CCI XTRA: Bongo Comics Sneak Peak

The Bongo Comics Sneak Peak panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego featured creators of all the different Bongo books giving hints of upcoming storylines as well as some insight about the "The Simpsons Movie" and forthcoming "Futurama" DVDs.

Bongo Creative Director Bill Morrison and Managing Editor Terry Delegeane started off the panel slightly late as the previous panel went over a few minutes, but the crowd was more than ready for the fun as announcements of future story lines were greeted with laughs and cheers.

"Reno 911!" star Thomas Lennon was introduced to loud applause and a chuckle was shared by all as Lennon greeted his "Officer Dangle" doppelganger, a fan perfectly disguised as the great lieutenant from Reno, Nevada -- shorts and mustache included. Although not immediately recognized as a comic writer, Lennon was there to promote his upcoming work in the new "Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror!" comic.

Lennon was joined by two other special guests also making their mark on the Treehouse: Tone Rodriguez, a veteran "The Simpsons" artist known for his recent work on "Violent Messiahs," and Gerry Duggan, a writer of the post-apocalyptic Santa Clause story "The Last Christmas."

The special guests were joined by creators Len Wein, current writer on the "Simpsons" comic and Wolverine's papa; writer Ian Boothby, responsible for the majority of Bongo Comics storylines; and Jason Ho, assistant Bongo art director. Fans were all pleasantly surprised as more creators continued to come straggling in over the course of the panel.

Morrison began by explaining the genesis of the 64-page "Treehouse of Horror" special, which turned out to be an idea he "stole" from Dark Horse comics, having originated in the "The Goon: Noir" anthology in which celebrities and comedians like Patton Oswald and Thomas Lennon were given free reign over characters.

Duggan explained that when he was offered the job, he knew he had to do it right as it could be his last chance to write the Simpson family. He recently watched "Jaws" and a parody naturally developed as the story follows a further-mutated Blinky the three-eyed fish going on rampage with only the Sea Captain and Wiggum to stop it.

Patton Oswald was told he could have as many pages as he wanted in the special, yet all he desired were six pages, as he simply wanted to 'get in, tell the joke, and get out.' Duggan was thus given more pages for his story, making it "the most exact 'Jaws' parody ever," with the whole movie story line in there.

Thomas Lennon shared what he has coming up for his story, and started off by saying he is obsessed with Mr. Burns, especially with how the character is so old. His story will deal with Mr. Burns going to his 96th annual high school reunion, where he meets up with the two other surviving members from his class, a brain in a jar and another student who mysteriously still looks 20. The story, called "Pygmy's Elixir," will also show Burns donning an exoskeleton as his bones are now too brittle to support himself under earth's gravity.

Bill Morrison shared with the audience that Lennon's story left him laughing more than he has in a long time.

Ian Boothby was next to gain the spotlight as his wife and fellow collaborator, Pia Guerra, joined the show just in time to discuss their "Treehouse" story. Ian Boothby is a long time "The Simpsons" writer, but his upcoming story is one of the most pressure-filled, as his wife will be providing art. They promised they tried to parody every movie they could think of with mentions of "Evil Dead 2" and "Star Trek," with Millhouse as Buckaroo Banzai and Lisa as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. All the spoofs stem from the Android Dungeon (The Comic Book Guy's shop) buying a bunch of cursed props that suck their wielders into the stories. The title of the story is appropriately called "Objects of my Decapitation." The pair of creators finished their presentation by sharing that Terry Austin will be providing inks, which won cheers from the crowd.

In response to a fan question about what Bongo will be doing for the upcoming "The Simpsons" movie, Morrison explained that Bongo doesn't work for Fox Broadcasting, but actually work for Matt Groening. Hee added that Fox came to them for the first time with ideas and stories for a promotion leading to a special 6-page insert in national newspapers called the "Springfield Shopper," which featured a fake set of ads to promote the upcoming Fox movie.

Morrison added that he and Tone Rodriguez are also doing a promotional issue available only in 7-11 stores. "Radioactive Man #711" will be an origin of Radioactive Man treated more like a movie update of a classic character's origin. They promise it will be the most sought after issue that no one will read, because no one will want to break the poly bag seal it comes in, thus they happily recommend buying two, one to open and one to save.

Len Wein was given the mic to share news of his upcoming work. One story coming up will focus on how the levies surrounding Springfield, which are in disrepair and it's up to Lisa to rally the town and save the day. "Honey Nut Cheeri D'Oh" will see Homer discover some hidden bees that produce the best honey imaginable. The last story Wein shared was the upcoming "Costa Living," a scenario that sees Homer receiving special orders hidden away in his donut boxes that he uses to lead his "specially trained" team on black-ops missions.

Ian Boothby had his hands full listing off the many storylines he has in store for both "The Simpsons" and "Futurama." He and Linda Medley ("Castle Waiting") have a story coming up using various Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales as a basis, perfectly titled "Hans Across America." One story will see Homer kicked out of his bowling league and his only option is to join an illegal, underground bowling club. Another will see Grandpa adopted by the Flanders family after being mistreated by the Simpsons one too many times.

Hinting at what's to come for "Futurama," Boothby indicated that there will be a "Dr. Who" parody starring Zoidberg as the lead with his TARDIS phone booth being replaced by a portable toilet. We will see "Futurama" temporarily go 25 years further into the future and catch a glimpse of a baby that is somehow related to 2-3 characters on the show. The following "Futurama" story was simply described as "Attack of the 50 Foot Amy." Lastly, Fry will be abducted by the Aliens for Ethical Treatment of Humans.

Fans took over the final part of the show, with one asking for a "Futurama" DVD update. Bill Morrison answered the fan by explaining there will be four new movies coming out, which will be broken down into four separate episodes each for syndication. The first movie is close to finished and fans could pick up a free 16-page comic at Comic-Con International that bridges the gap between the show and movies.

Another fan's inquiry was about whether or not original characters from the comic have ever crossed over into the television show. The answer was a simple "no," but Morrison shared how they used to have their own mad scientist character until he was replaced by Professor Frink upon introduction in the show. Boothby gave a recent example that comes close, saying there's a really funny opening scene in the "The Simpsons" movie that is very reminiscent of a page done in a Simpsons poster book. Boothby quickly added that he wouldn't share any spoilers for the film and how he's "stuck in a Mexican nerd standoff. 'Don't tell him anything about 'Harry Potter,' and he won't spoil 'Simpsons!'"

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