C2E2: The Big IDW Panel

IDW Publishing's panel at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo saw its newly-named Vice President of Marketing Dirk Wood moderate an afternoon with Kevin Colden ("The Crow"), J.K. Woodward ("Star Trek/Doctor Who"), Jon Armstrong ("Smoke & Mirrors"), Mike Costa ("G.I. Joe: Cobra") and Ryan Browne ("Smoke & Mirrors") in attendance to discuss their projects. The panel focused on a quick rundown of the panelists' works and other forthcoming projects from IDW before wrapping with a Q&A session.

The panel opened with a magic performance by Armstrong and Costa, to the delight of the crowd. The creators then discussed the premise of their newly-launched series, "Smoke & Mirrors." The series is about a stage magician, Terry Ward, who is blackmailed into teaching a young man his secrets lest he be discovered as the only non-magic-wielding inhabitant of a planet where magic is as commonplace as electricity on ours. In addition to the overall storyline, each issue features a different magic trick for the reader.

"Doctor Who / Star Trek" was the next major topic of conversation, with the panel showing images of the Borg and the Cybermen side-by side. This is the first BBC-sanctioned crossover between Doctor Who and another science fiction franchise. Another slide was shown depicting the Doctor and his companions on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The book will be available in May.

After a brief discussion of the upcoming "Crow" series, Wood began a run-through of the rest of IDW's heavy slate. "Mars Attacks" will be released with 55 covers, each based on one of the original TOPPS trading cards. The larger-than-normal number of variant covers caused much joking among the panelists, leading Wood to joke about initiating gum variants -- chewable comics. Following "Mars Attacks," Wood discussed Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's forthcoming Rocketeer miniseries by detailing the project's announcement at the recent WonderCon panel, where Waid came on stage, his face hidden beneath a Rocketeer helmet. Rocketeer will be available in August.

Fans applauded as an image of Judge Dredd followed a slide stating "I AM THE LAW." Wood explained that IDW is working closely with 2000AD to make this Dredd series feel as much as classic Dredd as possible. Although the storylines are not yet finalized, Wood promised it will be "awesome." Judge Dredd will be available in Fall 2012.

Joe Hill ("Locke & Key") and his father, Stephen King, recently collaborated on a four issue series for IDW titled "Road Rage." The hardcover collection will be out in July, featuring an introduction by King and an outro by Hill. In other Hill news, "The Cape: 1969" will be available in July. The story, a prequel to the original "The Cape," takes place in Vietnam. Finally, Wood announced that the sixth and final volume in the "Locke and Key" series, "Omega," will be available next year. Prior to "Omega," there will be a new one-shot. "Just when we think Joe is done, he just says, 'Hey, I have another idea!'"

After reiterating that "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" will be an adaptation of the forthcoming movie, riter Mike Costa detailed the future of "G.I. Joe: Cobra" which is progressing into a new era. Issue #12 will be an epilogue to the series' recent Cobra Command crossover story and #13 will take the series in a new direction, focusing on a black-ops team of Joes dedicated to defeating Cobra forces without media attention. It's "a unit of morally compromised characters doing terrible things to each other," Costa said.

"This is 'Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles,'" Wood announced to laughter, referencing the recent controversy with Michael Bay's TMNT project. Wood calmed down the laughter and discussed the publisher's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series. Costa will be writing a Casey Jones one-shot, a book he's very excited about.

Other series discussed included "Ghostbusters," which starts its "Haunted America" story arc with issue #9. the Artist Edition of David Mazzucchelli's "Daredevil: Born Again" will be released by the end of the year, with Artist Editions of Jack Davis' E.C. work and Sergio Aragones' "Groo" forthcoming. "Jericho: Season 4" will be released this August. "This is one of those series where we receive e-mails yelling at us for not publishing more of this series!" Wood said, "So hopefully those e-mails will turn into thank-you emails."

Wood then turned the panel over to the audience for a Q&A. The first question was whether or not readers can expect more classic villains in IDW's current Star Trek series. The answer was a 'No,' but with the caveat that it was too early to really discuss the question. Asked if readers would be reading about a female Crow anytime soon, Wood simply replied, "Not yet."

Costa answered a TMNT enquiry by stating he hoped to one day do a Rat King one-shot, but seeing as the series is just now introducing the Hand, it would be a while before the more obscure old villains make an appearance. Ryan Brown told abrief an anecdote about sharing a name with the creator of TMNT villain Mondo Gecko, a coincidence that has at times caused confusion amongst fans.

The Q&A turned to other mediums when a fan asked about the advent of digital comics. "IDW sales were up 10% in both digital and comic shops across the board last year," Woos said, an argument he sees as indicative that the industry as a whole is improving. Costa explained that he had been discussing with fellow creators the opportunities presented by digital comics, and that the creative methods of digital need not hamper the usefulness of the printed art form. "The ability for web comics to do what print comics can't do is the most interesting aspect to me," Costa said. "We've had lots of discussions about where we can go with that. Retailers shouldn't worry about digital comics, because digital comics can have a lot of qualities not possible to put on paper." 
With the success of 2009's "Star Trek: Countdown" series, which served as a prequel to the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot, a fan wondered if similar a prequel was in the works for the 2013's "Star Trek 2." Wood said that there isn't anything officially slated, but that it would be "a pretty stupid move" on IDW's part not to capitalize on the success of the franchise. Along the same vein, a fan asked if IDW would publish another "Infestation" event to follow up their recent series. Wood said that "Infestation 2" was a spur of the moment series, and that it was likely they would write a follow-up sometime down the line.

An eager fan asked Wood whether or not the "Locke & Key" pilot would be aired at any future conventions, and Wood was unsure. He said they had originally planned to air the pilot at WonderCon, but the studio decided against it at the last minute. They hope to air it again sometime, but have not determined when or where.

At the end of the panel, one fan performed a Kill-Shakespeare style request for new Godzilla stories. Wood reminded everyone that Duane Swerzynski has a new "Godzilla" title on the way, with covers by Tony Harris and Art Adams.

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