For those complaining that last year's Image Expo was too sci-fi heavy, here's another antidote from this year's announcements. No Mercy is a young-adult survival comic that looks to be at times funny and terrifying, involving a busload of teenagers falls off the side of a mountain in the middle of Central America. The preview really showcases McNeil's fantastic art, complemented by the fine color work of Jenn Manley Lee. Both elevate the spot-on teen dialogue and impressive integration of social media and emoji visuals. Already I'm both charmed by the cast and wish they'd just shut up already and stop being annoying spoiled teenagers.
It seems hard to believe that this is Alex de Campi's Image debut as well*, after years of writing comics at publishers like Dark Horse, IDW and Tokyopop. She is probably best known for her Eisner-nominated miniseries Smoke; its sequel Ashes included a sequence illustrated by McNeil, who's well known for her popular sci-fi series Finder, which in its various incarnations and installments has won an Eisner, an Ignatz and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The two had an unexpected reunion last year for a cute story in the first issue of My Little Pony: Friends Forever.
*Image Comics published the print collection of de Campi's digital Thrillbent series Valentine, so not technically a debut.
5. We all belong to Emma Rios
When Image Comics began in the early 1990s, artists were the dominant creative force in comics, but since then, the pendulum has swung dramatically back to writers. For a medium so reliant on a balance of story and art, I always found both extremes unfortunate. Recently it feels as if we might be finding a good balance -- or maybe we're just in mid-swing as the pendulum moves back in the other direction, but let's try to stay positive for a moment.
Maybe I'm making too much out of it, but I liked that Emma Rios was on stage Thursday for the announcement of three different projects as the respective writers entered and exited around her. Not that anyone is subservient to the other, but typically the artists are shuffled off and the writers stick around. So good for her for having so much stage time and attention. With three upcoming projects, she is the most prolific of this year's creators.
The anticipated second arc of Pretty Deadly was announced, with writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, and two Brandon Graham projects were covered (one was an announcement and the other was a reminder/update): The new comics magazine Island will include "I.D.," a story written and drawn by Rios, and the 8house miniseries Mirror will be written by Rios and illustrated by Hwei Lim.
Rios is a fantastic artist, and as with Emi Lenox, I'm thrilled we'll be getting so much from her this year.
6. Skottie Young hilariously hates Fairyland
Just looking at the cover of I Hate Fairyland cracked me up -- and then I read the three-page preview, which sealed the deal. Once again, if you're looking for something different, here you go: a ridiculous send-up of children's fantasy stories drawn by the guy who spent several years illustrating Marvel's delightful comic adaptations of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I Hate Fairyland is about a girl who gets stuck in Fairyland, and while her body doesn't age beyond 8 years old, mentally she is a 40-year-old woman trapped in this ridiculously saccharine world. And she's over it.
Young is another creator who has primarily produced for Marvel, and after the first issue of Rocket Raccoon sold like hotcakes last year, it's great to see him take his turn at creator-owned comics. Hopefully this is just the beginning.
And one day, Roger Langridge and Skottie Young are going to do some kind of team-up comic, and I don't think anyone will survive.