WWLA: IDW Publishing Shows Off the Family Jewels

Publisher and editor-in-chief Chris Ryall led a well attended but fairly taciturn discussion of upcoming projects for IDW Publishing. Other panelists were writers Bryan Lynch and Scott Tipton, editor Dan Taylor, and for the last half of the panel, rock legend Gene Simmons and his son Nick.

The first announcements were projects in the Buffyverse, including "Spike: Shadow Puppets," written by Lynch and drawn by Franco Urru. Ryall said, "I talked to Joss, and he said, 'I am talking to Bryan Lynch about doing a season six [for 'Angel,' picking up where the show left off]. He really got the humor and the rhythms, and I thought if they could do the story, why wouldn't they?'" Ryall confirmed that a new "Angel" comic would in fact continue the story from the television show, be in canon and be co-written by Whedon. Stay tuned to CBR News for an interview with Lynch.

Next up were a few Transformers projects, including "Megatron: Origin," written by Eric Holmes with art by Alex Milne. This four issue mini will debut in May, and looks at Megatron "before he went bad," according to Ryall. The "Spotlight" series books will have a new installment focusing on Galvatron, written by an fave Simon Furman with art by Guido Guidi. Don Figueroa will also be working on an Optimus Prime book in September. Stay tuned to CBR for more with Furman.

A prequel "Scarface" mini was announced, a "darker and more serious" story written by Jashua Jabcuga with Wizard-spotlighted artist Alberto Dose. This will focus on a younger Tony Montana back in Cuba. We spoke earlir with the scribe.

Peter David's "Fallen Angel" will feature artist Kristian Donaldson on a three part story, followed by a "Rashomon"-styled crossover with Billy Tucci's Shi, where half of the book will be told from Shi's perspective (with Tucci on art) and the other half will be told from the Angel's, with art by Joe Corroney. JK Woodward will also be doing some issues.

In the realm of Star Trek, Scott and David Tipton will be writing "Star Trek Klingons: Blood Will Tell," a five issue mini series starting in April. David Messina will be drawing this re-imagining of classical original series stories from a purely Klingon perspective, and one variant will be done completely in Klingon.

"Star Trek, The Original Series: Year Four" will continue the five-year journey from the classic television show, written by David Tischman and featuring art work by Kelsey Shannon, Steve Conley, Leonard O'Grady. This six issue mini starts in July.

In honor of Milt Caniff's 100th anniversary, IDW will publish a deluxe "Terry and the Pirates" hardcover in the same style as their "Dick Tracy" collection. It will have a dust jacket, run a whopping 368 pages and has been designed by Dean Mullaney. No price point has been set yet, but Ryall described it as "a little longer and a little wider" than the "Dick Tracy" collection.

In order to capitalize on the film, IDW will produce "30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow" written by creator Steve Niles with a surprise guest art turn by legend Bill Sienkiewicz. This four issue mini series starts in September, and introduces a character seen in the movie, but never before seen in the comics. The creators spoke with CBR earlier today.

During the brief question and answer section, Ryall suggested that they would be working on "Damnation Game" next with horror master Clive Barker, but that "we haven't settled on anything" due to Barker's busy schedule in other media. One fan asked a number of questions regarding crossovers, including the possibility of working with the "Star Wars" universe. Ryall said, "We talked about 'Star Wars,' since they've got those figures that transform, like Boba Fett that changes into Slave I."

"They do?" Lynch asked, looking surprised, before making as though he was gonna run out of the panel to find one.

"Lucas wasn't a big fan of that," Ryall continued, ignoring Lynch, but we're doing the Avengers crossover. I don't want to do a glut of Transformers crossovers because they lose their specialness."

"Does that mean my 'Angel/Transformers' book isn't gonna happen?" Tipton asked.

"Not just yet," Ryall smiled. "Unless we can get Joss to agree and make it canon."

"Megatron's a cannon," Lynch shrugged, getting a laugh from the crowd.

The fan persisted, and asked for "KISS/Transformers." "That is a perfect pairing isn't it?" Ryall nodded before saying simply, "No."

A fan wanted to know if Drusilla would be in the "Spike: Shadow Puppets" mini series, and Lynch said that during a sequence involving lots of characters from the show that Drusilla might pop up, or that she could be in the season six comics, but nothing has been decided. After a beat, he turned to Tipton and whispered loud enough for the microphone to pick up, "Who's Drusilla?"

When asked about the possibility of web comics taking over, Ryall said, Everybody talks about web comics, does anybody really wanna read comics on the web? I think it's a good way to supplement things, I think it's tough to replace that whole tactile experience of having something to hold. Kill off a couple of iconic characters and you can get all kinds of coverage ..."

When asked about the "30 Days of Night" movie, Ryall talked about his visit to the set and said, "They were going out of their way to make sure the colors and the mood fit the Ben Templesmith art work. Ben visited the set, and he was really impressed and amazed that everybody on the movie was so reverential to his work. None of this is green screen, and after they shoot it and doing a lot of color correction to bring out a lot of the silvers and blacks and blues. They're going out of their way after the fact to really make it look a lot like the book. This is no 'Catwoman.'"

Will there be an adaptation of the film? "It would feel kind of crass, doing an adaptation of a movie that's an adaptation of the comics," Ryall said. "We will be reprinting all of the older stuff."

"Marvel will be putting one out," Taylor quipped.

Soon after that, Gene Simmons, followed by a retinue of cameras and fans, came in to discuss his new projects and his love for the medium. "We're very serious about this," Simmons said seriously. "This is not a venture about people who want to be passively involved. We are all children of comics. In the pages of comic books, modern myths are being created by people right here, right now."

"He knows there's no real money to be made at this," Ryall said of Simmons' interest, after telling a story about whole proposals Simmons had written up about his comics ideas, "he wants to do it simply for the love of comics."

"We're all fisherman," Simmons said. "You can go fishing for salmon, or you can cast a really wide net. The very first thing we did was Chris came over to my house, where I arranged for CNBC to come over, and we were able to talk to the business world."

A fan in the front row answered his cell phone for the second time during the panel and Simmons just looked over at him, before receiving a call himself. "This is the money line," he said, switching the phone off. "People only call me on this number when they want to give me money. And it's always going off ..."

Getting back to comics, Simmons said, "People who have problems, whether they have capes or spider webs, who reflect life back at us, interest me. Peter parker has pimples and can't mount Mary Jane."

He started talking about his first comic, "Gene Simmons House of Horrors," an anthology series with introductions by Simmons a la Rod Serling. The cover for the first issue is drawn by Todd McFarlane, and was done by Simmons sending a photo of his own face and suggesting that it have stuff "crawling out of every orifice." In exchange for the cover, Simmons has to travel to a desolate McFarlane store to do a signing, "because he has to make money too!"

Simmons then introduced his son Nick, who's writing a new series called "Skull Duggery." "I already turned my phone off," the younger Simmons started. "It's about this guy, he appears to be this 12, 13 year old kid, but he's thousand of years old, this demon character. It plays off of the Darwin idea, how humans are at the top of the food chain, but these guys are one rung up." He promised characters would shoot each other in the face at least once an issue, and noted that his father's suggestion had the main demonic characters end up in a Catholic girls' school.

The next title "Zipper" will be written by Tom Waltz and has art by Adriano Lozano. This monthly 32 page comic will debut in September 2007. Gene Simmons said the idea sprang from "one of the first lines I heard when I came to this country was 'what are you stupid, can't you speak English?' One of the best ways to fix that is to make them all work for you." This got a laugh from the crowd and Simmons returned to the character. "He's a stranger in a strange land, much as I was, and he's closer in tone to Silver Surfer than a normal super hero. Zipper is gonna be finding out all about us, and we're really bizarre."

"Dominatrix," written by Sean Taylor with an artist to be decided, is a "clandestine, reluctant superhero," Simmons said, "who swallows the wrong pills. It's very T&A meets CIA. Dominatrix deals pleasure and pain. She's gonna be kicking your butt and looking good while she's doing it."

The youth themed "Indy Race of the Galaxies" also has Tom Waltz writing with German Torres on art. It's an eight issue mini series which takes Indy Car racing and lays it against a backdrop of a "yellow brick road" race spanning galaxies, with alien participants and pit stops on exotic planets. Simmons said Konami was already nibbling after game rights.

"We figured we'd lose the parents with 'Dominatrix,' but we'd get 'em back with 'Indy Race of the Galaxies," Ryall joked.

Simmons also talked about a project he has with Platinum Studios, the "KISS 4K" comic, which has apparently been certified "the single largest comic of all time." "As satisfied as I am with KISS, it's been too narrow a world for me."

The panel then had to conclude fairly quickly to get everyone downstairs for a massive signing.

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