Remember when IDW did silly themed panels at San Diego Comic-Con? Peter S. Svensson remembers.
No game show this year, just a slideshow with guests.
Marketing head Dirk Wood is emceeing. Next to him is Editor in Chief Chris Ryall wearing a Star Trek 50thanniversary pin. Editor Sarah Gaydos, now in command of a large chunk of the IDW line is next on the podium, claiming that by next year the stress will drive her hair completely grey. Locke and Key artist Gabriel Rodriguez is next. Did you know there's a one-shot coming up? Because there is. Writer Christos Gage is being a traitor to the IDW cause wearing a Vertigo T-Shirt. Dirk Gently comic writer and executive producer of the upcoming BBC America show Arvind Ethan David was next, looking quite stylish. Finally, we have Paul Cornell, who in proper British style was the first panelist to arrive. He's quite punctual.
The panel starts with the announcement you probably heard by now. Paul Cornell's series he did at Vertigo, Saucer Country, is moving to IDW under the new title Saucer State. The entire original creative team returns for this political intrigue tale of aliens among us which was described as House of Cards meets X-Files. There will be a hefty TPB reprinting the original Vertigo run.
Chris Ryall calls the book "The most normal discussion of politics in either of our countries."
Paul Cornell followed that up by saying "We're terribly sorry."
Locke and Key returns in December with a one-shot, Small World. Joe Hill is back writing. An awesome variant cover by webcomic artist Brian Coldrick was shown, though the image was moving in the slideshow and they can't really do that in print.
There will be more key props made, including the Gender Key, the Thorn Key, and the new Small World key.
Chris Ryall explained that Joe Hill's main job of writing novels occasionally frustrates him, because after he finishes he doesn't get to see it published for another year and a half. Meanwhile comics have a much faser conclusion to print pace. So the more novels Joe writes, the more he gets convinced to do a comic here and there.
Gabriel Rodriguez mentioned that they have plans to continue exploring the mythology of Key House, with occasional one-shots and perhaps miniseries.
Next slide was Tales of the Darkside, the aborted TV pitch by Joe Hill to reinvent the classic anthology series, with the scripts now adapted into comics. Ryall lamented that Joe Hill and TV projects don't seem to work out well. (See the lamented first attempt at a Locke and Key series.) There is a special convention exclusive cover for the comic.
Chris Ryall loves Rom. I mean, he really loves Rom. I think it's a little unhealthy honestly, but some people juggle geese. He talked about Rom yesterday at the IDW/Hasbro panel, but hey, he's Editor in Chief, he'll talk about Rom anywhere. He'll probably talk about it on Sunday at the IDW Kids panel. Well, Christos Gage, who is co-writing the comic also joined in on the Rom gushing and love fest.
Assume they are a gestalt Rom-worshipping entity unless I state otherwise.
So, Rom was supposed to premiere in stores this week, but shipping accidents. Go figure. The Rom toys weren't amazing, but the comic series originated by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema transcended the toy line. Later, fantastic creators like Steve Ditko and P. Craig Russell did work on the series, which lasted for 75 issues, far longer than the original toy line. Creators of a certain age, the ones whose backs are beginning to hurt all of the time, who are feeling it in their knees, grew up reading that comic and now, after 30 years of nothing, Rom is back.
The concept is that Rom is a Space Knight, coming to Earth to chase after the Dire Wraiths, evil alien shape changing creatures. They infiltrate a planet, and sow chaos. Rom has been doing this job for 200 years, and thinks that Earth is just yet another assignment. Yet something is different here, and he's not sure what he's gotten into. The series has a feel of movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, They Live, The Thing. It's a creepy, paranoid series with a little Lovecraftian influence. He's a Cyborg, a warrior eternal who has fighting for 200 years, sacrificed his humanity in the process, but now will need help from people on Earth. He has the Analyzer, a device that allows him to detect Dire Wraiths. But to everyone else, he's a killer robot zapping innocent people with his Death Ray. "Rom's relations with Earth's authorities aren't very good."
Revolution is the series that unites the Hasbro properties into one universe. I wrote the hell out of their panel yesterday. Go look it up. (The panel glossed over it because of that.)
Next slide, JEM! (Outrageous, truly truly truly outrageous!)
Sarah Gaydos has just taken the reins on the book, Jem and the Holograms after former editor John Barber left to go be a full time writer. They've got some cool artists lined up (but not announced) while Sophie Campbell takes a break from the series to work on her creator-owned Wet Moon. But they did announce a Misfits ongoing, written by Kelly Thompson, with art by TBD. (Chris Ryall then specifically asked me to state To Be Determined, and make it very very clear there isn't an artist lined up on the book yet. There isn't an artist lined up on the book yet.)
If you aren't a Jem fan, and you really should be, the book is fantastic, The Misfits are the rival band to Jem and the Holograms, with their own dramas and personal intrigues, and now they can get their own book to delve deeper into those characters.
Some of the discussion from yesterday's Hasbro panel resurfaced here about how Jem will cameo in other books, such as a Transformer listening to a Jem album now and again. Ryall explained that it's sort of that Jem exists in the greater IDW-Hasbro verse, but those characters and concepts don't necessarily exist in the Jem comic. He then shrugged because, hey, this is comics!
(I'd say Comics Everybody, but that's someone else's line.)
There's a new X-Files miniseries coming out, X-Files Origins featuring Mulder and Scully in their high school years. It's going digital first then print. Jody Houser and Matthew Dow Smith writing, with Chris Fenoglio and Corin Howell on art. Cat Staggs doing variant covers. The goal is to try and get new readers interested in the property.
Jurassic World. That's it. The license includes the classic Jurassic Park stuff as well as the new movie stuff, and there's expected to be comics bridging the film with the eventual sequel, but the only concrete thing that Chris Ryall could say, since there aren't any creative teams lined up yet, is that there will be "No feathers."
Okay. The next one was pretty out there. The Electric Sublime by writer W. Maxwell Prince with art by Martin Morazzo and Mat Lopes looks trippy. It's evoking a lot of classic art, as in the sort you see in museums not Kirby or Mac Raboy. "Ceci n'est pas une comic book." said the promotional image, evoking Rene Magritte's classic painting The Treachery of Images. (It means This Is Not A Comic Book. Which actually has a much different connotation in the fact that no, it isn't a comic. It's an AD for a comic, but I get what they were going for.)
It's a comic about the Art world, with a lot of different riffs and takes on classical art, including, from the promotional art we saw, the Mona Lisa winking. Literally. The book comes out in 2016.
Batman/TMNT Adventures, which was announced earlier this weekend was brought up again. That DC offered the Batman Animated Series world to crossover with the current animated incarnation of the turtles. Writer Matthew Manning will be working with artist Jon Sommariva. Likewise the creative team of the original Star Trek/Green Lantern series will be returning for another go. Editor Sarah Gaydos thanked the fans, as crossovers rarely get sequels and this means there was enough support from fans to justify it.
The Star Trek ongoing comic based on the new movies relaunches with Star Trek: Boldly Go #1, with Mike Johnson writing, Tony Shasteen on art, and colors by Davide Mastrolonardo. There will be six interlocking connecting covers by interior artist Tony Shasteen available as subscription variants.
Next, Dirk Gently! Arvind Ethan David is not just writing the comic, but he's an executive producer for the upcoming BBC America show based on the Douglas Adams novels. His next comic miniseries with artist Illias Kyriazis, The Salmon of Doubt, uses the name from the unfinished book by Adams, but is not an attempt to complete the fragment of story we have seen. Instead, he's taken the title, and a rhinoceros, and is making something else entirely new. He has been seeding some easter egg connections between the show and the comics into previous comics, with the knowledge that when the show airs this fall, people can go back and see the connections. On social media, David has gotten flack about why Dirk, who in the Douglas Adams novels is described as pudgy, is always cast as a thin man in any adaptation of the books including the current one. He gave this explanation. "Actors are thin. The current one is positively svelte." The comic will be addressing, in the odd way that it works, the idea of WHY there are multiple timelines for the novels, the comics, the TV shows, using the fact that Dirk Gently is a time traveler. "You don't have to read the books, but why haven't you read the books?" stated David.
Artist Illias Kyriazis was originally a fill-in on a previous miniseries, but has taken the book and made it his own, becoming a crucial part of the team. David plays an insane game of chicken with his artist, trying to ask for something completely impossible to draw in every issue, and somehow Kyriazis is able to pull it off. David is a bit afraid that eventually it'll go too far and cause an editorial meltdown.
The show has a bunch of sci-fi/fantasy alumni working on it, like Elijah Wood and Max Landis, leading to David's problem. "There's a pub in Vancouver." David and Paul Cornell then had a mutual "We are fellow Brits, to us it's a pub" moment, causing Cornell to happily exclaim "It's so nice to have another one!" before David clarified for us Americans that he meant a bar, there's a bar in Vancouver called the Stormcrow, it's a geek bar where they would show Game of Thrones instead of sports games, the sort of place that actually serves a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. But he can't take the cast and crew there, because Elijah Wood would cause the place to implode.
Steve Niles and Damien Worm are doing another series of The October Faction, called Deadly Season. The monster hunting family discovers that the monsters are now hunting them.
Ariel Olivetti is doing a sequel to his Brutal Nature series. Brutal Nature II, with writer Luciano Saracino, set to come out in January 2017. Our furious monster is coming out of the jungle and into the city.
The final story arc of Insufferable, the highly underrated superhero/sidekick father/son series by Mark Waid and Peter Krause begins to come out in dead tree format in October.
The next slide stated the words: Adult Coloring Books. I was REALLY worried that IDW was going to announce a new "adult" line. But what we got was pretty awesome.
John Byrne is doing a sci-fi coloring book. It's amazing. He'd been pretty burnt out on doing comics, but, as Chris Ryall stated, doing a coloring book removes all the things he doesn't like from the process. "the letterer, the colorist, the editor, the everybody!" He joked. It's an incredibly detailed, yet open for coloring book, telling a sci-fi story with 3 to 4 paragraphs of text accompanying each amazing illustration, making this coloring book a stealth novella. There were some awe inspiring images there. It comes out in November.
There is also going to be a Princess Bride Storybook to Color. We got a cover, but no other information. Could be cool.
Chris Ryall, noted fan of UFO Lore, took the opportunity to ask Paul Cornell and then the rest of the panel whether they believed in UFOs.
Cornell stated that he's a bit of a believer, and that Brian and Betty Hill, whom are responsible for much of the UFO folklore and mythology, may… MAY have been the only humans actually abducted by aliens.
Ryall pointed out that the alien abduction story of Brian and Betty Hill was done as a terrible TV movie in the 70s, with Brian Hill played poorly by James Earl Jones.
Arvind Ethan David stated "I am certain I am an alien. I will also be played by James Earl Jones."
Christos Gage stated "I think it's almost certain there has been life elsewhere in the universe. Not sure they've bothered to come here, if they have, it would be kind of awesome." He loved reading the Gold Key series UFO Flying Saucers as a kid, "I was watching the skies like you wouldn't believe." The comic had sightings by readers, which in retrospect was little kids making things up because they so desperately wanted aliens to be true.
Gabriel Rodriguez: "I make a living drawing comics, I come to Comic Con, I'm not allowed to not believe in UFOs."
Sarah Gaydos believes that there are aliens out there, but not in a form that humans would recognize. They could be gas molecules. "Who the hell knows?"
Chris Ryall answered that he watches way too many radical videos about UFOs on Youtube, but that having some skepticism is a good thing.
Dirk Wood quipped that UFOs may be more believable than some of the things actually happening on Earth.
"I voted to stay in the solar system." stated Paul Cornell.
Okay, now it's Q&A time.
Empire by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson is going to have to wait for the two of them to both have the time, and want to do it. Their current obligations to an Avengers comic at Marvel may mean that they probably won't be doing more for a while.
Chris Ryall would love to reprint the Marvel issues featuring Rom, but it took him ten years to get the rights to make new stories with the character. It might take another ten to get reprints, but that's part of his quest. He's working on it.
Paul Cornell reiterated that there will one large collection of his precious Saucer Country work, so no back issue diving is necessary. Chris Ryall did say that back issue diving is fun, you may find a complete set of Rom.
IDW can use the Dire Wraiths because they were on the toy box, and thus not originated by Marvel. They only were used in blobby white transitional forms at first in the Marvel comics because they assumed that eventually there would be a proper Dire Wraith action figure made and didn't want to invalidate it. When it never happened, Marvel had Walt Simonson design the "female" Dire Wraiths with the drill tongue.
Ryall keeps the text from the toy boxes with him when writing, so he knows exactly what he can use.
There will be more Atomic Robo in the future, the creators are busy with other projects currently.
Godzilla: Rage Across Time will feature Godzilla in a different time period each issue, such as Feudal Japan and the Jurassic period.
I asked about a Rom/Onyx crossover. (Onyx being the book by Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez featuring a character oddly similar to Rom…) Ryall explained that Onyx is a female alien in a metal suit who fights shape changing aliens. Vastly different from Rom, he joked. He seriously explained that while there are obvious similarities, the books are vastly different in execution. But he and Gabriel would be up for it.
Christos Gage joked that the teamup would be a Rom Com.
I don't think I like Christos Gage anymore.
A fan asked about the X-Files comics, and Ryall admitted that he had sort of hoped that they would have adapted the comics, since Chris Carter was involved. Carter has said that the comics will tie in more, but there isn't a second series revival in the works as far as Ryall knows. He hopes the comics will play a bigger part if more X-Files gets produced.
A fan asked Ryall to explain why he should care about Rom.
Sarah Gaydos: "Do you have 45 minutes?"
Christos Gage gave a quick summary. "He's a robot from space, fighting evil aliens – lovecraftian creatures that turn into people!"
A fan asked if there could be a Rom and Star Trek crossover. "OH GOD YES." immediately cried out Ryall. Star Trek uber-writer Scott Tipton, who was in the audience, immediately called dibs on writing it should it occur.
IDW can't announce anything about the Hasbro Guardians of Harmony toyline, but maybe early next year? They will be involved, they just can't say anything. (It's a My Little Pony thing.)
The new movie version of the Ghostbusters may eventually team-up with the classic versions. According to name-dropping Chris Ryall, Ghostbusters Director Paul Fieg said good things about the IDW Ghostbusters comics, claiming that they raised the bar for licensed properties. (They totally did.) "We certainly want to see Holtzman and company in comics." said Ryall.
While Rom will not be crossing over with My Little Pony, there were two variant covers with him meeting the ponies, one of which had him as a pony.
Christos Gage asked a question, because the guy is still a fan at heart. (Even if he made that awful Rom Com joke.) Frankenstein Alive Alive is on hold, as Bernie Wrightson needs more time to finish, and isn't establishing a timeline for when the work will be done.
IDW can't produce new Menton work, the guy is off doing gallery work these days.
There were no more questions, so Dirk just put me on the spot and asked for one. I deserved it. I asked if we'd see a Steve Ditko variant cover for Rom. (Ditko having drawn part of the original Marvel run.) Ryall confirmed that he asked, and Ditko said no. A hard no.
But he did have an actual Rom announcement! In January there will be the first ever Rom annual, featuring his origin!
The final question of the panel asked about the Micronauts and Rom teaming up, which they never did in their original Marvel runs. They will both be showing up in Revolution, with the promise of more to come.
And that was it.
Peter S. Svensson continues to write for Bleeding Cool. He will be competing in the Pro/Fan Comics Trivia Match on Sunday. Please cheer him on. Next month, he'll be organizing the official Power Morphicon, the Power Rangers convention in Pasadena, CA. He's pretty geeky that way.