Image Comics launched its first panel of Comic-Con International in San Diego with a presentation from some of its rising stars. On hand for the discussion were "Li'l Depressed Boy" artist Sina Grace, "Peter Panzerfaust" writer Kurtis Wiebe, "Enormous" writer Tim Daniel, "Wild Children" writer Ales Kot, "Hoax Hunters" writer Michael Moreci, "Mind the Gap" writer Jim McCann, and "Murder Book" writer Ed Brisson, with Image Events Coordinator Sarah deLaine moderating.
deLaine began by speaking about Image's creator-owned model, which "means there's no editor trying to tie them into an event, or telling them what costume to draw the characters into."
Grace described his book "Li'l Depressed Boy" as a story about "a kind of ragdoll boy looking for love and happiness—I like it." Wiebe, who has written "The Intrepids," "Peter Panzerfaust," "Green Wake" and others, came next, described it as "the Peter Pan story—which you can see in the title—slammed into World War II Germany." In September's issue #6, he said, the Lost Boys take the fight to the Nazis, and Tiger Lily begins the next arc in #7 as a resistance fighter.
Wiebe announced a motion comic for "Peter Panzerfaust," which has voice acting that may be ported into a new BBC animated series.
Though "Green Wake" was canceled, Wiebe's collaborator Riley Rossmo wanted to work together again—they developed the story of "Debris" based on a single image from Rossmo. The book is set in the future when "we've covered the Earth with garbage," and the Spirits of the Earth rise up against mankind, incorporating themselves in the trash.
Wiebe next described "Grim Leaper," a man who is "cursed to keep dying in the most ridiculous, 'Final Destination' way possible," after which he wakes up in another body. "It's a love story, because he finally meets a woman with the exact same curse."
Tim Daniel took the mic next to talk about "Enormous," a giant-sized giant monster one-shot. An ecological disaster leads to the creation of the Enormous, a race of giant beasts. The human agents, though, have divergent agendas. Daniel said that Shadowline publisher Jim Valentino suggested the oversized 10" x 13 1/2" format.
Ales Kot's first graphic novella "Wild Children" debuts this week, and he began by describing the book as beginning with "five children walking into a school with guns" but said it takes several twists and turns. "There is no movie, there will be no sequel, I don't care about that. ... You might like it, or you might be disgusted by it." Kot also announced a four-issue miniseries called "Change" beginning in November, about three unlikely heroes charged with saving Los Angeles before it sinks back into the ocean. "Some of the pages have 22-25 panels, it's kind of crazy," he said of the book, illustrated by Morgan Jeske.
"Hoax Hunters" began as a backup feature in "Hack/Slash," but launched its ongoing series this week. Michael Moreci said the Hoax Hunters are a reality TV team who publicly debunk the supernatural, but are in fact covering up the events.
McCann, whom deLaine mentioned won an Eisner last year for Archaia's "Return of the Dapper Men," spoke next about "Mind the Gap," which finds a woman detached from her body after an attack. "This is no random mugging, this is part of a widespread conspiracy," McCann said. "Our tag line is 'Everybody is a suspect, no one is innocent.'" Not all characters know the full extent of their roles, as consequences reverberate. "It is an ongoing murder mystery in the style of 'The X-Files,' 'Twin Peaks,' and 'Ten Little Indians,' the Agatha Christie book." Issue #3 sees Elle "make first contact with her best friend Jo," and in #6 "an arrest is made" in Elle's attack. McCann said that with each major reveal there would be a flashback opening up more of the story. "It's a very dense mystery," he said, adding that he enjoys fans' theories.
Ed Brisson next announce "Comeback," in which an organization has developed "a very limited form of time travel," technology which they hire out to let rich clients save deceased relatives and re-stage the deaths to cover up the change. The series is illustrated by Michael Walsh.
The floor was then opened to fan questions.
The first question asked about Image's connections to the indie music scene. "There are a lot of music references in 'Wild Children,'" Kot said, because the writer himself is so immersed in music. He said he hopes there are things in the book that will lead readers to "spend the next several hours on Wikipedia finding out about new stuff to do."
Grace said that real bands appear in "Li'l Depressed Boy" because "the title character just loves music, and so do we." He said music is a direct way to involve readers. "If I give you a soundtrack, maybe you'll understand better what we're trying to say."
Asked about a hat in "Green Wake" that shrank and "defied the laws of physics" as the series went on, Wiebe said that Rossmo was playing around, and Wiebe was shocked no one had asked him about it before now. "That's Riley, though, there's always something he'll add that's not in the script, and it's usually something quirky.
With many indie creators now doing mainstream books, McCann noted that he went the opposite direction after working in Marvel publicity and writing for the publisher. He also cited Ed Brubaker, who recently announced he's departing his Marvel super hero books, and Brian K. Vaughn as popular writers who have found success in the creator-owned realm.
deLaine described "Walking Dead" as "an ambassador for comics," and the publisher's best seller by far.
McCann said that he started reading comics when he was 10, and knew immediately that he was going to work for Marvel. When his father offered to match him dollar for dollar to buy a car and told him to sell his comics collection, McCann said, "Dad... this is research!" Then, "So I had $250 so I got a $500 car, and fifteen years later I was working for Marvel."
Moreci said there is "an intimacy in comics" that doesn't exist in other media. "There are a total of four people working on 'Hoax Hunters,'" he said, compared to the hundreds that could be involved in the production of a movie. "Comics is a pure, true art that you could call your own."
Wiebe confessed that he did not read comics as a kid—to which Grace joked he should "go back to Canada!"—but started reading in his 20s. It was "Walking Dead" that drew him in to the medium, and "the first book I put in my hold file was 'Fell' by Warren Ellis.'"
Brisson—another member of the "Canadians Bureau"—started reading comics with "Captain Canuck," which led him to zines and self-publishing before joining the Image family.