CCI: Oni Press Panelmonium

Despite the huge amount of talent appearing at Oni Press' "Panelmonium" at Comic-Con International last Thursday afternoon, the atmosphere was very intimate. Creators hugged each other as they approached the dais, and Oni's head of Sales and Marketing, Cory Casoni, joked around with the microphone.

"Robbi Rodriguez, please report to the stage," said Casoni, referring to the artist of "Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen" and "Maintanence." "You're in so much trouble, dude."

Casoni kicked things off by showcasing Oni's partnership with Google's iGoogle Web application themes. iGoogle users can now customize their browsing experience with themes featuring art from their favorite Oni books, which rotate with each visit. The themes include art from "Wasteland" by Chris Mitten, "Blue Monday" by Chynna Clugston, and "North World" by Lars Brown.

The panel then moved on to a cavalcade of CCI-exclusive premieres, starting with "Festering Romance" by first time writer/artist Renee Lott. Casoni said that "Romance" is a "graphic novel exploring people's baggage when entering a new relationship." In the case of the protagonists, two young lovers just starting to get to know each other, this emotional baggage manifests as ghosts they have to live with. Lott said that she came up with the story for a school project, and that it grew from there.

Each copy of "Festering Romance" purchased at CCI also comes with a free ashcan edition with extras such as script notes and character sketches.

The second premiere was volume five of Ross Campbell's popular series "Wet Moon," entitled "Where All Stars Fail to Burn." Casoni described the series as "'Days of Our Lives' for goth chicks," but Campbell felt it was more "'Twin Peaks' meets 'Saved by the Bell.' No wait, 'Boy Meets World!'"

Antony Johnson and Chris Mitten's critical darling "Wasteland" will collect its first 13 issues into a hardcover "Apocalyptic Edition" available to the public August 12. The hardcover will also include all the "Walking the Dust" text pieces, featuring new illustrations from such comics luminaries as Sam Keith. The collection is over 300 pages and has an introduction by novelist Jeff VanderMeer.

An advance version of the "Apocalyptic Edition" featuring an exclusive hand-bound, black cover is available for purchase only at Oni's booth at CCI. Another CCI exclusive is a script book of Antony Johnson's work on the series.

A hardcover collection of the five issues of "Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen" is coming out July 29. Casoni asked artist Robbi Rodriguez what it was like working on the title.

"Challenging," said Rodriguez to laughs. "Me and Colbert go underwear shopping together. That's how close we are."

Next up, from writer and artist team Jaime S. Rich and Joelle Jones ("12 Reasons Why I Love Her") comes "You Have Killed Me." Described as a gritty noir crime graphic novel, the book has been two years in the making. Set in the 1930s, the story follows a private detective who is hired to find his missing ex-lover the night before she marries another man.

"I did hand-laid ziptones," said Jones, "which is why it took so long."

"You Have Killed Me" premiered in an art gallery before CCI began. You can read more about that event in CBR's interviews with Jones and Rich.

Rich and Jones also announced they were working with Nicolas Hitori De on project called "Spell Checkers." "It's 'Mean Girls' meets 'The Craft,'" said Rich. "Spell Checkers" premieres this spring.

Ted Naifeh was on hand to announce a new graphic novel in his fan favorite "Polly & the Pirates" series. Robbi Rodriguez will be taking on the art chores. "I didn't want to start another book until we found an artist that was better than me," said Naifeh.

"Damn right," said Rodriguez.

"Crogan's March" is the next volume of Chris Schwiezer's Eisner-nominated historical adventure series that began with 2008's "Crogan's Vengeance." "March" will follow a veteran French soldier as he fights in North Africa.

Oni also made the announcement that Rashida Jones ("The Office," "Parks and Recreation") is co-writing an upcoming title called "Frenemy of the State" with husband-and-wife team Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir. DeFilippis said that Jones approached them with a premise: "What if Paris Hilton was recruited by the CIA?"

"6th Gun" is a new title from Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn, the team behind 2007's "The Damned." The dark fantasy/western tale follows the story of six terrible handguns and how one falls into the hands of an innocent girl.

The second volume of Philip Gelatt's "Labor Days" is slated for a summer release. Gelatt is also working on a graphic novel called "Petrograd" about the assassination of Grigory Rasputin before the Russian Revolution. Newcomer Tyler Crook will handle Art. For more on "Petrograd," check out the Robot 6 interview with Gelatt.

Scheduled for an October release is Greg Rucka's much-anticipated "Stumptown." "It's about a private detective who doesn't know when to shut up," said Rucka.

Everyone who attended the panel received a business card for Stumptown Investigations, the detective agency of the series' main character, Dex. You can go to Dex's Web site or call the Stumptown Investigations offices at 1-503-389-2135.

Each issue of the series is going to be a "meaty" 30+ pages of story that, according to Rucka, "Goes down really well with beer and pretzels." The first arc of the book has already been written, and art is well underway.

For more on "Stumptown," check out CBR's interview with Rucka.

Last but certainly not least was Bryan Lee O'Malley's "Scott Pilgrim." While he couldn't reveal when the final volume of his series would be out, O'Malley let slip the names of some of the bands featured in the movie adaptation's soundtrack, including Beck, Broken Social Scene, Metric, and a Japanese band called Cornelius.

There was mention of a "Scott Pilgrim" video game, though it was not clear if it would be an adaptation of the books or of the film. Games publishing and developing giant Ubisoft was mentioned, but nothing was confirmed at the panel. "Talking about it is a bad idea," said Casoni.

O'Malley also mentioned that in a recent poll he held on his blog, volume four of the series was fans' favorite. When asked which was his favorite of the books, O'Malley said that he tries to make the most recent one his favorite, in the hopes that he's becoming a better artist. However, he did admit that he used to like volume two the best until volume five was done.

In the question-and-answer session, a fan asked about volume two of Vasilis Lolos' "The Last Call." Casoni said that Lolos was working on it, but 2008 had been very rough on the Lolos' native Greece.

O'Malley also admitted that it had always been his dream to pencil an issue of Rucka's "Queen & Country," though he ink issue #5 of volume one. Rucka laughed and said they'd talk about doing volume two. "I'd never want to draw a helicopter, though," said O'Malley.

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