C2E2: Dark Horse Has More Goon, New Buffy Spinoffs

Tim Seeley joined the Dark Horse panel at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) to share some details of his newly announced comic, "Ex Sanguine," a vampire story with a twist. Since the other two big announcements of the show, a new monthly schedule for Eric Powell's "The Goon" and the two new additions to the Buffy line, had been made at the Diamond Retailers Summit the night before, the C2E2 panel was mainly a review of new and upcoming works, spotlighting the wide range of licensed and creator-owned comics the company publishes, along with updates on two long-delayed projects, "Drusilla" and the new Gerard Way series "Killjoys."

Seeley said his inspiration for "Ex Sanguine" grew from his frustration with "Twilight" fans. "If you take the notion of a vampire, you spend all your life killing people, why would you like sad, mopey girls?" he said. "It makes absolutely no sense to me." He and artist Josh Emmons began talking about who would be the perfect girlfriend for a vampire and came up with "Ex Sanguine," the story of an age-old vampire who has become bored with his "un-life" and gets involved with a twisted serial killer. "He kind of wishes he hadn't done it and yet he is compelled to be with her," Seeley said. "Everyone understands the relationship you shouldn't have been in but you keep going back to. That's what this book is about -- but with lots of crazy, gory stuff."

Scott Allie, who is the editor (together with Sierra Hahn) of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the other Joss Whedon books, talked about the two new Buffy spinoffs announced last week, one featuring Willow and the other featuring Spike. Allie said the Willow comic will be written by "Agents of Atlas" and "Hulk" writer Jeff Parker with art by Brian Ching. The first issue has a cover by David Mack, and Megan Lara, who has done some "Whedon-related online artwork," as Allie described it, will also do covers for the series.

"Punisher" writer Victor Gishler and artist Paul Lee are the creative team on "Spike," with covers by Jenny Frison and Steve Morris. "We had previously announced that we wouldn't do a Spike series, because he was going to be too busy in the Buffy series," said Allie. "We wanted to have him playing off Buffy, but the way the stories evolved, he kind of needed to take off and do his own thing."

Another Buffy-related series, "Drusilla," will not be happening in the near future. However; in response to a question, Allie said that the series, which was to have been written by actress Juliet Landau, had been put on hold "for a variety of reasons." " Right now we don't know what is going to happen with it," he said. "We have got a bunch of work on it done, but we are not sure if it is going to go forward or not."

Powell spoke about putting "The Goon" on a monthly schedule as a way to get more trade paperbacks onto the shelves. With the bimonthly schedule, he only does 1.5 trades a year; by going monthly, he can do three. "So many people tell me that they just read the trades, so it just seemed like a long time to make someone wait for a trade," he said. "I wanted to amp it up and I have a lot of stories I want to do." Powell said that he will let the story "bleed into" the following issues a bit more, as he did during his Goon Year, but each issue will still be self-contained with a beginning, middle and end.

"Orchid" writer Tom Morello made a late appearance at the panel to give his "elevator pitch" for the series. "I was always a fan, growing up, of epic fantasy stories, 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Star Wars,' things like that," he said, "but it always seemed to me like something was missing. There was always an element of class that seemed absent from them. The goal was always to get the king back on the throne or the princess back in good favor and the peasants would toil to do that. I always thought in my book the kings and the princesses were the bad guys, so when I started writing this book I wanted to have something that had all the cool monsters and the exciting escapes and grand battles of the fantasy epics of my youth, but one that had a class consciousness to it. The heroine of, the book, Orchid, is a 16-year-old street prostitute who becomes the Spartacus of whores. I want her to be part Suicide Girl and part Joan of Arc." Morello, who is a musician as well as a comics writer, includes a free musical score with each issue of the comic.

Jeremy Atkins, director of publicity and marketing, spotlighted several upcoming creator-owned properties, including the print version of the webcomic "Battlepug," the dark fantasy "Alabaster" (written by Caitlín R. Kiernan and illustrated by Steve Lieber) and Brian Wood's new creator-owned series "The Massive." "This is probably one of the most exciting new titles we have taken on in a long time," Atkins said of "The Massive." "It follows a crew that is set adrift after the end of the world. They were actually a crew of environmentalists, so it sort of poses the question, 'What's your purpose when you have spent this entire time trying to save the world and it's now already gone?' It sort of evolves from there and follows them into some ugly encounters with some of the other people who are set adrift in this post-apocalyptic world." The first three chapters have run in issues 8, 9, and 10 of "Dark Horse Presents."

Allie described Michael Oeming's new creator-owned book, "The Victories," as "the sickest superhero comic I have read in a long time. It is really crazy, it belongs up there with the boys, in terms of just its disturbing, nasty approach to superheroes." It will go on sale August 15.

Allie also took a bit of credit for "Colder" by "Spider-Girl" writer Paul Tobin and "Rex Mundi" artist Ron Ferrara. "I teamed these two up to do a TV spinoff thing for 'Falling Skies,' a TNT show," Allie said, "and I loved working with them and they loved working with each other so I said, 'Hey, pitch me something scary and dark and weird,' and this is what they came up with." He said this is part of a line of horror comics that Dark Horse will be promoting heavily in the fall.

In terms of licensed properties, Atkins led off with a discussion of "Mass Effect 3." "3.5 million copies sold worldwide," he said, referring to the game. "The comics sell a little bit less than that. A lot of people don't realize this is a really essential part of the story." Another comic based on the franchise, "Mass Effect: Homeworlds," will be out on April 25.

"One of the things that we found for a long time was that gaming comics were sort of, well, not great," Atkins said. "What we are really hoping to do is legitimize gaming comics for the first time and we think we have done a really great job of that with 'Mass Effect.' We're putting out a book that we actually feel very confident in as a comic as well as a licensed video game tie-in."

Dark Horse also has plans in the works for another comic based on a Bioware game, "Dragon Age." "We are bringing in David Gaider, who is the lead writer of Dragon Age games, to kind of do much the same thing we have done with 'Mass Effect' and additionally we started a digital series which you can check out now online." The first collected edition, "Silent Grove," will be out in print this summer.

Atkins also highlighted "Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi," a new series that reunites the "Star Wars: Legacy" team of John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. This series gives the origin story of the Jedi, telling where they came from and how they came to power. Another book has a spoiler as the title: "Boba Fett Is Dead" follows Connor Freeman, one of the Jango Fett clones, as he hunts down one of the killers of Boba Fett.

In the question-and-answer session, Allie had an update on the Gerard Way comic "Killjoys," edited by Sierra Hahn, which was announced at Comic-Con International: San Diego in 2009 and was originally scheduled for 2010. "My Chemical Romance, the band that Gerard is in, started working on their next album and their next album turned into a Killjoys album," he said. "So the band got focused on doing a Killjoys record and the comic would have a certain relationship to that. The comic is not in any way an adaptation of the record; there is actually an interesting gulf between what the record is and what the comic is. Becky Cloonan, who did some art for the CD, is the artist for the comic and work is under way on it finally, but the story that it originally was has changed so much that frankly I don't know where the story is any more."

Stay tuned to CBR News for more coverage of C2E2 2012 and Dark Horse announcements.

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