NYCC: Skybound Takes Flight With Kirkman, Williamson & more

Skybound Editorial Director Sean Mackiewicz moderated a panel on Sunday afternoon at New York Comic Con 2014 to discuss upcoming titles from the Image Comics imprint. Mackiewicz was joined by "The Walking Dead" and "Outcast" creator Robert Kirkman, "Outcast" creator/artist Paul Azaceta, "Birthright" and "Ghosted" writer/creator Joshua Williamson, "Birthright" artist/creator Andrei Bressan, and "Tech Jacket" artist Khary Randolph.

The panel opened with a discussion of Kirkman and Azaceta's "Outcast." The first issue of the supernatural horror series, released June 2014, sold over 100,000 copies in 5 printings. Kirkman thanked fans for their support and assured them that the issues were now worthless: "That resale value is not going to be so great." "Outcast" #5 hits stores October 29. Kirkman said, "Reverend Anderson is in a pretty dire situation. It's also the end of our first story arc so there's probably going to be some real explosive things that happen." A trade paperback collecting the first 6 issues will be coming out in December, priced at $9.99. Kirkman said, "For those who have been supporting us since day one, we really appreciate that, but you should have waited for the trade. Totally cheaper."

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There was no casting news for the television adaptation revealed at the panel, but Kirkman said that there would be a big announcement coming soon. Cinemax bought rights for an "Outcast" television adaptation last year and the show has reportedly been moved into production. Kirkman said that filming will begin shortly, and that he hopes to have a finished pilot by the end of the year.

The next series discussed was Williamson and Bressan's new ongoing series "Birthright," the first issue of which came out on October 8. Issue 1 has already sold out; the second issue will be in stores on November 5.

"Birthright" focuses on a kidnapped child, who returns to his family one year later as a fully-grown man. "He was kidnapped in the woods by these fantasy creatures who took him to a fantasy world, and they told him that it was his birthright, his destiny, to defeat this evil lord, rescue a princess, and save this kingdom. And it took him 20 years, but he did it all. And now he's back and all he wants is to see his mom and dad," Williamson said, going on to note that the story was inspired by his fascination with how the children in fantasy adventures act after the story is over: "What do you do after you've fought a dragon? Do you just go back to playing kickball?" "Birthright" will have fantasy elements but also focus on family an overcoming tragedy.

Williamson said that working with Bressan has been "amazing." The Brazilian artist spoke through a translator: "It has been a challenge to mix horror, drama and fantasy in the same world."

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In "Walking Dead" news, Kirkman tried to avoid spoilers, saying that, "a big threat is on the horizon." The next arc will start with issue 133, coming out October 22. Mackiewicz showed pictures of a Clementine action figure, to be released before the end of the year, featuring bloody and non-bloody variants. "We know you guys all love action figures of children covered in blood, holding bloody hammers," said Kirkman.

Issue 115 of "Invincible," coming out November 5, will focus on Battle Beast, said Kirkman. "Invinicble" #114 contained dramatic changes to the world of "Invincible" that will be dealt with in the next story arc, said Kirkman: "Usually in superhero comics, the bad guy does a thing and the good guys are like, 'You shouldn't do that!' And then they fight and then the bad guy's like, 'Well, now I'm either dead or I'm in prison or I'm stuck in another dimension and I'll come back later.' You know, tropes. But we're trying to play with those tropes, so the bad guy totally won. And now they have to deal with that." Kirkman said that the direction of the book will be changing, and that the series will go into "new and interesting places" as Mark and Eve move away from planet Earth.

Mackiewicz recommended that fans of "Invincible" look at Randolph's series "Tech Jacket," which takes place in the same universe. Written by Joe Keatinge with art by Randolph, the series launched in July; issue 4 is currently in stores. Randolph said that "Tech Jacket" is, "the kind of book that, when I was 13, I would have loved to have read," and called it a true all-ages series. Kirkman said that the series is, "Huge scale, crazy action, but really human, too. One of my favorite things about the book is this relationship between Zack and his father."

Williamson described his ongoing supernatural crime series "Ghosted" as "Ocean's 11 in a haunted house." Written by Williamson with art by Davide Gianfelice and Miroslav Mrva, the next arc, "Ghost Town," starts with issue 15 on November 12. "The book's already pretty dark," said Williamson, "now it's going to get super dark."

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