“Hey, there’s people here! That’s fantastic!” Thomas Jane shouted as he energetically made his entrance to audience applause, clearly pleased at the turnout for RAW Studios‘ first official panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
“Hey, there’s a big movie star here!” returned artist William Stout.
As the panelists took to the stage, they passed posters for the film “Devil Commandos” as well as RAW Studios titles “Bad Planet,” “Alien Worlds,” “Alien Pig Farm 3000,” and “Twisted Tales” behind them. Jane served as moderator and introduced his fellow panelists: artist and RAW partner Tim Bradstreet, artist Bernie Wrightson, writers Bruce Jones and James Daly, artists William Stout and writer Steve Niles “with Todd Farmer [writer of “Alien Pig Farm 3000″] for some reason sitting in the audience” said Jane.
Discussing why they were relaunching “Alien Worlds,” writer Bruce Jones answered, “I was with Pacific Books in the ’80s and back then we thought bringing back to comics something that hadn’t been around for 20 years – a science fiction adult-oriented non-super hero anthology done with the illustrated approach to comics as was done in EC by Abe Krinkle , Johnny Krieger and Al Williamson – would be great. There were too many super heroes then.”
“And its the same situation today,” added Jane.
After discovering “Mad” magazine and EC Horror comic reprints, Jane developed a passion for comics at the age of ten, and one that remains to this day. Then in the ’80s Jane fell in love with “Cadillacs and Dinosaurs” and the anthologies “Alien Worlds” and “Twisted Tales.” “That’s how I got turned onto Bill Stout, Mark Schultz, Bernie Wrightson, and Jim Daly,” Jane said.
Then Jane launched into a passionate declaration of RAW Studios’ mission. “We’re picking up the torch that’s been passed on from Frazetta, Johnny Craig and Jack Davis. Guys like Mark Schultz and Bernie Wrightson follow in that tradition and James Daly and Tim Bradstreet have picked up the torch and continue to put a modern twist on the classic style which includes a lot of hard work and elbow grease to get that kind of detail and those fine lines and that real classical sense of composition… That’s the torch we are carrying. The difference is now we have ability to capture all that fine detail and share it with all of you guys. Guys who appreciate it.”
Tim Bradstreet added, “One of the things we’re really proud of – Tom and I don’t do a ton of material, y’know we have a handful of books we really care about – one of the reasons we got into this is we wanted to work with guys like Bill Stout and Mark Schultz and one of the best things is watching how on “Alien Pig Farm,” watching Bill and Mark out do each other. We want to usher in that kind of combination of classic fantastic older guard of artists like Stout who has blazed trails his entire career and Richard Corben and have those incredible artists we’ve admired for so many years being in our flagship issue then combining that with guys like Sam Kieth, modern masters new guys who will absolutely blow you away.”
Just before the lights dimmed to show video of RAW Studios upcoming and current projects, Mark Schultz appeared to join the panel. “Mr. Mark Schultz!” yelled Jane. “Mr. ‘Cadillacs and Dinosaurs!'”
“Don’t think just because Mark is late he isn’t calling attention to himself in any way,” joked Bruce Jones.
The video reel showed equal parts Thomas Jane’s acting and current and upcoming comic projects from RAW. “That last bit, ‘I Melt With You,’ is a film we’re going to shoot in a few months about four college buddies who decide to kill each other.” Not a comedy for the whole family, as Jane described it.
After the video Mr. Jane and the panelists opened up the floor to questions, the first of which involved the first RAW Studios title “Bad Planet” and just what the story is about. “Its based on a dream I had with spiders an infestation of the world. I also had [an] idea of an escaped convict from another planet who crashes on Earth. He’s not interested in saving Earth, he’s interested in figuring where these things came from because these ‘Death’ spiders are why he’s imprisoned in the first place,” said Jane. “Steve [Niles] and I have plotted out the first six issues. We had an idea, we knew it was going to be a 12-issue series and the first six [are] part 1. Part 2 I’m writing with Bruce Jones. It would be climax of the mystery and to destroy the world. We decided to destroy the planet.”
A man wanted to know if the studio would be branching out into other styles or genres to which Jane answered, “We’ll be doing crime, westerns, horror stuff. Anything but no superhero stuff.”
“While we launched this thing with ‘Bad Planet,’ our love for science fiction is long and deep. But are we ever going to do anything that isn’t science fiction? Yes, yes we are. ‘Twisted Tales’ will be turned into a 3-D horror series; I’m excited about launching that into your living rooms in the next 18 months. Believe it or not, you too will probably own a 3-D television in your life time.”
One fan was curious about where to get RAW Studios titles, inquiring if the books were available through the “Previews” catalog. “Yes, we just started listing,” Jane said, “We’re in the Diamond Catalog this month and next month. ‘Alien Worlds’ hasn’t come out yet, it will be in [there] a couple of months. One of the hardest things is spreading the word about an independent publisher.”
A young woman asked, “Will you be doing films under the RAW Studios umbrella?”
“Yes, we will. We will be doing a film called ‘The Devil’s Commandos’ written by ‘Alien Pig Farm’s’ Todd Farmer and ‘I Melt with You,’ which we showed a bit of earlier, and the ‘Twisted Tales’ TV show. And we’ve got a few other really cool film projects. And we will be doing books other than science fiction but it won’t be super hero stuff,” he reiterated.
Jane then thanked the audience for coming out and for supporting RAW’s books, adding “We hope we’ve given you a little flavor of what we are about and what we want to be an what turns us on and we hope it turns you on. Tell your friends. It would be nice if you came and visited us and bought our comics so I can make room in the garage for my car.”