CCI: Boom! Studios Announces Explosive Plans

If you're reading this article, then you probably already know all about Boom! Studios biggest announcement of the day (and arguably one of the biggest of the convention weekend so far): As revealed earlier in an exclusive interview on CBR, as of August 1, Mark Waid will serve as Boom! Studios new Editor-in-Chief, a position previously held, albeit informally, by Ross Richie, the president and co-owner of the company.

"What does having Mark Waid as our new Editor-in-Chief do for us as a publishing company? Quality, first and foremost, as I think that's something that's come to be synonymous with Mark Waid's name in the comic industry," Richie said. "I mean, Mark's a guy who certainly knows a whole lot more about making comics than either I or Andy do, as he's been making some pretty good ones for the last 20 years or so. Plus, having Mark handle the editorial aspect of the company, frees me and Andy up to do more of the things that we do best ourselves."

Richie and his Boom! Studios co-founder, Andrew Cosby ("XIsle" Death Valley"), purposely elected to delay dropping the Waid bombshell until the very end of their panel Friday afternoon at Comic-Con International. The pair teased fans for almost the entire duration of the hour-long panel. In the interim, the fledgling comic publishers managed to jam in a number of other announcements, surprises, new series teases, and previews into their presentation...and a number of technical difficulties.

Also in attendance on the panel were Chip Mosher, Boom!'s Director of Marketing and Sales, and Adam Fortier, the publisher's Vice President of New Business Development.

Laptop problems delayed the start of the panel about 10 minutes (Mosher couldn't get his laptop to synch up with the convention center's projector), but Richie and Co. quipped and punned to the crowd in the interim, with Richie himself even threatening to strip at one point if that's what was required to hold the audience's attention while Mosher and the convention center staff worked to fix the problem.

"Yeah, as you can all see, this is a smoothly run operation we got here," Richie deadpanned.

Thankfully, nobody was forced to shed any clothes, as all technical issues were finally resolved (until the "mystery announcement"), and the panel finally got under way.

The first slide shown was for a new series called "North Wind", a post-apocalyptic actioner penned by David DeGilio, screenwriter of the film "Eight Below" and the ABC series "Traveler."

"It's like a frozen "Mad Max,"' Richie said. "We're all really big on that book."

Then a slide was shown for an upcoming series to be written by Cosby himself, "Vampires Anonymous," which the writer described as a story about what would happen if someone like himself became a vampire, as opposed to the Anne Rice, Gothed up, black eyeliner and torn pantyhose, uber-hip interpretation of the vampire that has become a stereotype at this point.

"Yeah, it's basically what would happen if a vampire bit someone like me: Just an ordinary guy who's balding, probably needs to shed a few pounds, and who's just not all that interesting or charming to begin with," Cosby said. "It's sort of like "The Office," but with fangs."

The preview image shown for "Vampires Anonymous" was drawn by Chee, but Richie said that no artist on the series has been determined yet.

Richie then briefly paused the panel to announce that, from now on, all Boom! Studios series would fall into the same format: 5-issues and 22-pages long, with an aim towards compiling them into 110-page trades afterwards or the bookstore audience.

"Salem" is a new series by screenwriter Chris Morgan ("Cellular," "The Fast and the Furios: Tokyo Drift") and his writing partner Kevin Walsh, with art by Mike Hawthorne. It will try and flesh out and establish the lore and world of witchcraft the same way that the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series did for vampires or the Underworld series of films did for werewolves and vampires again.

The convention-exclusive cover of "Potter's Field," the Mark Waid penned series, with moody artwork by Paul Azaceta ("Talent") was then shown. "Potter's Field" tells the story of a mysterious man who takes it upon himself to name the countless unnamed dead buried in Potter's Field, a large cemetery in New York City. It was one of the projects, due to the creative freedom he was given on it, that led Waid to the role of E-I-C with the publisher.

Licensed properties are a direction that Boom! is moving more and more towards as well.

Last December's launch of "Warhammer 40,000: Damnation Crusade" led to this summer's launch of "Warhammer: Forge of War" by Dan Abnett. Boom! Studios is one of only four licensors of the Games Workshop property, and plans to continue and further expand on its line of Warhammer comics.

"It's not called 'Peace Hammer,'" Richie said. "It's a really, really dark series with tons of action and violence. That takes place in this really cool, kick ass universe that has spawned novels, games, and now comics. We're very proud to have it."

Also on tap on the licensed front is a series of comics based on the popular "Gears of War" video game. Cosby will pen the zero issue of the new series, a prequel that Cosby says will stop pretty much directly where the events in the game begin. From there, the upcoming series will follow popular characters from the game, telling both their back-stories and moving them in new directions beyond the game's ending.

"We've got the license for this little independent film you might have heard of called 'The Godfather,'" Fortier joked.

The company has the license to produce comics based on the entire Godfather trilogy. An original graphic novel is slated for December. There will also be a series of limited series and an adaptation of the actual "Godfather" film (whether or not Boom! plans to adapt all three of the Godfather films or just the first one was unclear).

Richie says the license gives Boom! the liberty to tell stories about any aspects of the trilogy of films, and that he and his collaborators already have worked up quite a number of ideas.

"At the start of the first film, Michael Corleone's just returned home from serving in World War II," Richie said. "Personally, I'd love to find out what it would be like to be in a foxhole with Michael Corleone."

The only likeness rights that Boom! were successfully able to secure for their Godfather comics was from the estate of Marlon Brando, so fans shouldn't expect to see any Robert De Niro or Al Pacino look-alikes running around in any Godfather comics from the publisher.

"It's hard," Richie said of securing a film character's likeness rights.

Boom! also unveiled a new imprint, Zoom!, which it is aiming squarely at kids.

"We all grew up reading comics. Comics helped shape our lives," Fortier said. "Now, today, unfortunately, there's not a lot of content out there at the moment aimed at kids. Our Zoom! subsidiary aims to change that. Zoom! books and graphic novels will feature stories that parents can be 100 percent certain they can let their kids read; good stories with a good message."

Then it was finally time for the big "mystery announcement." Mosher played a video that showed Mark Waid sitting comfortably and affable on a couch in what appeared to be his house.

"Hi, I'm Mark Waid, and as of August 1st, I'll be serving as the new E-I-C of Bo--"

And then the video froze.

Richie's head sank into his hands, and the words he uttered next would certainly not be printable in a Zoom!-labeled comic.

Mosher finally got the video up and running again, the big surprise now all but ruined, and Waid continued.

"I think it's no secret that I've been wanting to get more into an editorial role over the years," Waid said. "BOOM! Studios is the next generation comic book company. They are doing innovative work of astounding quality. Co-owners Ross Richie and Andy Cosby have an incredible vision for the future of the industry and the company, and they approached me to partner with them to realize that vision. 'Here's a comic-book company,' says Ross. 'Go run it, and run it your way.' It's an unbelievable offer."

"This is huge for us," Cosby said. "Just in how comics are made, Mark has tons of experience. I can't wait to sit down in a room and brainstorm news ideas and the editorial direction of our company. Plus, Mark and I have been dying to work together for years, so maybe now we'll finally get that chance ..."

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