Saturday morning at Comic-Con International: San Diego, IDW hosted a panel featuring their line of licensed Angel books. There were several surprises and a number of announcements concerning new projects and creative team changes on the titles. The panel, moderated by IDW Editor-in-Chief, Chris Ryall, included Peter David, Sam Shearon, Scott Tipton, Brian Lynch, Scott Lobdell, and "Drusilla" herself—actress Juliet Landau.
Chris Ryall started the panel by immediately addressing Juliet Landau’s collaboration with Brian Lynch on the return of Drusilla to the Angel comic series. Both he and Lynch spoke highly of her ability to grasp the technical differences between comics and film; they were also highly impressed with her creative vision. Specifically citing her ideas regarding the color palette of the story and her ability to visualize sequential storytelling elements. Landau commented on the experience, “I knew from the moment that I spoke with IDW what sort of story I wanted to tell … the idea just came to me about what this world should look like.” She discussed the appeal of a colder, stark color palette, as opposed to the frequently used warm pallets in the series. Ryall called her visual perceptions “Kubrick-ian”. Landau remarked, “This is a world that is stark and oppressive … I found the juxtaposition of colors interesting.”
Ryall introduced Peter David to the audience and they spoke about Fallen Angel: Reborn which also features Angel character, Illyria, in an unprecedented crossover that has never happened with a licensed property at IDW before. David commented on the crossover, “[Illyria] was just too perfect a fit.” He jokingly described the process of obtaining permission to just Illyria from Joss Whedon as an “involved, grueling approval process”; he laughed, “I was like can I do this—and Joss was like, ‘Wow! Okay, that sounds great!’ and here we are.” The plans for the story, told from the perspective of Illyria, only involved a one-shot but it quickly grew into a four issue mini-series. David explained that the project will take place during Season Five of Angel—to eliminate the potential for continuity based errors or problematic storytelling. Ryall then announced the release of a Fallen Angel omnibus sometime in mid-2010. David interjected a short anecdote about the rights reversion of the property from DC Comics back to David himself—so the entire DC run of Fallen Angel along with the IDW run will be presented in the omnibus.
Ryall then talked about several presentation slides depicting cover art from the various artists involved with the Angel projects, including Franco Urru and Sam Shearon; Shearon spoke about his work on the covers and mentioned Landau’s involvement as a photo-model for the projects as an inspiration for his photo-realistic work. Shearon elaborated, “I wanted more of a film quality presented with the project […] by tying the vampire legend together with the Victorian Era.”
Ryall and Lynch talked about a few individual issues of Angel, beginning with issue #24 which goes on sale on August 5th. Lynch again complimented Landau on her talent and urged her to continue working on Drusilla related comic projects. Lynch next informed readers of a new tongue-in-cheek two-part story where Angel and Spike actually infiltrate San Diego Comic-Con because a movie has been made (in the comic) about Angel and his heroics after saving Los Angeles from Hell in the aptly titled Last Angel in Hell. The movie itself will be depicted in the 40-page Angel Annual in December 2009; the annual boasts Angel-centric meta-fictional advertisements as well.
Ryall changed gears and announced the launch of a Spike monthly title written by Lynch with artwork by Urru in 2010. Lynch spoke quickly about the project, “It’s pretty cool, no bad is too big. He’s in the lead roll now, and we’re dealing with the aftermath of After the Fall.” Ryall also mentioned Angel: A Hole in the World, a five issue mini-series which adapts an episode of the original television show into comic book form. This announcement garnered a big response from the audience, the ‘A Hole in the World’ episode is regarded by a number of fans as one of the most emotional episodes of the entire series.
With that, Ryall indicated that Brian Lynch was leaving the Angel title after his two-part project and asked if there were any volunteers in the audience who would like to write the book. Two men began waving their arms and playfully wrestling. Ryall welcomed Bill Willingham and Bill Williams to the panel. Willingham will be taking over as writer for the Angel ongoing starting with issue #28. The two Bills discussed their plans, with Williams telling back-up stories in each issue. His back-ups feature a new character, left over from the struggles in Los Angeles, named Eddie Hope. Hope is a demon who hunts down the worst folks in L.A. who remain tainted by the effects of Hell on Earth. Williams added, “It’s a revenge story. Eddie isn’t good or bad, he’s just this guy.” Willingham confirmed that Angel would be disappearing from the pages of his own book and that Connor would be taking over in his dad’s place for a while. Willingham addressed the audience, “[Angel] isn’t going to be around for a while, but through the magic of comic books, the readership will know where he is… and the events of Bill’s back-up stories will have the two characters crashing together in a really maniacal way down the road.” Willingham joked about Connor’s amorous pursuits; he laughed, “Connor’s got this ‘cougar radar’ that I want to explore.” He also talked about a thematic change in terms of the temporary new protagonist, saying, “Connor has his own little army of demons, it’s going to be an interesting turn, and a new take on exploiting moral conundrums.”
After a slight amount of noise from the audience, Ryall called Scott Lobdell up to the panel and announced the release of a new five issue Illyria mini-series. Lobdell remarked on the project, “It’s a travel story, she’s going to a funeral for her uncle. She and Gunn go on a road trip together.” Ryall notes that this is also a story that depicts Gunn’s struggles with not being a vampire any longer and it also explores his first encounter with a vampire.
Several questions were asked by the audience with higher spots of the dialog revolving around Ryall and Juliet Landau discussing collaboration. Landau smiled, “I loved the process. It’s incredible to have something in your head come to frutition.” Bill Willingham also elicited more laughter from the audience as he regarded an audience member’s last question, by saying, “Don’t worry the cougar-ish-iousness of the series will continue.”