IDW Publishing>a? Vice President of Marketing, Dirk Wood hosted “The Greatest Panel in History” at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, which the company showcased a number of licensed books and creator owned books to come in 2013.
Joined by IDW CEO & Publisher Ted Adams, writer Andy Diggle (“Doctor Who,” “The Losers”), writer Phil Hester (“Green Arrow,” “The Darkness”), Mike Costa (“G.I. Joe: Cobra”) and Menton3 (“Monocyte,” “Silent Hill: Past Life”).
Wood began the panel by announcing “Star Trek” becomes “Star Trek: After Darkness” beginning with issue 21. “A week after the movie comes out, the next issue will continue where the movie left off,” he said. Wood also stated “Star Trek Into Darkness” writer/producer Roberto Orci has been planting Easter Eggs the first 20 issues, to hint at what will happen in the latest film.
“The X-Files” will begin season 10 in comic form this June. Series creator Chris Carter has been actively involved ever since IDW received the license, making the comic series his true vision, after the TV series and the two feature films.
The panel also gave an overview of creator-owned series “Wild Blue Yonder” by Zack Howard, Mike Raicht and Austin Harrison, set in a post-apocalyptic world due out in July; all-ages comic “Kiss Kids” based on the band and written by Chris Ryall and Tom Waltz with art by Jose Holder; “The Superman Silver Age Strips: 1958-1961,” a three book set that collects the Silver Age comic strips from a variety of creators; and “The Rocketeer and The Spirit” team-up book by Mark Waid and Paul Smith hitting in July.
The next segment was dedicated to IDW’s Artist’s Editions, which Adams said was the brainchild of IDW Senior Editor Scott Dunbier. The goal of the Artist’s Edition is to present comic art as if it was coming right off of the artist’s table. The latest editions will include “The Best of EC Comics,” Jeff Smith’s “Bone” and Mark Schultz’s “Xenozoic Tales.”
Wood then passed things along to Andy Diggle, who spoke about his upcoming work on “Doctor Who.” “I’ve been alternating on the writing with Joshua Hale Fialkov and I’ll be returning on issue 9. I co-wrote it with Eddie Robson, who is a walking ‘Doctor Who’ encyclopedia. I realized that I was asking for all this advice from him about continuity, so I just decided to bring him on board.”
Wood then asked Diggle if he was at all intimidated by all of the continuity of “Doctor Who.” “It’s certainly scary, when it comes worrying about the continuity of a superhero book,” Diggle said, “but with ‘Who,’ the continuity for the TV show is all over the place anyway”.
Diggle also said he’d love to do more “Doctor Who” stories after issue #12. “In fact, if you guys did an old school ‘Star Trek’ with the 11th Doctor, I’d be all over that. To have the alpha male of Kirk, going up against the whimsical doctor, it would be so fun, I’d do it for free.”
Phil Hester’s version of “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” will be out in August, with pencil’s from Andrea DiVito and covers by Jerry Ordway and Dave Sim. Hester stated that his goal for the project was to show his love for the agents, as well as showcase why they’re different than most superheroes. “Everybody knows that with Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. With the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, with great power comes a price,” Hester said. “When an agent uses their power, it shaves years off of their life, it causes them great pain or shed a bit of their humanity and that’s what separates the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents from most comics. No matter what happens in most other superhero comics, things will come back to the way that they were. When a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent dies, they die. Somebody else might show up and become the new Lighting or Dynamo, but these people still pay a price.”
The panel gave a brief overview of the July-releasing “Wizards and Robots,” a book by Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am with a cover by Menton3, before moving on to another creator-owned series, “The Memory Collectors” by Menton3, slated to release in October.
“‘Monocyte’ was a book that we intentionally made dense and difficult to read,” Menton3 said. “There was a running joke in the offices of IDW that my artwork was really pretty to look at, but they never knew what was going on in the story. I wrote and drew ‘The Memory Collectors’ by myself and I’m glad to have done something that’s much more down to Earth, but also more sexy. Everybody thinks that I’m a horror artist, where I like doing that, but I also like doing other stuff that’s a lot more fun and this is a book where I get to do that.”
Mike Costa chimed in on his work for “G.I. Joe: Cobra Files,” which follows a group of G.I. Joes that are in deep cover and operate through a casino in Vegas. “I just finished writing issue 7, which is quite possibly the worst G.I. Joe arc ever — not in terms of quality,” Costa said. “The characters in the unit become so emotionally devastated and some of them don’t even make it out alive”
The publisher had exciting news for “Locke & Key” fans — “Locke and Key: Alpha,” a two issue epilogue for the critically acclaimed series, will debut following the end of “Locke & Key: Omega.” “Joe [Hill] couldn’t wrap up the entire series in one issue, so he decided to do these double sized one shots to wrap things up nicely,” said Wood.
In other news, IDW stated its previously-announced Cartoon Network licensed series are set for launch this fall, with “Powerpuff Girls” debuting in September, “Samurai Jack” in October and “Ben 10” in November. Meanwhile, Christian Gossett’s “The Red Star” will be reprinted later this year after a long period of being out of print.
The publisher’s “Mars Attacks/Judge Dredd” crossover is also planned for release later this year. Initially, the series was just a cover for the “Mars Attacks” cover crossover. However, both 2000AD and Topps were so happy with the look of the cover that they both demanded that the book become an actual reality.
In undead-related news, Kevin Eastman’s late ’80s/early ’90s “Zombie War” is getting a color reprint later this year, along with “The Other Dead,” the zombie version of “When Animals Attack.”
Wood opened up the panel to Q&A with a challenge in honor of IDW’s “Kill Shakespeare” — if anyone could frame their question in Shakespearean dialog, they would receive a free prize.
There were plenty of questions about IDW’s upcoming licensed work, including “Samurai Jack,” which has a huge fanbase. Adams said IDW wouldn’t want to stray far from the original series, because it would want the comic to appeal to longtime fans of the show.
Although one fan asked about the possibilities of doing more DC Comics Artist’s Editions (“We’d love to do more, it’s just a matter of licensing,” said Adams), the most entertaining DC Comics-related question was directed at Andy Diggle about the “Arrow” drama on the CW.
“For those people that don’t know, the ‘Arrow’ TV series is loosely based off of [‘Green Arrow: Year One’],” Diggle said. “Oliver Queen’s bodyguard’s name in the show is John Diggle, which is my brother’s name. We find out later in the show that his brother, whose name is Andy Diggle, got killed by Deadshot. In the TV show, Deadshot tattoos the names of his victims into his own body. So there’s a screenshot floating around the internet with Deadshot showing the name Andy Diggle tattooed across his chest.”
Given the announcement of a final, two-issue “Locke & Key” series, there were naturally a few questions about the fan-favorite series — one from a fan who actually took on Wood’s challenge to phrase his question in Shakespearean dialect.
“My question, gents, is this, I prithee,” the fan said. “Of those of you hath read “Locke and Key,” a bounty of keys do whom they boast, which is the one thou favors the most?”
After applause from the gathered panel-goers, the panelists picked their favorite key. Adams and Menton3 chose the Head Key, while Costa picked the Anywhere Key. The question also arose as to whether fans would have the chance to see more work from “Locke & Key” writer Joe Hill.
“Absolutely!” Adams said. “Joe’s a real busy guy and when he’s writing a novel, they’re 400-page novels, so it takes up a lot of his time. He’s really meticulous about his craft, so when he writes a comic script, it’s something that doesn’t come quickly, because he’s taking the time to make it perfect. He’s a big ‘Doctor Who’ fan and Chris Ryall has asked him plenty of times to write a ‘Doctor Who’ comic. We do have a couple things in the works with him, one that we can’t announce yet, but the other is ‘Thumbprints,’ an adaptation of a novella he did, which comes out in June. We’ve got such a good relationship with Joe, that if there was anything that he wanted to do, he can do with us.”
One of the final questions led to a discussion about creator-owned books, something “Monocyte” creator Menton3 said the publisher was “crazy supportive” of.
“Take a look at Ashley Wood’s “Lore” or even the crazy stuff that they let me do on my book,” Menton3 said. “‘Locke and Key’ is an amazing example of a creator-owned book that they put out. As a creator myself, they’ve been an amazing company to work for. One of the problems that we have for creator owned books are that pre orders are a very big deal. The publisher is only going to print what gets pre ordered. With “[Teenage Mutant Ninja] Turtles,” you get a ton of pre orders in for stuff like that, but not enough for a smaller book. Sometimes, it’s people not paying attention to what a publisher’s putting out. Every month, I look through Previews and I pre-order all of the independent books I want, because I know how crucial it is. The reason I do this is because I create independent books and the amount of people making these books, in comparison to the people that want to buy them, is very low. I’m really proud to be a part of a company that’s so supportive of us independents.”
“Now is a really good time to be a comic book publisher,” said Adams, ending on a positive note. “Many people are discovering comics through their iPads and on digital platforms that have rekindled people’s interests in comics. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and right now is about as good as I’ve ever seen it, in terms of being a comic book publisher. There’s a lot of really good content being published from all of the different publishers in the industry.”