At New York Comic Con’s Image Comics panel, Publisher Eric Stephenson kicked off his panel, full of announcements for new books and projects from Image for 2013, by introducing his panel to the dedicated fans who poured into the convention hall: writer Kieron Gillen, writer Andy Diggle, James Asmus and collaborator Jim Festante, as well as artist Jim McCann and writer Jonathan Hickman.
Stephenson then announced “Sex Criminals” by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, as well as Fraction’s first collaboration with Howard Chaykin on “Satellite Sam.” Stephenson also announced Chaykin’s “Midnight Of The Soul,” another upcoming book by the artist, out next year.
Gillen then announced his new series, “Three” with artist Ryan Kelly. Turning the Frank Miller “300” Spartan narrative on its head, Gillen said the book would follow slaves on the run from the Spartans.
“Snapshot” with artist Jock was next announced, “Snapshot” writer Diggle explaining that his series is about a comic book nerd who happens upon a phone with gruesome pictures of torture victims, the phone belonging to a hit man.
“The hit man wants his phone back…and I’m not going to spoil the twist that happens first way through the first issue,” Diggle said as the panelists and audience laughed.
Stephenson then announced “Zero,” coming out in May, and “The Surface,” both by writer Ales Kot. Stephenson then announced artist McCann’s new book with artist/partner Janet Lee, “Lost Vegas,” which McCann said originally was about a day care center in space, but transformed into a story about a futuristic gambler named Roland who finally earns enough money to get off the planet.
Announcing Asmus’ next comic, “The End Times Of Bram And Ben,” Asmus told the audience, “This was the most fun I’ve ever had writing the book!”
“So if you always wondered if your friends would survive a war between heaven and hell, this is where you find out,” Asmus added, saying that it would come out in January.
“Todd, The Ugliest Kid In The World” was the next comic announced, written by screenwriter Ken Kristensen. Stephenson told the audience it was unusual, out in January, and much like “Chew.”
“East Of West” was the title of Hickman’s next book, with artist Nick Dragotta, and the writer explained that the story was a “future sci-fi western where the four horsemen of the apocalypse are trying to kill the president of the United States, as they do,” Hickman said as the audience laughed. The comic is tentatively releasing in April.
“Feel Better Now,” an original graphic novel out in March, was the next announcement from Hickman who said the series was about four psychiatrists who began messing with their patients for fun.
“The hardcover’s out in March…it should be, if not hilarious, interesting,” Hickman added as the audience laughed again.
Stephenson then announced Paul Pope would have a new project from Image coming out in January, “One-Trick Rip-Off.”
The editor opened the floor to audience questions, the first question pointed to Gillen about how he got the real life history of “300” into “Three.”
“I read all these books and all these pages of notes…the basic structure of the story is the free slaves on the run,” Gillen told the audience member. He added that the book really hinged on the dialogue between the slaves.
The next audience member to the floor microphone asked about pitching and breaking in, and the panelists recommended teaming up with artist friends to create pitches, or if you’re an artist, start writing your own story and getting it out there.
An audience member wanted to know if the comic book protagonist of “Snapshot” would have any powers or skills to take on the hit man.
“He’s not powerful, he’s not trained, he’s a comic geek out of his depth,” Diggle said, adding that he took influence from Sara Connor from the “Terminator” franchise who went from waitress to kick-ass soldier.
A librarian asked the panel if they had any books with strong female appeal. McCann brought up “Mind The Gap” to audience applause, adding, “I didn’t set up to write a strong female character, it was just my life experience.”
Stephenson also announced that writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Emma Rios will have a new comic called “Pretty Deadly,” a western that features on a female character.
To a fan who asked about working through problems when writing, Asmus recommended pushing into character flaws and exploring the characters more deeply. The next audience member asked about how the panelists tackled writing and layouts, Diggle explaining that he writes his books like a screenplay.
“I prefer to have a couple of weeks to sit around and think about the thing I’m working on before I work on a project,” Hickman said.
Another fan wanted to know where the panel went to for inspiration. Asmus said the his inspiration came from non-fiction, Hickman adding that he had to stop reading non-fiction work as he was coming up with too many new ideas and neglecting his work.
“I’m listening to a lot of history podcasts, lots of culture…to generate new stuff,” Gillen added.
The next audience member wanted to know about breaking into comics, specifically balancing quality of art versus speed when creating your own comics, and tricks for motivating artists.
“Any family members they have?” Gillen joked as the audience laughed.
“Look at your favorite creator -owned books and see who is listed as an editor and contact them,” Hickman advised the fan, telling the audience there were a lot of freelance editors now.
A “Morning Glories” fan wanted to know about the future of the book. “There’s going to be more,” Stephenson said, adding, “#25 is a big issue that comes out in December.”
“To really appreciate what’s coming up you should read ‘The End Times Of Bram and Ben,” Asmus joked. Cracking up the audience and panelists, Stephenson then brought the panel to a close.