Image Expo 2016: All The News and Announcements
Ahead of Emerald City Comiccon, Image held its annual gathering of creators to announce a new slate of titles coming from the publisher in 2016 and beyond. The 2016 Image Expo brought with it wealth of information about the publisher's plans, including new books from the former Batgirl creative team of Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher; crime comic mainstays Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser; a new OGN from Leila del Duca; Jen Van Meter and Rick Burchett's ballerina crime caper; and a number of other promising projects.
In his keynote address before the presentation began, Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson spoke of how comics helped him overcome his own lack of interest in reading as a kid. He also spoke about the current readership landscape, and how it's changed from when he was a child. Back then, there was a perception about how comics weren't for women, yet one of the largest comic collections Stephenson ever encountered belonged to the mother of a childhood friend. Now, he explained, there were very few women who didn't read comics, and it was no longer a surprise to find out they did.
Stephenson says the secret of Image's success as the publisher approaches its 25th year is a willingness to work hard for what you believe in. Calling attention to things like desegregation, marriage equality, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and marriage equality, Stephenson questioned why we were sweating the small stuff when we were capable of achieving such big things. "Nothing is impossible," Stephenson said. "So long as you do the work."
"You have to participate in change," said Stephenson. "You have to do the work."
With that, brand manager David Brothers came to the stage to kick off the afternoon's announcements.
We will be updating this post as new information becomes available.
Jim Zubkavich announced a new series, Glitterbomb, with artist Djibril Morissette that is described as a “Hollywood horror” with the tagline "It's time to eat the rich. For real." The series follows an actress who can no longer get any roles due to her age and sets out to bring the entire system crashing down as violently as possible.
You can learn more about Glitterbomb over on AV Club.
Leila del Duca, artist of Shutter with Joe Keatinge, is writing a young adult graphic novel named Afar, with artist Kit Seaton. When something goes wrong while astral projecting to another planet, a pair of siblings have to fix things after the older sibling “messes up royally”. Although set in the future and crossing multiple worlds, Afar is described as being more of a fantasy story than sci-fi. Edited by Taneka Stotts, Afar will be released in November.
More details about Afar are available on Vox.
Ivan Brandon and Esad Ribic will team together for Vs, set in a world where war has become privatized and televised. The series follows a soldier named Sada Flynn who is just past his prime and struggling to keep up with how quickly the technology involved in combat is changing. This makes him an underdog in the eyes of the public, and as such, is cheered on by the viewers at home.
Gizmodo has more details and pages from VS.
Ivan Brandon then brought up Jason Latour, with the two teaming up to co-write Black Cloud with art by Greg Hinkle and Matthew Wilson, with every member of the creative team given input at every stage of the process. It follows a rebel leader from a world where imagination is literal and the best idea wins as she abandons her world for our own. Described as “Jessica Jones meets Roger Rabbit”, Black Cloud is a noir detective story that moves back and forth between the two places.
Planned for release this fall, Black Cloud has the tagline “Our Dreams At War,” and is also described as "A Sword in the Stone story where the person who wants to take the sword doesn't really feel like it."
More Black Cloud preview pages and details are available on Vulture.
Alison Sampson, co-creator of Genesis, announced a book with Steve Niles called Winnebago Graveyard, which is about Satanism. Niles is writing, with Sampson drawing, and Stefan Petreau and Clem Robins on colors. The comic centers on a family -- a woman, her husband, and her son from a previous marriage -- who are on vacation in the Southwest when their Winnebago stolen and they end up stranded in a town full of Satanists. "We're going to get into what Satanists actually do, so there's human sacrifice, rituals, nudity,” said Sampson, “It's just amazing."
When host David Brothers asked what sort of horror the story is, Sampson replied, "It's gross. It's a straight up scary story." But she doesn’t seem concerned about the age of the book’s audience: "We're quite aware that much extreme horror is read by quite young people," she said, "My 13-year-old nephew is working on it with me. This is for him."
Juan Gedeon, Brandon Thomas and Frank Martin team together for Horizon, from Skybound. It follows an alien soldier who thought she was done with war until forces from a desperate planet seeks to occupy her world. She joins a small strikeforce that journeys to Earth to keep us here by any means necessary.
With the tagline "Survival Isn't Just A Human Instinct,” Horizon is described by Brothers as a “reverse-gentrification story” it forces Zia to reexamine her preconceived notions of humanity, and asks how many second-chances do we get before we pay for our mistakes. Edited by Sean Mackiewicz, Horizon has been in the works for two years, and will have a black and neon color scheme by Martin.
Get more details on Horizon over at Entertainment Weekly.
Writer/artist Colin Larimer unveiled The Hunt, coming from Image’s Shadowline, a comic based on Irish mythology that features the Sluagh, evil grotesque soul-stealing fairies, who in this story have begun murdering people rather than waiting for them to die before taking their souls. The protagonist sees her father's soul ripped out of his body on his deathbed and goes on a quest to recover it, to keep him from being tortured for eternity. Joanna Lafuente handles colors on the book, with Jim Campbell on lettering.
LAKE OF FIRE
Colorist Nathan Fairbairn announced Lake of Fire for this summer, which he will write, color and letter, with Matt Smith on pencils and inks. Set in 1220 AD during the Albigensian Crusade in southern France. An alien spacecraft crash-lands in the French Pyrenees and the heretics and crusaders are the last line of defense against them. Fairbairn joked that he asked Chris Burnham and Yanick Paquette but they were both too busy working with Grant Morrison, but he saw Smith’s art online and liking it, sent him an email out of the blue.
THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA
Legendary creator Howard Chaykin announced The Divided States of Hysteria, with Aburtov on colors and Ken Bruzenak lettering. It tells the story of the next major terrorist attack on US solid. Chaykin describes it as taking place "sometime later this afternoon.” He says he lives in constant anxiety about such an attack. "I wake up every morning and I worry about everything."
Chaykin admits that the heroes of his book are bad people, adding, "My villains and my heroes are frequently the same guys just in different movies". Puerto Rican-American protagonist Frankie Villa is an up-and-comer in the CIA who "f---s up royally". He thinks he knows where the attack will happen, and he’s wrong. His life collapses as the state collapses, and a country that can barely defend itself must try to defend itself from itself.
PRINCE OF CATS
Ronald Wimberly announced his 2012 Vertigo series Prince of Cats would be reprinted in a definitive edition with proper cover art. A take on Romeo & Juliet from Tybalt’s perspective, it takes place in an alternate New York where disco and hip-hop represent the dueling families of the play.
Earlier in the day, Wimberly talked about his projects Sunset Park and Slave Punk, promising that he is currently writing but the process is slow, promising it will be worth it once it is finished. He plans on finishing all of Sunset Park before it launches, and notes compared to his time at Vertigo he doesn’t have an editor on his work, but if he needed one he would have the ability to pick one out.
Jen Van Meter and Rick Burchett’s Prima focuses on a ballerina thief, and is told in the style of 1950s fashion art. The books is described as "An adventure espionage romance comedy” and tells the story of a ballet company that was a front for the resistance during World War II. After the war, they continue using both espionage and ballet skills to help people in need. The story centers on the prima ballerina and her sister, the director of the ballet company, which totals seventeen people "[Jen] asked me to draw 17 people who don't look alike,” says Burchett, “Something that hasn't been done before in comics."
See what else Van Meter and Burchett have to say about Prima in our exclusive interview.
Joe Harris and Megan Hutchinson will collaborate on Rockstars, a rock-and-roll supernatural thriler described as "Almost Famous meets Supernatural". Jackie Mayer is a super-music nerd, and a student of rock mythology, and he knows the lost secrets and truths behind musical urban legends, and he's connected to the metaphysical undercurrent of music that only he can sense. Each story arc will center on a different era of music, from the British Invasion to '80s Hair Metal.
Comics Beat has more information on Rockstars.
Romulus by Bryan Edward Hill and Tim Nelson II is about a secret society that dates back to Ancient Rome, who use exclusively female assassins due to their ability to take more pain and influence men. The series follows a young assassin who breaks free from the order of Romulus following a personal tragedy, and the Hill promises that things won’t be easy for her, and they plan to put her through the exact same trials and tribulations a male hero might face.
Sarah Kenny and Karen Berger took the stage to announce Surgeon X, written by Kenny with art by John Watkiss. The book is set 20 years into a future in which the old killer diseases are back with a vengeance, having become resistant to antibiotics. Rosa Scott does surgery in her basement, with black market pharmaceuticals. Her mixed race family are all scientists and weirdos. She goes up against the police, the political elite, and criminals, as she's forced to make tough decisions about who will live and die. Artist John Watkiss is a former professor of anatomy, which will come in handy on this book.
KILL OR BE KILLED
Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser team-up once again for Kill of Be Killed, an ongoing series described as a soap opera about murder. “Our take on the vigilante concept. It came to me in this weird burst of energy a couple of months ago.” said Brubaker “It is about a guy who is basically compelled to murder bad people and the things that happen to him and his friends ... because of what he's forced to do.”
Kill or Be Killed is described as being Breaking Bad meets Deathwish, but also influenced by 1970s Spider-Man comics and taps into Brubaker’s anger. Brubaker also said that he missed the serialized nature of comics, and Phillips is capable of producing monthly comics so it seemed like a natural fit. He also noted that Breitweiser is now a full-fledged member of their team after replacing Dave Stewart when it came time to work on The Fade Out, and that the team would be making comics together for the rest of their lives.
There's more to learn about Kill or Be Killed over at USA Today.
THE BLACK MONDAY MURDERS
Jonathan Hickman’s new book is The Black Monday Murders. The title refers to October 19, 1987, when Wall Street crashed, setting off a global financial collapse. That was Black Monday. What followed, Hickman points out, was the collapse of the Soviet Union, the spread of globalization, the death of the nation state, all leading to an environment ripe for financial corruption. "I have always wanted to do a book about magic,” he explains, “and I haven't really had the theme. If you like stories about magic, this book will seem very familiar to you. These are stories that you've heard before." The Black Monday Murders is a book about schools of magic, but instead of schools of magic, it's financial institutions, and instead of magic, it's about wealth. "You won't totally get it until the book is out there,” warns Hickman, “but it's probably the best thing I've done in years."
Tomm Coker is on art, with Michael Garland on colors and Rus Wooton on letters. "I take a lot of care in the design of the books,” says Hickman, “This represents probably the first book that I've done where I feel like it's a good manifestation of how a comic should be done. The books that I want to do: Designed to the hilt, bigger than a regular comic."
IGN has more on The Black Monday Murders.
SEVEN TO ETERNITY
Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña reunite, along with Matt Hollingsworth and Rus Wooton for Seven To Eternity, a fantasy series about a dying knight of a disgraced family who must choose between saving his world from The God of Whispers who controls everything through gossip, or accepting his foe’s offer for help. Moebius' name came up several times in terms of influence, both in the style of fantasy and as a touchstone for Opeña art, which was described as “a level up” for the artist.
Brian Azzarello has a book called Moonshine with Eduardo Risso, which featured mobsters, werewolves, and hillbillies during Prohibition. A gangster is sent to Appalachia to find a moonshiner and get his hands on the recipe, but the guy in question is an alcoholic who has blackouts. The book will be out in October of this year.
There's more to learn about Moonshine over on ComicBookResources.
The acclaimed Batgirl of Burnside creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr head to Image for Motor Crush this December, about the world of illegal motorcycle brawls. The series follows Domino Swift, who by day races in a legitimate motorcycle league, and by night competes in gladiatorial bike-based combat in order to get her hands on a machine narcotic called “Crush.”
ISOLA: ISLAND OF THE DEAD
Fletcher will also be working with his Gotham Academy collaborator Karl Kerschl on Isola, a fantasy comic starring Rook, who is the captain of The Queen’s Guard. Queen Olwun was transformed into a tiger by her evil brother, who was subsequently killed by Rook. Unable to turn Olwun book, the pair must venture into the land of the dead to find his spirt, transform her back, and save the kingdom.
According to the creators the series is about two women trying to relate to each other, and according Fletcher "our stock in trade". The series launches in Spring 2017, but will be previewed in another of Fletcher’s books before then.
Creators For Creators
The event ended with the announcement of the Creators For Creators grant which offers funding and advice from industry professionals, as well as legal advice that many fledgling creators often don’t have access to. The grant is not limited to Image Comics, but recipients will be offered publishing deal from both Image Comics and Iron Circus. Submissions open May 1st and more information can be found at CreatorsForCreators.org.