NYCC: Dark Horse

Assembled on stage at the Dark Horse panel at last weekend's New York Comic Con were editor Scott Allie, Dark Horse marketing chief Jeremy Atkins and "The Goon" creator Eric Powell, who were later joined by cartoonist Evan Dorkin. Major announcements at the panel included tenth anniversary plans for Powell's Goon character, a new in-continuity "Buffy" one-shot overseen by Joss Whedon and created by the indie talents behind "Pixu," and a limited series for Dorkin and Jill Thompson's award-winning "Beasts of Burden" horror comics, amongst plenty of other new and continuing comics updates.

With 2009 marking the tenth anniversary of Powell's signature series, Dark Horse is releasing a special anniversary issue of "The Goon" that Powell announced while trying to describe his series to potential new readers. "It's kind of a dark comedy/horror noir/drama/dramedy thing that I never thought would get past ten issues let alone ten years," he said. "So it's pretty exciting to come up on that. We are producing a tenth anniversary issue with some pinups from some people that inspired me: Bernie Wrightson, Kevin Nowlan, Jeff Smith Mike Mignola and Mike Ploog." To top those contributions off, the cover of the comic will provide Powell the opportunity to remix his original cover for "The Goon's" debut by redrawing the image in his current style.

Atkins presented a laundry list of upcoming released from Dark Horse, including a September original graphic novel for "Usagi Ujimbo" which marks the first ever Usagi OGN by artist Stan Sakai. The panelists explained that newer editions of older Usagi material were also on tap.

Recently newlywed cartoonists Mike Oeming and Taki Soma will take their "The Rapture" series, initially seen on Dark Horse's MySpace iteration of "Dark Horse Presents," to print with an all-new miniseries. Steven Seagle and Tim Sale's 1980s indie series "The Amazon" will see print in color for the first time first as a May-launching miniseries and then as a graphic novel. "Werewolves On the Moon: Versus Vampires," a tongue-in-cheek horror series about exactly what the title says conceived by editor Dave Land with art by the Fillbach brothers ("Star Wars: The Clone Wars," "Maxwell Strangewell") will also debut later in 2009.

"Pixu: Mark of Evil" is a hardcover reprint of the popular indie horror anthology/group project from Eisner Award-winning artists Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos, Gabriel Be and Fábio Moon. The f same crew will be collaborating on a new "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" one-shot titled "Tales of the Vampires" (a spiritual sequel to Joss Whedon's 2005 miniseries of the same name). The book comes with a cover by Jo Chen and an alternate cover by Bá and Moon, while the interior stories will be written by Cloonan and drawn by Lolos. On top of that, May 21 sees the start of the new "Buffy" arc, "Predators and Prey," featuring the character Harmony as a reality star after vampires come out of the closet and announce their existence to the world.

"Over the course of the next few months, we're going to see how the popularity of vampires leads to the unpopularity of slayers and makes things even harder for Buffy and friends," said Allie, who noted the book would take a skip month to catch up in June (hence the "Tales" one-shot) and that a new in-continuity MySpace story would surface before the end of the year - all playing on the series' new status quo.

Many other longstanding projects saw new information released in New York, including word that Guy Davis' "The Marquis" would land at Dark Horse with new material -- including a 40-page sketchbook -- in July, followed next year with a new OGN. Dark Horse will also continue its prolific webcomics-to-print model with a hardcover of strips from the popular online feature "Sinfest." Artist Joseph Michael Linsner will return as cover artist for "Conan" this spring, and issue #14 will feature interiors by writer Tim Truman and the legendary Joe Kubert.

In other Robert E. Howard news, Dark Horse will publish a follow-up to their current "Kull" series by writer Arvid Nelson and artist Will Conrad sometime in 2010, and Mike Mignola will cover the trade for the publisher's "Solomon Kane" comic book. Another adaptation of an unfinished Howard Kane tale in the works.

In Mignola news, Allie confirmed there will be a publishing break in the most recent "Hellboy: The Wild Hunt" series, between the upcoming issues #4 and #5 to accommodate the creative team, although the editor said that a fairly natural break in the 8-issue story meant that fans wouldn't be left hanging too badly. Issue #5 will ship in July.

The B.P.R.D. return to their past again with the upcoming "1947" miniseries, which explores a vampire epidemic in Europe. Brothers Bá and Moon will draw the series interiors together. The perennially popular Lobster Johnson should return with a second miniseries, hopefully by end of year, which will be titled "The Burning Hand."

Mid-way through the panel, cartoonist Evan Dorkin joined the crew on stage to announce that he and Jill Thompson will take their Eisner-winning horror stories of neighborhood dogs investigating ghosts into a four-issue miniseries called "Beasts of Burden." "Dozens of people know me for my humor work," said the "Milk & Cheese" creator. "I've always wanted to do some horror books because I like horror books. The first story was an eight-page, self-contained strip about a haunted doghouse [for an Allie-edited Anthology]... I hadn't seen anything quite like it in comics." When it came up that two of the original four short stories won Eisner's, Dorkin added, "I have more Eisner's than the Hernandez Brothers, so that makes no sense. Any award where that happens has problem."

Dorkin continued, "We always wanted to do a series about this, but Jill was very busy having a career, and I was very busy playing video games, but now we've got an issue in the can. I've written the second script and am working on the third." Later, while discussing the makeup of the all dog cast and a bit of what happens to them in the story, Allie warned Dorkin about spoilers to which the writer said, "Spoiler warning: we're bringing The Flash back. It's Barry Allen. It's a coup. DC doesn't know we're doing this because Dan DiDio is busying ruining something."

Dorkin also said that he's still at work on new "Milk & Cheese" stories, but at the pace he draws, fans shouldn't get their hopes up for a new full issue any time soon.

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