ECCC: Dark Horse Comics Panel

Senior Editor Scott Allie quickly greeted his audience and proceeded to helm a solo discussion for a full room of fans on Saturday's Dark Horse Comics panel at last weekend's Emerald City ComiCon. He lept right into the meat of the company's announcements with a confirmation that Dark Horse will soon conclude "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight." Issue #34 will be out at the beginning of April followed on time by issue #35. After that, they will take a break and issue #36 will hit stands sometime in September where Joss Whedon will conclude the writing of the final five-issue arc.

In the break between "Buffy" issues #35 and 36, there will be a one-shot centered on Riley the purpose of which will be to explain a lot of the plot developments that have recently happened in "Season Eight." In addition to "Riley," Dark Horse will be publishing a "Serenity" story called "Float Out" written by Patton Oswalt. It will take place immediately after the "Serenity" movie and deals with Wash's death. This is the first comic to push beyond the movie.

After "Float Out," Dark Horse will release a Joss Whedon story called "Sheppard," which details the backstory of Sheppard Book, "one of the most requested storylines from Serenity fandom" Allie explained. The crowd applauded loudly, before Allie took some questions.

"Will there be a follow up to 'Buffy Season Eight'?" asked a fan. Allie confirmed that Joss Whedon will executive produce the follow up to the series, but it is unconfirmed as to whether or not he will be writing. Dark Horse is not sure, in light of "the developing scope of the series" if it will be called "Season Nine."

Later, Allie noted that on July 17, the Browncoats (the "Firefly" fan club) will host "Can't Stop The Serenity" at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). "Can't Stop The Serenity" is a fundraising event for Equality Now, a charity that Joss Whedon has been affiliated with for some time. "Serenity" will be shown on a big screen at the event. "It's as though 'Star Wars' was treated as 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,'" said Allie. Dark Horse recently donated artwork by Jo Chen to the Browncoats for their event. For a full schedule of their events, check their website www.BrownCoats.com.

"Will there be a 'Turok' series?" someone else wondered, to run in conjunction with Dark Horse's upcoming relaunch of the Gold Key characters hitting on Free Comic Book Day. The response was yes, and the characters of Solar and Magnus will be featured in upcoming Dark Horse releases. The world will be re-envisioned by the writers and artists including Jim Shooter.

"Will you be doing any Dr. Horrible comics?" pressed another Whedon fan. Yes, Allie promised, and Zach Whedon is writing it. He is also currently working on a "Terminator" series that starts later this month. Andy MacDonald is the interior artist for that series.

Allie soon moved to a planned presentation on future Dark Horse projects. Mac Walters, writer of the video game "Mass Effect," is working with John Jackson Miller on an ongoing series for the hit adaptation. The series will follow the second game, Allie explained. And speaking of Miller, long time "Star Wars" writer is currently working on "Star Wars: Knight Errant," a series about a young female Jedi. He is also writing a novel, published by Del Ray, of the same title. The comic book series will be released first followed by the prose book. The two are not adaptations of each other, rather separate stories. There will be a follow up comic series after the book.

LeVar Burton of "Reading Rainbow" and "Star Trek" fame and the so-called "Thinking Man's Chuck Norris" is writing a new series on "MySpace Dark Horse Presents." "Does anyone remember MySpace?" joked Allie. This year for Free Comic Book Day, Dark Horse will release a lot of kid friendly material on MySpace from creators like Scott Morse, Andy Watson and Art Balthazar.

In the world of Robert E. Howard comics, Allie will continue writing "Soloman Kane," and the company will release a new "Kull" series this year. The world of "Conan" will also expand considerably in the next year.

Robert Rodriguez's upcoming feature film "Predators" will be adapted into a comic. Normally the secrecy surrounding Hollywood releases makes comic tie-ins difficult. However, Rodriguez was very forthcoming and cooperative with the idea and shared a lot of his information with Dark Horse, Allie explained. Before the release of the film, Dark Horse is publishing six weekly comics through June and the beginning of July that tell the back story of the characters. The first week of July there will also be a 64-page prequel book followed by a sequel released a week after the movie.

"Hellboy," as done in a collaboration between Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo, will move into its final story arc in 2010. According to Allie, the actual character of Hellboy will "change." There is a new "Lobster Johnson" miniseries called "Burning Hand" in the works as well.

In the world of manga, the focus is on the popular creative collective CLAMP for the near future with several classic projects on tap including Dark Horse's release an omnibus of "Cardcaptor Sakura."

Dark Horse will be releasing original stories by prose author Janet Ivanovitch called "Troublemaker: An Alex Barnaby Adventure" which will be told over a series of graphic novels with art by Joelle Jones. It will come out in a full color hard cover edition.

Allie mentioned how next year is Dark Horse's 25th anniversary, and they will be making bigger and more announcements. There focus will be on their big titles like Conan and Hellboy.

Eric Powell will be tied up with the animated adaptation of "The Goon" by Blur Studios for a while, Allie said of the popular horror/humor title. Before he creates more "Goon" issues, he will launch a "Buzzard" monthly mini series and a new monthly "Billy the Kid" series. There will be back ups of "The Goon" in the "Billy the Kid" issues.

New issues of "The Umbrella Academy" will be held up as writer Gerard Way is recording a new album with his band My Chemical Romance. He is also slated to release "The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys" before he gets back into "Umbrella Academy" as Allie explained that "Killjoys" is about "taking reality apart in the form of a punk rock road trip." "Hotel Oblivion" is the title of the new "Umbrella" series.

More audience questions followed. "Will there ever be a 'Boba Fett' comic?" someone inquired. Allie said that there is certainly a desire to do a comic based on that character. "Darth Vader and Boba Fett are the easiest characters to sell."

"Are there any plans for more 'Serenity' character one-shots?" said another fan. It is possible that there would be a Mal and Zoe one shot, but nothing definite at this point, Allie explained.

In response to a question about the web comic "Axe Cop," Allie touted it as "really cool" and "crazy" but refused to comment further. "Axe Cop" is written by five year old and drawn by his older brother.

"What about a 'Dollhouse' comic?" another Whedon fan wondered, but despite discussions between Allie and Whedon, Joss is "averse" to a comic series.

"Concrete" artist and author Paul Chadwick, who happened to be in the room, announced that he is currently working on a new story.

Dark Horse is also looking into motion comics, Allie revealed. To date, they have been unimpressed with current personal devices as a medium for viewing comics. Though they have been hopeful about Apple's ipad. So far, they have released comics on the iPhone.

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