WW PHILLY '08: Dynamite Entertainment Panel

Dynamite Entertainment Panel

Dynamite Entertainment is fast becoming the HBO of comics world, according to both publisher Nick Barucci and Blair Witch Project writer Eduardo Sanchez during their panel discussion at WizardWorld: Philly.

What does the Blair Witch Project have to do with anything, you ask? Well, the Blair Witch team is putting out a new original comic with Dynamite and writer Robert Napton of Dynamite’s Battlestar Galactica, based on the famed pirate Blackbeard. And who doesn’t love pirates? [and if you do, look for many more details here]…

Sanchez explained the decision to go with Dynamite as a reflection of their indie-film ethos. “Dynamite is an indie company, it’s the complete opposite of a studio mentality,” he said.

That creator-friendly attitude is also what landed Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys at Dynamite after being dropped from DC. Barucci was asked how they ended up with the series, and he explained (modestly) that they won the rights “on the merits.”

He offered Ennis the same deal he got from DC—plus total artistic control. “In my opinion,” he said, “You’ve got The Sopranos, and we’re HBO. If you go somewhere else, eventually you’re going to get lost in the shuffle, or someone’s going to say they don’t want that scene because it makes fun of their character.”

It didn’t hurt that Barucci was a real fan of the series, either. And he sounds genuinely enthusiastic about all of the books on his imprint, from Xena and the Lone Ranger and the other licensed titles that Dynamite is still largely known for to the new batch of original works coming out.

One of those original works, of course, is Project Superpowers, with the super-team of Jim Krueger and Alex Ross. Krueger also appeared on the Dynamite panel, as did Brian Reed of Red Sonja.

Project Superpowers took over three years to develop, according to its creators, and it’s not stopping anytime soon. In September, Dynamite will release another #0 book that will launch three new series out of Project Superpowers, on the Black Terror, Masquerade, and the Death-Defying Devil. Krueger will be the writer on the Black Terror as well, and Alex Ross will be doing the covers for all of the books. Mike Lilly recently signed an exclusive contract with Dynamite, and he will be working on some of the books as well.

Additionally, late in 2008 or early 2009, the main Project Superpowers will return.

Of the length of time that it took to create Project Superpowers, Krueger noted, “It really was creating a universe, and how do you do that?”

Barucci and Krueger agreed that to some degree, Superpowers has inverted the trend of decompression in comics, packing a lot of information into each issue. Barucci said “What I originally thought it would be, was in issue #0.”

He noted that from the beginning, the question was, “What can we create that’ll be cool, that’ll be ours?” And with Superpowers and The Boys, Dynamite has started to build a library of titles that don’t have to answer to licensors, which will continue with Blackbeard.

The Blackbeard envisioned at Dynamite is going to be different than anything we’ve seen on the subject before, Gregg Hale promised.

“He was a pretty trippy guy,” Hale said. “We see him as a guy who had been oppressed his whole life—being a sailor was pretty close to being a slave, the captain had the power of life and death over you. So he’s rebelling against any kind of oppression at all,” he said, noting that Blackbeard had a crew that was largely African-American during the time of slavery, that he had captains and a right-hand man that were African-American, and that Blackbeard did attack slave ships.

They promised action, too, though, for those of you who thought this sounded too serious.

Dynamite isn’t giving up on all your favorite licensed series, though. Lone Ranger and Xena were discussed, as were the delays on each of those series, which Barucci generously chalked up to “meticulous” artists.

I had to ask, on Xena, whether much outreach had been done to the character’s legion of female fans, women like me who grew up on the character. Barucci noted that it’s hard to do out-of-market advertising with a limited budget, but that with graphic novels in Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com, hopefully that will change.

Several questions were asked about other licensed characters, to which the joking reply was often, “I’ve got the address for their lawyers, and you can write to them…”

And as for Red Sonja? “We killed her, she’s dead, and now I have to clean that mess up,” Reed joked, though he noted that having her dead creates an excellent new starting point for readers unfamiliar with Sonja’s past.

The Dynamite guys also wanted to remind everyone that they have a podcast [http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com...epodcasts.xml] on their site every week for the latest news, and that they do indeed have art and statues, and perhaps some The Boys action figures down the line…

Newsarama Note: There will be one or two Highlander projects this year, and hte franchise will be relaunched at Dynamite in 2009.

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