Thrillbending At Baltimore Comic Con

Ryan The Great Unknown reports for Bleeding Cool;

On Saturday at Baltimore Comic Con, hours before winning the Harvey Award for Best Writer, Mark Waid held a panel discussing the growth and future of Thrillbent.com, his digital comic portal. Throughout the hour-long panel, Waid kept the conversation light and friendly, his upbeat attitude bringing the room full of fans to a light chuckle on numerous occasions.Waid discussed the history of the website, his original intent of delivering a few pages of content each week for free, and took the recent DNS hacking of his website in stride. Discussing ‘Insufferable’, Waid stated that he initially envisioned the web-comic about “A Robin that grows up to be a dick” to only last 18-20 installments, but has thoroughly enjoyed the direction the characters and story have taken, and will be closing out this current arc in the next few months and then starting an all new arc sometime later this year.

The discussion then moved towards Thrillbent’s future, beyond ‘Insufferable’, and Mark discussed how the guys over at Top Cow had their “Pilot Season” concept and wanted to see how it would work on a digital portal such as Thrillbent. Instead of having print runs of 4,000 or 5,000 single issues, Thrillbent will be offering up the entire 2013 Pilot Season comics line-up late 2012, with the intent of running it somewhat like American Idol, where everyone debuts over a week, then the following week after voting, only a select few make it to the next round. Waid sounded very excited at the prospect of having the Top Cow Pilot Season working in collaboration with Thrillbent, and was elated at the notion that it will help Thrillbent reach a new level of content-delivery: offering new material nearly every day of the week.

This new phase of Thrillbent.com will involve the aforementioned Pilot Season, but also various new digital-first comics offered by some established creators such as Gail Simone, Kurt Busiek, and James Tynion IV. The two that Waid seemed most enthusiastic about (and not to begrudge the others, by any means) was Simone’s “Field Trip” which will follow a group of children from Hell who get to come back to Earth for a single day each year on what amounts to their own version of a school field trip. The second title that Waid spoke thoroughly about was “The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood” written by Christy Blanch and Chris Carr, and drawn by the fantastic Chee. It deals with a prison worker who realizes that he’s the sole person within an entire prison that handles vital information, and in a reference to AMC’s “Breaking Bad”, starts down a darker path as a result of this newly gained knowledge.

The rest of the new Thrillbent titles were “Working for Monday” which is a light-hearted take following the assistant to a super-villain. Waid joked and mentioned that it follows the character that makes sure the villains outfits get repaired makes sure his dentist appointments are kept “between bank robberies”. Also mentioned was “Arcanum” by John Rogers, an action-thriller in the vein of 24 just with science rather than politics.

The last half of the panel was primarily a Q&A with the audience members, mostly centering on some of the tricks and learning curves around Thrillbent. Waid was also asked about “What has changed the most in the last 20 years of comics writing?” and he simply pointed to the monitor showing the Thrillbent logo, passionately encouraging anyone who wants to write comics to do so. The digital realm offers a new method of comic delivery, far cheaper than any print-run, and easily shareable through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. He mentioned that he constantly browses the various web-comics out there, hoping to see something amazing and intuitive that could help not only Thrillbent grow, but the entire digital comics industry.

Waid encouraged those present at the panel and anyone willing to listen, “all the tools are out there, the web-comics community being so close close-knit, that it would be a fantastic way for anyone looking to tell a story to have a new means to do so.” (paraphrased)

He then closed out the panel by doing a double backflip and left the room to the tune of “Walk this Way” by Aerosmith.*

*Authors Note: The final sentence may or may not be true. But Mark’s iPad background was Alex Ross’ fantastic Kingdom Come Superman and brought a reluctant smile to my face. I wish any hatchet between Waid and DC’s brass be buried beneath miles of dirt in order for him to get aboard a Superman title. PLEASE!?

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