CCI: SLG Publishing

Publisher Dan Vado and writer Greg Weisman ("Gargoyles") presented a peek at some new projects from SLG Publishing at Comic-Con International last month, including some discouraging news for fans of the Gargoyles series. Before they got to that, though, the pair showed a video presentation of two of Weisman's new projects for the company, "Mecha-Nation" and "Progeny."

"Mecha-Nation," inspired by the television series "Freaks & Geeks," focuses on five high school students who discover their town is a sort of "test tube for a new life form," a human-robot hybrid race called "mecha sapien," and that each of them is actually a member of that species, with the ability to transform into a super-powered "mecha." Despite being from very different social castes, the five youths must band together to fight the evil "Factory" that's causing their transformation. They are Kevin "the new kid" ("Stealth," a bat-winged character); Marcus "the geek" ("Blast," with explosive energy powers); Ray "the rocker" ("Tank," a, well, tank); Zara "the goth" ("Charge," an electrically-based mecha); and Suzy "the cheerleader" ("Fahrenheit," with fire-and-ice powers). The five have to fight mechas controlled by The Factory, in the most dangerous battleground of all, the American High School.

Weisman's second project, "Progeny," tells the story of a new generation of superheroes descended from a Golden Age team. Back in the 1940s, there was a team called The Eternity Squadron comprised of archetype characters named Night Ray (a technology based hero with jet boots and power-band), Justice Ghost (a mysterious masked hero in a trenchcoat), Lady Merlin (a mystic), The Monk (a Zen martial artist), and The Hammer (a big tank of a guy). Now, their grandchildren are reluctantly pulled together as a sort of anti-team that Weisman describes as a group of people who resist becoming a group of people. The lead character, a teen named Mike Talon, discovers that his grandfather was Night Ray when he finds the late hero's super-gadgets, costume and journal, and decides to use them himself. He finds himself working with Falconer (the daughter of Lady Merlin and The Monk), Ghost X (a group of clones of Justice Ghost), and Jack Hammer (the Hammer's grandson), in a six-issue miniseries to appear in 2009.

Weisman and Vado turned their attention to "Gargoyles," the popular comic book sequel to the Disney TV show. After stating that "Gargoyles" #9 and the fourth issue of the spin-off black-and-white series Bad Guys will be published in August, Vado announced that the Disney license is going to expire at the end of the month and would not be renewed. He explained that Disney had dramatically increased the cost of the license, putting it beyond SLG's budget. The material scheduled to run through issue #12 would instead be collected in a trade paperback for publication, as would the complete "Bad Guys" series.

You will see the end of the arc; you're not going to be cut off mid-story, Weisman promised.

Weisman then discussed the annual Gargoyles convention, The Gathering, which will next take place in Los Angeles in June 2009. Weisman said they were expecting about 50 special guests at the event, including many of the TV series' voice cast, and recommended that those interested should visit www.gatheringofthegargoyles.com for more information as it becomes available.

Vado screened a short video called Pallet Jackasses that showed his teenage sons using a pallet jack as a large scooter and riding recklessly through the SLG warehouse and offices, then went into a video run-down of current SLG projects:

"The War at Ellsmere," a supernatural story set in an all-girls school.

"The Babysitter," a large-format (9-1/2 x 15) book about a girl who babysits monsters.

"Lulu & Mitzy," described as what if Lucy & Ethel were hookers?

"Ubu Bubu," about a rampaging kitty.

"Punk Rock and Trailer Parks," a new book by Derf.

"Contraband," a story about interactive criminal activity using underground cell phone and video networks.

"Tiki Joe Mysteries," a graphic novel in the vein of the original "Ocean's 11" film, capturing the cool attitude of the Sinatra era.

"Chumble Spuzz: Pigeon Man and Death Sings the Blues," the second volume of the series.

Head Full of Bees, a poster by Jenny Goldberg taken from the Baby Beehead scene in "Jellyfist," the comic by Goldberg and Jhonen Vasquez.

Ambush at Prayer Time, a Jhonen Vasquez poster.

Map of Humanity, a poster by James turner showing the topography of human emotion. When this poster debuted on the SLG website, traffic went from 700 visitors per day to 20,000 per hour, overloading the server.

Vado said that SLG is shifting focus to graphic novels, explaining that the market for a small publisher's monthly titles is evaporating. Instead, SLG's website will begin serializing stories as free downloads.

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