IDW To Publish New Dave Sim Series And Other WonderCon Announcements

Peter S. Svensson has no shame on behalf of Bleeding Cool.

IDW announced Rocketeer/The Spirit at their panel at WonderCon Anaheim, along with tantalizing hints that IDW will be the home of Dave Sim’s next creator-owned project.

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Before the panel began, EIC Chris Ryall and Marketing head Dirk Wood teased me in front of the entire audience for sending Bleeding Cool the information about the Rocketeer crossover the night before. It was kinda public and both frightening and hilarious at once. (Seriously Chris, next time it’s something I have to absolutely be silent on, make it clearer! It’s almost as if you wanted me to leak out the partial information you gave me to drive up buzz before the panel!)

Mark Waid had been triple booked by the con, and really shouldn’t have been able to make it to the IDW panel, but somehow managed to squeeze it in between other commitments. This is only pertinent in as much as IDW rearranged their panel at the last minute to accommodate Waid’s schedule. As Waid would say later, no other company would go to such efforts for a freelancer. IDW are good folks.

When Waid arrived, Dirk Wood pointed out that they needed to have a competition over who has the best radio announcer voice. Dirk wins this one IMHO, with his deep tones. Waid’s good mind you, but he can’t beat the guy whose image adorns IDW’s section of Previews every month.

So, in an attempt to speed things along and get the big announcement out of the way, (after yet another reminder to everyone that I’d stolen their thunder. What, me worry?) they began with a contest. Whoever guessed the character that they were crossing over with would get a Hardcover of Waid’s recent Rocketeer mini. First guess, the Shadow! “Close!” said Scott Dunbier. Next fan guessed the X-Men. “So wrong!” replied Waid. Though seriously, I now want to see someone draw that. Green Hornet, which is now being written by Waid at Dynamite with a rebooted classic take on the character was brought up, which was my guess personally as well. But no, it wasn’t the Green Hornet or the Spider. One lucky fan guessed the Spirit, and was rewarded with comicky goodness.

The Rocketeer/Spirit, a four issue miniseries premiering in July 2013. Titled, “Pulp Friction”, the story has a city councilman in Central City, home of the Spirit, leaving a meeting with some embittered businessmen. His corpse is found hours later on the shores of Los Angeles, an impossible crime since the fastest flight of the era couldn’t get him there in that amount of time. So, Commissioner Dolan sends the Spirit and Ellen to LA to investigate. This is set early in the Spirit’s career, so this is a strange scenario where the Rocketeer is the more veteran crime fighter. There’s love triangles between Betty and the Spirit, or Dolan loving Betty. But the real draw to the story is the artist. The legendary Paul Smith. His Leave It To Chance with James Robinson was fantastic, and his work on the X-Men after Byrne was phenomenal. Waid explained that if every writer had a fantasy football-style list of artists they’d love to work with one day, all of them would have Paul Smith on it. He’s that good. Waid was reticent about doing the crossover, because it’s hard enough doing new Rocketeer comics in the shadow of Dave Stevens, but to also be in the shadow of Will Eisner doesn’t help. It was Paul Smith’s involvement which sealed the deal.

IDW president Greg Goldstein noticed the lack of a DC logo on the slide, and not only wanted to remind the fans that DC does still control the Spirit despite what may have been reported in the past, but that DC has been incredibly generous in working with them to get this project happening. And speaking of DC collaborations with IDW that Mark Waid is involved with…

The powerpoint presentation had to quickly be rearranged to handle Waid’s schedule, as he could only squeeze a few more minutes in the panel before departing. The IDW team handled this with absolute grace and calm. Okay, relative grace and calm. While this was going on, Waid alluded to just having made another deal with IDW regarding a project that won’t see the light of day for another six or seven years. I’m assuming a World’s Greatest Superheroes comic strip reprint project that he’ll edit. It’s totally up his alley, and conspicuously absent from the list of other DC comic strips that IDW announced they are going to reprint. Which leads us to…

Superman Silver Age Newspaper Strips. See, from 1939 to 1966 there was a Superman comic strip that appeared both in daily and Sunday papers. For years, original content was made for the strip, and while Kitchen Sink collected the earliest ones years ago, which have been reprinted several times since, they weren’t able to get very far into the strip. Goldstein mentioned that there are about 10,000 strips, a number Waid immediately corrected off the top of his head to the proper 8,669, covering 27 years worth of Superman stories. If you didn’t know, Waid is a big Superman aficionado. But more to the point, Waid was the only man in the world with a complete set of Superman Sunday strips. Literally. The only full collection from 1939 to 1966 belonged to him, and was sitting in his closet collecting dust. This was mentioned offhandedly in conversation with Scott Dunbier, special projects and reprint editor extraordinare at IDW, who upon hearing that immediately began plans to get DC to agree to license out the strips. This wasn’t too hard, as IDW has been the premiere publisher of classic comic strips in wonderful editions, ranging from Little Orphan Annie to Dick Tracy to Blondie, and that reputation is part of why they’ve been able to get DC and Marvel and Archie to agree to let them handle their IP. Seriously, IDW rock in that regard. (I’m not just saying that to try and get back on their good side.)

The fun part about the Superman comicstrips is that there are tons of new stories, and alternate takes on stories you may have been familiar with in the comics that got done entirely differently in the strip. Clark and Lois were married for a few years in the 50s. There’s different takes on Bizzaro and Metallo, and even those strips that were adapting comic stories were often drawn by different artists. The Brainiac introduction story was totally different, with the character being called Romago, which as Waid put it “Is probably an even worse name than Brainiac!” The storyline lasted for about half a year’s worth of strips. The first volume is scheduled to be out in time for San Diego Comic Con, with new volumes coming out every six to eight months after. The plan is to have three different eras of reprints, the Silver Age, the Golden Age, and the Atomic Age set between the two of them. Batman and Wonder Woman newspaper volumes will be coming as well. (Though neither of their strips lasted anywhere near as long as Superman’s.)

It was at this point, that Mister Mark Waid left to go simultaneously be on a panel about digital comics, and to moderate a panel about writing villainous leads. But, the panel was not over! Back to the original powerpoint order!

X-Files Season 10 comics. We’ve seen the announcement here and elsewhere already. Joe Harris writing with series creator Chris Carter supervising, Michael Walsh and Jordie Belier on art. Chris Ryall told the story of how scared he was to approach Carter with what their plans were to do with the X-Files concept, only for him to say “Tell me what you want to do with my characters!” Ryall explained, “I had imagined him reaching over the table and smacking me each time I said something he didn’t agree with.” But in actuality, Carter was pleasant and easy to work with, and even posed for a picture alongside Ryall and Harris at the meeting the three of them had to discuss the plotting. The goal is to continue the series, after the events of the TV show and films, with canonical stories that further the plot, as if what would happen had the show continued and had an unlimited budget.

They will be also collecting earlier X-Files comics, such as those done by Topps back in the day. Charlie Adlard of Walking Dead fame did some of those. While they were set during the series, and thus unable to make lasting changes to the status quo, they will still get nice new TPB editions. Presumably the X-Files/30 Days of Night mini that DC put out in collaboration with IDW will be brought back into print as well.

The first issue of the Season 10 comics will be coming out in June.

IDW picked up the rights to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents recently, (which is why DC had a closeout sale on everything T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agenty they had in stock not too long ago) and had already announced Phil Hester as writer. They then announced Andrea DiVito, who has done work at Marvel but should be known as the primary artist on the Dungeons and Dragons comic he did at IDW with John Rogers which is one of the best books of the past decade and seriously why was I the only one who read it? Moving right along… DiVito will be joined by Jerry Ordway on covers, as well as Dave Sim, who is doing quite a few IDW variant covers these days. While IDW doesn’t do much in the way of traditional superhero books, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is definitely not a traditional book. It was groundbreaking back in the day as Wally Wood got Tower Comics to publish a comic in which characters permanently died, before DC had Ferro Lad kick the bucket for good. (Lightning Lad doesn’t count, the end of the story where he dies teases his resurrection.) “The THUNDER Agents are UN employees. These aren’t heroes for whom with Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” said Ryall. “With Great Power comes paychecks.”

The question of whether we’d see more than just variant covers from Dave Sim arose from a very dedicated female fan, who was quite persistent because Ryall kept dropping hints that he’d been talking with Sim about doing a new project at IDW, and that it wasn’t ready to announce anything yet. Seriously, it’s not ready to announce anything yet, it’s still in the discussion phase. Still, Sim has agreed to do covers to a lot of things Ryall was surprised to, such as Doctor Who.

Now, in my capacity as a retailer, I had asked Chris Ryall how the hell would you market Kiss Kids, his new all-ages Kiss book in the vein of Tiny Titans. I’m not a Kiss Nation fan, I don’t do their cruises and can’t tell apart the Starchild from the um, the other one with the black and white face paint. But Ryall used that as a springboard for a discussion that while Kiss Kids will be an all-ages book, the Kiss references will be injokes that the parents will love but the kids will still be able to enjoy. As the Kiss fan demographic has begun having kids, they want a book they can both enjoy. That I can understand. And well, there’s Kiss Hello Kitty on the Hub apparently. I am not quite sure I want to believe I live in a world where there happens, but there you go. As a prelude to the book, there will be full page gag strips advertising Kiss Kids in the back of their normal Kiss ongoing. They were shown to the panel, and it’s adorable and okay, I’ll give this book a shot despite only knowing the one Kiss song.

Speaking of all-ages books, IDW talked a bit more about their Cartoon Network licensing, specifically PowerPuff Girls, Samurai Jack and Ben10. Now, just to make this clear, Cartoon Network is owned by Warner Bros. DC is owned by Warner Bros. DC had the rights to these books in the past. Someone at DC has dropped the ball significantly to let these titles get snatched up by IDW. But well, DC hasn’t really been publishing them and IDW wanted them, so there you go. IDW will be creating new content for these series, as well as reprinting the comics DC had done earlier. They’re talking with Genndy in regards to Samurai Jack, so hopefully that book will end up with his involvement in some shape or form. These will still be all-ages books, so there won’t be any major death or the such. “Well, maybe in Samurai Jack.” The PowerPuff Girls comic will come out in time for the new animated release, though they will probably stick with the classic character designs as the comic would come out before the new animation and there’s a desire to keep the new finalized art designs under wraps under the premiere. Likewise, there’s going to be a comic adapting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series airing on Nickelodeon. But they didn’t have a slide prepared or any other information to share besides that it’ll be the IDW kids release for Free Comic Book Day, alongside the Judge Dredd Classics for not-kids.

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness is the comic miniseries serving as a prequel to the movie. However, the ongoing Star Trek comic book set in the universe of the film will also serve as a sequel and epilogue to the film, with an arc titled “After Darkness.” The Star Trek comics have had involvement from Robert Orci, and foreshadowing for the upcoming film has been in the books since page one, panel one of the first issue. Likewise, the “Return of the Archons” adaptation has some crucial bits that will be made apparent in retrospect. The contents of those upcoming issues can’t be discussed much without spoiling the finale of the film, but should be of interest to those who have been neglecting the comics because well, they just seemed like remixes of classic episodes with more lens flare. And because the creators of the film are supervising the comics, they are indeed canon for that universe of Trek.

Scott Dunbier made a joke about Star Trek Canon being what Kirk used to defeat the Gorn. I laughed, because I am a terrible, terrible geek.

Dinosaurs Attack! I gasped. I am an enthusiastic fanboy at heart, and this is awesome stuff. See, in the 80s a pseudo-sequel to Mars Attacks was done, a series of cards about, well, Dinosaurs attacking. It had the same B-Movie appeal, and had human characters as well as Dinos. A comic adaptation was being done by Eclipse, just about the time that Eclipse collapsed in on itself, and was never completed. Herb Trimpe did most of the art, and will be going back to finish what he’d started decades ago along with artist Earl Norem

who is more famous for his painted magazine illustrations. Norem is 90, and still saying he’ll do the last painted piece needed for the book, so they’re being patient and waiting for him, but the fact that these veterans of the comic industry are being called upon to finish a project that’s been in limbo for decades is just plain fantastic. What had been done before and the new content will get released as a five-issue miniseries once it’s all set and done.

MechWarrior/BattleTech is the latest IDW license, because John Barber doesn’t have enough books about giant mechanical battles, having Transformers as his main responsibility.

BLACK DYNAMITE! OH HELL YEAH! I may have been a little vocal in my pleasure with this one. It’s not an adaptation of the film or cartoon, but new stories that will be riffing off the idea that there was a 70s comic series with a intentionally uncohesive universe. It’s Blaxploitacious! I may have just made that word up.

Jim Mahfood will be getting an artbook. His art is dynamic and real and fantastic.

Sam Kieth will also be getting an artbook. Ryall has been working for over a decade to get an artbook from him, and it turns out that there’s still yet another artbook that they’ve been working on, but this one will at least be manifesting and come out soonish.

While we’re going through the list of artists getting books, Michael Kaluta will be getting one as well. Kaluta is just plain gorgeous.

The floor was then opened to questions. The first question was by a gentleman that has incredible taste, asking if we’ll see a return of the Fells Five heroes from John Rogers/Andrea DiVito’s Dungeons and Dragons comics. Editor John Barber, who I may have pestered a little bit earlier on this topic, said that he’s hoping that it will happen, because he wants it to happen, Rogers wants it to happen, and it’s just a matter of scheduling and getting the stars to align. He then also made clear that the other D&D books IDW is publishing, such as the upcoming Cutter miniseries by R.A and Geno Salvatore aren’t interfering with the publication of Fells Five at all.

IDW will be the print home of the titles Chris Roberson’s Monkeybrain Comics are premiering digitally.

The horror comic Lets Play God had one issue come out. No more have come since due to scheduling problems.

Samurai Jack will probably be open to more stylized art than the series due to the tone of the concept, though no artist has been announced yet.

Judge Dredd Classics will be reprinting the best storylines in color, starting with Apocalypse War, and following it up with Block Mania. These will be done with modern color, and look brand new. They will also be printed in HC in the original black and white, for those who prefer the traditional look.

While IDW does a lot of adaptations of TV and Film properties, there currently aren’t any of their original properties heading to adaptation in other media, despite everyone being anxious to know what will happen to Locke and Key. There’s just a need to be patient, because while comics can do a quick turnaround from writing to publication, TV and Film tends to go slowly.

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