Friday's Avatar Press panel at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo kicked off with writer Brian Pulido, creator of Lady Death and co-writer on the recently announced new ongoing series, apologizing to the audience for the panelists' tardiness. Things proceeded quickly after that, with Pulido introducing Avatar's Editor-in-Chief William Christensen, writer Mike Wolfer and artist Jacen Burrows. Pulido said the latter two have "been together at Avatar since the beginning."
"Not as a couple," laughed Pulido afterwards. "Not that there's anything wrong with that."
Christensen then announced the company's new imprint, Boundless, which will serve as the home to all things Lady Death related, most notably the new series written by both Pulido and Wolfer. Following the announcement, writer Christos Gage arrived at the panel and discussion turned to Gage's series "Absolution." Christensen said that the book was incredibly well received and informed the audience that a trade of the series will be released in July. He also announced that Avatar will be releasing a follow up to the book, "Absolution: Rubicon," also written by Gage in 2011.
"The buzz around the book was incredible," said Christensen. "I think the trade paperback is where a lot of people will come aboard."
After the announcements, Christensen and Pulido asked how many members of the audience have visited the Avatar booth on the show floor. The majority of those in attendance raised their hands and the editor encouraged those that haven't to come by for lots of free stuff, including posters of their series "Neonomicon," "Absolution" and "Fevre Dream." Christensen said that they will be giving out "Crossed" masks to fans tomorrow at the Avatar booth. He encouraged the audience to pick one up for when they met writer Garth Ennis so they could "freak Garth out."
The panelists then each discussed the projects they were working on, with lots of banter back and forth. Wolfer, who drew Ennis' "Streets of Glory," continues to work on "Gravel." Christensen credited the Wolfer with the unique distinction of being the only co-writer to ever work with Warren Ellis, a reference to their series "Wolfskin." Wolfer also talked about the upcoming "Lady Death" series, which begins tentatively this November.
"We're doing a lot of world building," said Pulido.
"It has been a labor of love, and we've all put a tremendous amount of work into it," said Christensen. "We do want to really make it deliver. If we are going to do an ongoing monthly, we want to make sure it's all that and a bag of potato chips on top."
Artist Burrows discussed his upcoming series with writer Alan Moore, "Neonomicon," which serves as a direct sequel to their previous project "Courtyard." Christensen said the book incorporates a lot of Lovecraftian themes.
"Alan calls it HPL if it was done by HBO," said the editor. Christensen also said that Moore is very involved in the making of the title. "He's approved every single step."
Pulido related to the audience the first time he saw one of Moore's scripts. The creator said that one panel description took up an entire page.
"Since the story is about madness and insanity, he is trying to drive me insane," joked Burrows.
Christensen revealed that Burrows will be continuing more "Crossed" with Garth Ennis. The editor called the book "the project [Burrows] was born to draw." Pulido encouraged fans to go read the series.
"You'll never sleep right again," laughed Burrows.
Gage then talked about his series, "Absolution." The writer explained that the subtitle of the sequel, "Rubicon," refers to the phrase "Crossing the Rubicon," which means reaching the point of no return. The new series continues the ever-darkening path of John Dusk. With his vigilante activities now revealed to the public, Dusk finds himself pursued by his former friends and colleagues. The writer also said that he'll be introducing a new villain, a Joker-type character to Dusk's Batman.
"John Dusk is not giving up at all," said Gage. "Over the course of this next series, he's figuring out who and what he wants to be."
Christensen added that "Rubicon" incorporates a lot of law into the story. With a former cop now running around as a vigilante, many arrested villains are calling for mistrials. The editor said that Gage's experience on the television series "Law & Order" gives him a lot of insight into how a courtroom really works.
Talk then turned to fan support. "None of us would have jobs without you," said Christensen thanking the audience. "Every day I'm doing the best job in the world. There's just nothing else I'd rather do. But no one of that could happen without the support of fans."
Before turning over the panel to questions from the audience, Pulido talked more about his return to Lady Death, acknowledging the vagueness of his statements by explaining that he didn't want to give anything away. Pulido referred to a specific plot point in the new series that really helped fuel the engine of creativity, promising that it "will really [mess] with your mind in a good way." Pulido also explained that the creative team is taking special care in character and setting designs. He said they consider clothing material, weapon placement and the plausibility of the time-period's technology.
Christensen added that Avatar will be releasing the previous Lady Death material in trades.
A fan asked about the future of "Crossed" following the next series by David Lapham and Javier Barreno. Christensen said that after that series, another writer will take over. The same fan asked about the status of Boundless and whether the company plans on releasing other titles under the imprint. Christensen said that Boundless was specifically created as the home of all things Lady Death, and while the company may release other titles under the Boundless banner eventually, there are currently no plans to do so.
Another fan asked Pulido about the possibility of a Lady Death movie. The creator said that if a movie were to be made, it would be akin to a film like "300."
"Lady Death is an R-rated story," said Pulido. "[It would] definitely be live-action and live inside that family of films where you're completely transported to another place."
A fan then closed out the panel, asking about the status of Kieron Gillen's projects, Christensen revealed that there were numerous series in production with releases planned for 2011.