Saturday's Valiant Comics panel at the Big Apple Con ended with the revelation of Valiant Entertainment's next project: a hardcover collection of "X-O Manowar" with a new story by Bob Layton. Sean Chen will be the cover artist, while the as-yet unnamed interior artist will be inked by Layton.
Moderator Kevin VanHook, co-creator of "Bloodshot," opened the session by saying that Valiant was "a special place for a lot of us," which would seem difficult to dispute given the publisher's re-emergence as Valiant Entertainment with so many of the veteran staff. VanHook then introduced the panelists, and each said a few words about his or her history with the company. Bob Hall discussed his numerous wrestling pin-ups in Valiant's early days, most notably Bret "Hitman" Hart, and how pleased he was when publisher Jim Shooter "amazingly offered me the opportunity to write." Shooter offered Hall the choice of five different characters to write, and their discussions culminated in the surrealistic "Shadowman." Opportunities to try new things, both in terms of content and creative skills, "goes along with what Valiant was doing at that time," Hall said.
Artist Rodney Ramos also told several stories about the very earliest days of Valiant, pencilling Nintendo comics and watching Shooter lay out what would become "Solar" and "Magnus Robot Fighter." At the beginning, Ramos said, Shooter liked to stockpile pages of finished art before sending anything to the printers. He said that, at one time, he had been working on "Conan" for Marvel when Shooter offered him a full-time job with Valiant. "I left 'Conan' to come work for Jim, but later he comes to me and says, 'Look, Rodney, we're going to have to let you go for a bit. We need to print some of these comics, so we can pay you.'" Ramos came and went a few times before ultimately returning as an inker for "Rai" and "Bloodshot," but "all the time, I kept a table at Valiant. I would be working on Marvel stuff, right there in the Valiant offices." He said that he and Shooter would tease each other about this situation.
VanHook then brought discussion to the present, and the processes required to restore artwork for the recent "Harbinger: A New Beginning" collection. He said that very little of the original art had been archived, so the production team - led by his wife Carol, another Valiant alumn - scanned from published comic books. This team would then break down the colors into black & white and grayscale before re-coloring the issues.
After a quick break for trivia, Valiant Entertainment's Vice President of Marketing, Chip Carter, arrived for a special announcement. He revealed Valiant's next project would be the previously mentioned "X-O Manowar" hardcover collection, with a new story by Bob Layton. Taking questions from the audience, he also indicated that Sean Chen would do the cover and Layton would be inking the new story. Carter handed out business cards advertising the new book, subtitled "Birth," as attendees exited the conference room.