Peter S. Svensson writes for Bleeding Cool from WonderCon.
Before the IDW Artists Edition panel officially began, Marketing master Dirk Wood (as seen in Previews!), Senior Projects (and master of Original Artwork) Scott Dunbier, Managing Editor David Hegdecock and President Greg Goldstein just decided to answer some questions.
James Roberts will be writing Transformers for the foreseeable future. There are no WonderCon exclusive comics from IDW, but there will be cool variants at San Diego. Also, fans are encouraged to attend IDW's gallery in San Diego, which is currently showing a Jack Kirby exhibit, and also has art by Kevin Eastman and Bill Sienkiewicz.
I told these guys, most of whom I've known for years, that I'd say that "IDW is pretty chill people."
IDW is pretty chill people.
Dirk Wood explained that he was going to run a laid back, loosey goosey panel which wasn't going to be too structured. There'd be some announcements. IDW President Glen Goldstein joked that if fans are happy about what they're going to announce, they should talk to him. If they're angry, they should instead talk to Dirk.
A fan then took that advice to heart, and asked about whether there would be more Rocketeer comics coming. Scott Dunbier responded that there would be more Rocketeer comics coming, but that they weren't ready to divulge anything major yet. That being said, Rocketeer: At War #3 is getting approval for print today. Dunbier was expecting a proof from the printer to approve after this panel.
IDW publishes about 80 books a month, which doesn't give them enough time to spend on all of them, so the slideshow showcased a collage of various comics they publish, like Judge Dredd, Street Fighter/GI Joe, The Maxx, which aren't necessarily going to be covered in this panel. (Spoiler alert, they weren't!)
Next they focused on comics they publish which are going to have movies coming out this year. Star Trek, Angry Birds, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Dirk Wood made a silly joke about how all of those films are currently better reviewed than Batman V Superman, by dint of not having any reviews yet, until Scott Dunbier reminded him that I was typing all of this down.
Seriously, Goldstein pointed out that IDW roots for their friends at DC, and that the fan reviews for the film have been pretty decent, as opposed to critics. Dirk did point out that "I heard Wonder Woman is awesome." There genuinely isn't a cruel bone in that guy's body.
Goldstein continued that as an industry, they are friends and colleagues with their "competitors" and that they do business with Marvel and DC, and thus genuinely want them to succeed, as it's good for the industry as a whole.
Leaving jokes about Batman V Superman behind for now, they moved on to the recently solicited miniseries "TMNT: BEBOP AND ROCKSTEADY DESTROY EVERYTHING." Which features the IDW comic verse Bebop and Rocksteady, who had their hats handed to them in issue 50, wandering aimlessly, feeling a bit down, until they stumble upon a time travel device, and everything is open to them again. They're going to "Destroy Everything!" The comic is going to be a weekly event, with several creators working on it, including the return of Sophie Campbell, creator of Pepperoni the Dinosaur, Nick Pitarra, with writing by Ben Bates and Dustin Weaver.
Scott Dunbier joked, "In the movie do they destroy everything too? Is it a Zack Snyder film?"
A fan quickly asked about the nature of the time travel device, and got confirmation that the Time Scepter will be showing up. The comic is less about homaging the classic Turtles in Time video game, and will instead be reflecting the time travel that has shown in the IDW comic verse already.
Another fan asked about the status of the Batman/TMNT trade paperback, gorgeously illustrated by Freddie Williams II. No one was able to give a concrete answer since the trade is being published by DC. (The answer turns out to be July!) Dirk pointed out that at ComicsPro, the comic retailer event, Kevin Eastman was geeking out about drawing Batman, and how he always wanted to draw Batman fighting Shredder. The TMNT comic by IDW continues to sell well, with issues #50 and #51 having sold out. Scott Dunbier gushed about how much Tom Waltz brings to those books. Greg also pointed out that Tom Waltz is also working on the videogames as well.
Another recent announcement was the Complete New Mutants hardcover, which will collect Bill Sienkiewicz's entire run on New Mutants. It's going to have the deluxe format that IDW excels at. There will be original art in the extra-deluxe signed editions, which is apparently glorious but no images of which were available to show us yet.
Since Scott Dunbier pioneered the Absolute edition back in his tenure at Wildstorm/DC, he is responsible for all the damage being done to people's bookshelves by oversized hardcovers. "I like big books and I cannot lie." joked Scott. This New Mutants edition will include the entire run, and the short story from X-Men Unlimited, printed in almost 8×12 dimensions, close to 400 or 450 pages.
Dirk Wood pointed out that he warned comic retailers that Back to the Future Day would be a big deal, but they didn't listen to him. "Now they're eating crow." The next Back to the Future comic arc, "Citizen Brown" is based on the video game. Bob Gale, original writer of Back to the Future has been working on the comics, helping to steer the ship. Other creators like Kevin Eastman for TMNT, Bob Orci for the new Star Trek comics, and Chris Carter for X-Files were mentioned as being part of IDW's plans to have the original creators involved in the properties they created.
Speaking of Chris Carter, a fan asked if the X-Files comics will be going post the most recent season. The comics will not be, as the finale raises difficulties that the comic crew can't get around for now, so the X-Files comics will instead be set during the most recent season for the time being.
Micronauts! EIC Chris Ryall has been pushing this and ROM hard. Cullen Bunn of Sixth Gun fame (and one of the strongest Texan accents you'll ever hear) is writing Micronauts, and has a real passion for the property. JH Williams III is doing covers. Meanwhile, ROM has Christos Gage and Chris Ryall writing, with David Messina on art. Both comics are a new continuity that still holds true to the original concepts.
For Free Comic Book Day, IDW will be showing off Strawberry Shortcake! With Strawberry Scented covers! (Probably not actually true.) Georgia Bell writes, with Muppets/Jem/Disney Princesses artist Amy Mebberson on art. I squealed. The Purple Pie Man will be reintroduced to the modern comics. The #1 issue will be in stores a week before Free Comic Book Day, so that fans who get the free preview #0 comic can immediately return to the store and buy a copy of the comic they liked, rather than have to wait three months and see if they still care.
Scott Dunbier joked that they would be doing a Strawberry Shortcake/Parker crossover by Darwyn Cooke. He acted as if I'd be reporting that as the truth. Like that'd ever happen. They'd lose their licensing deal so fast….
The other FCBD title will be a comic preview of March, from their Top Shelf imprint. March is the real world story of Congressman John Lewis's involvement in civil rights battles. Nate Powell is doing the art, with writing by Lewis and Andrew Aydin. The first two volumes are out, and are strong non-fiction reads.
God is Disappointed in You, the comedic take on the Bible by Mark Russell, illustrated by Shannon Wheeler will soon have a sequel/companion volume, Apocrypha Now. It will be premiering at Emerald City Comic Con. A slipcase of both volumes is in the works, but doesn't have a set release date yet.
Troy Little's adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which had a full color graphic novel release will now be shown in a serialized black and white comic book, in hopes of getting more readers to realize work that "has to be seen."
William Gibson invented the Cyberpunk genre. His first comic, Archangel, will feature art by Butch Guice with inks by Tom Palmer, with lead covers by Tula Lotay. Gibson may do San Diego Comic Con. "You told him it was a small, hometowny event." "Yep. You can just park anywhere."
A few more creator-driven comics were featured. Satellite Falling – Sci-Fi from artist Stephen Thompson, whose work on Brooklyn Animal Control is now being adapted into a TV show by USA Network. Hot Damn – social commentary on modern life from the creators of D4VE, puts everything in hell. "No robots, just really flawed characters, and lots and lots of cursing."
Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have reunited for the first time since Locke and Key ended to work on Tales from the Darkside, an anthology of horror stories featuring scripts Hill wrote for a proposed revival of the series that never made it. This is the point where IDW President Greg Goldstein said "Locke and Key ended?!" As if to hint that in fact, it hasn't fully ended. Could there be a possible return to that setting? More comics in that universe? Perhaps a short story by Joe Hill in one of his prose collections? Or he could just be trolling. I can't tell.
Scott Dunbier then spoke about two upcoming artists editions. Al Williamson's Empire Strikes Back and Jack Kirby's Thor. Dunbier spoke about how in regards to Jack Kirby, "It's not hyperbole to say he is the most important comic creator in history." Besides co-creating Captain America, the entire genre of romance comics, the first horror comics, his work with Stan Lee co-created the Marvel Universe. This will be the first time that Jack Kirby's twice up art, which is to say art done at twice the size of the printed page, as was common in the golden and early silver ages, will be reprinted at that original size. His later works, such as Kamandi and New Gods and Mr. Miracle were drawn at a smaller size, as per the industry standard at the time. The Jack Kirby Thor Artist's Edition will have six complete Thor stories, with inks by Chic Stone and Vince Colletta, as well as a gallery section with the very first splash page of Thor holding Mjolnir from Journey into Mystery #83, and the last five pages of Journey into Mystery #85 with Thor fighting Loki. In addition, there will be at least 10 covers.
Al Williamson began his career working for EC Comics as a teenager, did the Flash Gordon comic in the 60s, the X-9 Secret Agent comic strip, the comic adaptation of Blade Runner, and was George Lucas's choice to draw the Empire Strikes Back adaptation. The Artists Edition will cover his entire movie adaptation from Star Wars #39 to #44, and an additional story from #98. It will include one page where he drew his own interpretation of Yoda, as he didn't have access to the finished film.
Another upcoming Artist's Edition will be collecting the best of DC War Comics, with art by Russ Heath, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, John Severin, and a special pin-up of Sgt. Rock by Brian Bolland.
IDW will be publishing a softcover collection of the new Bloom County webcomics done by original Opus creator Berkeley Breathed. Last year, with no fanfare, he began creating new Bloom County comics and sharing them on Facebook. Now, there's a huge audience liking every new comic he uploads. IDW, which has been publishing everything else Breathed has ever done at this point, will now be collecting the first new Bloom County material in 25 years, strips never before printed on paper.
Greg mentioned the e-mail that Breathed sent IDW, saying that "I'm doing Bloom County comics so you can do more (censored) books."
The panel wrapped up with a few questions. Godzilla will return in comics! And Hasbro doesn't have dictatorial control over what characters get used in their licensed comics, it's more like a collaboration between creators.
Peter S. Svensson continues to be embedded at WonderCon.