Hi, this is Augie De Blieck Jr., coming to you live from 12 hours in the future. I'm outside the very panel room inside which the seven original Founding Fathers of Image Comics will gather to reminisce on their 15 years together, apart, together, and back apart. Stay tuned as even that may change in the next hour and a half.
The room holds 1,000 people, as you may know from the press release, and there's a line outside the door that will, no doubt, fill up the room.
Just inside the door, two up-and-coming poker players are taking sports bets on the action that will ensue in the room over the next hour. Let's take a look at their betting cards and see what you can bet on this morning:
- Will the panel start late?
- Who will throw the first punch?
- Who will make the first politically correct and polite statement that everyone in the room will know to be an utter lie?
- How long before Rob Liefeld is blamed for global warming by a questioner from the audience? (Double your money if that winds up being Marc Silvestri!)
- Will anyone be able to shut Todd McFarlane up?
- If Neil Gaiman were to show up in the room and utter chants of mystical magicks, would Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen join together to stop him?
- Will the dais resemble, at all, the famous painting of The Last Supper? And if so, who holds the chalice?
- Will DC offer to buy the entire panel at any point?
I suggest betting on which Founder will let someone from their studio answer a question for them first, and the bookie begins madly scribbling that one down. Odds quickly go to 3-2 on Marat Mychaels answering for Rob Liefeld, with "Nameless Background Assistant/Apprentice" subbing for Marc Silvestri running close behind.
Let's step inside now and set the scene for you.
Oh, look, the panel hasn't even begun yet, and Whilce Portacio is leaving. Don't worry -- he'll be back. Multiple WETWORKS series don't launch by themselves, you know!
George Khoury, the moderator of this panel, begins by announcing that John Byrne was invited to join the panel, but declined. Byrne instablogged that Khoury's story is wildly inaccurate and those seven kids are to blame for all the industry's woes.
Thank goodness for wireless access at the San Diego Convention Center! The blogosphere back channel is all abuzz. Peter David has already accused Erik Larsen of being a letterhack. Jim Lee's group artblog is busy doing courtroom sketches of the panel on Wacom tablets distributed throughout the room. And Mark Evanier is too busy hosting his fourth Jack Kirby-related panel of the day to make any comments.
This just in: John Byrne just banned ten people from his message board. Nobody really knows why.
Rob Liefeld wants to make an opening remark, but Todd McFarlane rips the microphone from his hands, saying that he was the one to start it all. Liefeld points out that Spawn wouldn't be Spawn if it weren't for Youngblood, and Todd points towards his movie grosses and whips out his Grammy from under the table.
On that point, Liefeld shows an animated clip for a Youngblood movie that never launched back in 1995, promising to sell the clip at this booth downstairs for the rest of the day, with the remainder of the stock to be solicited in PREVIEWS under Jimmy Jay Entertainment.
Erik Larsen is oddly quiet for the President of the company, but when I walked around the table a second ago, I could see him doodling fan art of Fourth World characters taking on Devil Dinosaur, while approving three new black and white mini-series for the spring Image lineup.
Valentino is wearing all black and muttering thoughts about "kids these days." He's lighting up a cigarette halfway through the panel, too. An array of independent artists who got their first break drawing black and white books for him are throwing their bodies around him to keep the fire marshal from arresting him.
Jim Lee sat, unfortunately, between Erik Larsen and Marc Silvestri. He looks like he's sitting on a phone book just to see over the table, but his trademark baseball cap protects his eyes from the glare of the flash bulbs going off in the room.
This just in: Lee has sold the panel back to the San Diego Comic Con in a shrewd business move. Silvestri, upon hearing the news, took one step away from the table before Liefeld left the room. Silvestri is sitting back down now.
George Khoury looks lost amongst this clan of once hyperactive comics artists. He's having trouble controlling seven men made famous for not drawing feet with a passion. He jokes that he offered to throw rubble in front of the table to make the partners of Homage Studios feel more at home.
Truly, if Rob Liefeld were still in the room, he'd offer to take some of that rubble and a couple of artists from Top Cow with him.
It's time for questions from the audience.
And, as is true with 95% of all convention questions, they're all worthless, malformed, repetitive, and too closed-ended to get any interesting information out of the remaining panelists.
Ah, well, better luck next time. Khoury offers a free copy of his book, IMAGE COMICS: THE ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE, to anyone who can name all the artists who passed through Extreme Studios before 1996 in one breath. Several nearly die in their attempt, but none are victorious.
Next year: HEROES REBORN REUNITED! With the fourth issue of the mini-series possibly completed by then, join Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Jim Valentino, Walter Simonson, Brett Booth, Whilce Portacio, Ron Lim, Ian Churchill, and Chuck Dixon for a look back at the event at which Marvel nearly outsourced their entire editorial department for $24 in jewelry.
And don't forget to look for the podcasts at ThePipelinePodcast.com.