Remender, Chaykin & More Bring Rock Music, Terrorists & Winnebagos to Image

Following Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson's keynote address and a barrage of announcements regarding new books from a huge assortment of creators, groups of creators took turns on stage at Image Expo to discuss their new projects and answer questions from fans. Image's David Brothers was charged with keeping fans engaged and moderating each of the panels.

The first group to the stage included Joe Harris, Howard Chaykin, Alison Sampson, Colin Lorimer, Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña.

Writer Joe Harris started things off by talking about his new book, "Rockstars," which will contain art by "Rockstars,". He said the elevator pitch for this book is "Supernatural" meets "Almost Famous."

This book is somewhat autobiographical for Harris, and stars a young rock nerd named Jackie Mayer who is "connected to a metaphysical undercurrent when it comes to music." In addition to his love of music, Harris has also worked in Hollywood. When asked which he prefers, he said, "I get a lot more creative satisfaction from comics." He was, however, quick to point out that Hollywood paychecks are always appreciated.

Howard Chaykin spoke next and talked about his latest project "The Divided States of America." Unlike many of his recent books, Chaykin said it's not an erotic or historic piece of work. It's about a successful terrorist attack on the United States of America. The creator admitted he believes it is not a question of if but when this will happen. He says the book will try to "make repellant people heroes, which they often are."

Chaykin also talked about his previous history as a comic artist, creator and writer. He discussed taking a break from comics many years ago to work in Hollywood. "I wrote for the worst television shows ever made... but it taught me enormously."

He then explained that he came back to comics because of his love of them and the role he feels he has in the industry. He said he likes the fact that he feels as though he's the bridge between the comics of old and the comics of today. He chuckled as he admitted, "I'm older than most of my editors' parents."

After this came Alison Sampson, who is doing the art for "Winnebago Graveyard," a new horror book with writer Steve Niles. It's about a family on a trip whose Winnebago gets stolen, and they get stuck in a town full of Satanists. She said it contains human sacrifice, nudity and extreme horror. However, she also added that she's getting assistance from her 13 year-old nephew. "It's quite gross," she happily admitted. 

Sampson is from England and is actually an architect by trade, so she's new to the industry. When speaking on the topic of working on comic art and mimicking styles, she indicated that it's something she hadn't even considered as it's not something done in her regular job. "It's really bad form for architects to take from others."

The biggest challenge the story has presented for her is getting used to draw American locations and details (due to her English background). She conducted a great deal of research, and was glad to have the opportunity to go a little crazy with elements like a freaky carnival in the comic.

Writer/artist Colin Lorimer followed Sampson, and he also travelled a long way for this Expo -- all the way from Ireland. He spoke about his new comic, "The Hunt," which is based on Irish folktales and features evil faeries. Lorimer isn't fond of the term "faeries" though, as most people associate it with friendly critters like Tinkerbell. For this reason, his book calls them by their more mythic term, the slaugh. His tale starts when a young girl sees her father's soul get ripped from his body by these creatures, and then it's discovered that the slaugh aren't waiting for people to die before claiming their spirits.

Comic partners Rick Remember and Jerome Opeña helped conclude this gathering by talking about their new project, "Seven to Eternity." Remender said it is a modern fantasy series following Adam Osidis, a dying knight from a disgraced house who is afforded the opportunity to save the world from the God of Whispers. At its core, he said it's a story about compromise and the choices we have to make.

When asked what the title meant, Remender said he couldn't reveal that detail without ruining the story, but it should make sense to readers around the third or fourth issue. He said he initially wanted "Zhal" (the name of the planet where the story takes place) as the title, but Eric Stephenson explained this didn't tell readers enough what the story was about. After reflecting on this, Remender agreed and changed the comic's name.

Remender was asked about working in science fiction by Brothers, but the writer clarified that this comic is fantasy, not sci-fi. He said there is no science in this world, just magic.

The writer also talked about his various experiences outside of comics, particularly working in animation and video games. "More than anything else, storyboarding helped me learn how to create and churn out work quickly," he said.

A fan then asked Remender his thoughts on "writing what you know." The individual didn't feel like their work was interesting or that their experiences lent themselves to fascinating stories. Remender then clarified that the saying "isn't about knowing tech or knowing specific environments -- you can do research on that. It's about knowing feelings, emotions and the people you experience."

One final tip Remender gave was based on a comment someone made on his writing: they told him it felt like his story was something a 12 year-old would write. The creator took this jibe as a compliment, as he believes good writing sprouts from that wild feeling one has as a kid where anything is possible.

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