It was a long day for comic shop owners and employees Thursday in advance of the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo (AKA C2E2) as Diamond Comic Distributors held their annual Retailer Summit. The day was packed with back-to-back meetings and workshops, but the shop talk was punctuated by new product news throughout the day.
At lunchtime presentations, Dark Horse revealed that October will be the release month for the long-awaited "Hellboy: The Midnight Circus" graphic novel by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo as well as a new issue of Geof Darrow's "Shaolin Cowboy." Check out the covers for the latter on CBR now, and stay tuned tomorrow for an exclusive chat with Mignola on the book.
Image Comics also took the stage midday to announce a return for their Image Expo special event, which will now be a media-focused one-day engagement on July 2 of this year.
The big dinner presentations started in the evening as Marvel Senior VP of Sales David Gabriel took the stage to show off the trailer for Marvel Studios' "Thor: The Dark World" before jumping into a slate of Marvel news. The publisher talked up their "first original graphic novel" (within the Marvel Universe and in the current Editorial regime) "Avengers: Endless Wartime" by Warren Ellis and Mike McKone which will hit shops as a tie-in to the new "Thor" film. Gabriel also showed off clips from Disney corporate partner ABC's "Once Upon A Time" as a promo for Marvel's graphic novel tie-in in September.
For Free Comic Book Day, Marvel will kickstart their march to Jonathan Hickman's "Infinity" event with a Marvel U one-shot, but Gabriel shared that the company will also show off their new animated offerings in the all-ages one-shot featuring "Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H." and "Avengers Assemble" stories for the incoming Disney XD series. He then showed off a clip package from the two new shows, highlighting the heroes of the two teams with some pretty slick, cinematic animation. The Avengers show will debut on May 26 with a one-hour first episode which will be promoted on FCBD.
As for "Infinity," Gabriel showed off some color interiors for the FCBD one-shot by Jim Cheung which appeared to feature the Chitauri – the alien villains Thanos controlled in the "Avengers" film. He also promised that the Marvel AR app for this book and other future offerings will soon have more content including animated offerings and more video content.
Gabriel said that the company has been quiet about "Infinity" as the "Age of Ultron" event has been wrapping up, but there will be more promotion soon. He showed off two variants for the book including a Mark Djurdjevic one focusing on the book's cosmic appeal and a Skottie Young "Young Marvel" cover featuring the team playing a cosmic-esque arcade game. Gabriel said there would be a collection of the covers including new ones for "Avengers A.I." and one which pokes fun at the perceived overexposure of Young's covers featuring "Old Marvel" in the form of a geriatric Doctor Octopus.
Marvel then announced "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" – a new X-Men focused event expected to spin out of Brian Michael Bendis' work on the franchise. More details were promised across the weekend. Then, on the heels of some "Superior Spider-Man" talk, he showed off a teaser featuring the classic Spider-Man 2099 costume, but no more info was shared.
The floor was briefly turned over for a tribute to outgoing Diamond executive Bill Schanes, retiring after four decades in the comics business and nearly 30 years with Diamond.
Dynamite Entertainment was up next as Publisher Nick Barrucci joked that he had nothing new to offer after a Thor trailer and a tribute to a man in the business for over 40 years. The room seemed to appreciate Dynamite's sponsoring of the open bar, though.
Barrucci announced that the publisher had signed Jeff Parker to write a new series for the publisher as well as writer Duane Swierczynski, who he has apparently been trying to get on a Dynamite title for over five years. Lastly, Barrucci promised a new Dynamite series from Steve Niles in the near future.
IDW Marketing boss Dirk Wood led his presentation with some jokes including the faux announcements of LOL Month, OMG Month and ROTFLMAO Month in the wake of DC's WTF Month. He then promised IDW had been allowed to create the first new Powerpuff Girl in ten years as part of their incoming Cartoon Network license before showing an obvious caricature of himself as Blossom which he referred to as "Little Fuzzy Bubbles."
On a serious side, Wood said that Mike Johnson's "Star Trek" ongoing which has been running over the past several years had held clues that led to the plot of the new "Star Trek Into Darkness" movie, and those specific plot points would be getting major media coverage in the weeks ahead. June will see the launch of the new "X-Files" series, and this summer will also see the launch of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: City Fall" – an event which will see Turtle leader Leonardo joining the Foot Clan. Wood said the order numbers for issue #22 had gone up from previous months.
The Turtles will also appear in IDW's FCBD offering as the company is doing a comic based on Nickelodeon's animated "Turtles" series. A regular book based in that continuity will launch in July alongside a "Judge Dredd Classics" series. The publisher is also launch a new "Godzilla" series called "Rulers of Earth" in June before "KISS Kids" hits in August. August will also see the launch of Phil Hester's modern take on Wally Wood's "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" – more info about which will be shared on Saturday at the publisher's C2E2 panel. IDW will also relaunch Topps classic comics property "Dinosaur Attack" featuring unseen art by Earl Norem and others.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the publisher has new "My Little Pony" material on the way, which Wood has called "a huge success for us." A "Color Me Treasury Edition" planned for June is a collection made like a coloring book for kids.
And despite IDW's ribbing of DC early in the presentation, the two publishers will team for "The Rocketeer/The Spirit" by Mark Waid and Paul Smith. The work between the two publishers will continue with a "Library of American Comics" volume reprinting Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman's classic newspaper strips. Other archival material includes an EC Comics "Best Of" Artist's Edition.
IDW then moved into announcements, saying that Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's "Locke & Key" series will actually wrap with a two-part series called "Alpha." Wood said he hopped the series would be an evergreen book, and they plan on "being in the Joe Hill business for a long time to come."
Wood also confirmed that, yes, IDW will launch new "Powerpuff Girl" comics in August which will also include reprints of the '90s DC series. Troy Little will write and draw the new material, which Wood compared to Katie Cook's work on "My Little Pony." October will see new "Samurai Jack" comics as part of the Cartoon Network deal, and "Ben Ten" follows in November.
Kids comics will keep going at IDW as the publisher has signed a deal to make "Rocky & Bullwinkle" and "Mr. Peabody" comics based on Jay Ward Productions' classic cartoons which will be similar to their "Popeye" comics in that they'll offer new materials and classic reprints.
IDW will also do a new edition of Christian Gossett's "The Red Star" set for late fall. There will also be a "Mars Attacks Judge Dredd" crossover in the vein of their previous "Mars Attacks IDW" event. The four-issue series starts in September and will be by Al Ewing and John McCrea with covers by Greg Staples. The publisher will also revive the Tundra series "Zombie War" by Kevin Eastman and company, which is set for the winter. Kevin Eastman will also be involved in an "When Animals Attack Meets Zombies" series called "The Other Dead." Eastman will draw covers for writer Joshua Ortega and a host of other creators.
Finally, Wood announced that IDW will be a corporate partner with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
BOOM! Studios Marketing VP Filip Sablik started his presentation off with a pitch on the cohesive vision of the company moving forward as Publisher Ross Richie gave a brief history of the company going back to his days working on "Atomica" and "Hero Squared" as writer Keith Giffen convinced him to start the company. Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon then tracked his origin from being a buyer at Los Angeles comic shop Meltdown before getting recruited to work on the publishing end.
The company then showed off their "I Am BOOM!" videos promoting projects like Paul Jenkins' "Deathmatch," Mike Carey's "Suicide Risk," Brian Stelfreeze's "Day Men" and Mike Kunkel's "Hero Bear & The Kid."
DC Comics rounded out the presentations as Sales VP Bob Wayne took the mic. Wayne gently joked that he was going to read all of DC's Previews catalogue pages hitting shops next week before moving on to some other projects. DC will promote the Warner Bros. "Man of Steel" movie at FCBD with free posters for shops, but it will also release on June 12 a free edition "All-Star Superman" #1 as part of a wider "Man of Steel Day" promotion. Other promotional pushes surrounding the film will include the a "MAD Magazine" special edition and Scott Snyder/Jim Lee "Superman Unchained" series. DC VP of Marketing John Cunningham stepped up to explain how Lee's eight-page, two-side foldout poster will work within the context of the series, though the general consensus amongst the panelists
The first printing hardcover collection for Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Death of the Family" story will include an acetate overlay on the cover matching the die-cut covers to the monthly titles. This cover will feature the Joker's skin mask as the overlay with the under cover showing off what his face looks like without the mask. Incoming collections of Snyder and Capullo's "Night of the Owls" collection will include the previously only promotional Owl mask given away las summer at Comic-Con. In retailer news, DC announced it will go back to shrink-wrapping all their hardcovers due to retailer demand.
On the "Green Lantern" front, Wayne reiterated the recent news that incoming variant covers for the line by Rags Morales will be story pages telling the origin of new villain Relic. DC will also return to its power ring tie-in promotion giving away nine rings in two months.
For the incoming "The Wake" series by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, DC made a mistake on the on sale date, so the publisher will extend a second Final Order Cutoff date for the book. If retailers up their orders to 150% of their current level by that FOC date, the full run of the book will be returnable.
Talking about their video game slate, DC wrapped by announcing an "Infinite Crisis" game from Warner Interactive which will be supported by a comic tie-in.