Writers and artists with a diverse set of upcoming projects gathered Thursday at Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss Image Comics, what new comics are coming up, how existing properties are going to change over the next few months and a few other surprises. Gerry Duggan introduced the panel, which consisted of Brian Posehn, Robert Kirkman, Mike Oeming, Erik Larsen, Matt Fraction, Phil Noto and Jay Fotos. Each member made his way to his seat, got settled, grabbed a quick sip of water and with that, they were off and running right into the first panel member and his project.
First up for Image was Mike Oeming and his latest comic "Mice Templar."
Oeming describes the book as "a mixture of 'The Rats of NIMH' and 'The Lord of the Rings' and a story I thought of many years ago when I was working as a security guard." The pages included graphic scenes of mice fighting with swords and decapitating each other. "Yes, this is obviously an all-ages comic."
Robert Kirkman discussed his projects, including "The Walking Dead," "Invincible" and "Wolf-Man." With both "Walking Dead" and "Invincible" approaching a milestone 50th issue, he had a warning for readers, particularly in the case of "Dead."
"In celebration of issue 50, I'm going to try and get rid of as many characters as possible. I'm thinking about killing everyone," Kirkman said. "I'm really ramping up for the 50th issue starting with about issue 43 or so and as I do, all bets are off. So whoever your favorite character is, realize nobody is safe."
He had similar feelings and plans for "Invincible" and its approaching 50th issue but didn't reveal any plans to kill off major characters, at least not yet.
In addition to his two better known titles, Kirkman also let the audience know he will be going back to his "Wolf-Man" comic and "taking it in a new direction completely.
"'Wolf-Man' is going to be a big roller coaster ride. It's going to be fun so look out for that too when it comes out."
Next up was Image Comics head honcho Erik Larsen to discuss some of his own work as well as other upcoming Image projects. First off, Larsen talked about his own comic, "The Savage Dragon," and how he is "currently stockpiling issues of the book with more to come, so look for it." Then he went on to talk about other upcoming Image projects:
- More issues of "Firebreather" in 2008
- The "Next Issue Project," where they take classic public domain comics of the past and do what would have been the next issue of them
- The company's revival of some Jack "King" Kirby's comics with a new, restored look
- A Tim Sale project called "Black and White"
- A brand new horror/super hero comic from Steve Niles called "The Sinner", which Larsen called "the coolest damn book ever"
Larsen turned the mic over to Jay Fotos who talked about Images' collaboration with famed artist Frank Frazetta. Image is doing quite a few projects with Frazetta after the success of its first venture, the one-shot "Death Dealer" which, according to Fotos, "blew our minds with how well it was doing." Plus, another positive thing for the Image team, according to Fotos, was the enthusiasm of artist Frazetta.
"Frank was ecstatic with how we handled the first project of his and how we represented it and he was involved every step of the way. So, it made sense to get involved with other Frazetta properties."
Some of the new properties Image is working with Frazetta on include "Dark Kingdom", "Swamp Demon", "Silver Warrior" and "Creatures," written by Rick Rememder and described by Fotos as "Indiana Jones meets X-Files protrayed by Teddy Roosevelt. Basically Roosevelt is your Rough Rider guy who deals with all this X-Files stuff that nobody wants to deal with."
"And he kicks ass," added Larsen. The book, currently planned as a one-shot could end up as an ongoing property or "maybe even a series or a movie," said Fotos.
After Fotos, it was Matt Faction's turn in the spotlight to discuss his project, "Casanova," and how its upcoming issues will feature a through-line story about the search for the comic's title character.
"It's a bold new strategy in comics to remove your main character for several issues, but I'm trying to do that and make him gone for as many issues as possible," Faction said. The new series of "Casanova" books will be 16 pages, appear every month and only cost two dollars.
"Just pennies a serving," Larsen said.
Finally, the floor opened up to allow a few questions. First, Kirkman was asked about his writing methodology and then later, how he comes up with such great cliffhangers at the end of each issue.
"For me it all starts with the characters. Once I have that, I work on the story." And the cliffhangers? "Sometimes I think of the cliffhanger first," said Kirkman, "and then work backwards from there to write the rest of the story."
Larsen fielded a question about Image seemingly shifting away from creator-owned books and how he reconciles that.
"I don't think there's anything to reconcile," answered Larson. "We still do and will continue to do a lot of creator-owned books at Image. But we're also going to keep working and expanding ourselves with other types of properties as well."