Judging by my twitter stream, there was quite a line to get into the DC New 52 panel today. If you didn’t get in, Bleeding Cool’s Judd Morse has you covered. Here’s another missive from ECCC’s front lines:
Not a ton of new info was given out during DC’s New 52 panel, but there were some gems. Batman editor Mike Marts put a good deal of emphasis on the company’s “New Wave” of titles arriving in May.
A cover was shown for new New 52 Title Earth 2. Panelist and editor Brian Cunningham said that although he’s not editing the book, he’s been watching it and is very impressed with what’s going on. Earth 2 will feature entirely new takes on established characters, like a New 52 version of Elseworlds.
More detail was given into where exactly the Flash‘s title will be going in terms of the Speed Force. The Flash will also feature a new villain, Turbine, a Tuskegee Airman that’s connected to the Speed Force. Flash writer/artist Francis Manapul also teased that the Speed Force will at long last be fully explained. “We want to be able to describe it in one sentence,” Manapul said.
Changes are also in store for Justice League International, who will add Batwing and another unnamed character to the team roster as of issue nine. Marts stressed that although the titles may go away, the characters will remain part of the universe.
Marts had high praise for Batman artist Greg Capullo and his work with writer Scott Snyder. Capullo said that it was a little difficult going from drawing for someone like Todd McFarlane, who sort of just lets the artist do whatever he wants, to someone like Scott Snyder, who meticulously lays out scripts, suggests panel counts, and is very active throughout the penciling process. “We were kind of an Odd Couple at first,” he said.
Capullo said it was kind of intimidating, moving over to Batman. He had to learn to avoid chat rooms, and make an effort to keep Batman’s cape under control, so it wouldn’t get all Spawn-ish. But ultimately he’s having the time of his life. “You have to grow into a book. You wait for the characters to show you the way.”
The Q&A session got a little terse, with a couple audience members essentially asking why DC destroyed everything and alienated their loyal readers. Creators basically responded that judging by their own interactions with fans, they’re doing okay. “Every once in a while you have to revitalize your mythology,” said Manapul.
Somebody brought up Steph Brown again, Marts joked that he was contractually not allowed to talk about the character any more.
Gail Simone said she didn’t have any immediate plans to use Scandal Savage, and she doesn’t know of anyone else having plans to do so either. She also promised to try like hell to keep Catman from reverting back to the lame fat guy.
Oh, and Lobo‘s gonna show up in Deathstroke kind of soon.
Despite being left-off the Emerald City brochure, I was able to track down Tony Harris at the Image booth. I was eager to speak to him about his new project, Chin Music, with Steve Niles but Harris was having none of it. Niles and he — weary of trailers and fan websites spoiling all the best parts from upcoming series — want to keep everything under wraps until the day that the project is released. He was, however, only too keen to talk about an upcoming creator owned project for DC Comics.
Since you can’t — or won’t — talk about Chin Music, what can you tell us about your other upcoming project?
The Whistling Skull is a creator-owned book I’m doing for DC. It’s six issues. It was announced at Chicago Con last year, but they announced it way too soon. I’m actually penciling issue six right now. B. Clay Moore is my writer and it’ll be out through DC Comics.
DC Comics? Not Vertigo or —
DC Comics. It was something we were going to do through Wildstorm and then they went away and my editor, Ben Abernathy, and Hank Kanalz championed the book, big time. As far as I know — I could be wrong — but I believe that we’re the only creator-owned coming out with the DC bullet on it.
…or the DC peel as it is now. So, that was just pure coincidence that you had the right project at the right time?
Yeah, but Ben and Hank really made it their baby as well. They really championed what we were doing.
How much input did you have into the concept of the book, and the plotting…
Oh, everything to do with the book. We actually sold the book to DC about six months to a year before we found B. Clay Moore and brought him in as a writer. I created the book, the universe, all the characters — everything. Then I set about finding someone else with the right sensibilities as a writer to come in and take that part of it over. I’m penciling it and I’m inking it and painting the covers, so I’ve got so much on me already that I didn’t want to take on the actual writing as well. As a plan, I sit down and plot everything out together and then Clay goes and writes the scripts.
So, what’s the concept behind the series?
It’s set during WWII in Europe and it’s based out of London, but our first arc takes place in a Swiss-German town, which is really small. It’s sort of a detective piece. The main character is called The Whistling Skull, the full title of the book is actually The Further Adventures of the Whistling Skull, but that’s a mouthful, so we just usually call it Skull.
The two main characters are the Whistling Skull and his sidekick, Knuckles. Knuckles is a really large guy and he’s actually mentally handicapped, but we’re playing it completely straight and, as far as I know, we’ve the only book where one of the two principals is mentally handicapped. They grew up together as children, so they’ve known each other since they were eight or nine. The Whistling Skull is a mantle that was willed to the Skull so, from the character’s inception, there have been eight different men who have been the Skull, but no-one knows that. Everybody thinks he’s this immortal zombie.
In a nutshell, the book is basically Sherlock Holmes on mescaline.
Aside from Conan Doyle, are there any other influences feeding into it? The art looks like it’s been pulled from a Republic Serial.
Oh, very much. It’s very much in the same vein as all the old serials and the old noir films.
Yeah, it was definitely a conscious decision. Anybody’s who’s followed my work over the years knows that I’ve switched-up my style from book to book and I’ve let the project dictate what the work needs to look like. So, when I finished Ex Machina, which was very heavily photo-referenced — because it was a political drama — all the drama in the book was interpersonal relationships between people. It was more about politics than superheroes and actions, so it was important for me to be able to emote properly…or “act” with the characters to convey the right emotions. So, when I finished Ex Machina, I knew I was gonna be doing Skull next, and it was conscious decision not to use any photo reference of any kind, just go back to drawing straight from my imagination. But everything is referenced as far as the period goes, because I’m a nut for that stuff. If you look at the layouts here for the book, I do them like this [two page-layouts to each sketchbook page] then scan them in and print them in blueline, then go straight to inks on the board. So, I work out my storytelling beforehand in my sketchbook and make sure all the reference is correct and the period clothing is there. Hopefully we’ll see this stuff in print in some capacity.
Is Skull going to be a one-shot deal with these six issues — a self-contained story? Are you going to back and tell the previous adventures of the other Skulls?
That’s the very thing about our universe is that it’s built in with seven other guys who have been this character before the guy you’re following. We haven’t told any of those stories…yet. There are a few flashbacks to the previous skull before him, so you do see a little bit, but you get a sense of a larger world immediately. The whole story is actually 40 issues. If we did it monthly — which we’re not going to — we’d like to publish 10 a year, ideally. We’re going to follow the Hellboy model and do a series of mini-series and not release any of it until that particular arc is done. Again, I’m working on issue six now, and we should have a street date to announce in a couple of weeks.
Are you shooting for San Diego as the launch date?
Hopefully, but what I’m told by DC is that they green-lit the first six, and it’s a very self-contained story, so if it doesn’t go any further with them, then it doesn’t. Ultimately, though, Clay and I will tell those 40 issues, whether it be at DC or — if they choose not to go beyond that — getting our reversion of rights and going to Image or somewhere else.
Can we talk a little about Chin Music? How did the collaboration between you and Steve Niles come about?
Steve and I became friends a few years ago and we immediately wanted to work together, but we wanted to wait until we could find the right thing that would serve both of our abilities best. Steve had a project called Chin Music that he wanted to pursue, but didn’t have everything fleshed out beyond an initial concept — like, a high concept — and an opening sequence. He told me about it and I had a project that I had, that had a working title that was so lame that I’m not going to tell you what it was. But there were a lot of elements to it, that when I told it to Steve, it seemed like the two projects were the missing puzzle-pieces for each other. So, I said, “Wow, what if we took the elements from yours and put them in with this from mine?” It wasn’t like cobbling something together; it was more like it all just fit perfectly. Then, we got on Skype a couple of times and had some brainstorming sessions and the thing just wrote itself. It was crazy.
So, what’s the deal with this series — is this another limited series?
It has the potential to go as far and as long as we want it go, as long as people want to buy it. The initial story is five issues, though.
Can you talk about some of the genre notes that you’ll be hitting in this — Steve’s a horror guy, obviously, so is it going to be a straight-up horror?
It’s definitely a horror story, but it’s also a lot of other things. Chin Music is going to change about 12 different times before you finish reading the fifth issue. In your mind is what you’re going to think it is — you’re going to think it’s this, then you’re going to get to another scene and then you’re going to go, “Oh, shit, it’s not that, it’s this!” It’s always going to keep you guessing. It’s pretty firmly rooted in horror and noir. It’s set at the end of the prohibition era in America, and most of it takes place in Chicago. The main character’s name is Shaw…and that’s all I can tell you.
Well, that’s again dictated by the period. It’s the 1930s in Chicago, so the types of clothing that people wore, the cars they drove, the architecture that was prominent around that time — that’s all going to be there. Those elements were just prolific at that point, so yeah, it’ll be drenched in all that stuff. And that’s my favourite kind of thing to draw anyway.
Are you going back to old photographs — trying to recreate the real Chicago of that time — or is the setting going to be more fictionalized?
It’ll be our version of Chicago, because we’re turning it all on its ear with a lot of horror and twisted weird stuff, so it can’t look exactly like Chicago did. Visually, I’m going to approach it in the same style that I’m using on Whistling Skull. I don’t think I’ll go back to photo reference for a while… if I ever go back to it at all.
And when can we expect to see Chin Music on the shelves?
I don’t know. I’m finishing Whistling Skull now and Steve has begun writing the first issue of Chin Music. I’m slated to go directly into Chin Music the day after I finish The Whistling Skull. I would hope we’ll see the first issue later this year.
Gavin Lees is at ECCC for Bleeding Cool. He talks to Terry Dodson about his new graphic novel – Muse.
Terry Dodson is well-renowned for his mainstream superhero work in the US, and is one of the most sought-after talents at the moment. However, later this year will see the publication of Muse — an original graphic novel, created for the European market. It’s a move that has been shared by other high-profile creators like John Cassaday on I am Legion and Geof Johns, Ryan Sook and David Lloyd in Métal Hurlant, allowing them to work within much looser creative confines. I spoke to Dodson at this year’s Emerald City Comicon to find out more about the project and how working outside the US helped to hone his creativity.
Why did you decide to create a comic for the French market?
I’ve just always been a fan of the European publishing. I really like that the art is given full consideration. It’s not a slam, bang monthly comic book. You get a chance to really do a nice illustrated book. I grew up liking that stuff, so when the opportunity came, I was up for it. It’s just nice to be able to be in charge of all the artwork yourself.
You say “the opportunity came up” — were you actively pursuing publishers over there?
No, they actually contact me because they were trying to get a foothold in the US with American artists they thought could cross over. So I was lucky that they picked because it was something that I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure how to approach a European publisher. So, fortunately, they approached me — which made it a lot easier.
Was this Les Humanoïdes Associés — as they were re-opening their American branch?
Yeah, right, but that was about 10 years ago now.
So, are you fluent in French? I would imagine the language could be a barrier to working in that area.
After my first trip when I went to go meet with them over there, I came back and I took French classes for a year and a half. You know — I was going to a foreign country and didn’t want them having to spell things out for me all the time. Especially since French sounds so much different than how it’s spelled. Aside from that I have Spanish, and a little bit of Italian, but French was a whole new thing. It was a fun challenge — being professional — taking the time to learn a little bit of the language so I could be professional. Plus it allowed me to read the books and get a better sense of the culture. It was a good challenge for my mind, to get away from drawing all the time, using my brain for figuring out something else aside from drawing problems. It definitely helped out.
Yeah, it’s actually amazing that the very first time I went over there — before I started doing the Humanoids stuff — it was for a store signing and there was a huge crowd of comic book fans there. In the cities there are actually stores dedicated just to superhero stuff. But the cool thing is that the crossover is pretty broad, so it’s very accepted for me to do one or the other and the fans would follow me, because they were used to seeing artists do a variety of stuff. The genre wasn’t a problem — it was the main thing like it is here.
Are there any interesting artists that you’ve been exposed to while working in the French market, who maybe aren’t as well known over here?
Yeah, there are tons, although they’re all becoming famous over here now, because it’s been a decade since I went over there. So, ten years ago, I was discovering these guys and a lot of them are still under-appreciated — the Blacksad artist, [Juanjo] Guarnido; Claire Wendling, although she’s more of an animator, rather than a comics person, but still one of my favourites. Didier Cassegrain is one of my favourite artists right now — he also used to be animator, but he’s starting to do comics stuff — he’s one of my favourite guys.
You were working with a writer — Denis-Pierre Filippi — on this project. Did you get to choose who you worked with, or which project you worked on?
Humanoids offered me a number of projects and that happened to be one of the two that I really liked, and it was actually the one that would be the quickest to get on to. He had actually written the script already, so there wasn’t a lot of input from me in terms of the story, but I liked it just as it was, so that wasn’t a problem. With the second volume, though, we got to know each other and we were able to collaborate more on the second book. But again, I had been given the complete outline of the story, so I knew what I was getting into and I really thought it was cool and wanted to draw it.
Were there different expectations of you as an artist, in terms of what you needed to bring to the book?
I just knew that it was an opportunity to do all these things that I had been wanting to do. I pushed myself far more than the publishers did — there were very few pressures from them. It was my A game on every single page: every single colour, every single line was my A game… or even A+, going beyond what I had even done before, just because I was able to bring in all these influences I had from all this classic art and illustration, 19th century painting, advertising, all these elements that I just couldn’t bring into superhero stuff. Beyond that, I did all the colours myself — I learned PhotoShop to do that and, since then, I’ve developed all the skills in order to colour all my covers here in the US. The last six years have seen me colour all my own covers, because of the skills I learned working on Coraline.
No. The first book was really loose. It took me less than three years to draw it, which is a long time, but I did that book while doing 30 issues of US work at the same time. When there were breaks in the US stuff, I worked on Coraline. Then, it took a while to colour it, because I was still learning.
When I took that job with Humanoids, I was working on the Kevin Smith Spider-Man/Black Cat book and I was fairly confident that there would be delays in the scripts…and, in the end, there turned out to be a three-year delay, so it really worked out well. It was a good decision on my part to forecast that. So, it was tough, but no-one really knew about it until it came out, so I had that advantage.
The second book I’m working on, there were a lot of delays before I was even brought onto it, and the company had a lot of financial problems, which caused even more delays. So, the second book — even though it’s a long delay between volumes — I actually produced in about a third of the time. It’s still difficult balancing that with my US work, so I think if I do another book like that, I’ll do it full-time and get the book completed before moving back to Marvel or DC work.
What accounts for the lengthy delay in getting the book translated into English?
Instead of bringing out one book and then, a few years later, bringing out another book in English, they wanted the whole story in one big book. So, when the English version eventually comes out, it will be one complete story — beginning, middle, end — and that’s it. Once you have that book, you don’t need to wait around for the next one, which Humanoids felt the American audience would be more comfortable with — especially with a hardcover album, where they’ll be getting over 100 pages, instead of only around 50.
Do you know when it’s finally going to be released here, since Humanoids just recently pulled it from solicitation?
The problem has been production stuff. The book is all drawn, all coloured, but there were so many corrections that needed to be entered… it’s almost done, but it’s still not to the standard we want. It’s only weeks away — in publishing terms, it’s really just a blink of an eye away, but in real terms it’s going to feel a lot longer. Then it’s a matter of going to the printer and accounting for the printing time… but it’ll definitely be this year.
Do you think this is the start of a long-term relationship with Humanoids now? Are you going to be a regular contributor to their line?
I don’t know about necessarily Humanoids, but I definitely want to return to the European market. There are so many companies, so many creators to work with and I’ve had a lot of opportunities, met a lot of people, since this stuff has come out. It’s a great marketplace to work in, so I will definitely be doing more European stuff in the future. It’s so nice to have the chance to do that variety of work as opposed to what I can do here. I already know what I can do here in the US, and it’s nice to challenge myself, and I think people are a lot more receptive to non-superhero material now, too…which is good for me.
Yeah, I do have some ideas for ideas for writing, but I keep getting scripts from people and they’re great. People keep telling me, “Oh, this guy wants to work with you,” and I’m like, “Oh, that’s cool…” So, all my own plans keep getting put on the backburner, but at some point I’ll probably write my own stuff, but I keep finding people to collaborate with or keep getting sent great ideas… which are better than my ideas. It’s a good problem to have, I guess. Ideally, it’d be nice to do the whole thing myself, just beause I think pacing-wise, it would be closer to my vision of how a story works, and it would be my own creation. I really should be doing my own thing — anyone who’s a great cartoonist does it all themselves. We’ll see.
As for me, I hope I’ll be screaming “Yes!” like Molly Bloom as the universe rolls up into a silver paper ball for the quantum cats of Hell to play with – Gavin.
What is it with chubby guys in comics being absolutely hilarious? Kevin Smith, Eric Powell, Robert Kirkman. There must be something about adult onset diabetes that triggers some kind of latent humor gland in comic book fans.
Anyway. Walking Dead creator and Image Comics bigwig Robert Kirkman held an hour-long event last night, discussing his work both on the page and on TV. Instead of wasting any time with some kind of presentation, he jumped right in to an ask-me-anything Q&A with the audience. Hilarity ensued.
Hopefully someone will post a video of the event, as my shorthand paraphrasings don’t really do it justice. Until then, here are as many of the Qs and As as I could get down. Just imagine you’re hearing a Big Bang Theory laughtrack with every third word.
What does Chris Hardwick smell like?
Err… Rainbows. Good start.
Any chance of an Invincible tv series?
Who knows. That’d be cool though.
Will Battle Pope and Wolfeman ever be released in complete hardback editions?
Yeah. Eventually… probably. I actually toyed with the idea of releasing an incomplete Battle Pope hardback, thought that’d be kind of cool.
In the Walking Dead comics, you went… pretty far with what went on. Will the show go as far in the prision as the comic did
I went as far as I could with the comics. It’s hard for the show to go quite that far, especially when it’s not on a cable pay channel like HBO or something.
How did you get started with Thief of Thieves?
From TWD writing room. Writers romms are a coool experience. Writers rooms sometimes let you craft a better story because you can get that instant feedback. They sometimes don’t, either, but hey.
What the hell has been up with t-dawg this season?
What are you talking about?! He’s been around, kinda. He put zombies in the truck or something at one point! T-dog is a favorite with the writers. He didn’t get as much time as we would have liked this season because a lot of our time was spent focusing on Shane.
When you’re writing, do you ever consider audience/reader reactions as you go?
Oh, hell no. No. I mean, I focus on what I think will be the best thing to happen, not on trying to get a reaction from my audience.
Why did you kill Daryll? [The whole convention center groans as if we all just heard a terrible pun involving an old cat lady]
Dammit! What did I just say about spoilers!?! Nooo, false alarm to anybody who hasn’t seen season 2 yet. Everybody’s fiiiine. I promise. It’s good that the show is different from the comic. I hate the idea that adaptions sometimes get tied down to the original material. It’s important to maintain surprise. It’s important to keep true to the comic but not be limited to the comic.
Will Daryll be worked into the comics/graphic novels?
I hate the term graphic novels. When did ‘comic book’ become a lesser phrase? I can’t really say too much about that, though. Although a new arc is coming up, called “Something to Fear.” Featuring a sleeveless guy with a crossbow. But yeah, no comment.
What was the inspiration for setting up the Invincible storyline?
I wanted to lay the groundwork for a (hopefully) longer superhero story. a lot was planned from the begining. but a lot was made up on the fly.
Any big plans for Invincible?
Issue 100 is coming up somewhat soon. There’s a different Invincible in the costume now. A really cool arc starts in issue 92. Flaxons, dimensions, flashbacks, etc. Corey’s coming back.
[At this point somebody asked for a high five and Kirkman obliged, almost tipping his podium over on the poor guy in the process. "That was almost our fist Walking Dead Panel death!"]
Would you ever do academic panels about zombies?
At the University of Hawaii?
…I don’t look good in a bathing suit.
But it would be for this other big, boringly explained thing that I wanna tell you all abou–
No I said no! Go by the Skybooth panel. Maybe, I dunno. How’s the pay?
I do love Hawaii. Because I watched Lost.
That’s pretty much exactly how the rest of the state is, too.
When you first started writing, what was your focus on?
My first comic was Battle Pope, which was basically Jesus making poop jokes. I honestly don’t put too much thought into things. I do whatever I think would be fun. I don’t care, I just want to do what I think would be cool.
Can we be friends
Are we gonna see Tyrese in the show?
I can’t say. There has been no decision made as to whether or not he won’t be in the show.
Will we see Merle again?
You could google “Michael Rooker at Wondercon” for that one. All I can say is that there’s a good chance you’ll see him again.
What’s your zombie apocalypse plan?
Aww, I get asked this at damn every panel. First, it’s not gonna happen. But if it does, I’ll go jump off a tall building and kill myself. First I’d murder my family. Because I’ve written Walking Dead! I know what happens! Some people are all, you know, “it’d be cool, because then I wouldn’t have to go to work.” No!! You’d be raped! It’d be horrible! It wouldn’t be a fun thing.
Will there be an episode hiatus for season three like there was for season two?
I dunno. I do know there’s gonna be 16 episodes in season three, so if there would be a break, I would assume it’d be eight on either side.
Why is Invincible always so late?
Well, I think what happened — first of all, shut up. We had some issues we fixed them. And it’s not that Ryan’s slow, he’s just unable to compensate for my lack of professionalism.
My apologies to Ryan then.
Nah, he’s still a dick.
In writing Rick in both settings, was there a conscious choice to take the character in different directions?
I think it was more of a slow burn with Rick. We drew out Shane a little bit more, so it took a little bit more of a build up.
How did you come up with Ant-Man?
Marvel wanted a new take on Ant Man, so I thought it’d be funny to make him a peeping tom. And then it just kind of got worse from there. With Ant Man, I wanted to try and come up with a character you didn’t like, and make him really interesting. And it didn’t work, because it got canceled.
How specifically do you write weapons in the walking dead, and what’s your own relationship with your weapons?
I don’t put very much thought into the guns. Handgun, shotgun, assult rifle. I’ve never fired a gun–
[audience gives a big collective "aww!"]
I’m sorry! Just don’t shoot me. People try to get me to go hunting and I’m terrified of guns. And they’re super dissapointed. So a lot of thought goes into the damage, but not the guns themselves.
What about the hatchet?
Oh, I’ve used a hatchet.
Image United. What happened?
I could ask about Infinite instead, maybe
No really, sit down. No, just kidding. Issues four and five are almost done. Maybe four or five pages are left, then issue six. So… 2020.
How do you feel about The Walking Dead being this huge thing and overshadowning your other stuff?
I haaate it. The tv show is like lightning stricking. People don’t ask me about Invincible as much. So Ryan’s pissed. But I don’t care. Backing into a person with my car made me put things into perspective. But you don’t have to read Invincible. I don’t care.
Based on Shane’s death, will we get any insight as to why Rick still likes Lori?
She’s very pretty!
She keeps losing her son.
He’s a little brat!
Will there be a more proactive than reactive dynamic coming up in the show?
Oh yeah. There’ll be a radical shift.
How do I get printed in the letters column as much as Andrew J. Shaw?
Just be a dick. Seriously, I want to get Shaw into a debate panel at SDCC so we can just go back and forth. But negative letters are fun. There’s more things to say in negative mail, I tend to enjoy it more.
Are you gonna do a battlebeast spinoff.
Ehh, I dunno. Maybe someday.
Would you ever do a comic with Riley Rossmo?
Yeah, I like that guy’s stuff.
Will you bring Rick Remender back from the dark side?
I’d love to, but I don’t begrudge him working for the Big Boys. I think Rick is one of the most creative writiers in the industry. It’d be awesome to see him do more creator owned stuff
Well ain’t that a kicker? a copy of The Walking Dead #1 in CGC 9.9 condition has just sold for $7000.
A year ago a copy in the same condition sold for $2500. If you had bought it then, that would have given you an interest rate of almost 200%.
There have been no 10.0 recorded copies of this book, there are five 9.9 CGC and another three 9.9 CGC Signature Series copies. I wonder what one of those will go for…
Batman: The Dark Knight artist/co-writer was meant to be attending the La Mole comic convention in Mexico City this weekend. However, after arriving on Thursday he suffered serious food poisoning, and was taken to hospital.
Mexican radio and the convention facebook page are both now stating that the hospital have declared that is out of danger, but there is no word whether or not David will be able to attend the show.
I’m told that David’s relatives are on the way to Mexico City to visit him and help if they can.