"We've got a few things to cover today..."
This innocent understatement by Jeremy Atkins, Director of Publicity at Dark Horse Comics, kicked off the Dark Horse panel discussion to a crowded room of fans and enthusiasts at Seattle's Emerald City ComiCon, each one eager for news from the Northwest's biggest comic book publisher.
Also addressing the buzzing crowd was Scott Allie, Senior Editor for Dark Horse, providing insight and teasers about the upcoming storylines being released throughout the year.
With the clock ticking the panel jumped right in and started breaking down the details of their upcoming projects.
"Rex Mundi," the acclaimed series about an alternate history earth where the Catholic Church and magic play integral roles in 1933 Europe, is preparing for its tenth anniversary as well as its conclusion. Originally planned to be a limited series, the last issue is promised to be the exciting finale that this epic story deserves. It's slated for August with a final cover by Dark Horse favorite Mike Mignola.
Everyone's favorite samurai rabbit bodyguard will be making history this summer with the release of the first Usagi Yojimbo graphic novel, his first completely bound story. The adventures of the deadly and furry student of the sword will be presented for the first time in color as well.
"The Goon" is gearing up for a busy year." Without providing too many details, Atkins confirmed that as part of The Goon's tenth anniversary, fans will see a crossover with their favorite thug and the characters from the popular Adult Swim show "Metalocalypse." Several bouts of laughter, cheering, and an enthusiastic "Hell yeahs!" filled the room. The rest of 2009 will be peppered with several one-shot stories featuring The Goon, as well as the trade paperback release of the "Chinatown" graphic novel.
Creepy and Eerie
Classic horror never goes away, not if Dark Horse has anything to say about it. Continuing their efforts of producing great horror comics, Scott Allie presented the "Creepy" and "Eerie" anthologies, a collection of horror comics from the 1960s. A recognized influence for many horror writers today; Scott promised the reverent group of fans that Dark Horse would be expanding the family of characters in "Creepy" and "Eerie" with the introduction of new stories following the anthology release in the fall.
Following the success of the "B.P.R.D. 1946" story arc, a tale of B.P.R.D.'s first mission after the discovery of Hellboy, Atkins said Dark Horse is excited for "B.P.R.D. 1947." Mike Mignola's story of paranormal mystery will fluctuate in and out of reality, and in order to illustrate this arc fully, Scot Allie called upon FÃ¡bio Moon ("Sugar Shock") and Gabriel BÃ¡ ("Umbrella Academy"), the twin artists from Brazil. While inseparable in the studio, their individual drawing styles are unique, even to each other.
Anticipation broke when the Dark Horse team finally mentioned Hellboy and his current hiatus. Commenting on the difficulty of producing "Hellboy," the group announced the return of the red ape in "Hellboy: Wile Hunt" #5 to be released in July. The storyline will center on Hellboy discovering the origin of his bloodline, with Scott Allie describing it as "Shocking for Hellboy and shocking for the reader."
Segueing from "Hellboy," the Dark Horse team focused its attention on one of the B.P.R.D.'s background characters, Sir Edward Grey, the Witchfinder. The character will be getting his own series under his name and is due out July. The book will center on Edward Grey as he attempts to unravel occult mysteries in Victorian era England. Mike Mignola admits to the Victorian era as being a wellspring of inspiration for him and is excited to finally have a vehicle to explore this territory.
The Green River Killer
In an announcement that held a lot of impact for the Seattle crowd, the Dark Horse team showed a cover for the upcoming 200-page story "The Green River Killer." The story follows Tom Jensen, the real life Detective who tracked and captured Gary Ridgeway. Focusing on his life of bringing up his family while investigating the gruesome murders over several years, the book delves into the psychology of having to deal with the horrible crime. The book is written by Jeff Jensen, the son of Detective Tom Jensen, and is scheduled for release in early 2010.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Dark Horse is continuing with the "Season 8" run of "Buffy." The season is scheduled to last for a total of 40 issues and "Season 9" is currently being planned. This year, "Season 8" will focus on the fact that vampires have been made public and are the world's media darlings, which in turn has labeled Buffy and her fellow slayers as "Terrorists." The arc for the year will show Buffy and company racing around the world to unravel the vampire's plans and to find some respite from their prosecution. The story arc of "Predators and Prey" will be available in TPB in July.
In parallel with "Season 8," Dark Horse will be releasing "Tales of the Vampire," a book that will concentrate on the life of vampires and how their existence has changed now that they are known to the public.
The Umbrella Academy
Labeled by Grant Morrison as "X-Men for cool people," the title is continuing its strong storylines. The second series launched in November '08 and shows the team's efforts to kill JFK. Issue six will conclude the storyline and, in the words of Scott Allie, "In a way most people will not expect." The Umbrella Academy team is incredibly excited about continuing the book and are currently writing the third series, which will focus on the history of the team and some of their more outrageous supervillians. A PVC set of the Umbrella Academy will be out in May.
Dark Horse continues its love affair with post-apocalyptic superhero stories with the new book "Rapture," which takes place, appropriately, in Seattle. Written by Mike Oeming ("Powers") and drawn by newcomer Taki Soma (Oeming's wife), the book tells the story of a world where all beings with superpowers suddenly disappear and humanity must pick up the pieces. The tale follows two estranged lovers, Gil and Evelyn, who are continents apart. Their love is disrupted when Evelyn receives powers and an angelic spear, and must decide if she cares for Gil or her newfound powers. The story first premiered on the Dark Horse MySpace page (myspace.com/darkhorsepresents), which previews 26 pages of new material on the first Wednesday of every month.
Dark Horse is continuing its new tradition of collecting the best online comics and publishing them in TPB. May will see the release of "Sinfest," "Planet of Beer," "Achewood," and "Perry Bible Fellowship."
A new collection was released in March of the online comic "Beanworld." Scott Allie described it as "a book focusing on beans and their relationship with each other."
Predator and Aliens
According to Scott Allie, "One of the Hallmarks of Dark Horse is taking popular movie properties and creating the story that happened after the film." With this in mind, Dark Horse is planning to re-launch both Predator and Aliens books later this year.
Star Wars: Invasion
Launching another new Star Wars story, "Invasion" will focus on a family during the Yuzon Vong invasion Twenty-five years after the battle of Yavin. The story will introduce new characters, but several familiar characters, including Luke Skywalker, will be involved. The book will be action-packed and is being billed as "a good place for new readers to pick up newer Star Wars story."
And the Rest
The Dark Horse team realized that after giving out so much information they were running out of time. Quickly, they listed off some other major developments:
- "Gigantic" will by coming out in TPB this summer.
- "Beasts of Burden," a four-issue miniseries of intense horror stories where the detectives are not people but adorable dogs and cats, will be out in September.
- The book Jeremy Atkins called "the one we all wish we thought of" will be out later this summer. Titled "Werewolves on the Moon versus Vampires," it promises exactly what it says and should not be missed.
- The team is working on collecting the classic stories of "Groo" and in launching a new "Groo" series. Neither are expected out this year.
The organizers of the ECCC gave the signal that the panel was out of time. As fans, bloggers, and TV crews left the room, the chatter of what they had just seen bounced off the walls.