WC11: BOOM! Studios, kaboom! & BOOM! Town

BOOM! Studios highlighted several of their new and upcoming projects, showing a whole bunch of new artwork and covers during their panel at WonderCon 2011 on Saturday. The panel included founder and publisher Ross Richie, who noted that next year will be his 20th WonderCon; Chip Mosher, director of marketing; and Matt Gagnon, editor-in-chief.

Mosher kicked off the presentation by talking about "Hellraiser," BOOM!'s first-ever mature readers ongoing series, noting that the first issue quickly sold out from the distributor, and a second printing will be out soon.

"I used to work at a comic shop in Los Angeles and Clive Barker was one of my customers," Gagnon said. "He was just a very kind person, a very generous guy and one of our favorite customers."

Gagnon added that working with him on a comic was "one of the great experiences of my life, the ability to work with Clive on one of his big franchise characters."

Mosher then discussed the "At the Tolling of a Bell" Prelude BOOM! released as a PDF last week when the book came out.

"We wanted to do something outside the box to try to induct people into our comic book reading club," Mosher said. In addition to the story, the PDF included a link to Diamond's Comic Shop Locator as well as information on the monthly nature of comics.

"In some of the marketing research we've done, we found that people don't really understand that comics come out on a monthly basis, that there are new comics every Wednesday. Just all the basic stuff that we take for granted," Mosher said. "We wanted to have something to get that message across to new readers."

Mosher also noted BOOM! will release a collection of previous "Hellraiser" stories published by Marvel's Epic line, which includes stories by Mike Mignola, Kevin O'Neill, John Bolton, Alex Ross and many more. It's due later this month.

Also debuting this month is the first issue of "Planet of the Apes," a new ongoing series set in the classic movie continuity

"The comic book starts in 2060," Gagnon said, which is right before the first film. "It takes place in continuity of the first five films, and it's an authentic continuation of the Planet of the apes saga. There are characters in first issue you will recognize, a lot of new characters in the first issue you won't recognize that are brand new characters we're creating for the mythology. It really is an epic in the true sense of the word; it's a big sprawling story that's about politics and love and war."

Richie added that much like "Farscape" and "Hellraiser," BOOM! approached the project with the intent to make it the "strongest, most authentic extension of that franchise." He added that they selected a time period that is a real "breaking point" in the relationship between the apes and humans.

The book is being written by award-winning novelist Daryl Gregory, who writes "Dracula: The Company of Monsters" with Kurt Busiek, and is drawn by Carlos Magno, who has worked on IDW's "Transformers" comics. Mosher showed "for the first time ever" several pages from the book.

Next up was "Elric: The Balance Lost," a monthly series that debuts in July. One of BOOM!'s Free Comic Book Day this May will be an "Elric" book that offers a prelude, rather than a preview, of the series. The first issue includes an afterward by Neil Gaiman.

"Some of the greatest writers we have in the business really, really love this guy," Richie said of Michael Moorcock, the creator of Elric. "The character himself is a pretty fascinating anti-Conan. While Conan is a big burly strong scrappy guy, this is an albino noble who is incredibly weak and has a sword that thirsts for human souls. Often he makes some very conflicting decisions, so sometimes he can be characterized as good guy and sometimes as a bad guy."

The book is written by Chris Roberson ("Superman," "iZombie") with art by Francesco Biagini ("Dead Run"). Gagnon described the book as "Crisis on Infinite Earths" for Michale Moorcock's multiverse, as it will also include Moorcock characters like Corum and Hawkmoon.

Next Mosher highlighted Kaboom!, BOOM!'s recently renamed younger readers line. "We did some marketing research, and we found out that kids don't really like to pick up something that says 'kids' on it."

The first Kaboom! Project is also the first "Peanuts" graphic novel -- an adaptation of "Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown," a direct to video animated feature which debuted at WonderCon. They quickly showed teaser art for the other projects, including "Word Girl," Roger Langridge's "Snarked" and "DuckTales," but did not offer many details on them.

A "definitive" edition of Mark Waid's "Irredeemable" comes out later this year. The hardcover, which collects the first 12 issues, will include a slipcase. Later a fan asked about the possibility of expanding the Irredeemable/Incorruptible universe. As Gagnon started to mention that an announcement was forthcoming, Mosher quickly told him to "Shut up."

Mosher also showed covers for upcoming issues of the various "Stan Lee Presents" books, noting that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are now writing "Soldier Zero," Tom Peyer is joining Mark Waid as co-writer of "The Traveler" and Roberson continues to script "Starborn."

Mosher noted Lee isn't simply "slapping his name on this stuff," as Gagnon noted that he works with Lee every week on all three titles to shepherd the storylines along.

"[Lee's] got an excellent story sense, just really understands classical structure," Richie added. He noted that Lee will return story notes very quickly, recalling a time when they sent him scripts at 5:30 and Lee returned his notes by 9:30.

"The thing about Stan is, he's a workhorse, and even at his age he has not let up," Gagnon said

Mosher noted that this week they made an announcement about BOOM! Town -- specifically a three-book deal with Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler. The deal includes a volume of "Too Much Coffee Man," a "Little Boom Book" titled "Grandpa Won't Wake Up" and another collection of Wheeler's rejected New Yorker cartoons.

A fan asked a question about the possibility of a "Darkwing Duck" and "Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers" crossover, which brought a big smile to Gagnon's face. "Two words -- no comment. Or actually, three more words -- for right now."

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