CCI: "The Image Comics Show" Panel Recap

Friday afternoon was abuzz with the anticipation of "The Image Comics Show" at Comic-Con International in San Diego as David Baxter ("Marksmen"), John Layman ("Chew"), Nick Spencer ("Morning Glories"), Scott Snyder ("Severed"), Ben McCool ("Pigs") and Tim Seeley ("Hack/Slash") took the stage for Image Comics' biggest announcements on upcoming and ongoing projects. Moderated by Image PR and Marketing Coordinator Sarah DeLaine, the panel gave CCI attendants a taste of both new projects and teases for ongoing series to excite and amaze.

Seeley kicked off the panel with the announcement of a crossover between Adam Green's "Hatchet" films and "Hack/Slash." "My buddy directed a film called 'Hatchet' -- it's sort of a return to American horror films [and has] two films out," Seeley said. "It's about this guy Victor Crowley who has this big, mutated face and chops people up with an axe. It's awesome. We decided we should do a crossover!" While not written by Seeley, the series focuses on slasher Victor Crowley versus "Hack/Slash" protagonist Cassie Hack and is written by Benito Dereno with art by Ariel Zucker Brull. It spills blood in comic shops this November.

Moving on to "Chew" writer/creator John Layman, Image showed the latest "Chew" cover and Layman revealed that the newest trade would be released in September with a hardcover Omnivore edition to follow in December. "I'm staring down the barrel of the next 10 issues, which get us to the second half [of the story]," said Layman, "Our lead character starts to take a backseat for some of the other characters for probably the next 10 issues."

In the oversized issue #20, the characters investigate a cult of egg-worshipers in. "It's oversized because we've got this cosmic scene that we're showing." In "Chew" #16, there was a man who got smarter the more he ate. He went AWOL, and character Mason Savoy has been drinking his blood, getting smarter and smarter. The publisher showed a number of cosmic double-page spreads featuring Savoy that will be included in issue #20. "This is an issue that has a lot of answers and a lot of changes," said Layman. "I know everyone in comics says nothing will ever be the same, but the status quo after #20 really, really changes." Image showcased a cover for the next story arc, "Major League Chew," where protagonist Tony Chiu is kidnapped by crazed sports fans who force-feed Tony the remains baseball legends so they can write a book about the players' sex lives.

Image then moved on to the newly released "Marksmen" by David Baxter with art by Javier Aranda, which debuted on Wednesday and is the first in a six-issue series. "I'm a screenwriter, and I was approached about building a world -- they let me do whatever I wanted," said Baxter. "I like what if's, so I thought what if the world, certainly the United States, fell apart? There wasn't an alien invasion, it wasn't zombies, it wasn't weather. It was just recession, unending recession and collapse of infrastructure." In "Marksmen," only those cities and states that could self-sustain would survive -- and Baxter decided to set the book in San Diego. The main character is Drake McCoy, ancestor of Navy SEALs and one of the few people who really doesn't fit into the city. As for our beloved CCI? "The convention center's been turned into a military base."

Nick Spencer was up next and spoke about future plans for his Eisner-nominated series, "Morning Glories." After he revealed the cover for the second collection, out at the end of August, he talked about the direction of the series for the future. "[We're] starting to ask some questions about what and where the school is," said Spencer. "I think the second arc has been learning a lot about the kids and learning a lot more about them. Now we're going to be taking a closer look at the school and the factory, what its purpose is and where it's located, which is going to be an important part of our story moving forward." Spencer also detailed "The Morning Glories Yearbook," which will include a sequential recap of the first year of story by Rodin Esquejo and many other extras found in the hardcover of the first 12 issues, dropping later this year.

Upcoming miniseries "Severed" was up next. Created by "American Vampire" writer Scott Snyder, the book was actually worked into his contract at DC so that he could do it at Image. "'Severed' is the only book that I built into my DC contract to be able to do outside of DC, and Image is the place I wanted to do it," the writer said. "We wanted to tell a story that was a different type of horror story that would be a really slow burn. Not so much splatter horror, but something that was a real building, terrifying psychological horror story, [so] that we have more room to explore some things." The book is written by Snyder and his longtime friend Scott Tuft with art by Atilla Futari, an artist recommended by Jeff Lemire. The period-piece book hits August 4.

"There's one period that's always fascinated me, right around the time that World War I began," said Snyder. "In America, where things were kind of expanding rapidly [thanks to] railroads, there were roads being built everywhere for the automobile, and you could travel around the country wherever you wanted and become whoever you wanted. All of a sudden, there was this newfound mobility. This new sense of this new American ideal that was about becoming whoever you wanted to be, you could reinvent yourself. That's something that was brand new, so we wanted to tell a story that was about the optimism of that concept and also the complete terror that comes with that concept. So the two main characters in the series are one is a young boy who runs away to find his father who's a traveling minstrel, he's a blackfaced performer and the other character, the heart of the series, a twisted heart of the city, a man who's the consummate bogeyman for me, a man who travels the roads and rails as a traveling salesman. He sells you whatever your hopes and dreams are in some way, then consumes you and gobbles you up."

"This is a beautiful, haunting book," added Nick Spencer. "It is amazing work. I just can't sing his praises enough."

"Memoir" by Ben McCool was next on the slate. "It's about a small town in the American Midwest [with residents who wake up] with no idea who they are, where they are, all except one guy who remembers everything." The book, originally in black and white to promote a "Twilight Zone"-type vibe, will be released in full color for the trade, which will be out by the end of the year. Colored by David Baron, colorist for Scott Snyder's "Detective Comics" run, McCool was hoping the trade would be out by New York Comic-Con.

McCool continued, giving the audience details on his new ongoing series "Pigs," kicking off in September. Written by McCool and Nate Cosby, the book is about a second-generation KGB Cuban sleeper cell that's assigned with overthrowing the U.S. government. "We think it's something that's incredibly controversial," he said. The series features a rotating roster of cover artists including Jock, Francesco Francavilla, Amanda Conner and Becky Cloonan -- but there was one more cover artist that Nate Cosby came up to the stage to announce.

"So I'm on Twitter, and I found out that somebody else follows me on Twitter, so I asked this person, 'Would you like to draw a cover?' and he said, 'Send me the first issue,'" Cosby remembered. "Then he said, 'I liked it' and did the cover. Dave Gibbons is doing the cover to issue #5. I don't know why. [But] we want this to be the most controversial book in the world."

DeLaine went quickly through some of Image's other upcoming new books, including the superhero-meets-slasher tale "The Strange Talent of Luther Strode" by Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore with art by Filipe Scarrero, and "The Last of the Greats" by Joshua Hale Fialkov. The latter takes a new, realistic look at superheroes.

"It's basically what normal humans would do if there really supernatural, superhuman beings on our planet and how we would try to ruin it," said DeLaine.

Other new books included "Xenoholics" by Joshua Williamson and Seth Damoose in October from Shadowline, and the February-releasing "Danger Club" by "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade" creative team Landry Walker and Eric Jones, which showcases some very violent images as a sharp contrast to their other work.

DeLaine moved on to short teasers, starting with an exciting teaser image for the "Small Gods" film, based on the acclaimed Image Comics series by Jason Rand about a world where one percent of the population is psychic.

Other teasers included a MacGyver comic -- "MacGyver: Fugitive Gauntlet," for summer 2012 -- written by "MacGuyver" creator Lee David Zlotoff and Tony Lee with Becky Cloonan on art; a new series by Ted McKeever called "Mondo" to be published in the Golden Age format in early 2012; and a new project from "Intrepids" creative team Kurtis J. Weibe and Tyler Jenkins called "Peter Panzerfaust."

The floor then opened for questions, the first of which was for Spencer and his book "Morning Glories," and concerned the long-term investment concept and how he pitched it during his initial concept to Image. "I didn't tell them," he said, as the audience chuckled. "In all seriousness, I've done a few books at Image, and the reality is that in terms of the sales needle, they didn't move that much. Even so, it was an enormous leap of faith for everyone at Image, and Jim Valentino at Shadowline, to take a chance on an ongoing from me, quite frankly. I didn't exactly go around telling them that I had 100-issue plan, but they still took a big risk."

The question came back to "Pigs" and how it was controversial. "We kill a lot of people in really interesting ways," said Cosby, still on stage after his impromptu panel-crash to help explain the book. "The Pigs themselves are a group of individuals who have been trained from birth to kill really quickly, and they got bored when they turned 17, so they thought of other ways to kill people. You will see that in issue #2; we kill a lot of people in #2, and then it gets a lot bigger after that."

John Layman wasn't asked a question but volunteered some information on "Chew" moving forward, specifically on the flash-forward to issue #27 that took place in a previous issue. "By the time #27 rolls around in April or May, we're going to have a hole in Rob's schedule, so we're going to do a spin-off one-shot called 'Secret Agent Pollo.'" As the applause died down, Layman also gave some information on the "Chew" television show. "We got a Showtime thing going. We've got a director, we've got a pilot, and we've got a script. We've got a pilot script and we've got a writing team." Layman mentioned director Steven Hopkins was attached with writing team Terri Hughes Burton and Ron Milbauer, writers on the popular SyFy series "Eureka."

The panel wrapped after a gentleman from the audience volunteered a teaser trailer for the announced "Small Gods" film. "I'm hoping that dude's a prankster and we're all about to watch porn," said Layman as the lights began to dim. "The porn is also called 'Small Gods,'" joked Seeley.

The trailer followed two detectives to an abandoned warehouse as a voiceover from a news report gave an overview of the universe, where psychics were slowly being discovered and persecuted. The detectives zero in on an old apartment building and have a brief altercation with the SWAT team captain. After heading into the building and discovering a corpse, the detectives and SWAT team discover a man with blood on his hands. After the murderer pulls some telepathic tricks, ending with one of the detectives stabbed and dead, the scene zooms out to reveal that the entire thing was a precognitive prediction from the other detective. As the SWAT team races into the building for the second time and shots ring out, the title sequence rolled.

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