By David Dissanayake
Image Expo is coming up in just a few days, and boy does it seem like Image Comics might just outdo itself with this one. Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Rick Remender, Nick Spencer, Brandon Graham, Robert Kirkman, James Robinson, Nick Dragotta, and more will all be special guests this Thursday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Rumors are flying every which way about who the "Surprise Special Guests" will be this year. The only thing that ties the disparate rumors together is the fact that some of them will be BIG name creators.
So, as we get ready for Image Expo, here are five guesses about who these big name attendees might be (and believe me when I say these are just guesses. If Rich Johnston knows something, he's not telling me):
Potential Surprise Guest #1: Grant Morrison
Morrison mentioned when Happy! was first announced that he had multiple projects for Image in the pipeline. We haven't heard anything about them at all until just recently when Morrison told Laura Sneddon over at The Beat that he had new Image work coming soon:
"Yes, definitely. I'm writing it right now, in fact," he said just a few months ago.
Morrison and his wife do have a house in Los Angeles, after all, and that is just a hop, skip and jump away from the Bay Area.
Potential Surprise Guest #2: Darren Arnofsky
This one is a bit random to be sure, but we do know that Image is publishing a graphic novel adaptation of the original version of Arnofsky's Noah screenplay co-written with Ari Handel and illustrated by Niko Henrichon (of Pride of Baghdad fame). We also know that the promo phase for the movie is in full swing, and it would make perfect sense to get him to come just a few miles up the west coast from LA to talk about the forthcoming graphic novel and movie while making a big splash in the comics community.
Potential Surprise Guest #3: Jonathan Hickman
Feel. Better. Now.
We've been waiting for this book, Hickman's first foray back into the illustration world since his phenomenal Pax Romana, for years now. Hickman's schedule has been jam packed with script writing for all the absolutely phenomenal comics he's been putting out month in, month out (see: Avengers, New Avengers, Infinity, Avengers World, Manhattan Projects, East of West, God is Dead). I'd wager that now, knowing his penchant for planning and working ahead, Hickman has had made himself a bit of free time to put the final finishing touches on Feel Better Now that might just allow all of us all to read it, in say… Spring/Summer 2014? What better place than Image Expo to remind us all of how much of an innovative illustrator/designer he is.
Potential Surprise Guest #4: Warren Ellis
If you're a subscriber to Ellis' Orbital Operations email list (and if you're not, you really should be), you'll know that has he's been teasing more comics work (besides Moon Knight & Avengers Assemble) in 2014.
Ellis says: "I'm clearly quite mad, I'm considering adding another comics project into the mix next year. I've been ruminating for ages on something Molly Crabapple and Ella Saitta surfaced in a conversation on Twitter yonks ago: that conditions in the 21st Century have ended the course of the Byronic hero. I've been wanting to drill into that ever since."
Who knows what it will be, or who will be illustrating/coloring/editing, but I'd bet money that it'll be published by Image Comics. However, subscribers of Orbital Operations also know that Ellis won't be on the west coast until the end of January so this one is a long shot, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him transmit his face/voice/writing to the crowd over the internet, just like he used to do in the good ol' days.
Potential Surprise Guest #5: Ales Kot
Not exactly as big of a name (yet) as the others on this list, Kot has made his mark as one the most innovative and unique new creators on the scene. He's been teasing new projects with a multitude of new creators on his Tumblr. After the great success of his creator owned works Zero, Change, and Wild Children I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. What ever happened to The Surface, anyway?
So, there you have it folks: five somewhat-educated guesses about Image Expo's "Surprise Special Guests". We shall see on Thursday.
A big thanks to Kevin Schmidt for hashing out these rumors with me.
Kevin, Peter Svensson, and I will be at Image Expo on Thursday. Come say hello!
David Dissanayake is Senior Washington D.C. Correspondent at Bleeding Cool and @dwdissanayake on Twitter