Creators and editors from IDW gathered Friday afternoon at the New York Comic Con to discuss the company’s decade of publishing and where things will be heading in 2009 and beyond.
Attending the panel were publisher/editor Chris Ryall, artist Ben Templesmith, writer Peter David, artist JK Woodward, writer Tony Lee, Brian Lynch, Scott Tipton, senior editor Andy Schmidt. David didn’t have a chair and sat on the edge of the stage. “He didn’t even have enough clout to get a chair,” Ryall joked of the industry veteran.
In May, on their tenth anniversary, IDW will release two books. One will be a complete cover gallery of every comic they’ve ever published, and the second an oral history of IDW including interviews with Gene Simmons, Clive Barker and other people who have shaped the company. There will also be new stories starring IDW characters, including Fallen Angel, Locke & Key and Popbot. Ryall explained that Locke & Key operates as a framing sequence, unlocking worlds of the IDW comics.
A five-issue Angel series by Kelly Armstrong and Dave Ross will spin out of Brian Lynch’s current Angel story. Lynch will be coming back to do a couple special issues, including “everything dealing with Spike’s death,” he joked. Juliet Landau co-wrote two chapters in an upcoming story, after she and Lynch “met randomly at a Facebook bar.” An upcoming issue will show what happened to Gunn. Franco Urru will be handling the art.
Angel: Blood & Trenches, by John Byrne, sees Angel in World War I, a setting Byrne wanted to explore with the character. Byrne is “doing some special things with the art.”
A new Spike series, by Lynch and Urru, will debut. It will continue “just do until I’ve had enough,” Lynch said, suggesting that it will probably run around a year in length. It will be “a big horror, fun, sci-fi thing.”
American McGee’s Grimm – by Dwight MacPherson & Grant Bond – builds on McGee’s, a game designer, project of “Tim Burtoning up fairy tales.” Grimm goes into superhero comics, romance comics, “and kind of grims them up,” according to Ryall, who said it was “fun to play off these comic book conventions.”
Scott Tipton will be writing the Astro Boy Movie Prequel. Tipton’s also writing the adaptation of movie this September. Ashley Wood illustrates the cover of prequel, and E.J. Su, who was inspired to become a cartoonist by Astro Boy, will draw the adaptation.
In July, IDW launches a monthly Doctor Who series. Writer Tony Lee said that he had “already spoken to the BBC” and presented them with “a massive six thousand word pitch.” The monthly will be like a season of the television series, he said. There will be new companions, because “if you do a new Martha story everybody knows how it ends. With new companions, you can do things people don’t know.” Although there will be “a lot of new stuff,” readers will also be treated to many old races and characters. “Al Davidson, a great artist, is doing the first two issues,” involving 1927 Hollywood and Charlie Chaplin. “Best fun I’ve ever had,” said Lee, who joked that he broke in with IDW by renting “a house opposite their office and watching them with night-vision goggles.”
Star Trek: Countdown will be a “direct lead-in to the movie. Big, momentous things happen to popular characters.” Editor Andy Schmidt said that it is the “first tie-in I’ve worked on.” JJ Abrams is on board and has read the comic, so “if you’re excited about the movie, this is the only place you’re going to get extra stuff that counts,” Schmidt concluded. Writer Tipton praised artist Jim Messina’s work on the project.
Star Trek Crew, by Byrne, explores the Federation before Kirk and Spock. Ryall said that Byrne had previously avoided working in the Federation proper, “but now he’s finally jumping in with both feet.”
Ty Templeton and Stephen Molnar are working on Star Trek: Mission’s End, “a story that breaks up Kirk, Spock and McCoy’s little triangle,” said Schmidt.
Other Star Trek projects include an aliens spotlight on Tribbles by Stuart Moore and Mike Hawthorne titled “The Trouble with Humans.” Keith R.A. Candido and J.K.Woodward are creating Star Trek: Klingons, for which Woodward said he will be “debuting two different styles” for the first two stories, and the last story will be drawn “in [his] original Fallen Angel style.” A Romulans special will tie in to villains of the new movie.
Finally, Andy Schmidt & Chee are adapting Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan in three issues. Because the original Star Trek movie was not considered a hit, Schmidt explained, “Nobody wanted the license when Khan came out.” Ryall said they thought it strange that “there have been adaptation of all the Star Trek movies except the best one.”
A cover was shown for Parker, the first of Darwyn Cooke’s four adaptations of Richard Stark’s novels. Each will be a stand-alone hardcover, Ryall said.
Savior 28 is coming in 2009, which writer J.M. DeMatteis says will be his final word on superhero comics. The cover of Bob Fingerman’s From the Ashes was also shown.
Ryall said that “Fallen Angel goes away with issue #33.” Peter David explained that as sales drop month after month, something needs to be done. Since a new creative team wasn’t an option and the series had reached a natural breaking point, a new #1 seemed like a good idea. “Frank miller doesn’t do Sin City every month, or Mignola Hellboy,” David said. The relaunched Fallen Angel will guest star a character from the Buffy universe, the writer hinted. David said that okaying the appearance involved “Me walking up to Joss” in San Diego last summer and expressing interest in a guest appearance. Whedon replied, “You’d do a great job with that, okay.” The arc will be set during Buffy’s fifth season.
“If sales are strong, we’ll keep going. If sales drop, well hit another natural breaking point,” he joked.
David then left, remarking, “They scheduled me for two panels at the same time.”
Starring Fingerman himself and his wife, From the Ashes is “my reaction to the current trend in memoir comics,” Fingerman explained, being called out from the audience. “But a lot of people don’t have particularly interesting lives.” So he figured, why do a memoir about something that’s happened? From the Ashes is “a speculative memoir, basically my wife and I as survivors of a holocaust.” The book will be Fingerman “thumbing my nose at religion and Fox News … Bill O’Reilly survives and founds a new religion” in this terrifying future.
Ryall and Ashley Wood will be doing more Zombies vs. Robots. “Expanding and exploring the world we’ve created. We get to goof on it a bit,” Ryall said.
Schmidt talked about Oxido, a new series created, written and illustrated by Pablo Raimondi. He called it a sci-fi story about character named Oxido, “the most dangerous criminal in the known universe. Mayhem ensues, slaughter, great, great stuff.” The series launches in August.
“A massive collection” of Chris Eliopoulous’s Desperate Times will be coming out.
John Byrne’s Next Men will be getting hardcover, color editions, and a Danger Unlimited trade paperback will include Danger Unlimited, Babe and other short Byrne stories.
Olympus, a new series created and “executive produced” by movie star Michael Chiklis will be coming out later. The series, which will be written by acclaimed comics writer Marc Andreyko, deals with the Greek gods and casts Chiklis in the role of Zeus.
As of volume 7, Eisner Award-winning designer Dean Mullaney takes over the Dick Tracy reprint series, which will be reformatted to match the Terry and the Pirates and Little Orphan Annie series. Mullaney is also working on a collection of Alex Raymond’s Rip Kirby. Ryall explained that Raymond was “essentially the first photo-real artists out there” and an influence on many popular creators.
“We’ve been talking to Berkeley for two years about this,” Ryall said of IDW intent to collect the entirety of Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County into hardcover editions. He described Breathed as “amazingly humble” and stated that the creator “didn’t think references to Gary Hart would still resonate.”
Ryall said, “More and more we’re going to be expanding” into electronic distribution methods, including iTunes, where “Zombies vs. Robots went live this morning.” IDW will also be “experimenting with motion capture and animated comics” later this year.
President Barack Obama will appear in two more comics this year, one detailing Obama’s life from “the nomination through his inauguration.” Then a second follows his first 100 days, and may only have “pages of trying to push through a stimulus package,” Ryall joked. He reminded fans that, “We were first wth Obama, damn it.” Andy Schmidt cut him down, saying that Obama was “in Blondie years ago!”
GI Joe and Transformer fans were told that they will have their own dedicated panel on Sunday, but Ryall did mention two hardcover picture books for kids that were written by himself and Schmidt.
The final plugs were for two books not published by IDW. Insiders Guide to Creating Comics and Graphic Novels, by Schmidt, and Comic Books 101, by Ryall and Tipton, are both available from Impact Comics.
Ryall closed his presentation saying, “Thank you, hopefully we’re doing this for 10 more years.”
The floor opened to questions:
Ryall explained that the BBC doesn’t want to do new stories about previous Dr Whos due to contracts and likeness issues. “The Forgotten was an exception and they really loved the story” in order to make it happen. Tony Lee said, “For the moment, no, but maybe they’ll relax, but likely no.”
Groom Lake plays off the real groom lake and area 51 mythology, Ryall said. Templesmith added that when he saw the first script, he told Ryall that “it needed more crotches and robots.”
Brian Lynch, when asked if the public outing of vampires in Angel was tied to a similar event in Dark Horse’s Buffy comic, joked: “I don’t read Buffy; the letters page depresses me. They made fun of Angel.”
Tipton said that the footage he’s seen of the Astro Boy movie “looks fantastic, it looks really fun.” He said that writing Astro Boy has been a work in progress, because he “can’t really make with the quips.” He’s had to learn “how to make a ten-year-old boy with machine guns in his butt funny.” Ryall said that the movie is very “true to [Osamu] Tezuka’s spirit.”More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage: NYCC '09 Video Page