The What’s Next at Image Comics panel took place on Saturday, July 20 at the San Diego Comic-Con 2013. The panel was moderated by Eric Stephenson (Publisher, Image Comics). The panelists in attendance were Ed Brubaker, Joe Casey, Nick Dragotta, Joe Casey, Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Rick Remender and J. Michael Straczynski. During the course of the panel they discussed some of their current and upcoming titles.
- Brubaker described it as a 90’s period piece with rock, sex, horror. He said it’s loosely based on some things that happened to him while he was living in Seattle.
- Velvet is a hi-octane thriller, according to Brubaker. In the series, the world’s greatest secret agent has been killed and the organization’s secretary has been framed for it. During the story, it’s revealed that she was once one of the world’s deadliest secret agents. The book will be out in October.
- This comic features a hero with Spider-Man-like agility who smokes a lot of weed.
- This series is about a retired superhero that, without the costume and lifestyle, doesn’t have much of a life. He struggles with the transition back to a normal life.
East of West
- Dragotta described the story as a dystopian future where the civil war never ended. Issue #5 had the horsemen tracking Death down so that they could set off the apocalypse. The first trade will be out in August. The next story arc will begin in September with Issue #6.
- The series is about a fifteen year-old cop from the future who travels back in time to New York City in 1986. In her time, police corruption was eliminated by placing an age limit on who could serve in law enforcement. Younger law enforcers are believed to have a stronger sense of right and wrong. She’s from an alternate 2013 and looking to figure out why we don’t have our utopian future.
- This is Remender’s return to pulp sci-fi. The main character is a member of a league of anarchist scientists.
- Remender told the audience Deadly Class is a combination of two ideas that he hadn’t been able to make work on their own. It puts a slice of life, growing up in the 80s story and one about a high school for training assassins together. All major crime syndicates look to this school for recruits.
- Former mob enforcer, Joe Fitzgerald, and his girlfriend are killed. She’s allowed entrance to heaven while he is not. An ethereal figure allows him the option of coming back to life every time he dies. He would be allowed to spend that short period of time between death and life with his girlfriend.
- Barry Chase was a sidekick. His hero died and he’s now considered a joke. According to Straczynski, this series’ twelve issues chronicle his slow descent into madness.
Dream Police and The Book of Lost Souls
- Straczynski announced the rerelease of both through Image Comics.
- Doing this title with Bill Sienkiewicz
- In the story, they’ll be deconstructing comic book storytelling and exploring techniques that haven’t been used for years.
After hitting on their current and upcoming titles, Stephenson then asked the panelists what they could do at Image that they could not with other publishers. Dragotta said that he found himself as an artist on East of West. Reeder told Stephenson and the audience that she enjoyed having more say in the creation process and feels better when she’s in control of deadlines. She had recently done the pencils, inks, colors and created the logo for a project.
Brubaker told the audience that it felt really good working for oneself but also admitted that he worked much harder. Remender found that though he had a successful career in animation, he couldn’t stop doing creator-owned projects even though there was no guarantee that he would also be successful in this endeavor.
Amy found that she has more say in the creation process. She had recently done the pencils, inks, colors and created the logo for a project. Amy feels better when she’s in control of the deadlines.
The panel then shifted to Q&A.
Q. An audience member asked Brubaker why a lot of good male writers fail at writing female characters.
A. He told her that they needed to understand the difference between sexy and sexist. He continued, saying he loves strong female characters and has women friends that he wants to be able to read his books.
Q. Straczynski was asked if there was any chance of seeing characters from Midnight Nation and Rising Stars again.
A. He told them he enjoyed them as they were and felt that he would not do them justice if he were to dive into them again.
Q. Brubaker was asked if he had any plans for more Incognito.
A. He told the person that it wasn’t something he would think about until after Fatale and he had not decided where he would want to take that story next.
Q. What are the differences of going from someone else’s episodic title to your own work?
A. Remender said that it’s the different between building your story’s continuity and researching the character’s continuity and working within those boundaries. He uses a character worksheet with over 200 questions to build his own characters’ histories. Brubaker picked up where Remender left off and said that it was sometimes easier working on pre-established characters. He found it easier when you know your audience is already familiar with the characters’ history.
Q. When putting your portfolio together is it better to demonstrate originality or being able to work with established characters?
A. The panelists told the gentleman that he needed to be good at storytelling. The publishers want to see people walking and walking as much as they want to see Spider-Man swinging through the city.
Q. Is it easier to create strong female characters in creator owned comics?
A. There were several thoughts among the panelists. Some writers might have some difficulty with characters that were created decades ago and that it was easier to do with your own characters. Reeder added that it was sometimes as easy as a change in posture. Brubaker continued that thought and said that the same script drawn by a different artist would go the wrong way. Straczynski pointed out that female characters are often objectified whereas men are idealized.
With that the panel concluded. For more on Image Comics, visit the official website.