Jeremy Atkins, Dark Horse Comics‘ director of publicity, along with editor Shawna Gore (“Creepy,” “Criminal Macabre”), greeted a crowd of about fifty at San Francisco’s WonderCon on Saturday with some bad news.
“Today we have a different kind of technical difficulty,” said Atkins, “the human error kind of difficulty.” Apparently, the file of the slide presentation could not be found on Atikin’s laptop. “So we’re going to cobble together a sort of ‘best of’ of past presentations.”
“A number of years ago, a number of books that turned into a big deal for us were the ‘Alien’ and ‘Predator’ comics,” said Atkins, beginning the first of many slideshows. “In celebration, we are going to be relaunching the ‘Alien’ series, and ‘Predator’ is coming along for the ride.” John Arcudi will write with Zach Howard on pencils.
It’s also a banner year for Stan Sakai’s “Usagi Yojimbo,” which is in its 25th year in publication. To celebrate, Dark Horse will be releasing Sakai’s very first one-shot graphic novel in November.
At this point, Gore took over to discuss the revival of the horror anthology “Creepy.” “One of the things we’ve gotten Eric Powell to do for us is ‘Creepy Magazine,'” said Gore. Powell will be contributing to the first issue of the new “Creepy,” which will be available in July of this year. Powell has also helped to expand the “Creepy” universe with new characters. In addition to using Uncle Creepy (the magazine’s original host) and Cousin Eerie (the host of “Creep’s” sister publication “Eerie”) new members of the Creepy and Eerie families will be debuting in short, two to eight page stories that take place between the anthology stories.
“The first issue is a mix of classic stories and also new stuff from illustrators such as Angelo Torres,” said Gore.
Gore professed to be a lifelong fan of “Creepy,” and was slightly nervous about taking on the assignment of reviving it. “Imagine your boss telling you that it’s your job to make new ‘Creepy,’ and make it just as excellent as the original. For me, that was kind of terrifying.”
There was a quick change of pace when Atkins asked the crowd “Who likes ‘Star Wars?'” The audience cheered, as Atkins discussed a new “Star Wars” series entitled “Old Republic.”
“Go visit StarWarstheOldRepublic.com. Every other Friday, we’ll be releasing free pages of ‘Old Republic,’ and eventually they’ll be collected as a trade.”
Atkins then surprised the crowd by opening up his e-mail client and searching for Randy Stradley, Dark Horse’s “Star Wars” editor.
“We should probably not open some of those emails,” warned Gore as Atkins pulled up a particular attachment.
“Who here likes Jo Chen?” Atkins asked as the image loaded. “She’s been doing great work on ‘Buffy.’ Her covers help make that series. She’ll be doing all the ‘Invasion’ covers.” The image was actually Chen’s cover of “Invasion #1.”
Keeping with the sci-fi theme, Atkins professed his love of Rick Remender’s “Fear Agent.” “Another story is coming up this year, but has not been slotted yet.”
In honor of “The Goon’s” tenth anniversary in print, Atkins had some cryptic notes. “Keep an eye out online because we’ll be doing a huge announcement about ‘The Goon.'” He also warned anyone in the Tennessee area that “The Goon” creator Eric Powell will soon be throwing a wild party to celebrate his work.
A tidbit on Gabriel BÃ¡ and FÃ¡bio Moon’s upcoming work on the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spin-off book “Tales of the Vampires” was revealed. It will be a love story set in the world of “Buffy: Season 8,” were vampires are in vogue because of Harmony’s reality TV show.
Dark Horse will soon reprint “The Amazon,” one of artist Tim Sale’s first works.
Next came a slide of the online comic “Sinfest” by Tatsuya Ishida. Dark Horse will be publishing the “Sinfest” books later this year, due in part to the success of other ports from the web such as “The Perry Bible Fellowship,” Wondermark,” and Achewood.”
The first thing they considered about publishing these books, said Atkins, was whether or not a collection would actually sell. “If they can find content online for free, will they go to a bookstore and buy it? We’ve found again and again that they will.”
The next slide showed collectible figures from Gerard Way’s “The Umbrella Academy.”
“This book I think took us all by surprise,” said Atkins. “I for one, like many people, was a little bit skeptical when this massive rock star came to us and said that he wanted to do a comic book… The interesting thing is that, Gerard wanted to do comics first… It says something that it’s easier to become an internationally known rock star than to be a comic book artist.”
The figures will become available later this year.
Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” universe has some new books on the way. “Witchfinder” will focus on the mysterious Sir Edward Grey. Also, there will be another volume of “Lobster Johnson” adventures.
Guy Davis’s “The Marquis” will also be moving to Dark Horse, with a new volume on the way.
Atkins then got very excited as the next slide, which showed a werewolf in a spacewalk suit stabbing a vampire with an American flag. On the moon.
“The book is called ‘Werewolves on the Moon: Versus Vampires.’ It’s one of those things that you hear and wonder ‘how come no one has thought of this before?'” The story is a battle between werewolves and vampires for control of the dark side of the moon. “He’s being stabbed with an American flag, guys! Come on!”
Gore stepped up to talk about a couple of projects she is currently editing.
“Another really classic horror anthology we have is ‘Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery.’ It’s being archived for the first time.”
Next was the upcoming four issue series “Emily the Strange,” which starts just before Emily’s 13th birthday. An “Art of Emily the Strange” book is also coming out at the end of the year.
Gore also made a passionate plea for support on another book she edits, “The Cleaners.” Dark Horse is “sort of trying to get a ‘Cleaners’ movie going,” and even though the book gets more fanmail than any other title Gore has worked on, the book could still do with some more sales.
The floor was then opened up for questions. The first fan asked if the Myspace Dark Horse Presents page generates any revenue for the company.
.”..It’s essentially outreach,” said Gore. “Basically what MySpace is trying to be, is the MTV of the internet, which makes them attract younger viewers.” And that audience is something Dark Horse is trying to tap into.
Another fan asked if any more films were in the pipeline from Dark Horse’s library. “We actually have quite a few in studios now,” said Atkins. He also mention that he had seen test animations coming out of Blur Studios for “The Goon,” slated for 2010. “It’s amazing.”
Two of Steve Niles’ books, “Criminal Macabre” and “Freaks of the Heartland,” have also been picked up.