CCI: Image Comics Show

CBR brings you live coverage of the Image Comics panel Friday afternoon at Comic Con international. On hand to discuss upcoming projects are new Image partner Robert Kirkman and founding members Whilce Portacio, Jim Valentino, Marc Silvestri, Rob Liefeld, and Erik Larsen. Joe Keatinge serves as moderator.

Keatinge began by announcing that Darwyn Cooke will write and draw "Madman" #14. He also mentioned that "Firebreather" and "Mice Templar" would become animateed series.

Combat, Neanderthal, Nightstalker, Moon Maid, and Death Dealer II are new one shots coming in the year.

"We're having a big crossover between Invincible and 'Wolfman,'" Kirkman said. The crossover covers 'Invincible' #57 and 'Astounding Wolfman' #11. "They're going to fight, apparently very high up in the city," Kirkman said, referring to a slide.

Kirkman also mentioned the "Walking Dead" fifth anniversary, prompting Silvestri to joke, "Fifth issue? That's pretty good for Image." Kirkman replied, "We've got issue #56 for the fifth anniversary, so it's not too bad."

He joked about another cover showing a "Walking Dead" cover with the capitol building, saying that "the capitol dome can not be behind that tree but in front of the logo. I thought I'd bring that up here."

"Fortress" will be Portacio's next new series. "It's myfirst foray into single character comics... it could be fun," he said.

About a slide of Image characters that Kirkman said was "seven thousand feet wide" at the Image book was in fact the cover(s) of the first issue of "Image United," a new 6-issue miniseries written by Robert Kirkman with art by all of the Image founders. "Every character is going to be drawn by his original creator, which is unprecedented in comics," Kirkman said. The characters will in fact interact in the story, and a slide showed a penciled page including work by several artists.

In organizing the book, Liefeld said that he approached the founders at an Atomic Comics signing, and came to Todd MacFarlane last. "Everybody always comes to me last, because they know I'll say no," Liefeld reported MacFarlane as saying. But in the end, he agreed.

Most creators will lay out an issue - "Todd didn't," Silvestri said - sketching out the other characters, with the others finishing their own creations. The layout artist will also handle backgrounds for the issue. Larsen joked that his would feature a "crappy, sketchy background--and when it comes to Mark's he'll say, alright who have I got in the shop?" Kirkman quipped that he would write all the background into dialogue for Liefeld's issue.

Kirkman said he was approached about writing the series while doing a store signing. "It's kind of a dick move to answer the phone while you're signing comics, but I thought I'd at least check it in case my daughter fell out a window." Seeing that it was Erik Larsen, Kirkman answered and hastily accepted the project. His "dumb guy voice" for Larsen's side of the conversation provoked further mockery from the panel.

"It's a thing you could never do at another company," Larsen said of the partnership of original creators, "because if you do it at Marvel you can't say, 'we'll get that Spider-man guy,' because--what Spider-man guy?"

Kirkman said that "we're starting now, we have dates in mind we'd like these to hit [stores], and we'll work towards those dates." "Nobody ask what those dates are," Silvestri joked. Kirkman offered that "it will have a 2009 cover date," and Silvestri followed up that "you've said too much already." Kirkman did say that two pages have already been completed.

"This is going to lead to a lot of big stuff," Kirkman said, including several new series.

Keatinge then opened the floor to questions.

There is a new "Magdelena" series coming out, and also a feature film produced with Platinum Studios, Silvestri said. Two of the stars will be at the Top Cow booth tomorrow, but Silvestri did not say who.

Kirkman said that the film option for "Invincible" has lapsed, but that the first episode of the MTV animated comic is available now on iTunes.

Asked whether Image would focus on "arty" books or superheroes, Valentino said, "Why not both?" He noted that this has always been Image policy, and that there's no reason to limit themselves.

"The Image Universe is a funny thing," Valentino said in response to a reader question. "We pretty much just ask each other if we can use their characters, and then they exist in the same universe. When they're not in that issue, they're off in another universe. And that's the way it's always been."

"My message board is alive" with speculation as to whole the handlebar mustache character from the covers of "Walking Dead" will be called, Kirkman said. "I've written two issues with him in it, coming up, but--I'm embarrassed to say--I can't remember his name right now."

There will be a Rex Splode miniseries in November, Kirkman announced. It will take place before the events of "Invincible" #1. No plans for Science Dog to spin off, though. "Right now it's just this side story appearing every twenty-five issues, because I think it's weird and hilarious," Kirkman said. "So, read 'Invincible' #75."

The final question was from a woman who wanted to know "what is up with all the chicken sandwiches" on Erik Larsen's MySpace. "They're tasty and delicious!" he said.

Now discuss this story in CBR's Image Comics forum.

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