Razor Sharp At The Cutting Edge of Avatar Press Panel At NYCC 2014 – Featuring Max Brooks, Justin Jordan, Simon Spurrier, Mike Costa, Kieron Gillen, And Max Brooks

William Christensen introduced this panel of stellar talent talking about their books at Avatar Press including Max Brooks, Justin Jordan, Simon Spurrier, Mike Costa, and Kieron Gillen.

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Jordan spoke about his work on Crossed where he wanted to explore the reaction of a person with hope and faith facing a Crossed world. And in a short, looked at a prison setting as well. His work Dark Gods presents the chaos at the beginning of the universe and its attempt to get back into our world through the people who worship those gods. In our modern, fractured age of social media, we’ve let those gods back in and the struggle is ramped up. The book will feature varying art styles for different time periods.

Simon Spurrier talked about Crossed: Wish You Were Here, now completed, where he used a character like himself to help address practicalities and really put himself into the story, and it features a group of survivors not on the move, but in a small community. His webcomic Disenchanted presents an intricately detailed world of disenchanted fairy folk mapped out in massive colonies under London.

Mike Costa, talking about God is Dead, mentioned the recent return of Jesus Christ in the comic, and his act of bringing all the human beings back from death. They can no longer be killed, but can be horribly maimed, a literal translation of being given eternal life. It’s a “really bad situation” heating up in current issues. At #25 the story will start an even bigger arc with an even bigger war. Christensen commented that it’s hard to increase the scale of a series that destroys the world regularly. Christensen mentioned the Book of Acts, the special recent arc of the series, and one on which most of the team was actually present at this panel. The question is who has actually killed God, written by Costa, but contains several stories from other writers with Gillen, Spurrier, Jordan, and even Alan Moore.

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Gillen spoke about his series Uber, and said that when doing the project was “taking it seriously” and not just writing another WWII superhero series. His research was extensive. The point is “about making everyone lose the war”, he said. 8 issues in, they’ve killed most of the major figures in the war, he said, and the atomic program is “broken”, leaving things headed toward a “spy war”. There are “mind-control” spies in Uber and trying to find these people becomes part of the chase as the nations build their Uber super-soldiers. It also deals with personality and national issues as things “fall apart”. He’s trying to be respectful, he said, and showing the real darkness behind the WWII subject matter.

Christensen addressed the big, recent announcement that Alan Moore is doing Crossed +100 with Gabriel Andrade, and said that Moore is going after this with a huge level of detail. Moore has outlined everything that happens in the 100 years “we don’t see” between the outbreak and the new time setting. Watching his process is “fascinating”, Christensen said, including developing tiny aspects of genealogy and making to all “coming together” because he “knows all the threads”. It’s a 6 issue series, and Christensen has read up to issue 5. Some of the characters Moore likes so much that he’s feeling bad about their fates. Even if readers haven’t encountered Crossed before, it’s an accessible, contained arc.

Max Brooks, talking about Extinction Parade, started off by talking about the “problem” with Avatar Press panels is sitting next to Simon Spurrier whereas comics folks are usually not so good looking. A British Obi-Wan Kenobe, he said, is distracting. Officially Extinction Parade is about a zombie outbreak written through the eyes of vampires, he said. It plays with the idea that our weaknesses often turn out to be strengths. He’s old enough, he said, to realize that his own weaknesses have become strengths, such as growing up with Dyslexia, which made him a fighter and prepared him for the problems in life. People who have never had to adapt are like vampires, he said, who have been the top of the food chain. They are facing their “existential crisis” in the zombies taking away their food source. They had “bad parents”, he said, Mother Nature and Father Time, and allowed the vampires to “lean on their gifts”.

Brooks has done “Act One”, he said, when vampires don’t really care, then actually like the fall of humankind, with the rise of the middle class that makes preying on them difficult. The chaos seems attractive until they face an inconvenient truth where the end of humanity is a possibility. At the end of Act One they realize they have to “fight” and in Act Two, they face the need for War, which they are not accustomed to. Vampires have never known their “limitations”, he said. They are starting to “go down the path of emulation”, Brooks said, following human methods of waging war. They are in for a “shock” at the end of Act Two, he said, and Act Three, he’ll leave in mystery.

Fans asked if Simon Spurrier will ever write another Crossed series, and Christensen said he’ll be begging him this weekend. Spurrier says “Yes” and that he’s already gotten something plotted out but he “can’t talk about it yet”. There is some thinking to do, and he has “at least one more story” he wants to tell in that world, but he’s avoiding “obvious stuff”. Christensen said that everyone has a Crossed story in them, but the challenge now is to keep things fresh. He also faces a challenge in bringing in the next generation of writers to work on it.  Singer/songwriter Max Bemis will actually be doing a Crossed story in a very different voice than others. Brooks joked that they’ll be doing Crossed Babies next. Gillen suggested that to get a taste of Bemis, to look at Boom! comic Evil Empire. Jordan vouched that Bemis is not a “dabbler” in comics and has showed his talent.

Brooks, when asked about dealing with vampire lore, said “Well, they don’t sparkle”, to applause. He tries to go “as basic” as possible. They can’t go out in daylight, have to drink human blood for nutritional value, have strength, agility, and the power to heal.

A fan asked if we will ever see Crossed as a TV show with the development of so many apocalypse comic shows. Brooks parodied TV executives providing “notes” about a gay couple arranging their apartment to be added to the story to laughter. Christensen said the big announcement, coming in the Garth Ennis panel later in the con, will discuss the development of “webisodes” for Crossed that Avatar will develop in a self-contained way.

Gillen, asked about Uber, talked about something “equally big” ends the second season as the first on the comic. There’s the “shadow war” and big battles on the Eastern Front, but the “atomic bomb” nature of the Ubers is going to become more clear in “The Great Burn”. By this time next year, Issue #28 will arrive and make things clear.

Christensen brought up Alan Moore’s “gigantic epic” Providence that will be coming out in May, already half-drawn. It is a “stunning” piece of work, he said, HP Lovecraft done by HBO. It’s everything Moore has wanted to say about Lovecraft and horror, and how that can affect history, Christensen said. Gillen said he’s been let in on reading the scripts, and it’s Moore in deep “genre mode”. Spurrier added that Moore has “cooked up” something that is “mind-blowingly brilliant” on par with From Hell. There’s less “wholesale slaughter” in Providence, Christensen joked. Brooks chimed in that reading Moore’s work makes him feel like Brooks shouldn’t even be in the business due to its magnitude.

There will be lots of signings by these authors at the Avatar Booth, #1920 at NYCC for more questions and discussions.

About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

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