NYCC 2013: Rewriting the Classics: Modern SciFi in Comics w/ Dark Horse

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Official Description: For over 20 years, Dark Horse has published some of the most well known franchises in the history of modern science fiction. From Star Wars to Aliens, the publisher is home to some of the most celebrated characters and storylines in the genre, and has consistently expanded the experience far beyond the screen. Now, join us for a look the future of the past, present and beyond with news on upcoming storylines in Prometheus, Aliens, Predator, as well as Star Wars, and the greatest 80′s film that never was, Vandroid! Not only that, we will delve into today’s science fiction classics of tomorrow, with exclusive news on Mass Effect, EVE Online, HALO and more! Dark Horse publicist Aub Driver and Editor in Chief, Scott Allie are joined by Mac Walters (Mass Effect), Tommy Lee Edwards (Vandroid), as well a cast of surprise guests, and announcements on all of your favorite Dark Horse series!

Dark Horse has a wide variety of science ficition comics, and they're kicking off New York Comic Con 2013 with a panel focused just on those, including all sorts of Star Wars and video game comics - including some brand new ones. Tune in right here at 3pm EDT Thursday for live updates from the panel as Dark Horse kicks off NYCC.

Aub Driver started the panel, naturally, by introducing the panelists, and welcoming fans to New York Comic Con. Driver started with Mass Effect: Foundation, and Mac Walters, writer of the series and the games its based on. Walters said, "My work is just about to wrap up. We took the concept of the Homeworlds series, taking issues for individual characters. We're tying it together with a character introduced in one of the DLC packs, and using her as the thread through the whole series."

The series covers tease Thane, Jack, and Mordin in upcoming issues.

Next up was Halo: Escalation and Chris Schlerf. Schlerf noted that "we're actually in real time now" in the comics. "We're moving directly forward from the events of the last game, able to tell stories in the contemporary state of the universe. Sarah Palmer and Captain Tom Lasky are involved, but it's a very wide universe, we'll see a lot of new faces and explore the themes that make up that world."

Next is EVE Source and EVE True Stories, and two representatives from CCP, developers of that game, talked about the books with Dark Horse.

"We started talking at our ten year anniversary about the stories from in the game - not the ones we wrote, but the ones that our players actually lived out. We took those, and we're making them into EVE True Stories comics, comics that show the real stories of our players. The first was a series of attacks and infiltration from one player-founded corporation to another.

"The other side is the EVE Source which is loaded with new material, a lot of depth into areas of the EVE universe people have never seen before." The art teams from Shanghai and Iceland both worked on the source book. True Stories is out June 2014, Source is out in March 2014.

Vandroid was next, with an awesome 80s style live-action trailer. It talked about a new creation, the titular Vandroid. Driver said this was a "lost trailer" and Tommy Lee Edwards has brought it back. It is truly a genuine lost movie.

Edwards said, "It was something that, an Italian crew called Palm Springs Entertainment got into huge financial trouble in 1984. There were a lot of great ideas and good intentions, and there was a fire that destroyed the whole movie, it was all lost. This guy named Nick Nicola did the music, I met him through another movie I had designed, and they've found bits and pieces of the movie. We've gotten almost all of the screenplay, so we're adapting the screenplay to bring the movie out in a way that never happened.

"Dan McDade is drawing it, Melissa Edwards, my wife is coloring it, it's a five issue series launching in January!"

Serenity is coming back as a new six issue series written by Jed Whedon and art by Georges Jeanty. The series takes place after the film of the same name.

Terminator: Salvation: The Final Battle is by J. Michael Straczynski, taking place in the far future era of the original Terminator timeline. "Our antagonist is female," Driver noted. In addition, Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy (click here for more on that series ) is launching early 2014.

Josh Williamson is taking on a new Predator series. "We're not just relaunching Aliens, Prometheus, Alien vs Predator, and Predator, they will all take place in the same universe. We'll spin out of the Prometheus book, and following one Predator who is older and on his last hunt, I can't tell you what it is yet. It's me, Chris Roberson, Paul Tobin, all working in a writer's room style, trying to find a way to make all four books exist in that same universe.

"I'm really excited about it, it will be a lot of fun, should be interesting since The Predator doesn't talk!" Each series is a four-issue mini-series, launching within two weeks of each other.

The Star Wars "is crushing right now" said Driver. The series adapts George Lucas's original screenplay.

Brian Wood's Star Wars meanwhile takes place between Episodes 4 and 5. The cover for January shows Obi-Wan reflected in Vader's mask. Matt Kindt will be doing a new 4-issue mini-series in the Spring of 2014, also within the original trilogy storyline.

Driver then turned to the panelists and asked them what is right in science fiction today.

"Scifi has always been a mirror to our lives. There's a lot going on in the world, and it gives us perspective," said Schlerf. The CCP representatives said that they too use a lot of current worldwide economics and politics in the world of EVE. "It takes things from the environment that we know, turns it up a notch, and allows us to see it a little clearer."

Williamson said, "The bigger the world, the smaller the story. I think that's the best part of scifi that I enjoy, you can have this big gigantic futuristic girl, but have something simple and primal."

Edwards added, "It's also interesting to see how they hold up, to see what comes true," specifically referencing things like Back to the Future II and Vandroid.

As far as what's wrong with scifi right now, Schlerf said "there can be too much homage. Let's bring in other influences that aren't science fiction and say 'how would that apply to a science fiction universe?' I think it's better about it now than it was ten years ago. I think that early on there was a fear of hard science fiction, but now we're embracing that more."

Driver then asked the panel about crazy technologies they've come up with for their fiction.

Schlerf started once again, saying that he's actually run into the problem of coming up with things he thought could never exist, but then researches and find out they do, "and have for 5 years."

Walters said that Casey Hudson, executive producer on the games, went to talk to a consortium called "100 year spaceship," and talked to the actual scientists there about how fiction has inspired them. "He talked to a guy who is such a big trekkie, he now is on the cusp of discovering something akin to warp."

Going back to the good/bad question, Walters noted that webseries and indie films now have access to technology at lower costs that they can create some very good science fiction too.

Williamson noted a story on the news that a couple of people have come up with a theoretical lightsaber, "everything you think could never happen is there." He noted that even things like iPhones and iPads are truly science-fiction devices from when he was a kid.

Edwards echoed that, with researching things while writing, he used to go to a library - now he takes out his phone.

Williamson said that he loves thinking about how simple inventions can change the world, like how teleportation would drastically change life as we know it if/when it ever gets invented.

The panelists praised different mediums for being able to tell different kinds of sci-fi story, rather than only being adapted from one medium to another. Schlerf praised comics for "giving you part of the picture but not the entire picture." Edwards noted that "comics is something you can do yourself as a kid, or even playing your own stories."

The panelists' "Must Reads in Science Fiction?"

Schlerf said "Snow Crash," which got praise from other panelists. "Wrinkle in Time was really important to me too." Mac Walters said, "I recently went back to The Foundation series and re-read that, it's a big one. That was important." Josh Williamson said, "I always liked Transmetropolitan, to see what politics would be in a scifi future." Edwards has recently been enjoying "reading things I missed out on as a kid," he said, especially stories that "mix genres" like Robert E. Howard's short stories.

A fan asked about plans for more "hard sci-fi" like the panelits mentioned, and Driver said "we love doing old style stuff, we do crazy archival books of things that have been out of print for so long. The classics would be awesome to revisit and do as comics."

He also asked if it is difficult writing sci-fi when new technology is coming so fast. Williamson said "Yeah, whenever new technology comes out, it kind of ruins a lot of stories. With Buffy, if people just had cell phones, a lot of those situations wouldn't have been problems. The key is to think about the challenges you have, and make them the challenges of the characters. I think it becomes more fun."

Edwards actually noted Moffat's Sherlock as an interesting take on that, where he uses today's modern technology while still telling the original stories.

Schlerf said that because "most things are actually a possibility, we can focus even more on the characters. It's a great thing about where we're moving with technology, it's not the focus of our lives, it's just part of it."

Walters added that he'll pitch story ideas to his kids, and has to find out if the things he's coming up with are "cool" to them. "It isn't so much about what you'll find when you get there, it's about the journey."

The CCP reps noted that "science fiction isn't always about technology, it's about social sciences."

The panelists agreed universally that they don't feel limited by plausibility and reality, that it's more about being believable "in and of itself," that the universe has its own rules and beliefs, and that's all that needs to fit.

The panel came to a close with a short discussion about "Spectacle vs 'smart writing' in their work," and the panelists agreed that they all think about it "all the time." They want to tell stories that are "internal, but also external."

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