Dynamite Entertainment President and Publisher Nick Barrucci led a packed panel of his bullpen that included Army of Darkness writer Elliott Serrano, Kirbyverse artist Johnny D, the new cowriter on Bionic Man Aaron Gillespie, Fall of Barsoom writer Robert Place Napton, Bionic Man writer Phil Hester, Lone Ranger writer Ande Parks, Editor Joe Rybandt, Kirbyverse artist Dennis Calero, and even a short guest appearance by Voltron writer Brandon Thomas and new Voltron: Year One artist Craig Cermak.
After introductions of the panel, Barrucci started the discussion on Bionic Man and what's coming. He tossed it over to Phil Hester who announced that Aaron Gillespie would become Hester's cowriter on the series starting with issue #12. Hester said, "I wrote the first six issues of Bionic Man with Kevin Smith. I adapted his screenplay to a comic, then he edited it. Kevin is really invested in the comic. When you read the first ten issues of Bionic Man, you are reading a Kevin Smith comic."
Smith's run on the book ends with issue #10. Hester said that issue #11 will be a one-shot, then Gillespie will become the cowriter with issue #12. Of Gillespie, Hester said, "knew he had the writing sensibilities, the story sensibilities that I can work with. We'll be on Bionic man for another year." Gillespie's response when asked for his thoughts was, "I'm excited." Hester added, "He's a talented kid."
Barrucci addressed Smith's participation in Bionic Man by sharing that, "Kevin will not touch something just for money. He wants to be involved in a project that has his name on it. With Kevin, he really has to do it from the beginning to the end. He's like a mother or a father. Kevin works great with Phil. I never, ever would have thought Kevin was as invested as he is. He looks at all the breakdowns, makes suggestions on the artwork. He comes in at the end and makes all the edits he wants."
Hester said that "Green Hornet was our first pass at working that way with Kevin Smith." He added that the team was able to adapt to this model and it has worked will on Bionic Man as well.
Barrucci then turned the panel discussion to Ande Parks and Lone Ranger. Parks said, "I want to write that book for a long time. I like being able to mention historical detail and use historical figures in the writing."
Parks next project is Witchblade Demon: Reborn. Barrucci said that when he first pitched the project to Parks, Parks said, "I have a lot of work to do before I can get to it." Witchblade Demon: Reborn is coming out in July and will be drawn by Jose Luis. It is a sequel to the Mark Millar and Jae Lee story from 2005. Barrucci said, "You will get that original story in the first edition along with the new story."
Next up were the Mars titles. Napton talked about writing Warriors of Mars, starring Gullivar Jones. Napton said, "The character of Gullivar Jones actually predated John Carter. We are weaving him into the story of Barsoom. There are people who have argued that Burroughs based his Mars books on Warriors of Mars. I think it is interesting that we are working it into that universe."
Starting with issue #11, Napton is taking over Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris. Napton said, "We just had our first issue of the new series come out. It's the beginning of an arc call the Boora Witch. This arc will go on for a while. It's taking a darker turn for Dejah Thoris, and will be a darker arc. Barrucci said Dejah Thoris artist Carlos Rafael wasn't sure about continuing the series until he saw the script, then he said of course. "Carlos is still on board, so there will be continuity with what he was doing with Arvid Nelson."
At a prompting from editor Joe Rybandt, Barrucci tossed the ball to Brandon Thomas and new Voltron artist Craig Cermak so they could briefly talk about their work on Voltron before going off to their own Voltron panel. Thomas said, "I'm writing Voltron and Voltron: Year One, which is pretty great. A year ago, I pitched for Voltron at C2E2 across the street. My pitched was rushed and I didn't think I had a chance, but here I am now. The main Voltron book takes place after the anime series. Year One takes place slightly before the series. In the first arc of Voltron, we are exploring the origins of Zarkon. The second arc is called Ten Lions, and is kind of what you think it is and kind of not what you think it is. It will begin with issue #7. In Year One, we will explore why the team went into space to find Voltron."
On working with Cermak, Thomas said, "Craig is great. I knew he could tell stories with spin."
Cermak, a recent graduate of the Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, said, "This is my first published book. I'm frightened and exhilarated. I'm younger than most you, so I missed Voltron when I was growing up."
Of Cermak coming straight from Kubert to Dynamite, Barrucci said, "We need to find some more graduates of Kubert." Is anyone out there listening?
Barrucci next asked Johnny D talk about what he's doing. "I'm doing Silver Star. It's currently on issue #6. I'm doing all my work with pinscreen. I'm working natively in digital, so everything is in PhotoShop." Throughout the panel, Johnny D was also working on a Shadow illustration for one lucky panel attendee.
Finally, Elliott Serrano was given a chance to talk about his work. Serrano said, "I'm writing Army of Darkness. Issue #3 is coming out soon. We're going to relaunch with Lady Ash, or Ashley as I call her. She is the newest addition to the Army of Darkness mythos. The end of the opening arc will be issue #4. In issues #5 and 6, we'll be introducing more new characters. In issue #7 the will be a huge revelation of what Ash is destined to do as the Chosen One."
Before the Q&A session started, Barrucci commended an older gentleman in the audience for his Caption Action T-shirt, and then added, "We are going to be publishing Captain Action."
Parks also added, "If you like Green Hornet, check out the new Outcast arc. It's the first Green Hornet issue I got to write and plot. They are in such a tough situation."
Now for the questions from the audience.
Q: Are you putting out more Mars titles or are you going to stick with what you've got?
Barrucci: "We are finishing Warriors of Mars and Dejah Thoris. It is always good to have a good story, which we have with these two series. The artist on Gullivar of Mars is slow, so we are letting him finish."
Q: Is there any chance there will be a Lady Ash spin-off?
Barrucci: "We've been having talks about a spin-off of Lady Ash."
Serrano: "If we did it, it would be called Daughter of Darkness. And there's an obvious crossover: with Witchblade."
Q: What is the worst comic book movie in your opinion?
Barrucci: "Batman and Robin, the fourth Batman movie. Superman 4."
Parks: "The Captain America made for TV movie."
Rybandt: "Batman and Robin."
Napton: "Catwoman and Elektra."
Hester: "When I was a kid we thought we were lucky that we got the Captain America TV movie. If something wasn't a real embarrassment, it was good. I suffered through many bad movies. For a really bad one, check our Bratman."
Gillepie: "I was originally going to say the first Fantastic Four movie. Anytime you see Dr. Doom walking across the street, you know it's bad. Daredevil is kind of terrible."
Johnny D: "The most recent one I was disappointed in was Captain America. When he was running and he was all digital, I was like Ooh. I think Batman and Robin was better that Captain America."
Serrano: "I can't believe no one mentioned Nick Fury: Agent of Shield."
Q: I loved the Dresden Files. Is Dynamite planning to continue the series?
Barrucci: "Yes and no. The series will continue, but we will be doing original stories. Mark Barros is on the book. Mark Powers in on the book."
Q: Is there any chance we will see more Robocop or Project Superpowers?
Barrucci: "Stay tuned."
Q: I love Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson. Is there any chance we will see of Brigg's stories?
Barrucci: "Yes, sir. It took on a lot to make this happen. At first, we will be doing little vignettes that are included in the anthology books. Not a lot of people are familiar with those storie. We'll be able to elaborate on those stories."
Q: When will we see more Kirby Genesis?
Barrucci: "Unfortunately the main title fell behind, and retailers aren't supporting late books. We are finishing out the current stories and series, so you have those issue to look forward to. We'll be doing more Kirby Genesis in late 2013."
Q: Will we see any more Buck Rogers from Dynamite?
Barrucci: "They pulled the license from us. The license ran out they decided not to renew."
Q: Do you have any plans for Dynamite digital firsts like what Marvel, DC, and Archaia are doing with Comixology?
Barrucci: "We've got some plans. We're going to do digital first in a way that retailers are going to do really, really well with it. We need to do something that will stand out, and we want to do something that will be great for retailers."
Q: What do you do to prepare yourself to write Ash. How do you maintin that zaniness?
Sorrano: "I like to re-watch the movies as often as I can. I try to keep the way Bruce Campbell says his dialog in my head. If you ever read the scripts for the movies, you know the words aren't that great. Bruce Campbell gives the scripts their zest. I reread stuff from creators that had come before me. I've been trying to fold in different things from previous creators. It is very time consuming."
Q: What is next for Bionic Man?
Gillespie: "What will I be doing? One word: Bigfoot. Bionic Man vs. Bigfoot. It's the first thing we're handling."
Hester: "The questions from day one were, Where's Bigfoot? We will have issue #11 and an interlude. Starting with #12, it's very Bigfoot-centric. We are trying to ground it in sense of realism that Kevin brought to it. The way for us to make that story work is to take it seriously."
Gillespie: "There are plenty of other episodes to update. The one I'm thinking of is the 'Venus Probe.' There are episodes and storylines that are going to be fun."
Hester: "We get feedback from you guys at cons. I heard Bigfoot a lot, so I wanted to give you Bigfoot. The next arc is a Tom Clancy-like real-world adventure.
Q: What about Bionic Woman?
Hester: "Paul Tobin is doing Bionic Woman. I've known him since art school, actually."
Q: How does a new writer or artist submit to Dynamite Entertainment?
Rybandt: "No I'm not taking submissions or doing portfolios reviews. We make it easier. Go to our Website. Click on The Editor tab. (http://www.dynamite.net/htmlfiles/editor.html). If you submit electronically, it goes right to my inbox. You can also submit art samples through the Website.
Barrucci: "We do get a lot of pitches, and we get a lot of pitches from established professionals. We sometimes hear from people who think we have stolen their ideas. People will submit we have been working on for a year or more."
Q: Joe, you guys have been the home to these amazing licenses. Spider, Voltron. What is it that makes these license holders say, "We'll go with Dynamite."
Barrucci: "A lot of times it is about the money. They are owned by corporate entities. Voltron, they said, 'We have to go with you,' even though we weren't the best bid. They knew we would do a good job with it."
Rybandt: "We have done a good job on other properties. A lot of that has to do with Nick's hard work. We've done such good work, there's a comfort level with giving us these properties. They trust that we won't mess up their characters."
Ande: "We can't be reactionary. We don't want to do the kind of thing they aren't looking for."
Hester: "For Dynamite, licensing is the bread and butter. Licensed characters aren't an afterthought. They put their best writers and artists on them. This is similar to what I saw with Godzilla at IDW."
Q: Before there were issues with the Burroughs estate. Can you talk about that?
Barrucci: "Seriously, I can't comment. It is all going to litigation."
Q: Dynamite publishes a lot of pulp characters. Is there any chance of pulp character crossovers?
Barrucci: "We wanted to wait. With Green Hornet we put out a lot of books too quickly. It was too much to ask of retailers or fans. They wer all great, but it was too much. There will probably be a cool Shadow/Green Hornet crossover next year.
Serrano: "How about a Shadow/Army of Darkness crossover called Shadow of Darkness?"
Q: How much research do you do to get these licenses?
Barrucci: "A lot. We want to make sure we understand the characters and that they are what we want to do. I'll give an example of what it is like. I saw the first Highlander movie and I loved it. It was fantastic. We went to get the license and I thought, 'I better watch the rest of the movies, too.' Then I watched 2 through 4. Highlander 2 through 4 are terrible. In a way it was good because I could tell the writers what not to do."