SDCC '15: Panel Blow By Blow As IDW Announced Dredd, TMNT/Batman, Rom, Micronauts and More
The IDW Panel promised to be "The Best Panel in Recorded History", and it was. You've by now seen the two big announcements, TMNT/Batman, and IDW's acquisition of the Rom and Micronauts licenses. But there was more, so keep reading my friend!
At the panel was IDW VP of Marketing Dirk Wood, Chris Ryall, who isn't just the Chief Creative Officer Slash Editor In Chief, but also writes something like four titles a month, and Trek/Disney/Cartoon Network editor Sarah Gaydos. Creative wise we had writer James Tynion IV, there to announce TMNT/Batman, Judge Dredd writer/artist (why don't we have a better name for that yet) Ulises Farinas, X-Files writer Joe Harris, Trek writer Mike Johnson, artist Derek Charm and Locke and Key artist Gabriel Rodriguez.
And proving they are nicer than most other comics panels of this ilk, they had a nice powerpoint presentation that listed everyone's name at the start. Makes my life so much easier.
As we waited for the panel to properly start, the topic of the cosplaying Colonel Sanders statues and their accompanying comic was brought up as an example of just how weird Comic Con can be. Chris Ryall told the story of how his sheriff father once had to pick up the original real Colonel Sanders for a DUI.
As next year is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, IDW has plans to celebrate not just The Original Series but Star Trek as a whole. They showed the special convention variant to Star Trek/Green Lantern, talking about how it's like a big six issue summer blockbuster with Hal finding himself in the Trek universe.
The Star Trek ongoing series based on the current movie universe is hitting 50 issues, all but two of which were written by Mike Johnson. Issue 50 will have a wraparound cover, some backmatter material recapping the series to date, and a story introducing the Mirror Universe. Mirror Chris Pine Kirk and even a Mirror Khan. (Hero or villain?) Mike Johnson thanked the fans for supporting the book, and his artist Tony Shasteen for doing amazing work. Awwww.
In December, a spin off book focusing on Starfleet Academy, is released. It'll be written by Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrot, drawn by Derek Charm, bouncing between Kirk's class set before the start of the first Trek film, and a new class set during the "now" of the Trek film universe. Editor Sarah Gaydos admits that she actually liked Wesley, and wanted to capture that feeling of being a teenager in a strange place, like Hogwarts or Xavier's in this series. Ryan Parrot was formerly JJ Abrams assistant, and wrote the two Trek ongoing issues that Johnson didn't. The present day cast will include a Vulcan, T'Laan, who joined Starfleet Academy the very day that her home planet died, a Latina human Lucia Dominguez, an Andorian male Shev, an Asian human with prosthetic legs, and a large, probably male member of an alien race I'm not familiar with, and I really know my Trek, Vel K'Bentayr.
We got asked what the perfect crossover for TMNT and DC Comics would be. Someone shouted out Daredevil, and while that is the perfect crossover for TMNT in general and needs to happen eventually, not a DC property. I suggested Teen Titans, especially given that a recent episode of Teen Titans Go had four sewer dwelling pizza-devouring mutated turtles be frenemies of the Titans. But I was wrong, it's BATMAN! James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams III are doing the book. (Does anyone know of a colorist or letterer with a II or V or Jr or Sr that can join this title?) Tynion pretty much fangasmed, calling this the project he's going to have the most fun working on. The TMNT, Shredder and the Foot arrive in Gotham. There will be some DC villains as well, but really Tynion wanted to have Batman fight the Shredder on a rooftop, as well as the TMNT's reactions to the Batcave.
James Tynion IV spoke more about Turtles/Batman, explaining that for both the Turtles and Batman, their core drive is about family. Batman about the family he lost. The Turtles for whom coming together makes them stronger. The threats of loss, or not being able to go home again are strong for these character. Tynion's decision to set the book in Gotham made the writing easier, not just because he has been writing Bat comics for a while now, but because it made the logic of who will be appearing easier to figure out.
It should come out in November.
At a Capcom Panel, Street Fighter X GI Joe was announced, but it was reiterated here that it'll be a six issue mini in 2016, and the two franchises "feel so right for one another." "Sounds so sexy" quipped Dirk Wood.
The Judge Dredd ongoing concluded six months ago, and IDW didn't want to relaunch it without a clear new direction, so former Dredd artist Ulises Farinas will now be writing Judge Dredd: Mega City Zero along with co-writer Erick Freitas with art by Dan McRaid. The book will take Dredd to the as to previously unexplored Mega City Zero, a wild place where there is no law to uphold. Farinas wants to keep the satirical core of the book, and is using internet fandom as the metaphors for the residents of this city in the wild, overgrown jungle of a city.
Joe Harris spoke about X-Files Season 11 comics, whose connection to the returning X-Files TV series will be made clearer later this year, where Mulder is still on the run since the events that concluded the previous season 10 comics. We will be seeing a return to the nefarious peacock family, that "favorite incestuous mutant band of freaks, they're back and they've been breeding."
There are two Locke and Key Announcements that aren't comics. Audible has recorded an audio book of the series, a cast recording with Haley Joel Osmont, Tatiana Maslany, Kate Mulgrew and others, including camoes by Gabriel Rodriguez and Joe Hill. Rodriguez approves of the adaptation, which recorded in actual locations, such as a purported haunted house in Maine and an old insane asylum to get the proper ambiance. They joked that they got Rodriguez involved because the audio book was really "Locke and Key minus all your art!" and wanted to make up for it. The audio book will be available for download in October.
A Locke and Key statue was shown, done by Skeleton Crew studios, based on Rodriguez's designs. So pretty.
Ryall then pimped his new book with Rodriguez, Onyx.
Previously IDW announced a deal with sci-fi author William Gibson. The details are here. They will be adapting an unproduced screenplay of his, Archangel. Michael St. John will be co-writing/adapting, with Butch Guice drawing it. Ryall read out a synopsis written by Gibson, which was insane and dealt with time travel and the closing day of World War II versus a present that isn't our own and colliding timelines and everything you would expect and what you won't see coming. It was really well written. Wish I could reproduce it. Gibson decided that taking a project of his that never got off the ground would be more fun than adapting an existing novel, and IDW agreed.
The panel then shifted towards Ryall lamenting about how there are just some licenses he can't get, no matter how much he wants, like Rom The Spaceknight or the Micronauts. At which point Michael Kelly from Hasbro stood up, frustrated that no matter what titles IDW licenses, from Transformers and GI Joe and Jem and Magic: the Gathering and D&D, it just isn't enough for him is it? So to shut Ryall up, he gives him the Rom and Micronauts licenses. (This was hilarious. Staged, obviously, but HILARIOUS.)
Chris Ryall has been planning these forever. In response to the first question asked, he will be making the effort to get Ditko to do some art, but we all know how likely that will be. These will be new versions of the characters, inspired by the work done by writer Bill Mantlo on the original Marvel comics, but taking the same approach that IDW has to their other Hasbro licenses, reinventing them to be relevant for today while still honoring what came before.
"This is so FUCKING exciting!" said Ryall. I've covered IDW panels for almost a decade now. I have never seen Chris Ryall be this happy.
While he's not ruling out crossovers with Marvel with these new versions of the characters, he doesn't want to do it until they are firmly re-established and everyone knows who Rom and the Micronauts are. Ryall explained a bit about the Micronauts, how they transcended being a toy tie-in into cutting edge sci-fi comics for the time. By summer 2016, these comics will be out.
Dirk Wood joked at the Retailer panel that to continue boosting sales, they'll just kill off a turtle every quarter, but this being comics, by the time the fourth is dead, the first has come back.
For once, IDW's panel was so light that they finished with decent time for Q&A. (Seriously. Given how much Ryall pushed "big announcement at the end" I thought there had to be something more than Rom since the panel wasn't over yet. Spoiler alert, there wasn't.)
Samurai Jack has ended for now, they want to bring it back. Genndy has been asked if he wants to do the conclusion of Jack's story in comics, says he wants to tell that story eventually, and since it doesn't seem like he'll get to tell it in animated form, it's really just a matter of scheduling.
Ryall is wary of collecting every single Transformer comic pre-IDW ever, because of fears of flooding the market with too many trades. (Specifically asked in reference to the G2 saga.)
Sarah Gaydos pointed out that IDW did Female Ghostbusters first, in response to a comment about the comics inspiring revivals of series. (X-Files gets a comic, then X-Files gets a TV show again.)
The Robotech license being available now was brought up. "We don't need anymore, we have all of them." joked Wood. Ryall hemmed and hawed about it being an interesting possibility. He rambled on for a while not wanting to say no, not wanting to say yes, but unable to leave it at that.
There will be more Thunder Agents sometime in 2016, and their 50th anniversary special comes out this month.
Fan: "How much of Rom can you use?"
Ryall: "Just enough."
Ryall continued to explain that while the details were super lawyer-y, IDW will make really good Rom comics. "This will be a lot of fun. I thought about this for way too many years."
More Rot and Ruin is likely for the future, IDW had lunch with Mayberry recently.
Ryall explained that the way modern comic art is done precludes an Artist Edition from being made, but oversized printing for modern books like Little Nemo is possible and likely in that case. It used to be that Scott Dunbier had to hunt and scrounge for original art to use, but now fans are actively allowing him to scan their original art and volunteering their pieces. Wood joked that they're going to keep going until every piece of original artwork has been released in Artist Edition format. Team America and US-1 Artist Editions are go. (No, not really.)
Peter S. Svensson is a former comic shop retailer, and will be competing in the Fan/Pro trivia contest Sunday at 4:00 PM. He's also looking for a job that will use his vast, comprehensive, obsessive comic industry knowledge, just saying.