The Black Crown Panel At San Diego Comic Con promised to be one of big announcements, with the panel descriptions alone revealing that some new creators are coming to play in the shared conceptual space of a slightly sinister pub and its neighborhood.
Editor Shelly Bond, writer Tini Howard, artist Gilbert Hernandez, artist Tess Fowler, and Chief Creative Officer at IDW, Chris Ryall took part in the panel.
Bond introduced herself as “the last original member of DC Comics Vertigo imprint” and the last to leave the imprint. She also said that she’s back in comics due to Chris Ryall’s long e-mail after she left Vertigo. She said, “There’s no better place I want to be in comics right now than at IDW”.
Tini Howard introduced her work in Power Rangers at Boom, The Skeptics at Black Mask, the newly announced Hack/Slash at Image, and more.
Gilbert Hernandez said he’s the “oldest person at the con”, to laughter, and explained that he was approached by Bond for this new project, and wondered if he was too old for the project. But he attempted drawing a “roller disco”, and felt he had met the challenge. He’s enjoying doing new and unusual things in what’s kind of a “rebirth” for him.
Tess Fowler said she’s known from Twitter, where she is 24/7, and discussed her upcoming Kid Lobotomy with Peter Milligan.
Chris Ryall said he’s very excited to be working with Bond and Hernandez, someone he held in such high esteem that he assumed he wouldn’t be interested in working together. He likes this combination of including newer creators with major established creators to result in “hard core veterans and punk neophytes”, according to Bond.
Bond said she loves taking people from different walks of life and pairing them up to see what happens on comics projects. They end up inspiring each other in ways that you could never have predicted.
Bond talked about the logo design by Philip Bond for Black Crown. When she came up with the name for the new imprint, she told him she wanted a black crown and a logo that’s so “cool” and with such “swagger” that Andy Warhol would “crawl his way out of his grave to appropriate it”.
Bond also explained that Black Crown is a pub that’s the “anchor” on a peculiar street. She asked the audience to think of the cool street that they wanted to visit as a young person for music and comics. Places with no franchises. Creators can “comingle and corrupt” on the real estate of Black Crown’s street, Bond said.
Fowler talked about how mind-blowing it is for her to work with Bond, both the hardest and the greatest thing she’s done in her life. She gushed about Bond and the other creators coming together for this line.
Bond said that two big influences on her were always the British publication Deadline Magazine and Love and Rockets. She found Love and Rockets as a film student, and said she’s here doing this because of Hernandez. And she’s always wanted there to be a connection between music and comics, and you’ll see that “in spades” in Black Crown books.
Fowler described Milligan’s way of writing as a “head trip” and walked the audience through Kid Lobotomy’s family. Kid used to be a rock star, is obsessed with Franz Kafka, and lives in a hotel that not only has “ghosts” but is haunted by the haunted people who have lived there creating “echoes” in the place. She hopes the book will be both “eye candy” and affecting for readers.
Howard talked about upcoming book Assassinistas, and explained that her female characters will be doing things they don’t usually do in comics: age. It’s a “family story” in a twisted way, about things you deal with in your family, like having parents who don’t feel like adults, and changes that happen generationally. But on top of that kidnappings and assassinations. There are two time periods—the “badass assassins of the past” and the current couple of main characters involved in a love story between Dominic and Taylor.
Hernandez said that a lot stuff comes up in the script that he has to give thought to, new things to draw and concepts to address. Looking at college life is interesting because Hernandez never went to college and he has had to research to find out “what people do” in order to get details right. He feels like a “youngster again having to pay attention”.
Bond praised Tini Howard saying, “She’s the next tremendous name in comics”. Howard’s pitch was as good as Bill Willingham’s on Fables, Bond said. And “letting these two people loose on the comic book page” is a trip, referring to Howard and Hernandez.
Milligan starred in a video sent for the panel, describing Black Crown as an interesting mix of poetic phrases, tuning in from “The Suites”, the hotel in Kid Lobotomy, with footage of a hotel. Milligan will be appearing at New York Comic Con with Tess Fowler for the launch of Kid Lobotomy, Bond said.
There was a discussion of Kid’s Union Jack underwear, and whether any self-respecting person would actually wear them, with Bond in favor and Fowler opposed, but “You do not say no to Shelly Bond”, she said.
Colors on the covers of series are by Tamra Bonvillain, who apparently plays Overwatch insanely well, eats salsa, colors comics and that’s about it. Interior colors are by Lee Loughridge.
Bond said that a lot of Black Crown is about “enjoying comics for their purpose”. They are going to “let you escape for a while”, visiting a cool place and seeing cool people.
In some comics panels and covers, Kid Lobotomy is carrying a Ray Gun (with an extremely long name), and Bond “loves a good Ray Gun”, which a big prop in the book. Whether or not the gun works is yet to be revealed.
Bond explained that on each of the books, there’s one A cover, then a Retailer Incentive Cover that’s limited edition and drawn by a “superstar talent”, in the case of Kid Lobotomy it’s Frank Quitely.
There are posters in the works for Kid Lobotomy, Bond said.
The Retailer Incentive cover for issue #2 is by Eric Canete, and it’s “mesmerizing”, Bond commented.
Bond wants to “experiment” further with upcoming variant covers for Black Crown but she feels in order to do so, they have to be very variant in nature, justifying their existence.
Lastly, Bond introduced the audience to Punks Not Dead, by artist Martin Simmonds, and she’s been following his work for some time. She was scrolling on Instagram and found another image by Simmonds that arrested her attention, she said, like a combination of Bill Sienkiewicz, Johnny Rotten, and design elements.
The book is written by David Barnett, who Bond met at Thought Bubble last year. He pitched her a book “about the spirit of Sid Vicious” and after seeing a “one-sheet”, she felt it symbolized what Black Crown is about. The kid in the story is haunted by the spirit of Vicious and is also taught what punk really is.
Asked if “team Allred” will be joining Black Crown, Bond said that Mike Allred, one of her oldest and dearest friends, has indeed reserved Real Estate, the record shop on the street. And she also said Gerard Way was a little pissed off about that.
For more information on all of these titles, check out the fully loaded art announcement just published on Comicon.com, right here.