"Garth, is there anything you'd like to say to Jim?" asked the MySpace moderator, referring to the recent removal of Garth Ennis' "The Boys" from DC/WildStorm lineup and its move to Dynamite Entertainment. The crowd got quite a kick out of that, but Garth Ennis calmed everybody down.
"The entire process of leaving DC and going to Dynamite has been incredibly civilized," said Ennis. "I wish it wasn't such a boring story, I wish it was a massive controversy, but it went great. So thank you, Jim!"
The first fan question was asked of Jim Lee, and was phrased quite simply: "Um, Jim. 'All-Star Batman & Robin….'" The crowd erupted in laughter, to which Lee responded triumphantly.
"Issue #5? You want to see it? I've got it right here!" said the artist, brandishing a portfolio case. The crowd burst out in laughs and applause at the sight of the finished artwork – pencils and inks – for the very delayed "All Star Batman & Robin" #5. The fan took the portfolio case and inspected the artwork off to the side while the MySpace cameras observed from over his shoulders.
"Um, those aren't going to end up on the internet are they?" asked a concerned Jim Lee. "We're all MySpace friends, right?" The artist then explained that he's nearly finished penciling issue #6. "Obviously the book is late and obviously 'WildCats' is late. 'All-Star Batman & Robin' is entirely my fault. As far as 'WildCats,' Grant Morrison and I were overextended last year but we're trying to pull that together because obviously it's very important to me. Hopefully 2008 will be a lot better than 2006. It has to be, right?"
Booking a mid-day Saturday panel at a major comic-con without announcing who's actually going to be there is a decidedly unconventional move. From the beginning, NYCC was open to trying something new and loved the element of surprise. "They were instrumental in arranging everything without spilling the secret," said a MySpace official. "We wanted something different than the usual convention presence. MySpace is all about connecting our members with those who have an impact on our culture – whether through programs like Secret Shows and Black Curtain Screenings, or via blogs, profiles and videos on the site. We wanted to try that kind of 'exclusive experience' with comics fans and creators. If our members like, we'll do it again."
As two of comics' most visible creators both at conventions and on MySpace, the presence of Jim Lee and Steve Niles on the Mystery Panel were perhaps not as surprising to fans as that of Garth Ennis, whose convention appearances are terribly rare despite his considerable stature as a popular creator.
"Obviously we wanted big name creators that would get people talking -- pros you usually wouldn't get to see in a room of just 300 people," a MySpace official said. "But we also wanted creators we felt would have fun with the experience. It was more like putting together a guest list for a party rather than a panel. All three creators were very willing to participate, even though it was an untested concept. They have been extremely supportive of the event and MySpace Comic Books -- what could have been a logistical nightmare of diva-proportions was actually quite painless, and we can't thank them enough for that."
Garth Ennis's first questions pertained to the "Preacher" television series for HBO. "We've done very, very little," Ennis explained. "We've only taken a few steps on a very long trail. So far, Mark Johnson's written a very good script, a very faithful adaptation. I read it and said a couple of things and he wrote a very good second draft as well. We're a couple of weeks away from having a final draft or a pilot to give to the people at HBO and see what they think.
"As for casting, Mark's idea, which I agree with, is to go with unknowns for the three leads. Beyond that… Saint of Killers, Star, Hugo Root and so on…hard to say. The real problem is when we first started kicking around the idea of a 'Preacher' film, all the people we wanted then are now too old. Johnny Depp is too old, frankly. The one ting I can tell you is that Arseface will be the easiest one. Anyone can do it, if anyone here wants the job…"
Speaking of Arseface, it occurred CBR News that it'd been ten years since the fan-favorite character's first appearance, and we asked Ennis if he'd softened up a little on Nirvana. Ennis gave the laughing crowd a brief history of Arseface.
"The kid who became Arseface, in a suicide attempt, put a shotgun to his face after Kurt Cobain got it right. As Denis Leary quoted, 'remember to get your whole head in front of the shotgun.'" The "Preacher" character failed to kill himself, and was left instead with a face that looked like an arse.
"I never really had much of a problem with Nirvana," Ennis confessed. "I heard their songs and thought, 'well, this is alright but it's really just the Pixies,'" a remark that caused quite a reaction in the MySpace Comics crowd. CBR News reminded Ennis that in the comic, the quote was "Nirvana sounds like down-syndrome put to music," a line that again had the Mystery Panel's audience cracking up.
"Those words were said by a kind of redneck character who wouldn't necessarily like that kind of music. I mean, I can tap my foot to it as much as anything else. It was really just that at that time, it hadn't been long since ol' Kurt… and it was just sort of fresh in my mind and I thought I'd pop that in. Arseface is of course based on those two idiots who [did the same thing over] Judas Priest, but obviously I couldn't use that. Kurt had just obligingly done the deed…."
Also along the lines of comics-to-film were questions to Steve Niles about the adaptation of his "30 Days of Night." The writer announced that the production phase was complete, and that he'll be seeing a rough cut as soon as next week.