IMAGE EXPO: Fletcher, Stewart, Thomas and More Talk New Image Comics Projects

In 2014, co-writers Brenden Fletcher & Cameron Stewart and artist Babs Tarr brought a new energy to superhero comics with their run on "Batgirl" for DC Comics, which wrapped this week with issue #50.

Now, the trio has a new project at Image Comics, as announced earlier today as part of the Image Expo keynote address: "Motor Crush," featuring badass bike battles. All three are writing the series, Stewart is drawing storyboards and Tarr the finished art.

The three -- and guests unnamed before the start of the panel -- were scheduled to talk more about "Motor Crush" Wednesday afternoon at Image Expo, held this year at the Showbox theater in Seattle. Tarr was not present at the session, but Fletcher and Stewart were joined by Juan Gedeon and Brandon Thomas (the team of the newly announced Skybound series "Horizon"), Karl Kerschl (who, with Fletcher, announced "Isola" earlier today) and Nathan Fairbairn (acclaimed colorist and writer of new Image series "Lake of Fire") joined the presentation.

"This feels like what our lives have been leading towards in a lot of ways," Fletcher said of both "Motor Crush" and "Isola," which he created with Kerschl. "I've been at a loss for words most of the day."

Fairbairn clarified that "Lake of Fire" isn't "technically" his first writing credit -- he wrote an eight-page Batman story drawn by John Paul Leon, acknowledging that he was a bit spoiled by having an artist of that stature write his first story. He expressed his excitement to be writing a series for Image.

Gedeon discussed his experience thus far illustrating "Horizon." "It's mostly black and neon," Gedeon said of the book's palette. "It's been great." Thomas said his job is to make Gedeon look like a superstar.

Image's David Brothers, serving as moderator of the panel, asked about the visual influences of "Horizon." "A lot of video game stuff in it, a lot of 'Metal Gear Solid,' 'Mass Effect,'" Thomas answered. Gedeon also named "Tron: Legacy;" Thomas cited "Neon Genesis Evangelion." Frank Martin is coloring the book.

"It's very noticeable to us, the way Skybound has treated us as full partners," Thomas told the crowd.

Stewart addressed why the "Motor Crush" team chose former Marvel editor Jeanine Schaefer to edit the book. "Babs pointed out that if we were all hounding each other to hit the deadlines, we'd probably hate each other," Stewart said. "She's giving us really valuable input -- questions that she asks about the story make us think about it more thoroughly."

First question from the audience asked about how to become a comics editor. Fletcher said comics editors frequently have experience editing outside of comics.

"I'm bad revising; I'll go back like a minute before press" to make sweeping changes, Fairbairn said, adding that an editor would help keep that process more efficient.

Stewart said it's a "fallacy" that doing creator-owned comics equals being free of editors. "A good editor is incredibly valuable to our process," Stewart said. Fletcher said one of the saddest parts of wrapping up "Batgirl" is no longer working with editor Chris Conroy. On the other hand, before "Isola" and "Lake of Fire" do not have editors.

"If we just wanted to keep the trains running on time, we probably wouldn't have brought her in," Stewart said of Jeanine Schaefer, adding that it was a natural fit to bring her into the creative side of the book.

Fairbairn talked approach to coloring, saying he finds it personally off-putting when a colorist uses the same techniques no matter the book or artist. Following more talk from Fairbairn -- including differences in coloring for digital and print -- the panel wrapped.

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