CCI: "Emily The Strange"

On Sunday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Emily the Strange creator Rob Reger was joined by writer Jessica Gruner and artists Buzz Parker and Nix Turner for a panel discussion about all things Emily, and CBR News was on the scene.

Reger kicked off the panel by giving an "Emily" primer. Emily is the "13 year old bad girl" who loves black and is becoming an international icon. "She's also rock 'n' roll," and has a posse of cats. Emily has a line of clothing and accessories, novels and comic books, an upcoming feature film, stores (in places as disparate as Tokyo, Taipei, Taiwan and Thailand) and a website.

Reger went on to recount the story of how "Emily the Strange" began. "I was out hiking with some of my best friends, and one by one they all died, and I was stranded in the desert," Reger said. "I was really, really thirsty, going on like maybe two or three months, sitting out there in the sun, no food, no water. And then I remembered when I was very young, my father told me that you could get water from a cactus. You just have to carve out the center and there's water in there. I approach the cactus, and then the cactus said, 'Woah, dude, what are you doing, man? Don't mess with the cactus.'"

What Reger thought was a cactus had actually been a little girl. "You're not thirsty, you're just hungry," the girl said. "You're hungry to do art. It's your future."

"Then a cat came over, and he's all, 'Yeah, man, do art. Do art with cats.'"

"So I said, 'Where's the water, man,' and then it turned into a watermelon," Reger continued. "I think it thought I said 'watermelon' when I said 'water, man.' But then the watermelon started talking to me, and that's the end of that story."

Reger then rattled off some of the things that have influenced "Emily the Strange," including The Damned, Iron Maiden, Aubrey Beardsley, Hokusai, Crass, Ozzie Osbourne, Frank Zappa, Rube Goldberg and Winston Smith.

The current issue of the "Emily the Strange" comic (published by Dark Horse) features the titular character hanging out with My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way. The next issue to hit stands is an Emily story called "Alone is Where the Heart is"

Launching later this year is a line of products aimed at a younger audience, a baby version of the character called Emiwee. "She's a little stranger," Reger said. Watch for Emiwee products this holiday season.

Net-Toon is going to give "Emily the Strange" fans the chance to make their own Emily cartoons.

Reger said that Dark Horse Publisher Mike Richardson is proudly attached to the live-action feature film adaptation of "Emily," and that they'd be announcing the studio in a few weeks.

A new "Emily" novel is on the way, a 256 page excerpt of Emily's diary called "Emily's Lost Days," written by Reger and Gruner.

The panel discussion was rounded out with what has become a tradition at "Emily" panels: "Emily the Strange" bad libs. "Emily" writer Jessica Gruner solicited a long list of words from the enthusiastic audience, and proceeded to tell them an original "Emily" story with the audience's words inserted at strategic points.

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