibles story is what happens when Mr. Incredible starts losing his powers and he doesn't want to tell the family. Another one is about when Baby Jack Jack gets a virus and makes everybody sick all over town in a way that gives them all superpowers.

- More plans for Stardust Kid? Richie: No plans now. Waid: But if you like J.M. DeMatteis' stuff, in December Boom is collecting his former series, The Last One and Seekers Into the Mystery for release in December. "Its going to be J. M. DeMatteis month in December because we're doing three issues of Hero Squared that will wrap up the saga called Hero Squared: Love and Death.

- Will Kathryn Immonen be writing more? Richie: We've had some conversations. Probably not in 2009 because most of the editorial content has been planned, but maybe evenutally.

- How long is the Pixar deal? Richie: Three years. Waid: That means at least 36 issues.

- Have they picked The Incredibles artist? Waid: Yes. Can't announce it yet.

- Writer for Cars? Richie: We can't announce that either. It's all very preliminary. Working on the first two to three mini-series at the same time for all the properties.

- What does Boom! think of the collapse of Virgin, how do you keep structure so that you can be successful without exploding similarly? Waid: "We pay our creators with chocolate bars and canned goods. No, we have to be very vigilant that we don't overbudget on the sales of these books." And he said the publishing plan has to be smart so they're not flooding the market, but instead just printing things they really believe in.

- How much of a boost did the company get with Mark Waid announced as Editor-in-Chief? Richie: We really surprised people with the announcement, and Waid has done a lot of work to build an editorial infrastructure and schedule. There's an editorial staff in place now, and that's why Waid is able to write again.

- Will there ever be a crossover between The Incredibles and Fantastic Four? Waid: "If that's something you'd like to see, start the grassroots campaign and take it to the message boards. 'Cause that would be great."

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