CBR kicked off its Saturday live coverage of New York Comic Con with IDW Publishing, a publisher known for sprinkling madcap escapades amidst its convention announcements. Hosted by VP – Marketing Dirk Wood, Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall, President and COO Greg Goldstein, Senior Editor Scott Dunbier, “Parker” writer/artist Darwyn Cooke, took the stage, with Jim Steranko joining later.
Dunbier began by speaking about the “Parker” series of graphic novels, which have won 5 Eisner awards. “Slayground,” the fifth book, will be out in December.
“It should be pretty obvious I love Parker,” Cooke said, and “Slayground” is one of his favorites of Richard Stark’s original novels. The story sees Parker passing through an abandoned playground where he sees crooked police officers making a deal with the mob. “And what follows is one of the most incredible books I ever read,” Cooke said. “If we’re going to do ‘Parker,’ we need to do ‘Slayground.'” He added that this meant reconfiguring the order of Stark’s stories, which he wanted to do “in case something happens.” This volume is shorter, but also includes “The Seventh” short story originally only found in the “Parker Martini Edition.”
Dunbier then announced that IDW would be reprinting Stark’s original “Parker” novels in hardcover with full-color illustration plates by Cooke. Cooke noted that these were originally done as paperback originals. “This is the first time the full series will be published in hardcover,” Cooke said. He will also be designing the books. Cooke added that he’s taking “a completely different approach” to the art style he used in the graphic novels, and that this represents a chance “to make sure these books are properly preserved.” The first book will be released in the second quarter of 2014 and subsequent books will be released chronologically.
The next announcement, again from Dunbier, was a Charles Schulz “Peanuts” Artist’s Edition. “This will of course be a horizontal Artist Edition,” Dunbier said. “They have an archive of something like 7000 originals, so we have our pick.” Cooke asked why the strip was called “Peanuts,” and Ryall answered that it was the syndicate’s idea. “Schulz hated the name,” Ryall said.
As a DC Comics logo came on the screen, Goldstein spoke about IDW’s relationship with DC, which has included Artist’s Editions and newspaper strip reprints. He then stood and opened his jacket to reveal a “Kirby is Here” shirt. “Kirby is, in my opinion, the most important comic artist of all time,” Dunbier said, with Cooke joking, “I’m right here!”
“Jack Kirby is personally a guy who was very kind to me when I was younger, and had a big influence on how I viewed comics,” Dunbier said. He announced IDW will be publishing a “New Gods” Artist’s Edition, which will feature at least five issues-#2, 5, 6, 7, 8-and some extras.
A short video of Dave Gibbons then appeared on screen. Gibbons spoke about how he learned about drawing comics during his days as a letterer. “All these years later, I’ve drawn hundreds and thousands of comic book pages myself, but I still love to look at original art,” he said. Gibbons spoke about one series of his that has “gained a currency beyond what we could have imagined,” before announcing a “Watchmen” Artist’s Edition. Unlike other editions, it will not contain full stories because the originals “are scattered to the winds,” but there are some “extended sequences.”
Ryall noted that the cover reads “Artifact Edition,” which he said is something of an offshoot, an art book that does not include full stories because the art may not be available.
Jim Steranko then joined the panelists on stage.
“No offense to Darwyn, but Steranko is a living legend,” Dunbier joked. He then announced a Steranko “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Artist’s Edition. Another volume “Nick Fury and Captain America” by Steranko. Dunbier noted that the “Strange Tales” series in which the stories originally appeared changed sizes, meaning the original art size shifted, necessitating separate books for the Artist’s Edition.
“I probably have the distinction of making the least amount of work making the most amount of noise,” Steranko said. “You’ve heard of the blues artist Robert Johnson? 29 recordings. That’s how many comics I did, 29 issues and I sold my soul to Stan Lee,” he joked.
“As an artist, I’m inclined to see all the mistakes I’ve made along the way,” Steranko said. “Thankfully, there are other people who see something else.” The first book will debut in May.
Steranko told a story of wanting to get back into comics storytelling about five years ago, and calling Marvel President Dan Buckley about doing a Captain America story in “a new comics format that had never been done before.” He then described previous times he’d pioneered new formats. “I find it hard going to sublimate real ideas-I’m not talking about what happens in panels, but the form of comics itself, understand?” he said, noting that the format of comics had remained largely unchanged from the beginning. Steranko said the story would “give them material they could use for ten years, they could pluck it” and use it to inspire further stories. But Buckley at some point said “we have to suspend negotiations right now,” but he’d get back to him after the impending San Diego convention. “Then I got an email from someone I’d never heard from before, saying ‘Your ideas won’t work.'” Steranko considered that the end of the conversation. Speaking later with Dan DiDio at DC, Steranko said DiDio didn’t want him on Batman because it was already selling, so Steranko pitched him on Superman, again in a new format. “A new take on Superman, and he liked that. He said, ‘Can you give us something we could use and pick for the next ten, twenty years?’ I think I can do that,” Steranko said. But Steranko said DiDio wasn’t interested in the new format but wanted standard comic pages. “I’ve already done that,” Steranko said. “And he said, ‘I can’t do that, goodbye.'”
This segued into “the happy ending.” “There’s this company, IDW, they’re willing to take risks,” Steranko said. “I love being on the edge. And if it fails, I don’t really care–what’s important is I did my best.”
“I make this call Monday, to my friend Greg. I had this three-minute pitch … that’s just burning a hole in my creative heart,” he said. “After a minute and a half, he said, ‘I’ve heard enough. I’ll do it.’ Get my message? That’s why I’m here.”
Ryall did make a point to thank “our partners at Marvel and DC” for the opportunity to do the Artist’s Editions.
The floor was then opened to questions.
Cooke said he does intend to do “Butcher’s Moon” in the “Parker” series, and there has been discussion of a “Killer Lines” portfolio book illustrating the opening lines of each book.
Asked about potential new licenses, Goldstein said, “We are always looking to add new properties,” then, half-joking perhaps, “and I’d like to buy one of my competitors or ask them to go away, that would expand our library.”
A fan asked about plans for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ thirtieth anniversary. “They are unannounced plans,” Wood said. Ryall noted that it’s also an anniversary for “Transformers,” “GI Joe,” and many other properties. “Darwyn is doing a Parker/Turtles crossover,” Dunbier joked.
Cooke said that adapting the Parker novels is “a simple process that takes an incredibly long time.” Normally, an adaptation would require a lot of trimming, but Stark’s novels are “already so lean” that this is rarely necessary. The challenge is “how can make this evocative, and yet still clear,” he said, noting that “Slayground” includes a lot of Parker booby-trapping a park. “If I’m drawing something and I get bored, that’s a clue that the sequence is too long,” he said. “I’ve made a mistake” and need to rework the scene.
Ryall said there are discussions with John Rogers to do more “Dungeons and Dragons” comics, but the ongoing will not resume in the near future.
Cooke said he appreciates IDW as a place “you can call them up with an idea, a concept” and get it moving. “When I did ‘New Frontier,’ it took them four years to approve it-there are movies that get made in less time,” he said. Ryall, once again, said, “I’d like to thank our friends at DC Comics.”
Asked about potential intercompany crossovers, Ryall said, “I’d love to do a Turtles/Daredevil crossover, playing off the Frank Miller stuff that inspired Turtles.”
Cooke said that he expects he will “always be associated with [Parker] now,” though he may take “a few years off” at some point. When Goldstein questioned him about this, Cooke said, “You know, I might want to do something else.”
“With IDW?” Goldstein said.
Cooke, to the audience, joked, “You don’t see it, but there’s a chain on my leg.”
Ryall said he is currently discussing plans with John Byrne regarding future projects and new editions of older work, but there is nothing to announce at present.
Regarding Cartoon Network’s “Generator X,” “there is no news but there are plans,” Ryall said.
Asked about an Artist’s Edition of David Mazzucchelli’s “Batman: Year One,” Dunbier said there are no plans at present but “I know David would like to see it.”