Saturday, March 17, 2007

IDW Panel from LA

Only a couple of the non-big two publishers held panels at WW:LA, but IDW was one of them. The company, responsible for buzzworthy books like 30 Days of Night and a boatload of licensed properties, held their affair Saturday morning, with only about three dozen fans on hand - although perhaps some were holding out for the arrival of Kiss's Gene Simmons, who was scheduled to join the panel a half hour into it to talk about his new joint publishing venture with IDW, "Simmons Comic Group" (or maybe people just partied a little too much Friday night. Or were still parking).

First up on the presentation was Spike: Shadow Puppets, described by Lynch as "Kind of a sequel to the 'Smile Time' episode," referring to the fan favorite season 5 Angel episode; he said it's also a sequel to his previously-published Spike: Asylum.

Ryall then told the crowd that Joss Whedon said in the new issues of Buffy/Angel magazine, "I am talking to Brian Lynch, about doing sort of a 'season 6 of Angel.'" Ryall then continued, "After Shadow Puppets, we will be doing some new Angel books, with Brian and Joss, picking up where the show left off. They will be post-show, and definitely canon, and co-written by Joss." Presumably this is the companion to Dark Horse's "Buffy season 8" that fans have been waiting for.

A couple of Star Trek projects - Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell, written by Scott & David Tipton and illustrated by David Messina (5 issues, starting April 2007) and Star Trek: The Original Series: Year Four, written by David Tischman and illustrated by: Kelsey Shannon, Steve Conley, Leonard O'Grady (6 issues, starting July 2007) - were briefly discussed.

A Q&A followed before the arrival of Gene Simmons, with Ryall saying there's no plans for a “Star Wars/Transformers" crossover despite the success of those toys and no more "Transformers: Evolution in the near future but possibly in '08." Spike's old vampire girlfriend, Drusilla, won't be Shadow Puppets, but could be in “Angel season 6”, and so far they don't have Tank Girl reprints scheduled because they're not show about the situation with publishing rights.

Gene Simmons and his son Nick then arrived, roughly 25 minutes into the panel, with about 50 people at the panel by this point, and a few more joining as it continued. Ryall started a slideshow on the Simmons Comics Group projects, starting with Gene Simmons House of Horrors. "Gene understands comics, he knows comics" and wasn't doing it just to put his name on a comic.

"We're very serious about this," said Simmons, proceeding to compare comics to Greek myths in a somewhat rambling speech espousing his love for the medium. "We don't consider this throwaway stuff. It's the biggest art form on the face of the planet," citing the box office success of 300 as a recent example. He further explained that invincible characters aren't appealing to him, and he enjoys ones with flaws.

In discussing anthology title House of Horrors, he pointed out that the first cover is by Todd McFarlane, and sarcastically groused that "in return for that I got to fly to Tucson, Wombatville, somewhere Todd has a store, and do a signing." (the store is actually in Tempe, Arizona, approximately 100 miles north of Tucson).

Simmons' son, Nick, the writer and artist of "Skullduggery, another part of the line, described the concept. "If you verbalize any story like this, it's going to sound bizarre," he said, although he filled in that it's about a race of people "one rung above" humans, and that it's a "horror comedy where they shoot each other in the face more than once per issue."

Simmons discussed the rest of the titles that make up the line (five comics in total), including Zipper by Tom Waltz and Adriano Lozano, which starts in September. Simmons compared the character to the Silver Surfer in being neither good nor bad. Next up was Dominatrix, written by Sean Taylor, art by TBD (as in "to be decided," not some new artist with an unconventional name) and covers by Alex Garner, starting in August 2007. Simmons said it's about a "clandestine, reluctant super-heroine" and, a bit more on the nose, that "it's very CIA meets T&A."

The last book to be discussed was Indy: Race of the Galaxies, an 8-issue series about racing in space, written by Tom Waltz with art by German Torres (no release month announced). It's tied to Indy Racing League, which Simmons is involved in promoting, and targeted towards 12 to 14 year-old-males.

Ryall then spoke about Simmons' "passion for the industry," and being shocked that an iconic rock star had such a precise recall of specific comic storylines and creators.Gene closed out the panel, boasting that the old '70s Kiss comics "sold a million copies a piece" and that "now if an issue sells 10,000, you're lucky." He said he wants comics to gain mainstream popularity and sees his line as a step towards that goal.

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