CCI: Dark Horse Panel

Comic-Con International San Diego continues into day 2 with a packed-to-burstingDark Horse panel Friday morning. On hand for the discussion were moderator Jeremy Atkins, Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson, Gerard Way, Eric Powell, and Alex and Janet Evanovich.

The line to get into the panel room snaked around the hall, supported largely by fans of novelist Janet Evanovich and My Chemical Romance frontman/"Umbrella Academy" writer Gerard Way, and the composition of audience members reflected this demographic.

Richardson began by announcing the new "Dark Horse Presents," which will once again feature Paul Chadwick's "Concrete." "It seemed right to go back to our roots," Richardson said, listing more artists like Mike Mignola, Geoff Darrow, and more. Carla Speed McNeil's "Finder" will appear in the anthology first.

Atkins then introduced Ethan Nicolle, artist of "Axe Cop," which is written by his six-year-old brother Malachai, and Janet and daughter Alex Evanovich.

"This is my first comic convention," Janet Evanovich said. "I was a virgin when I got here yesterday, but thanks to Mike, no more!"

Richardson said initial orders on "Troublemaker" topped 80,000, and volume two would arrive in November.

Way said there would be no new comics from him this year, but his band just finished its new album and he would return to comics immediately after.

Eric Powell then joined the panel to introduce animated "Goon" footage." More will be shown at Friday evening's "Goon" panel.

Powell also discussed his current "Buzzard" miniseries. "I got to a point in his storyline where he really had to spin off and do his own thing," Powell said of the "Goon" character, adding that "BIlly the Kid's Old-Timey Oddities" backups would also get their own miniseries. Powell also mentioned that he's painting covers to the upcoming "Dethklok" miniseries written by Jeremy Barlow.

Cole Haddon then came to the stage to talk about "The Strange Case of Hyde." "It's set five years after Hyde's initial rampage through London," Haddon said, and would see a new murder spree from a criminal using Dr. Jekyll's syrum. "That results in a climactic battle between these supervillains," he said, adding that the series' bad guy would also be a literary figure.

Michael Gombos then ascended the dais to discuss Dark Horse's manga program, which would would include omnibus editions of Cardcaptor Sakura and Magic Knights Rayearth, as well new volumes of Chobits and Clover. Gombos also mentioned a "Shinjuku" signing with Yoshitaka Amano, as well as a panel.

Editor Dave Land came on stage to talk about "Fear Agent," Rick Remender's long-running independent series which is now drawing to a close. "It's fantastic; ray guns, explosions, blood, gore..."

"Dave said it's the last arc of 'Fear Agent,'" Richardson said, "but I'm talking with Rick, so until the next arc."

Randy Stradley and Darth Vader came on stage to discuss "Star Wars: Blood Ties," which stars Jango and Boba Fett and written by Tom Taylor. It will now be a series of miniseries, each focusing on characters with blood ties. Taylor is also writing "Star Wars: Invasion," set during the New Jedi Order.

Atkins jumped in to ask the panel, "Are you with me that you can hear Darth Vader behind us breathing, and are genuinely terrified?"

Hayden Blackmen will be writing an original graphic novel "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II," which will focus on Boba Fett's role in the game. It launches in October.

2011 marks the 20th anniversary of "Star Wars" at Dark Horse, and there will be eight new series in the year. Most will be revealed at Star Wars Celebration, but Stradley said Blackman will be writing a Darth Vader series. "It chronicles one of Vader's greatest failures ever," the editor said. Vader then lit up his lightsaber and choked Stradley using The Force.

Next up was "Mass Effect: Evolution," which will focus on the Illusive Man and is set during the First Contact War. "Humanity is new to the galaxy and not necessarily a welcome member." It's by the original "Mass Effect: Redemption" creative team of Mac Walters, John Jackson Miller, and Omar Francia, with cover artist Massimo Carnevale.

Richardson said that new "Creepy" and "Eerie" projects would be announced at New York Comic Con.

Editor Scott Allie came up to say that "we're giving our Robert E. Howard line a brand new coat of paint." He recapped earlier announcements that Roy Thomas would be writing the ongoing, Tim Truman is writing a King Conan book, and Kull is getting a new series.

Allie also spoke about Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola's "Baltimore." "If you read the novel, it's about a guy who chases vampires for twenty years," Allie said, noting that the chasing was largely absent from the book. "So we have twenty years of stories to tell."

The editor said the "Riley" one-shot would reveal how Buffy's Angel became the series antagonist Twilight and said that by the time Joss Whedon closed out "Buffy Season 8" there would be "a lot of tears."

Allie also spoke about Zack Whedon's "Serenity" project "The Shepherd's Tale," which will explain Shepherd Book's story, then "Let Me In." "Marc Andreyko, who is writing the book, has seen the film recently," Allie said, and was pleased that it is as strong as the famed Swedish version, "Let the Right One In."

DH:HD, the partnership with USA Today and Toshiba, will move from previews to original content online and in the paper this fall. "What those properties are, we'll be announcing soon," Allie said of which Dark Horse titles will be featured.

Richardson announced that his graphic novel "The Secret" will be released as an animated comic, which he described as "a different kind of motion comic." He showed footage, which did indeed hew closer to traditional animation than many motion comics. The art, though, has not been changed from the original.

Doctor Spector and Mighty Sampson will be added to Jim Shooter's Gold Key line, Richardson said.

"The Occultist is about a kid with a book only he can read," Richardson said of his own upcoming graphic novel, announced here for the first time.

Richardson then showed footage marked "Heart Transplant," showing a young woman named Molly whom Richardson said had been the victim of severe bullying at school. Her parents taught her to live well to set an example and that everything would get better. "They were very wrong," Richardson said. He continued by saying Molly was confronted at a football game and told her house was going to burn down and her dog hanged, at which point her parents intervened with the school. "But the damage had been done to her soul," Richardson said. He continued with statistics about bullying. "Heart Transplant" will be a book by Andrew Vachs, Frank Caruso, and Zak Mucha that will "take readers inside the experience," Richardson said. Caruso and Mucha then came on stage.

"The topic is just so important, especially today," Caruso said, adding that he hopes the book garners attention and appears in school libraries. Mucha, who wrote an essay for the book, described the book as a "true collaboration" and said that there are no word balloons but it is "a cohesive piece of art."

"I have a special and deeply personal interest in this book," Richardson said. "That talented girl is my daughter." He added that she is now doing well. "I hope you'll be interested in this critically important book, and I wish it was available a few years ago."

Atkins then opened the floor to questions, beginning with questions for Janet Evanovich. A fan asked about the film of "One for the Money." "The movie is finally getting made," Evanovich said, and is being shot now. It stars Katherine Heigl as Stephanie. "She makes a beautiful Stephanie," Evanovich said.

As the panel started late, though, that was end of the question and answer session, and the panel disbursed.

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