NYCC: The Image Comics Show

At New York Comic Con, a group of Image Comics' top writers and artists gathered for a special panel to discuss the publisher's past, present and future plans. Nick Spencer ("Morning Glories"), James Zhang ("Daomu"), Ben McCool ("Choker"), Tim Seeley ("Hack/Slash") and Tomm Coker ("Undying Love") kicked off the panel, with "Witchblade" writer Ron Marz joining them halfway through.

The panel began as Spencer debuted a special video promoting "The Infinite Vacation," a new miniseries written by himself and illustrated by "Olympus" artist Christian Ward. The video teases: "This is you. You own a surf shop in Hawaii. You dine in the finest restaurants in Paris. You're hiking the Appalachian Trail. You live in San Francisco. You are in love in Venice. You're on a road trip. You're a cowboy. You're a hurricane. You are the President of the United States of America. Go anywhere. Be anything."

Spencer told the audience that "Infinite Vacation," launching next January, takes place in a world where moving into and out of alternate realities is commonplace, an activity that people do for work and for pleasure. Shifting into one of these worlds is as easy as dialing up an app on an iPhone or some other such device. The story centers on a young man who is addicted to the Infinite Vacation, but something happens that makes him question everything he's come to know. Stay tuned to CBR News in the next week for more from Spencer on the project.

The writer also discussed "Morning Glories," his ongoing series about a group of students trapped inside the walls of a mysterious, deadly prep school. "It's amazing. Four prints of number one and three prints of number two," he said, adding that this was his first convention appearance since "Morning Glories" premiered. He thanked the audience for embracing the book and making it such a success.

Seeley was next, saying that the "Hack/Slash: My First Maniac" trade paperback is coming out in November. He's also releasing "Hack/Slash: Trailers Part 2," a sequel to the original "Trailers" one-shot he did some years ago. The book, intended to help chip away at some of the debt left over from "Hack/Slash's" Devil's Due Publishing run, sees guest contributors like Gail Simone, B. Clay Moore and Chris Burnham crafting "really cooky takes on 'Hack/Slash,'" according to Seeley. The creator described the 64-page one-shot as essentially a small trade paperback of original material. In other "Hack/Slash" news, Seeley announced a one-shot starring Vlad that will follow the same origin story model presented in "My First Maniac."

In addition to "Hack/Slash," Seeley announced the resurrection of "Love Bunny & Mr. Hell," the first book he ever published through Image Comics. He described it as "a parody of superhero stuff about a girl who is a sidekick her entire life and tries to become a superhero, but accidentally gains a sidekick in a giant demon named Mr. Hell." The original three issues - including a "Savage Dragon" crossover - are being recollected and recolored by Nate Lovett, with new material being added as well. "Everything I've ever done with 'Love Bunny & Mr. Hell,' all in one convenient spot," he promised.

Next, Coker announced a new book called "Undying Love" that he's illustrating and co-writing alongside colorist Daniel Freedman. The story is about a man "who falls in love with a woman, only to discover that she's a vampire. The only way they can be together is for him to destroy the vampire who created her and free her from the curse." The story takes place in Hong Kong and is filled with "lots of Chinese mythology and lots of folklore mixed in with the vampire mythology." The series is eight issues, with the first issue dropping in February.

McCool took to the microphone to discuss the upcoming arrival of "Memoir," previously announced in April. Illustrated by Nikki Cook, "Memoir" takes place in the small midwestern town of Lowesville, where one day everybody in the town woke up without a single memory of who they are, where they are and what has happened to them - everybody except for one man, who remembers absolutely everything. "It's not good," McCool warned of the town's hidden history. "Lots of dead stuff and that kind of shit." The first issue arrives in January, and is described by McCool as "a very twisted horror book with noir-ish elements."

The writer also promised that "Choker" is still continuing, albeit with a bit of a scheduling hiccup. He pledged that issue #5 will be out soon.

Up next was Zhang, the executive producer of "Daomu," a Chinese graphic novel currently undergoing an English language adaptation. "Daomu," which literally translates as "tomb robber," begins in Detroit when a young man meets his father for the first time after a long, difficult separation. When his father shows up, he appears to be 30 years older than he should be. Before the two can truly reunite, the father is killed right in front of his son, who eventually discovers that he's connected to the long history of the daomu. The story that follows is a journey filled with ghosts, mysticism and explorations of the gaps in China's 5,000 years of history. With seven issues already completed, Zhang said that "Daomu" takes a cue from great adventure tales such as "Indiana Jones."

Last to the microphone was Top Cow writer, "Artifacts" mastermind and newly minted CBR columnist Ron Marz, who is launching "Firebreather vs. Dragon Prince" this December, a special issue he co-wrote with "Firebreather" co-creator Phil Hester. According to Marz, the issue subverts the standard team-up formula by initially making the two characters friends before pitting them against each other. Not only does the issue feature an all-new story, it also boasts the first issues of both "Dragon Prince" and "Firebreather," creating a 120 page package for only $8.

Marz also has a new ongoing series coming out through Image this March called "Shinku." It's a vampire story illustrated by Lee Moder in which the vampires aren't sparkly and emo; they'll be the monstrous bad guys, with plenty of "nudity, violence, swearing and more nudity" to follow. The story focuses on the last of a clan of vampire-hunting samurai as she attempts to fight an entire sect of vampires that have seeded themselves throughout Japanese society.

The final project announced at the panel was "Who Is Jake Ellis?" from writer Nathan Edmondson and illustrator Tonci Zonjic. The story focuses on Jon Moore, a mercenary working in the European underground with the assistance of Jake Ellis, an enigmatic figure that nobody can see except for Jon. CBR spoke exclusively with Edmondson about the project.

When the panel was turned over to questions, Zhang was asked how accurate "Daomu" would be to the original Chinese book. He said it'll be roughly 80% accurate to the existing art, leaving room to modify the book to make it more episodic in nature.

Seeley was asked to clarify the details of the upcoming "Love Bunny" trade paperback. He said that it's a combination of new and old material, recollecting everything previously published in the "Love Bunny" universe while also presenting some new pinups, sketches and assorted art pieces. "It'll be a big package," he promised.

Spencer was asked if he's plotted "Morning Glories" all the way through to its conclusion. "I know the ending," he said. "The question is how many issues it will take to get there, but I know what the last page is of 'Morning Glories.'" He added that the upcoming third issue will be the first one "where people will say I'm making it up as I'm going along, but there is a plan - we know what we're doing!" At this point, "Morning Glories" is aiming for between 75 and 100 issues.

Coker said that "Undying Love" would feature both western and eastern Vampires. Chinese vampires, he explained, are very white, don't move very well and they literally suck the life out of you. They'll appear in the second four issues. Additionally, "Undying Love" is an eight issue miniseries to start, but there is a sequel in mind if the first series is successful. The series will come out in two waves of four issues.

Spencer's "Infinite Vacation," on the other hand, has a definite ending, so sequels are unlikely. One audience member quipped, "The Infinite Vacation is finite."

A fan asked the panelists if any of them have or are currently seeking film deals. Seeley said he's had an option on "Hack/Slash" for the past four years, with little public movement thus far. "I think when you do something like [creating comics], you do it because you like comics. If you get a film deal, then sweet." Marz added that the cool thing about film deals is when option money "falls out of the sky, we plow it back into [creating more] comics."

"One of the great things [about] comics is incorporating the visual flamboyance of movies," said McCool. "Anything on top of that is just a bonus."

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