NYCC ’17: Positivity Abounds At Boom! Studios: Discover Yours Panel

by James Ferguson

Filip Sablik, Present of Publishing and Marketing, opened the BOOM! Studios: Discover Yours panel with an inspiring and uplifting speech. He asked why we were all here. It is to discover something new. He shared a story of his first exposure to comics and explained that BOOM! Studios has a comic for everyone through one of its four imprints. Sablik went on to introduced the panelists including Mech Cadet Yu writer Greg Pak, SLAM! writer Pamela Ribon, Godshaper and Power of the Dark Crystal writer Si Spurrier, War for the Planet of the Apes writer David F. Walker, Boliver writer / artist Sean Rubin, Rugrats artist Lisa DuBois, and writer Saladin Ahmed.

Of all the folks on the panel, Ahmed was the only one without a Boom! Studios title. This was quickly fixed as he announced his first creator owned comic, Abbott will be coming from the publisher. Sami Kivela will be drawing the book, set in 1972. It follows Elena Abbott, the only black reporter in a tabloid paper called The Detroit Daily. She lost her husband ten years ago in a mysterious murder in which shadow creatures consumed him right in front of her. Years later, bodies are turning up under similar circumstances and she’s investigating.

The other panelists went on to introduce their books, some of which have already been released. Pak described Mech Cadet Yu as “Harry Potter school in a Pacific Rim universe” which is a fitting explanation for the title. He also said that it’s his favorite baby, but he’s not supposed to say that. The first trade paperback will be exclusive to comic shops until May. The comic will also be featured on the cover of the next issue of Previews.

Spurrier, although hungover and jetlagged said that Godshaper was the best thing he’s ever done.

While describing War for the Planet of the Apes, which takes place between the two most recent films, a fan asked if it had anything to do with the original 1960s series of films. This worked as a great segway for another announcement. Walker will be writing a new series called Planet of the Apes: Ursus, illustrated by Christopher Mooneyham. It follows everyone’s favorite megalomaniac gorilla leader, General Ursus. Walker joked that he actually wrote this when he was five years old. The series starts at the beginning of the first film and finishes at the end of the second. It answers questions like why Landon got a lobotomy and why Ursus hates humans so much. It’s told partially in flashback to Ursus’ time as a young gorilla.

Boom! Studios is working to collect the original Planet of the Apes comics that were published in Marvel magazines years ago. In doing this, the publisher uncovered an unused cover from the original series by Bob Larken featuring Ursus. It will now be used as an incentive cover for the first issue seen on the right hand side in the picture above.

Rubin said his graphic novel Bolivar is about a dinosaur who lives in Manhattan because he doesn’t want anyone to notice him. It’s a mix between a newspaper style comic strip and a picture book and works like a transitional book for middle grade readers. It took him about five years to make.

DuBois said she has an easy time describing Rugrats because it’s so well known, however she did meet someone on the plane ride over that didn’t know what it was. The first arc of the series, written by Box Brown, kicks off with the kids realizing there’s a mysterious object in the room that’s watching them. “It’s pretty baller” says DuBois. The babies interact with technology we didn’t get to see in the show.

Sablik asked the panel what the comic was that inspired them to create them.

Walker said it was the old Marvel Planet of the Apes comics. They were his favorite comics and movies growing up. The comics were different than the films because they were based on the original screenplays. He realized there was more story to be told and that really excited him, which led to him writing his own.

Ahmed explained that he learned to read from comic books. They inspired the first thing he ever wrote, called “The Human Dog and Saver Mouse.” It was a saver mouse because he saved people. This led to him eventually writing poetry, prose, and essays.

Comics felt inaccessible to DuBois growing up. She had three older brothers and the comics were theirs. Her big dream was to get into animation and work for Nickelodeon. Comics appealed to her because she realized she could do it while living in Michigan. Sablik chimed in to point out that Boom! Studios makes childhood dreams come true.

Batman vs. Judge Dredd inspired Spurrier, who originally wanted to be an artist. He figured he had to write some stuff to draw so that’s how he got started. Later, he sent ideas into 2000 AD for short stories and just kept going. Somewhere along the line he forgot about the art side.

This led to another announcement. Spurrier’s series Godshaper was just wrapped up so the big question is always “What’s next?” The answer to that is Coda, which Spurrier describes as his attempt to do a Tolkien-esque high fantasy. He said his problem with the genre is that it often takes itself too seriously and it’s all been done before. An idea hit him out of nowhere that he feels makes high fantasy interesting again. He said it’s high fantasy meets…something. He won’t say yet. The series is set for release in 2018, but no other details have been provided, not even an artist.

Sablik also pointed out that Boom! Studios would be offering an exclusive NYCC cover of Rugrats #1 featuring Reptar, available at the booth. This is before it’s officially released in stores. Fans attending the panel also received a copy of the regular cover.

The panel was asked about the collaborative process, specifically at Boom! Studios as editors often work to match up writers and artists. Walked said that he wrote the first script for Ursus before an artist was attached so he was worried about how some things would be handled. This went away when he learned Mooneyham would be drawing it. He added that writers create something in a specific language which is then translated into another by the artist. They always hope that translation makes it better.

Ribon shared her excitement at seeing the artwork come back prior to lettering. “It’s the whole story without my stupid words!” She did go back and forth with the artist on SLAM! a bit in an effort to maintain authenticity about roller derby. Her concern was that actual roller derby enthusiasts would pick up the book and immediately throw it away if they weren’t true to the sport.

Sablik asked what the most surprising thing the panelists found about the comic book medium. Ribon came from a film and TV writing background where all you hear is “No”. All she got from BOOM! was “Yes!” In comics and animation, people can go back to a time when they were little kids. “It’s so wonderful to speak to everyone’s inner child.”

Sablik closed the panel speaking about the WWE comics. There will be a WWE: Royal Rumble special released in January where wrestler AJ Styles will be writing his own origin story. Sablik then made one final announcement, this time with a special video introduction by wrestler Becky Lynch. The true history of the women’s revolution at WWE will be told in WWE #14 releasing in February.