WW Chicago: Avatar Press

The numbers were small but the spirits were high at the Sunday morning Avatar Press panel. "I appreciate you six poor bastards for coming out," said a smiling Editor-in-Chief William Christensen. With slides from Avatar's chief mechanic, Ariana Osborne, Christensen gave the intimate audience the low-down on Avatar's plans for '08 into '09 including new books and a new creator announcement.

First on the agenda was "Crossed," an upcoming 10-issue horror series from Garth Ennis about a populace overcome by evil. "It's bleak, it's depressing...it's also fucking brilliant," said Christensen.

Avatar's "Doktor Sleepless" news came next. Issue number nine of the series is slated for an August release, with the book planned to stay on course for the rest of the year on a near-monthly basis.

Christensen then turned the audience's attention to the rest of Avatar's stable of Warren Ellis books. "'Anna Mercury' series 2 has been green-lit," said Christensen. The book is slated for an early 2009 release with artist Facundo Percio returning for pencils. "It's been a ridiculously big hit. Once again Warren has pulled magic out of his butt. We're thrilled with the response."

Ellis' revisionist and actual history graphic novella, "Aetheric Mechanics," and a new "Wolfskin" series were announced for later this year, followed by an announcement that "Black Summer," the controversial superhero series in which the protagonist murders the President of the United States, would see trade paperback form in September. "It's the best-selling thing we've ever done," Christiansen said. "It's an amazing book that no other publisher would touch with a 10-foot pole - fuck them, they suck!"

The "Black Summer" team of Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp will continue their collaboration on the new title, "No Hero," which tells the story of a world gone mad on superpower-giving drugs.

Avatar also announced that Max Brooks' "The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks" is slated for a late 2008 release through Random House, with possibly more material to follow it later on next year. "Max and I get along like a house on fire," said Christensen on working with the Emmy award-winning writer.

A fan asked about the continuation of Ellis and Paul Duffield's Web comic, "Freak Angels," as well as the possibility of more online comics in Avatar's future. "We're going to keep ['Freak Angels'] running, Warren has a multi-year plan," confirmed Christensen. As for more Webcomics? "We'll see." The EiC noted the complications and expenses behind essentially giving away a book for free and told fans that a 144-page collected edition of "Freak Angels" is slated for release in November.

Avatar teased the announcement of several new writers, but would only say that upcoming "Thunderbolts" writer Christos Gage would be launching a new book with them soon, though the exact premise of the book is still a secret. "He's got a dark, evil side that he hasn't embraced yet," said Christensen.

The panel ended with the announcement that Alan Moore will return to Avatar next year with several new works, including the first fully-sequential work painted by "Anna Mercury" cover artist Felipe Massafera.

"2009 is the year of Alan Moore for us," said Christensen, who noted that Moore and Massafera's graphic novel is done, and "it's yummy."

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