IDW hosted its panel Saturday for New York Comic Con, featuring Darwyn Cooke, Chris Ryall, Greg Goldstein, Dirk Wood and editor Scott Dunbier.
The panel opened up with Richard Stark's Parker, written and illustrated by Cooke - Dunbier announced that a fourth Parker book will be coming out in December called Slayground.
"It should be pretty obvious I love Parker," Cooke said. "One of my favorite books is Slayground... it's probably the greatest book in regards to just showing you the pure essence of who Parker is, and how he thinks and how he operates."
An armored car robbery gets botched in the middle of winter, and Parker is stuck in the middle of nowhere in a city he doesn't know - he gets away with the money on foot, and hides in an abandoned amusement park. While breaking into the park, Parker witnesses two police officers getting a payoff from the mob - "What follows after that is one of the most incredible books I've ever read," Cooke said. "If I was ever going to do Parker, this book needed to get done."
Cooke said that this book would be shorter and more streamlined, but that also resulted in a lower price point. "We take it out of your royalties," Dunbier said. Cooke added that this book would also feature the short story The Seventh, which has only previously appeared in the Martini edition.
Dunbier added that IDW would also be printing hardcovers of the original Parker novels, complete with chapter illostrations by Cooke. IDW will be printing The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face, The Outfit, The Mourner, The Score and The Jugger. "This will be the first time that the original run of books will be published in hardcover format," Cooke said. Each book will include 10 full-color illustrations.
"For me, this is like a dream project," he said. "This is a chance to make sure that this work is preserved."
Dunbier also announced an Artist's Edition version of Peanuts, by Charles Schulz. "This will be a horizontal Artist's Edition," Dunbier said. "We are working very closely with the Peanuts people, the Peanuts Museum - they have an archive of nearly 7,000 originals."
Cooke interjected, asking "Why Peanuts?" and Ryall said that Schulz actually hated the name "Peanuts," but eventually got used to it.
Goldstein then announced a project with DC Comics - an Artist's Edition version of New Gods. He revealed a shirt saying "Kirby is Here!" "Everyone at this company, everyone will fight to the mike to say how excited we are to publish Jack Kirby, the Artist's Edition."
Dunbier described Kirby as "the most important comics artist of all time." Cooke joked, "How do you think that makes me feel - I'm right here!" Dunbier said that Kirby was particularly kind to him when he was younger, and was a big influence on him. This will be five issues as well as extras, including stuff that was never printed.
Dunbier then said he would introduce not one, but two legendary guests - the first being Dave Gibbons, speaking to the audience via a pre-recorded video. "A bit of history, way way back when, I broke into the industry by balloon work," he said, saying that he learned so much by viewing original art.
In 2014, he announced that IDW will be printing the Artist's Edition version of Watchmen. "It won't actually contain complete stories, but there will be extended sequences, there will be covers, there will be all kinds of illustrations and oddities... it is the next best thing to having the original artwork in your hands."
Dunbier said there will be other DC Artist's Editions in the works, but he can't announce the rest yet. "We're hoping to have a long relationship with them," he said.
Ryall discussed IDW's imprint of Artifacts Editions, which have extras even if they don't have complete stories.
Dunbier then introduced the latest legendary guest to the panel: Jim Steranko. "Thank you so much, how are you guys?" Steranko asked.
"As a comics fan, Jim Steranko is one of the true greats of comics history," Dunbier said. "He did a relatively small body of work for Marvel Comics, but it stands the test of time, it's seen as a benchmark of comics history." Dunbier then announced that IDW would be printing the Artist's Edition of Steranko's Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as an Artists Edition of his Nick Fury and Captain America stories.
"I'm speechless," Steranko said, adding that he only drew 29 books for Marvel. "I probably have the distinction of producing the smallest amount of work that made the biggest amount of noise in this business."
"I always just saw myself as an entertainer - I'm a writer and an artist, but I really just saw myself as an entertainer," Steranko added, saying he was glad people saw him as something more than his mistakes. "For the last 35 to 40 years, my books have been in print - I don't get it, but I'm grateful for it." Dunbier said the first book will be coming out in May.
Steranko then told a story to the audience. "Maybe five years ago, I really got this jones to get back into the storytelling business," he said, adding that he had done cover work but no storytelling. He then came up with an idea for Captain America, and called Dan Buckley to ask if he was interested - both in terms of a new story as well as a new format for the comic as a whole.
"We've just been chewing on the tip of the damn iceberg for years," Steranko said, saying that comics as a format haven't changed since the 1930s. "There are a thousand new formats in which you could enjoy comics with."
Steranko said he pitched a six-issue S.H.I.E.L.D. miniseries to Joe Quesada, and said he was told he had to submit an outline. He was told that a plot point in the story "would violate the Marvel Universe," and was told the story wouldn't work. Steranko said he reworked the story that would give Marvel more grist for the mill, but that negotiations had to be held because of the San Diego Comic Con. Steranko said he never heard back until he got an email from someone else at Marvel saying "your ideas wouldn't work."
"Nice guy that I am, I never even responded to his call," Steranko said. "I figured that was the end of my negotiations with Marvel."
Steranko said he then pitched to Dan DiDio a new Batman story - but DiDio said no. "We're not interested, because we're already selling Batman through the roof, so we don't need you there. We could use you somewhere else, but not with Batman." So Steranko said he came up with an idea for Superman. With a character printed as continuously as Superman, the character is "worn out," Steranko said.
Yet when Steranko pitched his Superman story, he was told that his pitch wasn't enough. "I can't do it - all I understand is comic book pages," Steranko said he was told.
Steranko said that IDW brought a lot of courage to the industry, breaking ground and really promoting the artistic side of the industry. "I love being on the edge - if it fails, I don't even care. What matters is that I did my best - and if that fails, I can't do anything else," Steranko said. He recalled arguing with Stan Lee "over every little innovation" during his issues of Nick Fury. "He didn't have a confrontational relationship with me, I had a confrontational relationship with him," he joked.
Steranko added that when he spoke with Goldstein, he asked for three minutes to pitch. After a minute and a half, Steranko said that Goldstein said it was a done deal.
They then opened the floor to questions. The first was to Cooke, asking his favorite Parker novel. Slayground, The Score and Dirty Money were his favorites, he said.
Another audience member asked about submissions, and Ryall said that IDW had a link online, and would be expanding their process to accept pitches, as well.
An audience member asked about their licensed comics, such as Ghostbusters and My Little Pony. Are there any more licensed series they hope to add to their lineup in the future? Goldstein said that IDW is always looking at new properties.
Will there be any Extreme Ghostbusters stories in the future? Ryall said they were content with their current output.
Is there a chance to do any more Cartoon Network series? Ryall said they were always open to trying new things. Dunbier joked that the Ninja Turtles would be having a crossover with Parker.
An audience member asked, what is the future of My Little Pony comics? Ryall said the series was doing fantastically, selling over a million copies, and that there would be a second ongoing series called Friends Forever.
Another audience member asked Cooke about his process of working on the Parker books. "Stark's prose is so lean, it's pretty much cut down there," Cooke said of the author's terse prose. He said that if he gets bored drawing a sequence, it's clearly going on too long.
Cooke said that when Dunbier first joined IDW, he asked Cooke what he wanted to do - his immediate answer was the Parker books, and that if IDW got the rights he would do at least four. He added that he had been embroiled with Dunbier for a long time, and had a great relationship with him, and that their approval moved fast - he recalled, for example, that it took four years for DC Comics to approve The New Frontier.
Will there be any more work with Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez? Ryall said yes, but not together - Joe Hill will be working on Wraith, and there will be a break for a little while until they do more together with Locke and Key.
Cooke said that at some point he might take a break, perhaps after the sixth book - "You might not see it, but there's a chain around my ankle," he joked. "I think I'm always going to be associated with this character now - so I think it's my responsibility to keep the work in front of people. It's just good to know it's keeping it out there, it's good for his family, it's good for his children, it's good for his wife, and it's good for people who like to read good stuff."
Is there any news on Generator Rex in terms of creative teams? Ryall said there is no news, but there are plans.
Will there be a DC Comics/Transformers crossover? Ryall said at this point, it's a rumor. "There are a lot of fun things that could be done by merging those universes, but at this point it's just at the talking stage," he said.
To wrap up the panel, a fan asked about an Artist's Edition of Batman: Year One. Ryall said "hopefully down the line" that will happen.