Vice President and General Manager Hank Kanalz opened up Saturday's Wildstorm Editorial Presentation Panel at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo with the traditional introduction of the panelists, which included writer Josh Ortega, writer B. Clay Moore, senior editor Ben Abernathy and creator Tim Seeley. Writer Gail Simone and artist Ethan Van Sciver arrived to the panel a few minutes later.
One of the big announcements coming out the panel was the teaming of B. Clay Moore and artist Tony Harris on a brand new creator-owned series "The Further Adventures of the Whistling Skull." The series serves as Harris' next project after the upcoming conclusion to his series "Ex Machina" with writer Brian K. Vaughan. The book tells the story of the Whistling Skull, who is the latest in a generational line of heroes of the same name. Moore said the series follows the character from the day he takes on the mantle through his entire career.
"Tony and I have actually been working on this to one degree or another for about three years," said Moore. "It's a concept that originated with Tony approaching me and saying, 'Hey, you want to co-create my next creator-owned book after 'Ex Machina?' And I said, 'Yeah!'"
The second big announcement revolved around the new "X-Files/30 Days of Night" miniseries. "Why we didn't do this sooner, I have no idea," said Abernathy. "These two franchises were just sort of meant to go together. Mulder and Scully are on the outs again with their bosses at the FBI, so they're dispatched to the Arctic Circle to investigate what they think are ritualistic killings that prove to not be, let's just say."
"What is it?" joked Van Sciver.
"Let me explain what '30 Days of Night' is about,'" quipped Abernathy in response.
The book will be released jointly by Wildstorm and IDW.
Kanalz spent the majority of the panel going over the company's current projects, creator-owned series and licensed series. First up, the panel discussed the current events of "The Authority." Abernathy explained that book continues to pick up the pieces from the World's End event that ended with Earth being nuked and the majority of the human population annihilated. Since then, the teams have shifted in line up. Abernathy also said that upcoming covers to both "Authority" and "WildCATS" feature art from a multitude of artistic sources, including Philip Tan, Dave Gibbons and Walt Simonson.
"We've been pretty excited because we've been able to get a whole bunch of new artists who haven't really been doing much in the Wildstorm Universe," said Kanalz. "We also got to go back to a couple creators who got their start at Wildstorm as well. It's been a lot of fun."
In regards to "WildCATS," Seeley said that his experience with "GI Joe" helped prepare him to draw every little detail of the characters in the numerous, character-filled, double-paged spreads. Seeley said his storyline picks up with the WildCATS battling "Bizarro World" versions of themselves. After that, the book will continue in a direction that sees the major leaders of the team each seeing a different way to save the world. "It becomes an action comic with tons of characters and head punching, but also some interesting politics and stuff, too," teased Seeley. "We're going to have one of the coolest fight sequences I've ever been asked to draw. It's a little Midnighter, Zealot tangle. The bitch fight is on."
Abernathy next talked a bit about the maxiseries "DV8: Gods and Monsters," by Brian Wood and artist Rebecca Isaacs. The editor acknowledged that a DV8 series hasn't been around for a number of years, but the inclusion of Wood and his vision in the series made it a must.
Gail Simone spoke about the return of her acclaimed series "Welcome to Tranquility," which begins in July. The writer says the book focuses a lot on Thomasina and a number of unanswered questions from the past series. The book picks up after issue #12 from the original series and takes place before the events of World's End crossover.
"I did a cover," said Van Sciver. "Well, I was supposed to do a cover."
Kanalz then steered conversation to the imprint's creator-driven titles, beginning with "Sparta USA" by David Lapham.
"I think that art says it all - big red barbarian with a scimitar killing football players," laughed Abernathy. "I was doing an interview earlier and I described it as 'Friday Night Lights' as done by David Lynch with a giant red guy."
"You're right on. It's 'Friday Night Lights' with a big red guy," said Van Sciver. "But why a big red guy?"
Abernathy said that the answer to that question will be revealed as the series continues. Abernathy also discussed "Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom," which returns the ABC character created by Alan Moore to the comic page. The book focuses on a shift in time that results with Nazis ruling over the Tom Strong universe. series will feature a variant cover by J.H. Williams III and is scheduled for release in July.
Kanalz then began discussing the final type of product released by Wildstorm: licensed series. Ortega talked a bit about his continuing series "Gears of War," which ties into events from the first two games as well as the recently announced third game. Kanalz also talked about the "God of War" series, which explores the origins of the Kratos, the lead character in the games.
On the TV side of the licensed books, Abernathy talked about the "Supernatural" comic book series, which explain the backstory of the Winchester family all the way to the show's pilot episode and beyond. "Our series basically fleshes out who these guys were and who their father was and how their relationship got to the point where Sam brings about the Armageddon," said Abernathy. "So, you can read all 18 of our comics and then watch Season 1 of 'Supernatural' and there is a cohesiveness to it all."
The company will also be releasing "Tales from the Fringe" this June. The miniseries spotlights the various characters in the show in each issue.
The panel closed by fielding questions from the audience.
A fan asked whether "DV8" will roll back in with the rest of the Wildstorm Universe once it finishes. "By the time the series is wrapped, it'll be more in line with current continuity," Abernathy responded.
Another fan asked whether or not the continuation to Grant Morrison's WildCATS story will ever happen. Kanalz told the audience that Jim Lee wants to do it, but with his new position as co-publisher of DC Comics, "it comes down to hours in the day."