While Image Comics was Saturday’s third panel at the Emerald City ComiCon, they were first when it came to providing cool news for fans of the show. Led by Joe Keatinge (the new Sales and Licensing Coordinator for Image Comics), the panel introduced new titles, new characters, and new story details on fan-favorite books. To all in attendance, it quickly became clear that “new” was the theme for the next hour.
In attendance on the stage were many of Image’s creators, including Ben Templesmith, John Layman, Jim Valentino, Jay Faerber, Brandon Graham, and Tim Seeley. After introductions were made by Keatinge, he kicked things into high gear with a slideshow of upcoming books. And for the first slide…”Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark,” a one-shot written and drawn by Ryan Ottley (“Invincible”). While sparse on details about the book, attendees both laughed and clapped in excitement at the possibilities this title offered.
Next up, Keatinge showed the cover to Templesmith’s “Choker,” whose #1 issue had just sold out. Templesmith indicated that he and co-creator Ben McCool were extremely pleased both with the finished book and the reception it’s received from fans. At this point, McCool appeared in the room and was called up to the stage. He thanked fans for their support and pulled up a chair by Templesmith.
Layman followed this as fans clapped loudly for the creator of “Chew.” He stated that the rise of this book has been great and “surreal.” The writer said that up next for the book is the chapter “Just Desserts.” After the island, he explained that fans can look forward to one-off stories, where each issue has an ending but will add up as you read them all. Also, in issue #10, a new major villain is made known. Layman let attendees know that this character first appeared in issue #4, in case they wanted to read up and prepare.
Valentino, an Image co-founder, was next and had several books from his Shadowline imprint that he wanted to discuss with the crowd. First up was “Fractured Fables,” an upcoming anthology that includes work from creators such as Mike & Laura Allred, Doug TenNapel, Ted McKeever, Camilla d'Errico, and Ben Templesmith. He said it’s fun for kids and adults, as it takes well-known fairy tales and nursery rhymes and turns them on their ear. A sample of the book will be out on Free Comic Book Day.
Valentino then talked about a book that was decidedly not “kid-friendly” – his new ongoing “Shadowhawk” series. For those familiar with the character, Valentino said, “The original backbreaker is back.” He added that the series spins out of events that take place in “Image United” #5, but he couldn’t wait for that issue to be released, so “Shadowhawk” #1 will hit stands first.
Following this, Faerber was up to announce the return of his own super-team title, “Dynamo 5.” He stated that all the characters fans have come to enjoy will be back in a five-issue miniseries coming this June. In addition, the issues will contain a back-up story titled “Notorious,” and the tale takes place in world of Dynamo 5.
Slides for Brandon Graham’s “King City” appeared after this, and Graham said he was pleased with how the series was progressing. The creator passionately talked about his love for the single issue format, saying he loved any reason at all to go into his local comic book shop. He also mentioned how he’s learned during this series to have fun with the book’s covers and experiment with them. He’s done a crossword puzzle on one, and issue #9 had a board game cover. Graham recommended fans to buy two copies of this issue – one to cut up and play, and the other to read.
Tim Seeley was the final presenter, and he had lots to share with attendees. He informed everyone that another printing of “Loaded Bible” will be coming out, and that this one would have a Skottie Young cover. The creator mentioned that his recent one-shot, “Colt Noble and the Megalords,” had been well-received. And then the big news…starting in June, Seeley’s “Hack/Slash” series moves to Image.
It all starts with the four issue miniseries “Hack/Slash: My First Maniac,” which will explore Cassie's first case before she met her partner Vlad. Then in October, “Hack/Slash” becomes an ongoing series. And, adding a cherry to the top of this serial killer sundae, Seeley told the audience that Image will also be bringing all the trades, including the omnibuses, back into print. For a full report, don't miss CBR's interview with Seeley about the "Hack/Slash" move.
As fans applauded this news, they gathered in line to ask the panelists questions. They wasted no time and lobbed the first query in Valentino’s direction. A fan was curious how the oversized comic format used for “Cowboy Ninja Viking” was being received by readers and wondered what the size meant for trade collections.
Valentino said folks seem to enjoy the size, and that it’s the same dimensions as a Golden Age comic book. He also pointed out that “Viking” and “King City” are both in that size as well. As for the trades, he said “Cowboy Ninja Viking” would have its trade come out with those same dimensions and would include some fun extras, including the book’s pitch. Valentino reminded attendees that the book was an ongoing and that issue #6 would come out the month after the trade.
Layman was placed on the “hot-seat” next and asked about a surprising plot point in “Chew”: the aliens at the end of issue #4. A fan of the book wanted to know why the storyline took this unusual turn and what it meant. The writer admitted that he expected mixed reactions from the issue when it was published. He said he told the book’s artist, “If people go for this, the book will survive.” Layman looked for reactions after the issue came out and was glad to see people went “bonkers” for it.
As for the plot point’s relevance, the writer told the fan that readers need to look at the “big story;” for example, the eating of the apple in issue #8. He said issue #15 will deal with this too and they should prepare themselves. Layman said he knows where the book is going and has planned for sixty issues of “Chew.” He said he has the first thirty issues planned as well as the last ten, and he already knows the last fifteen pages of the final story.
Next came a couple of questions about books by Robert Kirkman, and Keatinge did his best to answer as the Image partner didn’t make it to the con. One attendee wanted to know if he could expect to see the "Astounding Wolf-Man’s" killing spree continue through the series’ announced ending. Keatinge responded it’s a definite possibility, but cryptically added that “the series is ending, but he’s not ending…”
Another fan wanted to know if there was any more news about the upcoming “Walking Dead” TV show. Keatinge said it’s going forward with Frank Darabont (“Shawshank Redemption”) guiding it. He also mentioned that Kirkman himself is working on the script for the show, and that it’s a rare situation for comic creators to actually be involved at that level.
The person after this asked about an Image character they hadn’t seen in awhile – Supreme. Valentino indicated that Supreme will be showing up more and more in the Image universe, starting with “Image United.” Faerber then gave a smile and jumped in with the announcement that Supreme would be appearing in the new “Dynamo 5” miniseries, along with Omni-Man and Invincible.
The final question of the panel was directed to Seeley. A fan wanted to know if they could look forward to future issues of “Hack/Slash” having horror movie tie-ins, as the series has done in the past. The creator replied that there probably won’t be any near future, and that it’s rare when he can tie the book into movies. “It’s a pain in the ass because of all the paperwork, but it does ground the characters in the horror movie universe.” He added that fans will see more original characters coming in the upcoming series, including one he’s quite excited about – Grinface.
And with grins on their faces, the audience applauded loudly as they made their way out of the panel room.