Live! From The Dark Horse Builds Character Panel At NYCC 2014 – With Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal, Fred Van Lente, Gail Simone, Raphael Albuquerque, Jim Calafiore And More

On a day that already seemed like a pronounced influx for the first day of NYCC compared to years past, there were also a significant number of weighty, fan-drawing panels, not least of which was Dark Horse leading the charge in talent and focusing on hot current and buzzworthy upcoming titles. Aub Driver, beloved to all journalistas and swag hunters at cons, moderated the panel featuring Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal of Buzzkill and The Paybacks(2015), Brian Wood of The Massive, Fred Van Lente of Action Philosophers, Brain Boy, and The Resurrectionists, Gail Simone who needs no introduction,  Jim Calafiore, Raphael Albuquerque and more.

Calafiore was asked about his experiences Kickstarting Leaving Megalopolis with Gail Simone. They had been on Secret Six together and Calafiore wondered if they ought to "try" Kickstarter. The idea they settled was Leaving Melalopolis. Their experience on Kickstarter was (legendarily) very good and they were happy with the result. After fulfilling their Kickstarter, they took the book to Dark Horse. They worked with a lot of visual exposition that didn't need explanation, which Calafiore enjoyed.

Fred Van Lente and his art team on Resurrectionists (November), Juan Doe (covers), Maurizio Rosenzweig and Moreno DiNisio (art). Van Lente explained his multi millenia story of tomb robbers and characters trying to "steal back their soul". Van Lente got the idea while doing historical research for The Fantastic Four and found some information about tomb raiders who were essentially trying to desecrate your afterlife rather than just steal things. He asked, "What if reincarnation is eternal life" and people keep "repeating themselves over and over again". They will have stories set in Japan and Shanghai in different centuries. First look covers for #3 and #4 were striking and thematic for those settings.

Raphael Albuquerque joined the group to talk about his brand new creator-owned story called Eight. Albuquerque spoke about the mixed settings and elements of the story. He said that "one cool thing about it" is the use of spot colors as a storytelling form to "guide the reader through the times we are showing", particularly yellow and blue.

Brian Wood has a new series, Rebels, coming next year from Dark Horse with Andrea Mutti, Tola Lotay, and Jordie Bellaire. It's a monthly book coming in April, and it's historical fiction about the American Revolution, and not just about battles and war as learned in school but the "overall culture" of the colonial period. Stories will take readers all the way up until Lewis and Clark. The first issue deals with the Green Mountain Boys, America's first militia, dear to Wood's Vermont roots. It'll feature a married couple and their various struggles in wartime. Some unseen before inked pages showed rustic life. The last arc of The Massive is coming up approaching the end of a 30 issue run. Wood said that The Massive "really is the ending" so there wasn't much he could say without ruining what's coming up. A cover shown with a ship with sails is "hands down his favorite piece of art that's been on any of his books".

Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander took the stage (Dark Horse were having to use rotation they had so many stellar creators in attendance), to talk about Concrete Park. It's a science fiction story where Earth's youth have been sent to another planet to mine. These "young exiles" face a question as to whether they will reproduce the violence on earth or start something "beautiful". Like Australia as a penal colony in the past, they have to address questions of indigenous inhabitants and how to build a new society. Dark Horse is showing their interest in running  a book about "difference, race and class", Puryear said. Alexander, who is from Arizona, and whose father was an itinerant preacher, has experienced many vicissitudes in the world that are reflected in Concrete Park. If they don't fix things and deal with their differences, they will "all die", she said ominously. Puryear spoke about something beautiful coming out of harsh ground, and joked about the ugliness of the Javits Center and the role of fans there.

Matt Kindt couldn't make the panel, but Driver spoke about his upcoming series Pastaways and the greatness of Mind MGMT. His previous collection Pistol Whip has now been re-colored and will be released by Dark Horse. Pistol Whip, likewise, will be out from Dark Horse in 2015.

Donny Cates joined the group, having co-written Buzzkill and with Ghost Fleet coming to shops soon. Cates said that the Ghost Fleet is a real thing used by the government to hire trucks to haul dangerous or secret materials. He referenced the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark as the having been hauled by Ghost Fleets, essentially. The plot runs from the 1800's into future time. There are assassins, supernatural stuff, in this wild mix.

Eliot Rahal, Cates' co-writer on Buzzkill, and now on the Buzzkill-set story The Paybacks coming in 2015, joined the panelists. Rahal explained that we have all wanted to be superheroes, but in this world, people can't afford all the tech and costumery to do it. In this world, loans are given out, and there are loansharks chasing the debt. Cates added, "Who could they possibly send after you?".

Enter The Paybacks who have debts and now have to pay off their loans by chasing other defaulting superheroes. Some of their heroes include Blood Pouch. Cates went on the record of loving Rob Liefeld after an in-joke at the sketches shown. Blood Pouch has pouches he can form things out of, loves Mountain Dew and surfboarding. They introduced Emory Raines, the leader of their team, who has a big secret they couldn't reveal characterizing her. Night Knight is the Knight of London who battles Reflectoid, and his best friend is a unicorn called Knight Mare, who he doesn't actually ride. There's a soviet hero Cates has been thinking of since he was a child. There are some characters coming back from Buzzkill like Doctor Blaqk.

Driver brought up Fight Club 2 coming in May 2015, written by Chuck Palahniuk, with Cameron Stewart on art and covers by David Mack.

Gail Simone talked about doing follow-up stories within the next year or so for Leaving Megalopolis.

A fan asked Simone about Tombraider and whether there will be more comics after the second game comes out. Driver said it's certainly a possibility and is "just a matter of time".

A fan asked Brian Wood "How extensive is the process for doing something like The Massive?" Wood described The Massive as a "special case" where he planned things out very solidly, whereas he usually prefers to keep things "loose" and allow things to evolve. The "ending is the story" he reiterated and feels amazed he's been able to keep it quiet for so many issues. Van Lente chimed in that he was asked to do a 30 issue plan for The Resurrectionists and has, so that Dark Horse is a special case that often likes to work in long form.

Cates talked about the 12 steps in Buzzkill and the role of Ruben. His pitch was initially for 12 issues, and got 4 issues, which condensed and helped the story, he felt. Ghost Fleet is 12 issues and he had to do a long outline and tell how the story ended, which he found difficult. On The Paybacks, he and Rahal secluded themselves in a cabin and cabin madness set in with no electricity and heat, they said. They wrote the first year of the series in that way.

Albuquerque commented on planning out story arcs on Eight. He said that Eight was originally planned as a webcomic in Brazil with a different type of story. He was initially supposed to work with another writer who never delivered. He had to decide whether to leave the project or start something new. He came up with the idea and started writing it while drawing it. After awhile he could pitch it, knowing somewhat where it was going.



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About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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