IDW Becomes Diamond Premier Publisher

With apologies, the IDW Panel could not be covered live due to WiFi issues at the show. We will have a full write-up for you at this very space shortly.

The big announcement from the panel, however, we have now. True Blood comics will be coming to IDW in a new partnership with HBO. The series will be based off the show directly, rather than off the book series that spawned it. Several people are involved in its creation, from both the show and the comics worlds. From the Press Release:

"The plot was developed with Ball, along with series writers Elisabeth Finch and Kate Barnow, and co-written by David Tischman and Mariah Huehner.  Beautifully illustrated by top tier artist David Messina, the series captures all the bloody details and sexy reveals of this exciting new adventure.  Renowned artist J. Scott Campbell will join Messina in providing covers for each issue."

The first six-issue series will be introduced in July at Comic-Con International: San Diego, and will featurie Sookie and friends stuck in familiar Merlotte's Bar due to a severe storm. The storm isn't all they'll contend with, as a new creature that feeds directly off emotions comes to town.

And now the panel report...

With a conspicuously small crowd of just a bit more than a dozen people (and in a room with no reliable Wi-Fi signal, thus rendering our live coverage attempts moot), IDW started their Wondercon panel late Friday afternoon by apologizing for three scheduled participants not making the session.

"We're a little light on people, so we might be light on the facts," IDW editor Scott Dunbier said.

"But we're heavy on fun," quipped Max Brooks, writer of the acclaimed book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and the upcoming G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds series for IDW. "We've got 12 awesome fans, and one guy who just came in to sit down in the back."

IDW senior editor Bob Schreck started the panel, noting that both him and Dunbier "did our time in DC, we have the scars to prove it." Schreck then introduced Max Brooks, with the writer thinking Schreck called him "Matt.""Did you call me Matt?" Brooks asked. "You just WASP-itized me!"

Rounding out the panel was Famous Monsters of Filmland publisher Phil Kim.First slide featured The Man with the Getaway Face, a comic previewing Darwyn Cooke's next IDW graphic novel project, The Outfit. This prelude is on sale currently at the convention.

Next was Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, with Schreck commenting that the art "reminds me very much of Josh Middleton's work." Schreck then mentioned Steve Niles & Ashley Wood's Mystery Society, with art by Fiona Staples. "It's like Nick and Norah meet Scully and Mulder," Schreck said.Vertigo veteran Peter Milligan is writing Army of Two, based on the video game, with art by Dexter Soy and Jose Marazon, Jr. Noted sci-fi author Orson Scott Card is co-writing Dragon Age with Aaron Johnston; Schreck complimented the covers by Humberto Ramos.

Dubnier noted that G.I. Joe line editor Andy Schmidt is still at IDW headquarters in San Diego, but that didn't stop Brooks from discussing Hearts & Minds, pointing out the first issue's cover, with a grizzled, eye-path wearing older man on the cover.

"See the one that looks like Nick Fury? That's actually Major Bludd," Brooks said."Basically, what I wanted to do was not do a linear story, but analyze the lives of certain characters," he continued. "I submitted a story about a character named Firefly—I wrote a short story about what it's like to be a saboteur. They said, 'This is different from what we're doing, so we'd like you to do a mini-series.'"

It's a five-issue series starting in May, with each issue essentially a "day in the life" focusing on one G.I. Joe and one Cobra character. Art by Howard Chaykin.

"Major Bludd has a very real, justifiable reason to do what he does," Brooks said.

Other characters featured in the series include Doc, Spirit, Blowtorch, Deep Six, Dr. Mindbender and "regular Cobra recruits." "What would make someone join Cobra?" Brooks asked.

"I tried to infuse it with as much reality as Hasbro would let me get away with," he continued. "And they let me get away with a lot. I was very surprised."

Brooks said that the book is in many ways a reflection of our current reality—G.I. Joe was created in the relatively carefree '80s, and we're now mired in two wars.

"You can't do harmless violence," Brooks said. "That's what I sort of wanted to deal with. Issues like medical malpractice, science vs. religion."

Brooks emphasized how enthusiastic he was to write G.I. Joe.

"This is a change for me," Brooks said. "For the first time in a long time I'm working for someone. I'm taking a massive paycut, and I'm taking orders from a toy company."

Schreck quickly moved through slides showing various Transformers titles, with Brooks telling the crowd, "You'll be happy to know that Michael Bay has nothing to do with it." ("No one from the IDW staff said that, by the way," Schreck clarified.)

Though the panelists weren't able to talk at length at every project, Schreck was more than ready to discuss Jurassic Park: Redemption—he's writing it. It's five issues starting in June, picking up 13 years after the first film. The series stars a now grown Tim and Lex (Hammond's grandkids), with Tim looking to "clear his granddad's name."

The series will sport variant covers by marquee names including Frank Miller, Arthur Adams, Paul Pope and Bernie Wrightson. Series art is by Tommy Yeates, who Schreck says he's known since he was 15 or 16.

IDW's near future also involves a couple of series based on James Patterson properties: Witch & Wizard (five issues starting in May, written by Dara Naraghi and art by Victor Santos with covers by Fabio Moon) and The Murder of King Tut (four issues starting in June, written by Alex Irvine and art by Christopher Mitten with covers by Darwyn Cooke).

Of Witch & Wizard, Schreck gave the pitch, "Basically, it's kind of like, 'What if Harry Potter was jammed together with 1984'?"

IDW's continuing with their Angel comics, the latest being Angel Barbary Coast, written by David Tischman, art by Frank Urru. That's out on April 14.

Famous Monsters of Filmland publisher Kim spoke at length on Famous Monsters founder Forrest J. Ackerman, calling him "the original fan." Even if the crowd assembled on Friday afternoon—nearly three dozen by the panel's end—hadn't heard of him, "you are still the benefactors of this man's life work," Kim said.

The new Famous Monsters will be a quarterly, with each issue having about three variant covers.

Dunbier turned to IDW's Library of American Comics line, with the second volume of Bloom County: The Complete Library out this month, with an introduction by former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel.

July brings the first volume of the Complete X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan, by Al Williamson and Archie Goodwin.

Dunbier was especially excited for Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, a biography of the legendary artist set for fall 2010. Dunbier noted that IDW is working with the complete cooperation of the Toth family.

Also coming to the Library of American Comics: Archie. Specifically, volumes showcasing two of the publisher's most legendary artists: The Best of Dan DeCarlo and The Best of Stan Goldberg. Also coming, Bob Montana's complete Archie daily newspaper comics, starting with 1946-1948.

Also on the line's horizon—Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer: Artist Edition, an oversized hardcover reproduced at the same dimensions of Stevens' orginal, black and white art.

"You'll be able to see the blue pencil work," Dunbier said.

Schreck briefly plugged Strange Science Fantasy by Scott Morse.

IDW marketing manager AnnaMarie White, who joined the panel in progress, discussed the company's ePublishing ventures. "Starting tomorrow, we'll be on the iPad," she said, while adding that they're also doing "creator audio commentary" for the digital books.

The final presentation was on their acquisition of the True Blood license, bringing the hit HBO horror-drama to comics in July of 2010. Based on a story by series creator Alan Ball, it's written by David Tischman and Mariah Huehner, with art by David Messina. Covers will be provided by Messina, Joe Corroney, J. Scott Campbell and Andrew Currie.

Schreck played a short video from Ball, praising the medium of comics for being able to depict anything, free of budgetary constraints.

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