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WWLA: Avatar Press Panel

by  in Comic News Comment
WWLA: Avatar Press Panel
Avatar Press’ EiC, William Christensen

On Sunday Editor-in-Chief William Christensen appeared in the Wizard Auditorium at Wizard World Los Angeles to talk about Avatar Press.

First up, Christensen talked about Avatar’s weekly free on-line comic, Warren Ellis’ “FreakAngels.” “It has been a huge hit for us and we’re getting a tremendous amount of traffic”, said Christensen. “Warren loves it, the fan’s we hear from say they really enjoy it and Paul Duffield’s art has been beautiful.”

He went onto explain that there are links to message boards on the site so fans can post messages after they read a new issue every Friday. “We’re getting a nice little community of folks who gather to appreciate Warren’s work.”

Go to www.freakangels.com to check out the next issue, look through archives and post on the message boards. Otherwise you’ll have to wait until this holiday season to get it in print form when a one hundred and forty-forty page trade becomes available. The plan is to do a collection every six to eight months.

Other trades coming up include Garth Ennis’ western epic “Streets of Glory” which is about to wrap up and will be out in the late fall as well.

A “Doktor Sleepless” trade collecting issues one through eight will be out this summer.

Christensen spoke more about that book. “We’ve had some problems with shipping on time, but we’re getting past it. We’re back on track, starting with issue nine and going monthly again so you can get your dose of Warren Ellis’ Sci-fi madness.”

He went onto say that Ellis already has the next two stories arcs plotted out and that they are committed to “Doktor Sleepless” for the long haul.

“We just launched ‘Gravel’ as an ongoing where Warren Ellis is co-writing with Mike Wolfer. Warren traditionally doesn’t play well with others when it comes to writing,” said Christensen. “He and Mike have formed a special relationship where Warren does something called ‘scriptments’ which are five page outlines of a twenty-two page issue.”

He went onto explain that the “scriptments” includes chunks of dialogue and break downs of scenes. Ellis then gives them to Wolfer who fills in the gaps and expands it out. “It’s worked really well,” said Christiansen.

“Garth Ennis pulled me aside and said, why aren’t you doing a monthly ‘Gravel’ series? I had no good answer so we just did it and now we have a monthly ‘Gravel’ series. It launched really well and I think people seem to be digging it.”

Warren Ellis’ barbarian title “Wolfskin” is back with an annual one-shot in June. That will lead into a six-week mini-series of the title coming this fall. It will be written by Ellis and feature art by newcomer Gia Luca.

“Everybody loved ‘Crecy,’ our first Apparat graphic novel. It was really well received and really well reviewed and much to our surprise it sold really well,” mentioned Christiansen. He went onto say the Ellis is working on “the spiritual successor” to “Crecy” right now. The title however will not be announced until next month but the book will be out by late summer.

Warren Ellis and Juan Hose Ryp are finishing “Black Summer” which has been the best selling Avatar series to date according to Christensen. A collection of issues zero through seven will be available this summer.

Christiansen also announced that the pair has a new project that they are working on scheduled to launch sometime this summer. They have the first few issues in the can, but are waiting for the cover art to be finished before they announce anything, likely sometime next month.

Garth Ennis has a new series with artist Jacen Burrows called “Crossed,” according to Christensen. “‘Crossed’ is a really hardcore horror series. It’s a group of people trying to survive in a world now full of people trying to make sure they don’t. It’s Garth really going into the darkest places he knows how to go. There’s no better way to sum it up then to say it’s about the worst that people can possibly be.”

Plans are for the book to start in August and it’ll run about ten issues. Christensen said that the more Ellis writes the more fun he’s having, so who knows as it was originally going to be fewer issues.

Then Christensen announced that Garth Ennis is doing a sequel to “Chronicles of Wormwood.” A woo-hoo of excitement was heard from a fan in the audience to which Christensen replied in excitement as well. “Yep, it’s coming”, he promised.

The release is planned for the fall or winter — they don’t want to rush it. Christensen stated that he had read the outline and that “Pope Jacko goes back.” To that an excited fan begged for a nugget of information from Christensen, to which he replied, “Pope Jacko is going to take over Hell.” “No,” the fan responded in surprise.

“2009 is a really a big Alan Moore year for us”, announced Christensen. “We have a lot of Alan Moore projects that are very far along in the development stage. There’re already written and we’re just making sure that we have all the art done. So at this point it looks like probably in 09′ we’ll start releasing some of that batch.”

With that Christensen took questions from the audience. When asked why they decided to do a web-comic, he said, “It was really because Warren wanted to try it out. He had been interested in seeing what other creators had done with web-comics and had some ideas on how he could do it better. The only thing I said was that if we were going to do a web-comic for free, then I want to make sure it’s the best web-comic out there”.

He went on to say that they are thrilled with how it’s turned out, but don’t plan on doing loads of web-comics. However he added that it’s not hard to believe that they might be thinking of doing another web-comic with some other major talent.

Christensen mentioned what he likes most about Avatar. “We definitely take risks. The last thing I want to do is be boring.

“People love whatever reincarnation there is of Blue Beetle running around but I really don’t care. I want to see outstanding talent have the avenue to do what has been working in the back of their fevered brains.

“It’s amazing that people of that caliber had a hard time finding a creative outlet. To find somebody that’s willing to get behind you and let you do your vision. I couldn’t ask for better people to work with so if they’re happy, I’m happy and it’s all good,” added Christensen.

When asked if more writers would be joining the big three (Moore, Ellis and Ennis) anytime soon, Christensen said that he hired someone this weekend at the convention and met with someone else. He went onto say that they would probably make some announcements this summer about brining on a couple of new people, but assured the fans that it is a short list. “I’m spoiled working with Warren, Alan and Garth. That’s a pretty elite circle of folks. The are a lot of people that want to work at Avatar, a very choice few are the people that will work at Avatar.”

Finally, a fan asked about what it’s like to work with comic book legend Alan Moore. “It’s terrifying,” Christensen answered. “Alan is really staggeringly brilliant about everything. The mad genius that he has is pretty unique in the world.”

Christensen gave an example, “We talked about and agreed on doing a series. He told me to call him back the next day and he’d see if he had an idea. So I called him back the next day and he had a hundred pages outlined. It just all comes to him. So it’s great, but Alan is just one of those folks that makes you realize that you are in the presence of genius.”

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