Eric Stephenson opened by saying Image decided to forgo having an Image Expo this year right after having a gigantic move to Portland, which received applause.
February 1st, 2018 will be the next Image Expo, Stephenson said.
On this 25th anniversary year, he thanked the founder of Image. After explaining the difficulty involved in making creator-owned comics and praising creators, he also thanked fans and retailers.
Joe Casey was up first to make an announcement. Working with Ulises Farinas, he’ll be doing New Lieutenants of Metal. It takes inspiration from the early days of Image comics when the comics were “gloriously incomprehensible” in a good way and he hopes they can capture that spirit. It’ll be out later this year, he said.
Justin Jordan was up next to talk about his next project. The next thing will be a five issue mini-series, called Death of Love, about a guy who wonders why he’s unlucky in love. Seeing what’s going on behind the scenes, he’s going to encounter “Cupid with Chainsaws”. Artist will be Donal DeLay, with colors by Felipe Sobreiro and letters by Rachel Deering. It will be out in the fall as a five issue mini-series.
The Family Trade was announced, also for Justin Jordan, with co-writer Nikki Ryan. Ryan Facetimed in and artist Morgan Beem also joined the group. The pages will be hand-painted with watercolor, Beem said. It’s about a patchwork city floating in the ocean, she said. It is in a steampunk world that Jordan calls “ocean punk” and insists it’s a real thing (to laughter). It’s a floating city that is this world’s hub of commerce, and the family in charge are assasins, thieves, and grifters, Jordan said. The youngest member of this clan is a main character. It will be an ongoing series with self-contained arcs of 5 or 6 issues. Jordan said it’ll be swashbuckling, with plenty of action. And it’ll also be released this fall, with an announcement soon.
A duo was announced—Joe Keatinge and Wook Jin Clark. It’ll be the next Shutter-like series Keatinge will work on for Image. It’ll be set in a place where culinary arts are the focus of competitive events, called Flavor. Clark, who is new to Image Comics, is excited to be working in a monthly format and says he met Joe at ECCC six years ago, where they became friends. Last year, Keatinge was looking for someone to work on this book, and at the convention realized they should clearly do this book together. Owen Gieni will be the colorist, and Ariana Maher will be the letterer. A culinary consultant, Ali Bouzari, will also work on the series as a “food scientist”. This book will launch this year, and Keatinge wanted that to happen in the anniversary year. That will arrive in fall “in time for harvest”.
Leila del Duca and Alissa Sallah took the stage to talk about their new book. Sallah will be editor and colorist on the series, and is a member of Helioscope Studio in Portland. They will be doing Sleepless, a romance comic. It will be written by Sarah Vaughn of Alex + Ada. It is a historical romance fantasy with a diverse cast. It’s set in a world inspired by 15th century Morocco. Guards can never sleep because of the people they are sworn to protect. There is a degree of magic involved. Sallah is a graduate of the Columbus School of Art and Design who also makes her own comics. She also works for Oni Press.
Jordie Bellaire came up to announce their book, and it will be drawn by Vanessa Del Rey. It will be called Redlands, and is about corrupt police and also witches. The book is angry and dark, and it’s about racism and misogyny, she said, and all things that make Bellaire angry, she said. She loves satanic culture, she said, laughing. In this story, three witches come to town, and it’s a story that will make you “hate to love” the anti-heroes, she said. If you like horror and are upset about criminal justice systems, you’ll love it, she said. Bellaire is writing and coloring it. They are teaming up with Fonographiks.
Jody Leheup and Sebastian Girner, who have edited for Marvel Comics and Valiant Comics, as well as some Image comics, are heading into writing comics. They are making Shirtless Bear Fighter, the greatest comic about punching bears in the face ever made. It’s a fight comic, obviously. It’s about a guy who’s very angry and needs to change if he’s going to save his loved ones. The artist is Neil Vendrell, a newcomer, who has worked in Europe but not in the United States much yet. Mike Spicer will be on colors and Dave Lanphear on letters. They wanted the comic to look like a cartoon or comic that you might see in the background of an action film. The main character will be shirtless, as you may guess, and is the “angriest man in comics”. He only wears pants because they can’t have a “super naked wild dude on the cover”, even if he is all heart. It’s supposed to make you laugh, and it’s silly, with 22 pages of gritted teeth and flexing per issue, they laughed. When bears start attacking major cities, which they do, “Shirtless” will be needed. “The War on Bear-or” starts in June in five issues.
Jeff Lemire and Phil Hester, neither of which were present due to travel troubles, came to the panel by video for Family Tree. Circling back at the end, the video of Lemire explaining the series was played. It’s a horror and ongoing series, he said. About a mother, troubled teenage daughter and grandfather go on a road trip across the backroads of America, he said, and they are being chased by a cult, a tabloid journalist, and a strange sect of assassins called the Aborists. The mother is changing, and is trying to understand the changes that are happening to her. He’s very excited to be working with Hester, whose work on Swamp Thing is pertinent to this comic. It’ll be launching in November.
The Hard Place was announced with Doug Wagner, Nic Rummel, Charlie Kirchoff on colors, and Frank Cvetkovic will be the letterer. It’s about a mom and pop shop fallen on hard times, and a stick up of the family shop when our protagonist is conscripted into driving, as well as female hostage who turns out to be the daughter of a mob boss. It’s a five issue series coming out this summer.
Ales Kot took the stage to talk about something “weird” in the original sense of the world, something “fateful”. Being at ECCC, where he met Eric Stephenson, he is reminded that this is where he pitched his first comic. He announced Generation Gone, about a bunch of kids getting super powers suddenly as they are about to rob a bank. It’s like Unbreakable meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. With art by Andre Lima Araujo, and coming in July 2017, it will be colored by Chris O’Halloran, with Clayton Cowles on letters and Tom Muller on design.
The New World will be a dystopian book, written by Kot and drawn by Tradd Moore, also coming in 2017, with Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller. Sometimes you have to take a “gigantic leap” that will make the world go mad. It’s a world that’s essentially a combo of Mad Max and Romeo and Juliet. There’s no escaping from it, Kot said. Moore is doing some of the most beautiful pages of his career, Kot said, and they’ve been planning on it for 3 years. It’s about love, fate, and action, he said.
Next up was Matt Wagner, whose book at Image, Mage, was teased, to applause. 18 years later, he’ll be doing Mage: The Hero Denied. He doesn’t have an explanation for the long period that’s passed, but he said sometimes the timing just feels right or doesn’t. Archetypes run through the human experience, he said, but you need to personalize them, and make them your story, and that’s why he wanted to tell a King Arthur story like Mage. It has taken so long between two series that he’s had the time to “breed and raise” his own colorist, his son Brennan, Wagner said, to applause. Everything in the story will be a fantasy-allegory for his own life, Wagner said, and is trying to capture the courage and kindness that make heroes out of us every day, as well as the pitfalls in life that feel like ogres and dragons. The time will be set about 10 years after the original series. It feels like coming home, he said. It’ll be 15 issues, with the last issue being a double-sized extravaganza. It will start with an issue zero, premiering at SDCC, and #1 will land in August. Dave Lanphear will be on letters.
Declan Shalvey came up next, to talk about Savage Town. Working with Philip Barrett, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles. It’s loosely based on real events in Limerick, Ireland, during a time he was living there, and some criminals who are getting out of jail soon in real life. He doesn’t know if anyone will be able to read the book, since it’s “all in Irish slang”, but he hopes it’s an engrossing experience like something like Train Spotting. Shalvey praised Barret’s artwork as being Daniel Clowes-like. It’s an OGN, which is a good plan to allow Shalvey to work on other monthly books, too. It’s about a gangster called Jimmy Savage with a small criminal operation where other small gangs let him be, but things develop to create conflict. A cast of weird characters round out the story full of shenanigans, he said. It’s out in the autumn.
Klaus Janson came up to talk about Sacred Creatures, created with Pablo Raimondi, a book where the two have held nothing back, he said. The first issue is 66 pages, followed by 35 page issues, at six issues. It will arrive this summer with three covers for each issue. Raimoni will do one, Janson will do one, and then variants will be by Frank Miller, Bill Siekiewicz, and more. The story is about an ancient race of supernatural beings who have insinuated themselves into society. It’s a thriller with supernatural and horror overtones, and is Janson’s first creator-owned book. Raimondi is doing the contemporary timeline, and Janson is doing mythological sequences, sharing the art duties.
As a last announcement, the co-creator of Lumberjanes, Grace Ellis, came up with Shae Beagle to talk about Moonstruck. Beagle will be doing the art and is a senior at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Moonstruck was a school project they decided to turn into a longform series arriving in July 2017. Sequences in the book will also be illustrated by Kate Leth. It’s a fun, cute, and very gay book they said, with magical creatures and plenty of magic, including centaurs. A main character will be a werewolf who is falling in love. The story is about what happens when you get into a relationship too quickly and how that can affect you as a person.
In all, 14 comics were announced.