NYCC: Archaia's Black Label Panel

Archaia hosted a rowdy and well attended panel Friday afternoon at New York Comic-Con, an event which featured a full line-up of new graphic novels and more than a few moments of hilarity. While the entire presentation was plagued with technical difficulties, the crew made the best of it, often bursting into impromptu reenactments of episodes of "Heroes" using actions figures borrowed from audience members or joking that they were lowering the price of all their books to 10 cents. There was even a threat of a hardcore dance-off.

The panel focused on Archaia's new Black Label line of titles, which the publisher described as their "partnership" imprint. Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy said the goal of Black Label was to "bring people in from other industries that can add to the comic medium."

They started by discussing "Lucid"/?page=article&id=26867 which was described as a "pop-fantasy-action," not unlike a cross between James Bond and Harry Potter with fairy-tale meets anime styled artwork. The series is written by Michael McMillian, who is one of the stars of HBO's "True Blood" (he plays Reverend Steve Newlin), and drawn by newcomer Anna Wieszczyk.

Next up was "Mr. Murder is Dead," a new original graphic novel that Christy described as showing, "what happens when Golden Age characters go wrong." The book was compared to "Tumor," another Archaia title. Series writer Victor Quinaz said he was originally pitching the story to AMC when somebody gave him the idea of presenting the story as a graphic novel instead. The book will be presented in a comic strip style, which Christy says gives it a "'Bloom County' with murder and death" feel.

The panel got even more out of control when Trevor Roth, armed with "Heroes" action figures, launched into an overview of the book "Days Missing," Volume One of which is available now. After several attempts to get a trailer for the book to play, Trevor instead just gave the audience a rough outline of the series, which is centered on a super-powered being's influence throughout all the history of humankind. The book features some heavy-hitters in the creator roles, including Phil Hester, who will serve as the sole writer on the upcoming Volume Two, David Hine and Matz.

Predictably, the trailer for the new graphic novel "Moon Lake" also failed to work properly. This time, Christy asked the creator of the book, Dan Fogler, to give brief overview of the story. While we were not told much about "Moon Lake's" premise, Fogler did tell the crowd, "It's 'Twilight Zone' on THC. It's 'Tales from the Crypt' on crack." Things got weirder as he started to encourage audience members to just "feel" the book - as in, literally touch it. Christy jumped in to describe the series as a horror anthology featuring work from creators including like Tim Seeley and Brain Hogluin. Apparently, the book is, in Christy's words, "so gnarly and so out there" that it was in danger of receiving an Adult Only rating, with the publisher forced to censor a particularly graphic scene involving two men and a goat in order to avoid such a label.

Christy then began to introduce their new anthology series, "Bleedout," which actually had a working trailer. The audience was treated to a mix of video game footage and artwork from industry heavyweights like Howard Chaykin and Tim Bradstreet. The series is tied to the game "CrimeCraft," a shooter-based MMO set in a world where oil has disappeared and given birth to a "new age of ruin." Series creator Mike Kennedy spoke softly to the audience, apologizing for his nervousness in front of the crowd, at which point Fogler chimed in with the advice to imagine the audience naked. Kennedy described the book as a "gritty, future, noir adventure." "Bleedout" is due out in early 2011.

Christy then called upon Blake Leibel to quickly talk about the book "Syndrome," which Leidel described as "'The Truman Show' with serial killers." The story revolves around a scientific breakthrough that allows the mapping of the human mind, actually tracing the roots of evil. This leads to the creation of Syndrome, a facility in which an artificial environment is perfectly created in order to observe and record the darker parts of the brain. Christy jumped in to ask Leibel what sort of world he would create if he ran a facility like Syndrome, to which Leibel answered, "Every store would be a weed store."

Finally, Christy announced the newest Black Label book, "Saga." While there wasn't much to show or say about the book, he summed it up as the "gnarliest viking adventure ever."

With that, the panel ended as Christy thanked everyone from coming and promised that Archaia would keep delivering books that were "different and fun."

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