CCI: The Image Comics Panel

The Image Comics Show at Comic-Con International in San Diego kicked off as PR and Marketing Coordinator Betsy Gomez introduced the fan-filled crowd to an all-star lineup of writers including Robert Kirkman ("Walking Dead," "Invincible"), Joe Kelly ("I Kill Giants"), Marc Guggenheim (writer of the "Green Lantern" film), John Layman ("Chew"), Ben McCool ("Choker"), and Nick Spencer ("Forgetless").

Things began immediately as Kirkman was asked to talk about his various projects from the publisher. First off, Robert promised the crowd that zombie action would return in "The Walking Dead," saying that he understands that the recent focus has been more on the living and less on the undead. Volume 13 of "Walking Dead" will be out in November to coincide with the premiere of its new television show on AMC.

"Guarding the Globe" will feature a huge cast of characters, as the Guardians of the Globe expand into a true global operation with teams acting in various locations around the world. The Astounding Wolfman, another creation of Robert Kirkman, will be a featured character in the new series.

Issue #24 of "The Astounding Wolfman" will be out soon, followed soon by issue #25, the final issue of the series.

Robert Kirkman also discussed Skybound, his new imprint through the publisher. The first series from the imprint will be Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner's "Witch Doctor," which was described as "a scientific take on supernatural threats. A doc who cures vampires." Kirkman clarified that he's not accepting submissions for Skybound; instead, he will be actively looking for new creators on the Internet.

Betsy Gomez then took the opportunity to mention two upcoming projects from Top Cow writer Ron Marz ("Witchblade," "Artifacts"). Image has picked up Marz and Lee Moder's "Shinku" as a full-color monthly series, with the series focusing on vampires versus samurai. Marz previously released an ashcan issue at Baltimore Comic-Con in 2009. Additionally, Image and Top Cow are jointly collaborating on Marz's "Firebreather vs. Dragon Prince," with more details to be revealed at the Top Cow panel.

Marc Guggenheim was next to take the microphone to discuss his new imprint with Image called Collider Entertainment. The imprint will primarily feature Hollywood screenwriters creating original comic properties, but without the intent to one day make the comic into a film. Marc mentioned that most film writers will just use an old spec script they wrote years ago as the basis for a new comic, but for his imprint, he wants totally new and original content.

The first series from Guggenheim's imprint will be "Utopian," co-written by Marc and his screenwriter wife Tara Butters (co-creator of "Reaper"). The five issue series will be the first professional collaboration for the couple, with the premise based on a simple question: "What happens when the never ending battle for Truth and Justice ends?" It's a world where heroes are now obsolete. The second series, "The Mission," will be written by brothers John and Erich Hoeber, who are currently best known for adapting the comic book "Red" into a feature film starring Bruce Willis. "The Mission" stars an ordinary man who begins to hear a voice in his head telling him to kill certain people, a voice that may or may not belong to the angel Gabriel. CBR News has an exclusive interview with Guggenheim about both books and Collider's future plans.

After Guggenheim's presentation, John Layman revealed to the audience that the fifteenth issue of "Chew" will feature a tri-fold cover that depicts the entire cast in a Last Supper-like pose. Layman revealed that two really big things happen in the issue that are complete "game changers," including the introduction of the final two major cast members of the series.

Layman also revealed that he just completed issue #27 a few days ago, and now plans to release that issue after 18 as a sort of glimpse ahead to what's in store for the characters, "It will go 16, 17, 18, 27, 19, etc." When it comes time for trade, the issues will still be collected in order (16-20), so only monthly readers will be able to read issue 27 ahead of time, while trade waiters will have to wait a year or two to read the issue in its proper order in the collection.

"Chew: Omnivore Edition" will also be out soon, and collects the first ten issues of the hit series in one big hardcover edition.

Nick Spencer spoke to the audience about his new book, "Morning Glories," which will be out August 11. The new series is about "six genius kids trapped in a boarding school," which is run by nefarious evildoers. The writer also said the joint collection for "Existence 2.0" and "Existence 3.0" will be out in August, followed by the collection for "Forgetless" in October, and the oversized hardcover collection for "Shuddertown" in September.

Quickly mentioned at the panel, "Bomb Queen" will be returning for Volume 6 in the Fall.

Joe Kelly's next project through Image is "Immortal Sergeant," which will be drawn by J. M. Ken Nimura, Kelly's collaborator on "I Kill Giants." Described as a combination of drama and comedy, the story will focus on a father-son relationship, with Kelly adding, "The main character (the son) is me." He also promised there would be more "Four Eyes" soon.

Ben McCool said his new book, with artist Nikki Cook ("Girl Comics"), "Memoir" will be out in September, preceded by two-page preview stories in the back of issues 4, 5, and 6 of "Choker." The new series features a Midwestern town where the residents wake up one day with no memory. Everyone has amnesia except for a single man who remembers everything.

The last bit of news mentioned by the panel is that all nine issues of Joe Madureira's "Battle Chasers" will be collected in an oversized hardback in November.

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