ECCC: BOOM! Studios

An enthusiastic crowd greeted the creative heads of BOOM! Studios at Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle. As Editor in Chief Mark Waid ("Irredeemable"), Publisher Ross Richie, and Managing Editor Matt Gagnon ("Hexed") walked in, the hardcore fans drowned out their salutations.

"Wow," Ross Richie said as he gawked at the crowd. "This is our first year at the Emerald City ComiCon and we are just as happy as you are to be here."

Setting up a PowerPoint presentation, the three comic execs started by talking about the "phenomenal year" they had in 2008 and some of the books and new lines of distribution that made it possible.

New Digital Distribution

2008 marked the first time BOOM! Studios released a book simultaneously in the stores and in digital format. In the fall, the book "Northwind," described as "an Ice Age Mad Max," hit stores and MySpace at the same time.

In December, BOOM! Studios pulled off a similar trick when they released the book "Hexed" in stores, on MySpace, and through the Google Android system at the same time. "Hexed" received 20,000 downloads in two days.

Television Properties

One of the biggest books that made 2008 so great for BOOM! Studios was the Christmas Eve release of "Farscape." Based on the popular Sci Fi television series, the book sold out before it was actually released and has remained so popular that they have gone into a third printing. "I don't even have an original issue to show off at the con," admitted Ross Richie.

For 2009, "Farscape" will be leading the pack again with the release of its second story arc, "Strange Detractors," in April. The story will focus on a virus that will turn the crew of the Moya against each other. April will also see the release of a D'Argo-centric book. The comics will reportedly be part of the continuity of the show, much like the "Buffy Season 8" series. The new storylines will take place after the Peacekeeper Wars. Previews will be available on the iPhone and later available for digital download. Mark Waid added that debuting at the show is a holofoil cover with the character Rygel - a fact answered with whoops and hollers from excited fans.

Matt Gagnon piped up, throwing out the tidbit that BOOM! Studios will also be producing a book based on the Sci Fi show "Eureka." The book, "Eureka 1.5," will focus on stories that occur between the first and second seasons. The writing of the book will be done by Jonathan Davis.

Mark Waid smiled and added, "You know, the guy who wrote the 'Dukes of Hazzard' movie."

Ongoing Series

Ross Richie sighed as a cover of the series "Hero Squared" popped up on the screen. "This is a book near and dear to me. It was the first book I ever published."

The book that truly launched the company is winding down this summer. The last issue, "Love and Death" #3, will ship soon, ending an era at the company.

This summer will also see the ending of the book "Fall of Cthulu." The last story arc will involve Lovecraft's cat, Nemesis. "If you've been following the book," Ross stated, "then you know that Nemesis was originally a sorcerer from Atlantis. And that's where he's returning for his last story."

Last but not least, the panelists announced a series that is starting up this summer. With a title that leaves little to the imagination, a beaming Mark Waid introduced "Mr. Stuffins: My Teddy Bear is a Secret Agent." The story involves a scientist on the run who slips a new artificial-intelligence system into a toy bear. Images on the screen flashed showing Mr. Stuffins trying to call into his secret organization, interrogating other stuffed animals, and attempting to assassinate a child using a ping pong gun.

Kids Line

Matt Gagnon smiled from ear-to-ear as a stylized image of characters from the Disney/Pixar movie "The Incredibles" flashed on the screen. "Another one that sold out before it came out," he said. Describing the book as the adventures of the super-powered family after the events of the movie, the book has been flying off the shelves. The panel admitted that having an "Incredibles" cover drawn by Mike Mignola didn't hurt.

Continuing their relationship with Pixar, the panel mentioned the recent release of their "Cars" prequel comic on April 2. Entitled "Cars: The Rookie," the story follows Lightning McQueen and his rise to stardom. Later this year, BOOM! Studios will produce another arc that occurs after the movie.

As part of Disney's rerelease of the "Toy Story" movies in 3D, Mark Waid announced their launch of the comic series, "Toy Story," later this year.

The next image flashed on the screen garnered laughter and cheers without a word being said. The cover of the new book "The Muppet Show" lit the screen, and Ross Richie had to stop the PowerPoint presentation to wait for the clapping to stop. "So, you guys are familiar with this one?" he laughed. Written and illustrated by Roger Langridge, "The Muppet Show" is intended as a series that works for both kids and adults. And for any true Muppet geek, he has tucked away some of the more obscure characters in every page. Parallel to this release will be a series of books that depicts the Muppets as characters from classic stores. An image of Kermit the Frog as Robin Hood engaged in masterful swordplay flashed on the screen, giving the fans a little taste.

New Series

January marked the release of "Irredeemable," a book that Mark Waid is incredibly proud of but admits, "Sometimes I can't show my friends what I'm working on. It's too dark."

The story centers around a character who is the world's greatest hero and his descent into becoming the world's worst villain. "It seems that most people who get powers are mentally able to handle their world, which always seemed kind of unrealistic to me," Waid said. "I wanted to see somebody who wasn't. But this change in him isn't like a light switch. It's slow. The job drives him towards it. He's been taking the wrong things away from his experiences."

The book doesn't always center on this fallen hero. Most of "Irredeemale" focuses on the remaining heroes trying to solve the mystery of their now-evil comrade and how they can stop him, but the outlook does not bode well for them.

As the audience chewed over the concept for "Irredeemable," Ross Richie threw another showstopper on the screen. As the cover of the new book "The Unknown" flashed, Matt Gagnon clapped in praise. This series, also written by Mark Waid, follows the world's greatest detective, but she has only six months to live. Knowing that her time is near, she goes out to solve the greatest mystery of all time: what happens when you die. Mark Waid described the book as "Doc Savage by way of David Lynch." The book will be out this April.

Surprise Announcement

Ross Richie perked up as an individual appeared in the back of the room. Reminding the audience that they had announced at WonderCon that there would be a partnership between BOOM! Studios and Fox Atomic comics, Ross introduced Eric Lieb, the Editor in Chief of Fox Atomic Comics. Eric rushed to the stage, obviously excited about the announcement he brought with him.

Waiting for the applause to die down, he addressed the crowd, "Here today, I'm going to show you the results of our team-up. All I can say is, it's lots of fun."

With the push of a button, a new image appeared on the screen. As the "Ooooh's" filled the room, Lieb and Richie shook hands while everyone stared at the cover of their new book, "28 Days Later." A new ongoing series that starts its timeline after the first move and before the second movie, "28 Days Later" will focus on the character Selena. It appeared with a fantastic cover that Ross Richie described as "just awesome."

Made in conjunction with the studio that made the movie, "28 Days Later" is slated for release in July and a second ongoing series will launch in August. There are plans to release two other miniseries set in the same world, representing "a very big project for us," according to Matt Gagnon.

And with that, the panelists were ushered out of the room. The BOOM! Studio execs thanked everybody for making their first ECCC panel a success and hoped to see them in the future.

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