On day 2 of the Emerald City Comicon, Dark Horse held their “Dark Horse Comics: Powered by Creators” panel. Being a huge Dark Horse fan and tipped off about some exciting announcements, I of course attended. Some big time creators were participated as panelists, including: Michael Avon Oeming, Brian Wood, Francesco Francavilla, Adam Warren, Ethan Niccolle, Paul Tobin, Jeff Parker, and Erica Moen. The panel was moderated by Dark Horse PR Director, Jeremy Atkins. Many new titles and projects were discussed over the course of the panel. Jeremy Atkins kicked off the panel by saying:
“The reason we’re here today [is because] we wanted to do something special. We have a lot of really talented people at the show this weekend, and it just so happens that with many of them, we have new projects coming up, and some current projects that we want to talk about, as well as announcing some new stuff.”
He then went on to remind people of the early role that Dark Horse Comics played in advancing creator’s rights:
“When Dark Horse came about, as most of you probably know, many artists and writers didn’t have the chance to own their own work. Dark Horse was kind of instrumental in establishing the creator-owned movement.”
The Black Beetle
With that the panel moved on to the topic of a new title from Francesco Francavilla, The Black Beetle, that will be featured in Dark Horse Presents. Francavilla, in his heavy accent, said that this DHP material will provide a good introduction to the series, which will be a new sci-fi/noir take on old pulp heroes. Francavilla is highly respected by other industry creators, and The Black Beetle sounds like an intriguing new project.
Next up was Adam Warren talking about his ongoing series Empowered, the 7th volume of which is out May 3rd. Warren looks to have various guest artists come in to do one-shots between volumes, starting this November. Mr. Warren expects volume 8 of Empowered to be out in 2013.
Axe Cop co-creator Ethan Niccolle was up next. Niccolle, of course, works on Axe Cop with his now 8 year-old brother Malachai (who delighted ECCC Dark Horse panel attendees last year by giving us candy and making everyone laugh). Ethan takes Malachai’s wild ideas and filters them into something delightfully readable in Axe Cop. Ethan started out by offering the following admission:
“I just wanted to admit that the first cover [which was being projected onto a huge screen next to the stage]– I didn’t realize until we published it like that– his nose looks like a man’s junk.” He goes on to say, “I’ve been getting a lot of comments about this. I just wanted to admit that I see it.”
Mr. Niccolle shared some anecdotes about Malachai thinking up villains that progressively became more and more powerful as he pitched the ideas, and the steps Ethan takes with Malachai to arrive at ideas that will actually work within the confines of the series. The new Axe Cop Volume 3 is currently on store shelves. I was a little surprised that the news about a new Axe Cop project didn’t come up in the panel, but I have it on good authority that it will involve the image you see directly below.
Erica Moen and Jeff Parker were up next, to discuss their webcomic series, Bucko, that will be collected and published by Dark Horse in a TPB. The series was described as a Portland influenced, “dick and fart joke murder mystery.” We have an article up right here on ComicBooked.com that explores this Bucko news more in-depth, check it out. Dark Horse gave lucky ECCC attendees a Bucko promo card, and Erica Moen and Jeff Parker were nice enough to sign and sketch on it for me to give to one of YOU. That’s right, leave a comment at the end of this article and share it on the social network of your choice for YOUR CHANCE TO WIN. I will select one winner at random this Friday, April 6th, and mail them their prize. Comment, share, and get cool stuff.
Michael Oeming was on next to officially announce his brand new project, The Victories. As you probably know, I am a huge fan of Mr. Oeming’s work, and had learned of the project earlier in the day when I stopped by his booth to have him sign some stuff (what, did you honestly think that people who write about comics aren’t fans too?), he gave me a flier about The Victories and said not to miss the official announcement at the panel. I think it was Jeremy who said of The Victories:
“This is one of the most f@#%ed up comics I have ever read in my life!”
The Victories will be a superhero comic, but anyone who is familiar with another title that Mr. Oeming co-created, Powers, knows that his superhero work is fresh and original. Mr Oeming says that he created The Victories when he was dealing with his anxiety attacks by, “trying to put it on paper.” Oeming also says that the story was, “pretty extreme when I wrote it,” but that Dark Horse Editor Scott Allie, “helped me reel it back in.” The first series will deal with “a team of superheroes, and one in particular… who struggling with the origin of his powers that defines who he is, and at the same time is his greatest source of pain.” If everything works out, each new series will focus on a different character. The Victories sounds like it will be awesome, and I will definitely be picking it up.
Another new series, Colder, by Paul Tobin (who did the Falling Skies series for DH) was also announced, and sounds really promising. Colder is a horror story about a man who “can enter the insanity of another person.” As the story progresses, this man’s body temperature is slowly falling, and if it reaches a certain point he will die. This factor will create character tension and conflict. Colder sounds really interesting. I will be buying it solely based on the concept of a character entering other people’s insanity.
Brian Wood was also on hand to talk about his new DH series The Massive a little more. Wood had talked fairly extensively about the new series the day before during his ECCC Spotlight Series: Brian Wood panel (see our full story about The Massive here on ComicBooked.com). He did however offer a few new comments about the project. According to Wood, The Massive is “about the end the world.” The story will revolve around a cast of environmentalists aboard ships who failed to save the world, and how that factor weighs on and effects them. The series sounds really interesting, and will be featured in Dark Horse Presents 8-10. If you aren’t reading DHP (you really should) consider getting an early look at The Massive as the final incentive you should need to start checking out the wonderful Dark Horse anthology.
After the new projects were talked about, the creators discussed why creator-owned work is important, and shared various anecdotes. While the “Dark Horse Comics: Powered by Creators” panel wasn’t the most outlandish or wildly entertaining programming of the convention, it definitely delivered the goods as far as news and exciting new projects. Dark Horse Comics is one of my very favorite publishers, and how they treat their creators and innovative stories are the reason why. With so many exciting new projects coming out this year, 2012 should be another great year for Dark Horse and comics in general.