CCI: BOOM! Studios

BOOM! Studios staffers Mark Waid, Chip Mosher, Ross Richie and Andrew Cosby appeared on stage a last month's Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss their successful use of online space and to talk about their recently announced licensing deal with Disney.

In a bold tone of voice, Marketing and Sales Director Mosher announced Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid will be writing stories featuring The Incredibles as part of BOOM!'s new deal with Disney. "The Disney/Pixar thing has been in development for a couple years," explained Waid. Beginning with "The Incredibles," "Toy Story," and "Monsters Inc." initially, the line will expand to cover other Pixar films such as "Cars," and "WALL-E."

"We're the only company outside of Pixar that is allowed to do original material based on Pixar characters," said BOOM! founder Cosby. Darwyn Cooke will be supplying covers. As part of the deal, BOOM! will also release a comic based on "The Muppet Show."

Looking into next year, Mosher displayed a card that read, "IN 2009 ... A BRAND NEW MARK WAID ONGOING SERIES." Details were sketchy, but Waid did suggest some broad ideas. "The idea is to do at least one ongoing series I've been percolating on," Waid said. The writer will be using the BOOM! Studios message boards to gage reader interest.

The panel discussed the successful simultaneous launch of "North Wind" in traditional comic book stores and for free on MySpace.com. "After we did the tie-in with MySpace, the numbers for issues four and five had a thirty percent bump, which is unlike anything I've ever seen," said Richie.

"This is the first time I've seen this in all my years in comics," Waid agreed. "This goes back to my mission of digital delivery. It's the way to go."

Calling it "The North Wind Effect," Mosher said the strategy also worked for "Foundation" and "Zombie Tales" and "Cthulhu Tales." Waid was even more astonished by this. "[This] never happens, especially for anthology books," he said, explaining usual comic shop wisdom.

Again looking to the future, Richie talked about the upcoming Fall of Cthulhu reboot, "Fall of Cthulu: Godwar." The series will be written by Michael Alan Nelson. "It's going to get really exciting," said Richie.

Also discussed, "Warhammer: Condemed by Fire." "This was a great great seller for us," said Mosher. The Warhammer license has been good to BOOM!.

Waid admitted he was apprehensive about the license in the beginning. "We talk about license properties, I get a twitch in my eye," joked Waid.

Mosher explained, however, that Warhammer books are bringing new readers into shops. The BOOM! titles featured scratch-off tickets for a new Warhammer 40K online game. "It brought a lot of gamers into comic books stores; we're every happy about that," Mosher said. Also coming is "Warhammer 40K: Exterminatus" and "Warhammer 40K: Fire and Honor." Mosher also said Kieron Gillen of "Phonogram" will be writing an upcoming Warhammer title.

"Shmobots" written by Adam Rifkin with art by Les Toil is another upcoming title. Ross Richie explained the premise: "The city contracted to have these robots fix the roads and everything, and, of course, they went with the lowest bidder." This title is available as a "page a day" release on the BOOM! Studios website.

"Challenger Deep" is an undersea adventure by Andy Schmidt based on a premise by Andrew Cosby, who explained the premise. "There are pockets of methane ice at the ocean floor, all over the world. It's combustible ice. A nuclear submarine gets trapped in the ice and they can't scuttle it because if they do, it's like lighting a match in a can of gasoline. So they have to send in a crew who's never dived that deep before."

Real life pirate Jean LaFitte will star in Richie's pet project, "Galveston." Set on during the time LeFete ran the island, it will feature an unlikely friendship. "His best friend during this time was Jim Bowie of Bowie Knife fame. It's quite a partnering. Bowie was a deputized Marshal." With interior art by Greg Scott, the title will be written by Tom Peyer.

"Nerconomicon" will feature the return of William Messner-Loebs to comics with art by Andrew Richie. "If you're not familiar with the Necronomicon or Lovecraft, it's incredibly accessible material. If you are an H.P. Lovecraft fan, [Bill] does an excellent job reproducing that pulpy flavor of the '20s and '30s," said Ross Richie.

Stephen Baldwin brought a concept to BOOM! the publisher really liked. "Did Stephen Baldwin just pitch me supernatural '24?'" recalled Cosby. The result is "The Remenant" with Cosby writing and an art team Waid jokingly said is composed of "all Baldwins."

Walt Becker's "Last Reign: King of War" is another upcoming title from the publisher. Becker, the director of "Wild Hogs," is "a big sci-fi geek" according to the BOOM! panel. Michael Alan Nelson will be writing. "It's a post-apocalyptic story where mankind has reverted back to a feudal lifestyle."

Pulling a Steve Jobs-style "One Last Thing," Mosher played a video from "Farscape" creator Rockne S. O'Bannon. In the video, O'Bannon announced he will be writing a "Farscape" comic book from BOOM!. Many "Farscape" fans in the audience cheered at this and missed O'Bannon's announcement. "This is canon," he said. O'Bannon considers the comic book series to be season five of the cult-favorite sci-fi television series. "It goes to a place we couldn't in the series," he said.

After the video, Mosher explained the comic will tie-in to the upcoming webisodes. "It picks up, literally, in the last few seconds of 'Peacekeeper Wars,'" added Waid.

Following on the heels of "Farscape," BOOM! will also publish a title based on Sci Fi's "Eureka," created by BOOM! founder Andrew Cosby. Details were sketchy, but Mosher said, "We're pretty excited about that."

During the question-and-answer session with fans, the panel was asked about BOOM!'s forays into film and television. Richie explained they focused on "great books first." Several titles, including "North Wind," have been optioned for film. Richie mentioned a plan to shoot online films for Sony, with Andrew Cosby directing the first. Also planned is a horror series with Showtime.

Asked if BOOM! will continue to offer books on the Internet once they are completed, Richie said, "We're going to leave the series up on the web." He noted this is traditional for webcomics and no major North American publisher has adopted the strategy. The structure for downloads will make buying comics extremely flexible whether the reader prefers to have a paper or digital copy. "[We] just want to make it [all] available."

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