Image Comics held its first panel of New York Comic Con Friday evening at the show. Panelists for the presentation and discussion with fans included: Image PR & Marketing Coordinator Joe Keatinge, current Spawn artist Whilce Portacio, Steven Seagle, Joe Kelly, and Rob Liefeld.
Keatinge introduced the panel as well as the creators and then moved into a slideshow of current and upcoming projects. Highlights from the slideshow:
Savage Dragon returns to the Chicago PD in this month’s issue #145.
A new G-Man graphic novel by Chris Giarusso, a new Elephantmen series, Christopher Yost’s Killing Demons, Olympus, Dead@ 17: Afterbirth (and trade collections) Power Up by Doug TenNapel, new versions of the early Spawn trades (labeled as Spawn: Origins); and The Walking Dead Compendium, which will collect issues #1-#48.
Asked by Keatinge why he’s recently broadened into more creator-owned work, Kelly said that all of the members of the Man of Action collective felt that it was time to do more creator-owned work, and Image was the perfect place for them to do it. While he still likes superhero work, Kelly said that he has other stories to tell, as well as stories with discrete endings – things he can’t necessarily do at Marvel or DC.
Kelly said that he likes to jump around, and has more creator-owned work in the pipeline (including a kids book with Ben Roman - Douglas Fredericks and the House of ____), which allows him to not to pigeonhole himself.
Turning to Seagle whose Soul Kiss just hit this week, Keatinge asked the writer how he got started in comics and grew to the breadth of work he does today. Seagle said that he stumbled into comics while he was in comics by sending out proposals blindly, and one was picked up. Seagle joked of the primitive conditions involved in producing his first comic, Kafka, and how now, years later, he’s back to doing his comic book the same way.
Seagle, reiterating Kelly’s comments about Image, cited the publisher as the only place where they could do the things that they wanted to do, something, he said, that’s not to be taken lightly in the industry. Like Kelly, Seagle said that he has more work coming from Image, including a new superhero book, Imperial, drawn by Marc dos Santos.
Asked if he might join with Mike Allred to do more work, Seagle joked that he probably wouldn’t return to Jaguar with Allred, but the two have been talking, and, schedules permitting, something may be coming. “I wouldn’t be surprised if something does come, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something doesn’t,” Seagle joked.
Back to the slides, Keating said that Image will publish two new Dawn projects by Joseph Michael Linsner, as well as a hardcover collection of all the Dawn stories ever printed, as well as a Dawn tarot card set.
Moving to Portacio and asking how he got into comics, the artist said that he was the “poster child” for bad portfolio submission, but was ultimately directed to Carl Potts who assigned him work on a series of Marvel projects. “It’s a really boring story,” Portacio joked. “I just showed my portfolio and got a job.” He also joked that he didn’t realize, at first, that his art needed to tell a story, which led him to a series of regular inking gigs, starting with Art Adams on Longshot.
Portacio said that Potts sent him, Xeroxed through the mail, The Four Cs of Cinematography in order to teach him how to tell story, and shortly after, Portacio started drawing on the back sides of the art he was submitting to Marvel, which led him from one job to the next. “Even when you’re in, you still have to keep working,” Portacio said.
Portacio said that his art teacher in Hawaii told him that if you ever feel like you know what you’re doing, that’s the day you die as an artist, which is why, he said, he draws on the backside of his pages, to keep up on his anatomy and stay in practice.
Keatinge agreed, noting that Erik Larsen is drawing an issue of Savage Dragon where every panel is a different day in a series, something he’s doing to stretch himself as a storyteller.
Moving on to Liefeld, Keatinge repeated that the creator has completed his six-page backup in Youngblood #8, and the issue is at the printer. From there, Liefeld will be drawing the full issues of the series. The backup, Liefeld said, is a perfect introduction to the team, who they are, and what they do, and leads into issue #9. Liefeld said that President Obama will appear in issue #9 as well as the backup in issue #8.
Liefeld also announced that Armageddon Now OGN will have a one shot later this year with Armageddon Now: Jada in May. Liefeld said that he likes the work given that it’s based in the real world, and pushes him as an artist.
Noting the teaser images that have showed up for Robert Kirkman’s titles: Invincible and Astonishing Wolf-Man. Invincible #60 will be a 40 page issue all by Kirkman and Ryan Ottley, and then, Conquest will begin. Kirkman and Todd McFarlane’s Haunt will begin in June. Speaking of the book, Keatinge said that all the layouts for the book are done by Greg Capullo, with pencils by Ryan Ottley, and inked by McFarlane. Keatinge described the book as both a superhero and horror series.
Keating then showed a slide of art from the upcoming Image United. Stressing how each creator will draw their own character in the series, and that all the work is done on the original art, the slide showed Ripclaw, Shaft, Dragon and Witchblade in a double-page spread. The spread will eventually, Keatinge said, have work from all the Image founders on it.
Asked if Jim Lee isn’t working on it, Liefeld said that “We’re all working on it.”
Referring to Michael Phelps recent misfortune with the press, Portacio joked that he has a picture of Lee with a bong.
As for when Image United will be released, Keating said that it will be out in 2009, and Liefeld added, “We don’t want to be counter-programmed.”
Asked if Jonathan Hickman will be writing any more books at Image, Keating said that he’s finishing up Red Mass from Mars, and as long as Hickman wants to continue writing books, they’re happy to publish them.
As the panel was closing, Liefeld took a minute to point out Kelly and Seagle, saying how the two were heroes in his house for creating Ben10. Continuing to praise the writers, he said that here were two creators had written “everything” for DC and Marvel, and now were doing creator-owned work for Image.
“If you want to see your favorite creator do creator-owned work, tell them that you would buy it from them,” Liefeld said, adding that the market now is ruled by fear – the fear that there is nothing outside of DC and Marvel. Fresh ideas are what the industry needs, Liefeld said, and it needs creators who are willing to step out of what they know and try creator-owned work in an setting that allows them freedom and independence, not only at Image, but at Dark Horse, or wherever they can find it. Creators need to be encouraged by fans to take the step and do more new things, and fans, likewise, need to try new things from the creators whose work they love.
“Yes, some of you may think I‘m a douchebag, but I’ve done it my own way for 20 years,” Liefeld said to chuckles from the audience, “And that’s the way to go.”More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage: NYCC '09 Video Page