Stephenson began by outlining some of Image's fall releases. This included RocketGirl by Amanda Conner and Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios's Pretty Deadly, a supernaturally-charged western story. I had seen the cover art for Pretty Deadly before and love the look and concept, but I wished it would have been possible to have Conner, DeConnick, and/or Rios present at the Expo to answer more questions about their upcoming work.
Robert Kirkman was first up with an exciting announcement for The Walking Dead's 10th anniversary; starting in October 9 with The Walking Dead #115, the series will switch gears to a biweekly release as they start “All-Out War,” a 12-issue story arc focused around four groups: the Survivors, the Saviors, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom as they finally duke it out for control of the little bit of civilization that still remains. As an up-to-date reader of The Walking Dead, I was pretty happy with this news and not just because this means we get more of The Walking Dead. The series has been toying with the conflicts of each of these groups for a while, and with great characters like Negan and Jesus taking point, it can only be awesome. To assist in getting the extra issues out on time, Stefano Gaudiano is going to take over the inking duties for the “All-Out War” arc from Charlie Adlard. This is the first time since Adlard took over the art from Tony Moore that another artist will be assisting with the art, but with Kirman's trust and Gaudiano's history, The Walking Dead is in good hands.
Next up was Ed Brubaker who announced he is working with artist Steven Epting on a series called Velvet. Described as James Bond set in a realistic Cold War scenario, Velvet is centered around Velvet Templeton, the personal assistant to one of the world's largest intelligence agencies, similar to Moneypenny from the James Bond franchise. Velvet is forced back into the field and on the run when trouble strikes. From all that was said, Brubaker is writing a strong female lead and for a change of pace one who is not in her twenties. Velvet is supposed to be in her early 40s when she becomes public enemy number one among spies. It sounds like Velvet is going to be seeped in the period and be authentic to the era centered around both the Cold War and, appropriately enough, the Women's Suffrage Movement. Brubaker has arleady shown his writing chops when it comes to espionage on Captain America and as a fan of both female leads and the spy genre, I will definitely be picking this up when it releases.
Not to be content with just comics news, Kurtis J. Wiebe's Peter Panzerfaust is being made into a live-action BBC series! Wiebe's World War II adaptation of the tale of Peter Pan has earned quite a bit of acclaim, and this isn't the first adaptation it's receiving. It also has a motion comic in the works with the voice talents of Elijah Wood, Summer Glau, and Ron Perlman. The short clip we were shown of the Panzerfaust motion comic makes me want to go and pick up the book right now, but I can't say I'm sold on the idea of motion comics and the way the art is animated for Panzerfaust left something to be desired. The universe, the characters, and the art itself looked fantastic and will hopefully help to give this comic and Wiebe's other body of work (*cough* Grim Leaper *cough*) more exposure.
Various creators also showed that they were happy to make Image the new home of even old, creator-owned works. J. Michael Straczynski announced he is bringing both Book of Lost Souls and Dream Police, former Marvel Icon works, to Image under the Joe's Comic line.
JMS and Brubaker weren't the only writers present with a history with Marvel. Matt Fraction came on to talk about his upcoming comic Sex Criminals (and grew a little embarrassed when he used the phrase “Making whoopie”) and a new property ODY-C. ODY-C will be drawn by artist Christian Ward and is described as a gender-swapped, psychedelic sci-fi version of the Homer's The Odyessy. Set to release in early 2014, ODY-C sounds like it will be a little adult, but Fraction's entire intention behind writing it is to give his daughter a strong figure she can look up to. As a fan of both retellings and gender-swapping I am pretty excited to get more of a look at this book and see exactly what dark and bizarre corners Fraction's mind will take us to.
Rick Remender got his start at Image Comics with the book Strange Girl 10 years ago. After a long time spent with Marvel Comics, Remender has finally come back to Image with not one but two new properties. The first is called Black Science. Intended to be a spiritual successor to Fear Agent, Black Science focuses around the Anarchist League of Science and is intended to have a pulp feeling to it. Matteo Scalera and Dean White will be handling the art on the book, and the cover we were shown looked incredible and indicative of the pulp science fiction magazine era. Remender's second book is Deadly Class with artist Wesley Craig. Deadly Class is in many ways Remender's tribute to his youth, growing up in punk rock culture in the '80s. Deadly Class is set in a high school for assassins and takes the metaphors of teenage life like being backstabbed by a friend and makes them reality. The intention is to focus on the school drama aspects with the violence serving as a means to increase the stakes. Because as we all know how important '80s music is, Remender will also be creating a Spotify list of music for each year of Deadly Class, which is intended to go from Freshman-Senior.
But, wait, there's one more Marvel writer coming to Image! Jason Aaron, best known to me as the writer of Thor: God of Thunder and Wolverine and the X-Men, has teamed up with another Jason, Jason Latour, to create Southern Bastards. Southern Bastards was described as “Redneck Untouchables vs. Boss Hog or Dukes of Hazard by the Coen Brothers.” It's a crime noir book set in the deep south and follows some of these redneck characters.
Though not able to make it in person, Mark Millar sent in a video where he thanked fans for their support of Jupiter's Legacy and announced his new book MPH with artist Duncan Fegredo. Sent to launch in January 2014, MPH is intended to be the first in an integrated universe of books. Not a lot of other information was presented but in true Fanboy Comics fashion, we'll have to wait and see what MPH is. Stephenson also announced an upcoming graphic novel, Noah, by Darren Aronofsky and Niko Henrichon set as a visual retelling of the biblical figure.
Finally, Ron Richards, the organizer for the Expo came on to unveil not only Image's new website, which includes links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ComiXology to download comics, but also Image's new digital comics platform. Unlike ComiXology, Image's platform is DRM free and allows customers to download a .pdf, epub, cbr, or cbz file. Two comics are already up and available exclusively on the platform. Mark Millar's Jupiter's Legacy #1 and the first issue of Scatterlands from Warren Ellis and Jason Howard has been compiled from its panel-by-panel format into the first complete issue.
Digital comics, a ton of new books from redneck noire to gender-swapped psychedelic Homer, and a host of established writers looking to have some creator-owned properties - there is a lot to look forward to coming from Image in the coming months.