NYCC: Kirkman is Skybound in New York

One of the earlier panels on Saturday morning at New York Comic Con happened to feature Robert Kirkman discussing his Skybound imprint at Image Comics. Home to "The Walking Dead," "Invincible," "Super Dinosaur" and "Witch Doctor," the company puts out a series of beloved books, a sentiment reflected by the small but passionate crowd attending the panel. Kirkman was joined by "Witch Doctor" writer Brandon Seifert, artist Shawn Martinbrough ("Thief of Thieves") and a surprise appearance by Rob Liefeld ("The Infinite") halfway through.

To kick things off, Kirkman began by talking about an upcoming series of graphic novels he's working on with Charlie Adlard called "Album." The first installment will be called "The Passenger" and is set in a world where oil has been found on another planet, gets collected and brought back to Earth via spaceship. As these things go, space pirates try to steal the oil and the ship comes equipped with a robot defense system that decides to kill the crew! "The Passenger" is scheduled for April next year.

Kirkman then gave the floor over to Seifert to talk about his mystical/medical series "Witch Doctor," on stands now. He described the book, which received a loud, positive reaction from the room, as "Doctor Strange meets Doctor House." When the current miniseries comes to an end in November, fans should prepare for a one-shot in December called "Witch Doctor: Resuscitation." The story revolves around a man who wakes up in a hotel with a scar over his kidney, only to discover that his kidney's still there -- contrary to the popular urban legend. After that, Doctor Morrow swoops in for a second opinion and things blast off. The one-shot will be followed by new miniseries in the spring if everything goes as planned.

Kirkman and Martinbrough then discussed "Thief of Thieves," a comic that Kirkman is running more like a television series than a comic book. He and a group of writers including Nick Spencer ("Morning Glories") discuss the story ideas together, then break off and tackle specific stories on their own. To keep the whole thing feeling cohesive, Kirkman brought in Martinbrough to do artwork. The story itself revolves around a master thief who's trying to go straight and the difficulties that brings about. The ongoing series will be launching in February. Other collaborators will be announced shortly, Kirkman teased.

Kirkman then took the floor again to discuss his horror epic "The Walking Dead." The new story arc is called "A Larger World" and will find the cast members branching out from the walled-in city they currently live in to meet other pockets of civilization. Kirkman noted that the cast will grow and dynamics will change. As the series progresses towards issue #100, the writer said the landmark issue is slated for release in August, but the creators might do some shifting to have it ready for next year's Comic-Con International in July.

As the floor opened up to questions, Kirkman relayed that Skybound doesn't accept blind submissions, instead seeking out comics they want to obtain like "Witch Doctor." Seifert explained that he printed up about 200 copies and then put it online which is where Kirkman and company discovered the project.

While discussing the impetus behind "Thief of Thieves," Kirkman said he doesn't ever want to do another superhero comic again -- outside of "Invincible" -- because he's been there, done that and there's so many other options out there. In an effort to expand not only his creative endeavors, but also the kinds of comics on the stands, Kirkman decided to get into the crime game with "Thief."

There was also brief mention of the "Walking Dead" video game from Telltale Games. Kirkman said he chose that particular company because they have a reputation for doing story so well in games like "Back to the Future: The Game." He also said that, while he does review everything that goes into the game, he's letting Telltale run with their ideas.

A fan complimented Kirkman on his all-ages "Super Dinosaur" which stars a young genius fighting evil with his armored dinosaur partner. Kirkman said he gets excited every time the pages from Jason Howard come in, as does his son who is not impressed by any of his dad's other projects. The second arc is in the works and Kirkman wants to keep the book going at least long enough to use the dozens and dozens of armors Howard has designed so far.

Rob Liefeld popped in unexpectedly about a halfway through the panel to discus his work on "The Infinite" with Kirkman. Kirkman has been a fan of Liefeld's art for a long time and said that working with his hero is fun, but he worries that Rob will discover his pile of sketchbooks filled with art swiped from Liefeld's comics. Liefeld responded by explaining that he's nearly as big a fan of Kirkman's. That mutual fandom came together to create a time-traveling actioner currently several issues into its run.

After some more talk between the creators about not writing a comic with the intent of turning it into a TV show or movie and how Kirkman's scripts tend to be stream of consciousness more similar to email exchanges, Kirkman explained exactly why he has no plans on doing a zombie cameo in AMC's "The Walking Dead." He recalled watching the "Spawn" movie when it came out in 1997 and being really into a fight scene only to get pulled right out of the story thanks to "Spawn" creator Todd McFarlane's cameo as a homeless guy. Kirkman doesn't want that kind of disconnect in his work, so he'll be staying on the opposite side of the camera for the foreseeable future.

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