CCI: Dark Horse Horror

Welcome to CBR's LIVE coverage of Comic Con International in San Diego. Editors Shawna Gore and Scott Allie, along with horror master Bernie Wrightson were on hand for Dark Horse's Horror panel Thursday afternoon.

A twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Wrightson's illustrated "Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein" will be published in October, according to Gore. The deluxe hardcover will retail for $30.

"The Cleaners" by Mark Wheaton, Joshua Fialkov, and Rahson Ekedal is a horror story set in LA about trauma scene cleaners, according to Gore. One of the doctors is skeptical of the mysterious cases, which his colleagues believe are perpetrated by vampires and other forces. "He's not always right," Gore said.

Allie updated fans on the status of "The Goon," which has been monthly for the year. This format will end in December, "because that's when years end."

The editor also discussed the Robert E. Howard stories, which Dark Horse holds comics rights to. Regarding "Pigeons from Hell," Allie said, "If you're hiring Joe Lansdale, you want a Joe Lansdale story," though most Howard adaptations will hew pretty closely to the source material. "Conan" and "Solomon Kane" are of course already in progress, but Allie did not suggest what other short stories may be adapted.

Gore said that Steve Niles's "Criminal Macabre: Cellblock 666" sees protagonist Cal MacDonald going to prison. "It's not a very fun experience for him," she said. She added that it would be quite a bit darker than other "Criminal Macabre" series.

Guy Davis and Brian Churillo will be drawing "Rex Mundi" #13, and John Cassaday, Joseph Michael Lisner, and Eric Powell will be contributing covers to the last several issues of the series.

Dark Horse's oversized "Creepy Archives" volume 1 will be released in three weeks, reprinting the classic magazine material by Archie Goodwin, Alex Toth, Frank Frazetta, and others. Gore discussed the history of "Creepy," which was published as a magazine to avoid the restrictions of the Comics Code. There may be up to thirteen volumes in the Dark Horse series.

Archives of "Eerie," which focused more on psychological horror, will also see release soon from Dark Horse.

Gore announced that Dark Horse would begin publishing a new quarterly "Creepy" black and white comic in Spring 2009. Each issue will be forty-eight pages.

Wrightson then had the chance to talk more about "Frankenstein." "It's unbelievable how good this book looks; this is the edition I've been waiting 25 years for," he said. The book was originally published by Marvel as a softcover edition.

The artist said that he began work on "Frankenstein" before being contracted for it. "I was able to do a job and get paid for it, and have this free time that I poured into 'Frankenstein,'" he said. "No one asked me to do it, no one paid me to do it. I had no idea what I was going to do with it once the pages were done."

Wrightson said that previous editions of his "Frankenstein" have encountered some bad luck--including one printing that was destroyed--which has left it out of print for a number of years. "You never told me this book was cursed," Gore joked.

"It'll be out in time for Halloween; it's that perfect Halloween gift," Wrightson joked, after noting he would have liked to have had it ready for Comic Con.

Gore revealed that she has a teddy bear named Bernie Wrightson that she received when she was eleven.

Allie said that there would not be a "big Buffy announcement" at San DIego, as had been rumored. An upcoming five-issue arc sees "vampires coming into vogue, which causes problems for Buffy and the Slayers."

Guy Davis's "Marquee," previously published by Oni, will now be published by Dark Horse. A deluxe edition of the existing material will be published in December 2009. "It's the most spectacular stuff Guy has done," Allie said.

Following up on this year's "BPRD 1946," "BPRD 1947" will be written by Mike Mignola and Josh Dysart with Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon on art. "For this story we needed two different styles of art for two different styles of scene," Allie said, and indicated that the artists were big fans of BPRD.

Mignola will write a "creepy, drippy gothic story" Hellboy series in the next year.

Asked about the Stephen King introduction to "Frankenstein," Wrightson said that King phoned him from a horror convention and asked him for a "complete comic book, in color, lettered" due in three months for a televsion series production. "Being that it was Stephen King, I said yeah, sure." The introduction to "Frankenstein" was in response to this favor.

"Most of the images have been shot from original scans," Wrightson said of the new "Frankenstein edition, referring to the sometimes difficult process of reproducing archival material. This required several collectors removing their original drawings from protective casings--"at great personal expense"--and having them scanned professionally. "There was no film, either from Marvel or from [second publisher] Chuck Miller," meaning that going back to the originals was not only desirable but necessary. For those illustrations for which originals were not available, Wrightson created prints based on the Marvel edition and had these scanned, according to Gore. "I can't tell which ones we had originals for, and which we had prints of," Gore said, praising the Dark Horse production department.

Original sketches from "Frankenstein" will appear in Frank Darrovant's book about Wrightson's "Frankenstein." The artist said that he thought the "Frankenstein" book itself should be about his art serving the story, rather than about the art itself.

He said he did not want to do a straight adaptation of "Frankenstein" into comics because he felt that this was akin to "making a xerox copy, and degrading it by several generations." Gore added that it would be necessary "to take out more than half the words," and that Wrightson's edition was meant to honor the story by illustrating key scenes.

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