Devoted Dynamite Entertainment fans gathered during the publisher's Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo panel for news, sneak peeks, a return to Marvel by Garth Ennis and more from the company known for Ennis' war stories and satirical super heroics, re-invigorated Golden Age heroes and more.
Joe Rybandt, an editor for the publisher, moderated the panel and appeared to be a little uncertain about how best to start the panel featuring Elliott Serrano, Nick Barrucci, Garth Ennis, Jai Nitz and Jesse Blaze Snyder. Rybandt deemed that the proper way to set things in motion was by simply asking the audience, "What is your favorite Dynamite book?"
The crowd answered with "The Boys," and "Project Superpowers." Rybandt then joked that there appeared to be twenty-eight fans of "The Boys" and one "Project Superpowers" fan, setting the light-hearted tone that continued throughout the presentation as Dynamite's gathered talent allowed the audience steer the direction of the panel by opening the microphone up to questions from the audience.
The audience quickly jumped the rails, as the first question was not Dynamite related at all, as a fan pointed out that Bueno Excellente -- a character from DC Comics' "Hitman" -- is still alive and would Ennis like to revisit the character? Ennis checked to see if he could address the question, Barrucci gave the all clear and the writer indicated that while it would be fun, he and the rest of the panel were there to discuss Dynamite's books.
Shortly after that exchange, artist John McCrea joined the panel. From that point forward, McCrea was teased for being sober with Ennis keeping track of the number of times the topic came up. Midway through the panel, Barrucci had mentioned -- in mock surprise -- the soberness of McCrea four times.
Pulling the panel back on track a fan asked if Kevin Smith was going to do more books for Dynamite. Barrucci said, "There is a rumor that Kevin did a script on the Bionic Man," but he insisted he could neither confirm nor deny that rumor. This item, like McCrea's sobriety, would pop up multiple times during the panel.
Asked for the the latest news on "Flash Gordon," Barrucci answered, "I won't say Eric Trautmann's name, but it'll move forward in August or September. We've been doing a lot of research, watching the television series and the 1980s movie so they know what not to do."
The conversation then shifted to other properties under the Dynamite banner. The editorial mandate on Vampirella was explained as being to take the very best of the Archie Goodwin era Vampirella while making the characters as grounded as possible. This prompted a fan to ask, "Will we ever see her in her original costume?" The panel indicated that Vampi has been seen in her original costume on their eight million covers.
That same fan then asked if anyone else liked the character's new pants. Rybandt said pants are awesome. Nitz offered that if it weren't for pants, the attendees in the room would be at the greatest panel ever. Barrucci answered in a more serious vein, stating, "One of the reasons we gave her the pants is that she became a total T&A character." For now, Dynamite is trying to build a foundation for Vampirella, which is their focus on the character for now.
The next question asked about possible new licenses coming soon? "There's a rumor that we're doing Bionic Man with Kevin Smith," Barrucci offered, but once again said he could neither confirm nor deny that rumor.
Barrucci took over briefly to ask the writer of "Evil Ernie" to stand up with Jesse Blaze Snyder all but leaping from his seat, obviously excited about the announcement. The plan for the Chaos Universe is to start with Evil Ernie, then move on to Lady Demon or Purgatory.
Dynamite also announced that they have recently acquired the Voltron license with plans for comics to start rolling out in July or August. Rather than speculate further on future comics properties and their development, which in some cases may only just be starting, the panel decided to focus on promoting their comics closer to release.
When asked about "Project Superpowers," Barrucci offered up that additional chapters of "Project Superpowers" coming up later this year.
Dynamite's Green Hornet material will be cut back, with some titles ending and the line as a whole being evaluated. "We're contracting," was the provided explanation, though they admitted that next year will se some new titles added to the line.
Serrano answered a fan's question about the "Army of Darkness" comics, saying that Ash will be going through some changes, bringing him back to basics. He said that he would be pulling in elements from other media to bring the stories together. He also offered that there could be clues dropped in his own Twitter feed from time to time, joking that he hoped to catch up with Kevin Smith in the number of Twitter followers.
The panel answered a fan's question about a potential Red Sonja and Conan crossover by explaining, Dark Horse isn't interested. Barrucci encouraged the fans on to write to Dark Horse to get some traction behind this possible repairing of Conan and Red Sonja.
Snyder was then given a chance to explain his concept for "Evil Ernie." Essentially, the battle between Heaven and Hell will play out in the series. It will be thought out and methodical, as Ernie is attempting to aid Hell's attempt to keep Heaven from claiming the best and the brightest to add to their ranks. Of course the only way for these recruits to join Heaven's army is to die, so Ernie is going out to kill off the best of the best before Heaven can get ahold of them, thus bringing the world closer to Armageddon. Barrucci said "Evil Ernie" will be the lynchpin of the new Chaos Universe, with other writers following Snyder's lead.
For those interested in submitting their art to Dynamite in search of work, Barrucci said to visit the website and send the artwork for review through there.
A distraught fan was wondering, with specific regards to "Warlord of Mars," how long until the first trade? She mentioned that her shop has sold out of the issues. The first story arc is nine issues and the trade will be out in November. "Warlord of Mars," "Dejah Thoris" and "Vampirella" are gaining steam, with order numbers increasing issue by issue and Barrucci encouraged readers to ask their shop owners to order copies for them.
A question for Ennis wondered if there would be submarines in a future "Battlefields" storyline. "The problem with submarines is 'Das Boot,'" Ennis said, citing the movie as a watermark to have to work against. Ennis also shared that his grandfather was killed by a submarine, so he tends to take the other side and treat submarines as the bad guy. In other "Battlefields" news, Ennis said he has two more stories to tell.
It was revealed that in July "Butcher," with Darick Robertson drawing, would finally be making its way onto the shelves. This led to a discussion about the progress of "The Boys" movie, which is the closest of the Ennis properties optioned to be in active development.
Asked if there would be any "Battlefields" told from a German point of view, Ennis said he's told some stories that are half and half, but he has nothing additional planned in that direction, though he is interested in 1945 when the Russians started to break into East Germany.
Asked if he'd revisit the troubles in Ireland in any comic work, Ennis said he might. He'd be amazed if it didn't come from him in the next ten to fifteen years, at the very least.
The panel defaulted to Phil Hester, who joined slightly after the halfway point of the presentation, when asked how an artist is chosen for a particular series. Hester revealed that, influenced by his own experience as an artist, "An artist is a full partner on a project." Barrucci added that there is no cookie-cutter answer. It comes down to: Who is available? Do they fit your budget? Can they fit your schedule?
Jai Nitz said he and Barrucci were talking about this exact topic before the panel started. Specifically, Alex Ross wants "Superpowers: Ghost" to be a creative success. Barrucci needs to wear his business hat and have it be on time and on budget and Nitz wants to see the book meet his vision, as well. This led to a lengthy conversation that indicated writers get comfortable working with certain artists and sometimes feel almost obligated to check in with their former creative partners before developing a new partnership for their current project.
"Kirby: Genesis" was deemed by the panel to be an example of successfully selecting an artist. Going in, every person invested in the project had a different artist in mind. Ultimately, they found Jack Herbert to be the best solution that met everyone's needs.
Speaking of "Genesis," a fan asked if Jack Kirby characters from elsewhere in the Golden Age whose copyrights may have lapsed be brought into the mix? The question was asked by a twenty-year-old who made an impression on the panel due to his appreciation and comprehension of Kirby. Barrucci said the book is pure Jack Kirby, however, the headaches the pursuit of those once-copyrighted characters would create would not be worth the payout.
Garth Ennis is writing six issues of "Jennifer Blood" before it continues with Al Ewing writing the second storyline starting with the seventh issue. Ennis is working closely with Ewing.
At this point, the panel was encouraged to plug their work as time wound down.
Snyder couldn't talk about what's coming out, but if told the crowd, if they wanted to see something that is completely unlike "Evil Ernie" check out his BOOM! Studios "Toy Story" and "Muppets" work.
Hester said, "I write everything," and the panel noted that what he doesn't write, he draws.
Nitz pointed to his work on "Kato Origins," "Green Hornet Aftermath" and "Tron: Betrayal," which he labeled as the "inbetwequel for the two movies." He also noted that he has more Dynamite work coming up, but couldn't reveal anything beyond that.
Ennis plugged "The Boys," "Butcher," "Battlefields," "Jennifer Blood" and a new "Crossed" miniseries. He also announced that he is returning to Marvel for the first time since leaving "Punisher" to do a new MAX book starring Nick Fury, though he didn't offer details beyond that.
Serrano's work includes more "Army of Darkness" after "Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness" finishes. He also noted that he cannot confirm or deny that he'll be working on "Bionic Man."
McCrea was the last to plug his work, which currently consists solely of "The Boys" in comics. Most of his other work takes him out of comics. He's doing some displays for the Imperial War Museum in London and also keeps busy running around after his three kids.