Announcements At Image Expo 2018: More Than 20 New Books Take The Stage

by Hannah Means Shannon

During the announcement section of Image Expo, we learned:

That Image will publish all of the Millarworld Netflix Comics, starting with The Magic Order.

Todd McFarlane, addressing Spawn and Witchblade, who have not been in a single title together in two decades, said we’re looking at a medieval-set story with Arthurian themes. “Medieval Spawn and Witchblade” will have two convention sketch covers included in an AR experience app for the comic with plenty of interactive features, including masks you can put on your photos with added effects. McFarlane commented on the augmented reality aspects of the comic, he cited his “hipster” kids at home as being a prime audience for this. This will be a four issue series.

McFarlane also has a new book coming out called Misery, someone from the Spawn mythos who’s a female teenager. She’s about “turning emotional pain back upon others”, and as she’s being hunted, she trying to figure out her powers. There’s interest in Hollywood already in this property, he said.

Spawn is going to hit the longest running independent comic with issue #300, he said, and and there’s going to be an 8 issue Sam & Twitch miniseries.

Rob Liefeld’S Bloodstrike is also on the way, and will feature story, art, and cover by Michel Fiffe.

Next up, Robert Kirkman took the stage as an Image partner and as the writer of many books and upcoming books like Oblivion Song.

A trailer for for the latter was shown to the audience. Kirkman discussed the premise of the book, about a determined scientist obsessed with a group of people trapped in a parallel dimension. It’s a “complicated” and “dense” science fiction series, set for “many, many” issues with gradual revelations. People have been dealing with this loss of a group of people for over a decade, and lands on March 7th, 2018.

Kirkman addressed retailers, encouraging them to try new books, and recognizing the difficulties in that. As a creator, he’s also dedicated to trying new things, despite the successes of The Walking Dead (he said ironically, laughing). That success has afforded him the ability to get behind new books and help retailers. Creating posters, a trailer, and a galley edition for retailers was part of that. That was a big risk, releasing a galley, but he felt like it was his risk to take. The “community” have gotten him where he is, and made the comic a success for TWD long before the TV show. He feels it’s his responsibility to take risks now. The marketing push has resulted on big numbers for Oblivion Song #1 but they “aren’t done” and will continue to support the book throughout its publication. He promises every issue will ship on time. He had no other new books to announce,  but maybe “next time”.

Rick Remender took the stage next. Death or Glory will be arriving in May 2018. He spoke of the difficulty but the rewards of creator owned comics and called it a “long road”. Things started to work for him, and he feels very lucky to make creator-owned comics full time. Even working on TV adaptations is “everything he ever wanted”. But the other side of that is working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day at a computer writing. As he “melts as a human” and becomes a troglodite, he fantasizes about escape. He started fantasizing about getting an RV and driving around the country. Then he wanted a semi truck to do it. His wife shut him down, though.

He still romanticized the idea of the American highway and that was the “germ” of the idea of his new book, Death or Glory. Bengal will be the artist on the book. He’s an artist who loves drawing cars. Glory is a character born in a “convoy” to a father who had “unplugged from the system”. She fights for a life “free” from the trappings of the life we are encircled by. She’s been raised away from these problems and wants to preserve that. The first issue will be 40 pages.

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Bingo Love’s writer Tee Franklin and artist Maria Nguyen were featured next. Juke Joint will be coming up from the duo addressing domestic violence, abuse, and rapists, so this book will ruffle some feathers. It’s a time period horror set in a swamp. There will be death and hard themes. Franklin described herself as a domestic violence survivor, and said creating the book has been cathartic. If you had an opportunity to get away with murder against your assaulters, would you do it? That’s the question posed by the book. It will be released in Fall 2018, coinciding with domestic violence awareness month, with variant covers and benefit the Joyful Heart foundation. Nguyen described the central character as a “voodoo priestess” who enabled her to draw a lot of “gore”.

Sam Humphries and Jen Bartel joined the stage to talk about new book Blackbird, that’s been in the works for a year, Humphries said. When the two decided to work together, they came up with a list of things Bartel wanted to draw. She hasn’t always had the opportunity to make a list like that, especially as she was transitioning from covers to interior art work. This book, Blackbird is “Harry Potter meets Riverdale”, Humphries said. Nina discovers a hidden magical world in LA when her sister is kidnapped by mystical beasts. Bartel wanted to nail the visuals of LA, she said, and went on locations with Humphries. She wanted to capture the “smog” soft lighting, particularly, she laughed. She wants to bring in aesthetics not often seen in comics. Nina believes magic is real, even if others don’t. The story is about the day that magic comes to her. The book will release in time for Halloween in October 2018.

Anthony del Col of Kill Shakespeare, and Jeff McComsey of Mother Russia were up next. Del Col described being at Image Expo as a “dream come true”. Their new title will be Son of Hitler based on a legend or rumor that Hitler fathered a child in France. This is the story of who that person became. It’s set in the 40’s as a young man learns who his father really is. He’s asked by British intelligence to be a Trojan horse and help kill Hitler. Pierre, however, is a very violent and antisocial young man and it seems clearer to him why he has such troubles once he knows about his parentage. The story is a mash up of genres set in WWII, espionage, blackmail, experimentation of the medical variety, and the mystery of what happened in the bunker with the demise of Hitler. Modern history affected the third act for them, though, making it a bigger story. This is an OGN from Image, a one-time 200 page book, sepia colored with different time frames, and McComsey used a “pencil and paint” technique”. The tagline is “some were born to make history and others have to take matters into their own hands”. It will be released in May 2018.

Rob Guillory, the artist on Chew, was up next. He’s releasing Farmhand, which centers on a Southern farmer whose world it turned upside down by a mystical vision that turns out to be a download of technological information. He builds a “seed” that can grow organ transplants, and becomes incredibly wealthy. But something else is growing in the soil of his farm, and soon it will “bloom” and face its wrath. It’s a “dark comedy”, darker than Chew, and Guillory is doing art and writing. Taylor Wells will do colors. Tony Chamberlain will do logos and letters. He’s planning it as 22 issues, a finite story. It will debut in July 2018, by which time he will have completed the first arc.

Dean Haspiel was called up at his first Image Expo. He’ll be releasing a collection of his webcomic on Line Webtoon, The Red Hook, the story of a superhero forced to be a hero against his will. A sentient Brooklyn has seceded from New York and the USA to start her own republic. It spawns superheroes and many ideas. Stylistically, it’s his love letter to Silver Age comics, cinema, and Brooklyn. He addresses artists who use their art to barter and trade for services in a climate where cities are pushing them out. There’s a wider New Brooklyn universe on Line Webtoons, including many other characters, including his current comic War Cry. It will be a 168 page graphic novel released in June 2018.

Farel Dalrymple was up next, talking about Proxima Centauri, which features a character he created in The Wrenchies. He mixed up art styles to create a “psychedelic science fantasy” and wanted it to have a dream-like quality. The main character is a space-wizard in a science fiction setting, he said, and there’s a ghost-girl who is the object of his affections. It’s going to be 6 issues in the first arc. It will start on June 17th, 2018. It’s a solo project in every way for Dalrymple.

Landry Walker and Justin Greenwood took to the stage to talk about The Last Siege. It’s a basically a “spaghetti western” with Kurosawa and “medieval war story” elements. It’s a survival story with themes of loyalty and betrayal. It’s both bleak and ultraviolent, they said. They’ve been working on it for two years now, with 4 issues ready to go, launching in June 2018. Walker started working on this book after reading the Anglo Saxon Chronicles about the Normal invasion, where the Normans were described as creating castles and filling them with “demons”. It’s an underdog story, Greenwood added, that ends up in “all out war”. This will be an ongoing series, starting with 6 issues.

The audience was then shown a trailer for Leviathan, by John Layman, Nick Pitarra, and Mike Garland. It’s a “big fun monster book”, plenty of Final Destination and Godzilla, they said. He expects to be sued by Geof Darrow for his aspirations on the series, Pitarra said. There will be stomping of Millenials by monster, also. The story is about Millenials who conjure up death, but it ends up being the Leviathan from the Bible. They are looking to release in August 2018 and may be an ongoing if the series goes well.

Chris Sebela took the stage to talk about new book to talk about Crowded with Ted Brandt. Triona Farrell is coloring it. It’s about “ten minutes in the future” when there are “Kickstarters for assassinations” that have started with government officials, and now has hit street level. The phenomenon is so big that cops can’t control it. Main character Charlie wakes up and finds there’s a huge campaign against her, and she has no idea why. She’s pursued by everyone, and she finds a bodyguard, Vita, to hire. They journey together to find out who opened the campaign and why. It’s a roadtrip book that turned out to be more relevant than they expected, though it’s a funny book. It will be ongoing, launching this summer.

Josh Hixson also joined Sebela to talk about another book called Shanghai Red, and is set in the 1800’s in Portland, Oregon, which was the Shanghaiing capital of the world, where people were picked up and forced to work on ships. A female character is picked up and forced to work on the boat for two years, but takes control of the ship and comes back to Portland to murder everyone who put her on the boat. It’s a violent story, but it’s also an emotional one. This is Josh’s first book, which he drew and colored, and they’ve been working on it since 2014. It’ll be out in June 2018.

Jody LeHeup and Nathan Fox were up next. The Weather Man is a sci-fi book where people live on Mars where humans have been wiped out on earth by the worst terrorist attack in human history. The people of Mars are desperate for someone to blame. Our main character is the Mars weather man but he becomes the most wanted man in the solar system when he’s accused of being responsible for the attack. He can’t remember if this is true. On the run during a manhunt, he sets off on a journey for the truth, and has to prevent a second attack. The story is about trauma, damage we do in search of justice, and will be colored by Dave Stewart. There will be three arcs, released over 3 years, with the first issue dropping in June 2018.

Mirka Andolfo arrived via Italy on her first creator owned project in the USA with he help of a translator. So far her books haven’t appeared in English. But now Unnatural will be released. Her main character is a “pig girl” who lives in an anthropomorphic world with dinosaurs, but no humans. She lives with her best friend, a mouse girl. The government controls the lives of its citizens, including relationships only between same races and opposite sexes. There’s a breeding program that selects citizens who are single using an app. People in illegal relationships are considered enemies of the species. Sometimes people get into “fake” marriages with friends to avoid persecution. Our main character starts to have strange dreams approaching her birthday and she’s very worried about her future. Issue #1 will be published in July 2018. It will be 12 issues.

Gerry Duggan and John McCrea arrived to talk about a story set in Boston featuring a hit man who descends from one of the original gangs of New York. This is a story about a guy coming out of retirement for a just cause, to raise money for medical bills. Dead Rabbit will be colored by Mike Spicer. It’s an action, crime, adventure book that should be released in Summer 2018. It’s bloody and funny, Duggan said.

Next up were Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss, the team from 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank. Rosenberg and Boss met working in a comic store a few years ago and they are both shaped by comics, Rosenberg said. They were inspired to be at Image Expo, they said, and that’s also what the new book is about: how the things you are passionate about shape and define you. It’s set in a world populated by child gangs, features a 15 year old girl named Sid, and her leaving her gang to find a better life, Boss said. It’s a dark book, Rosenberg commented, but it’s a book about passionate people. The duo have been talking about making this book for a long time, wanting to create a big world and big story that challenges them both. It’s a book that has some similarities to 4 Kids, but it’s a much bigger, less insular book this time, Boss said. This is their attempt to create a book that might have inspired their younger selves, Rosenberg said. It arrives in November, and is titled: What’s The Further Place From Here?

Annie Woo will be writing and illustrating a series called Dead Guy Fan Club. A fan group reunites because their hero has died mysteriously and they feel that one of their old members might have done it. It’s a black comedy, she said. It has pulp tropes, a self-destructive female detective, a femme fatale, a loose cannon, and more. It discusses how weird it is to grow up with heroes who are living and breathing, and trying to figure out their own lives. She feels she can be “full on weird with this” because she’s doing all the creative duties. It releases in Fall 2018 and told over 3 arcs.

JH Williams III and Hayden Blackman arrived last to talk about their new book Echolands. They’ve been working on the project for years, even before their collaboration on Batwoman. It’s a mythic mash-up with robots, cowboys, vampires, pirates, the works. It’s set in a world with a hidden history. It’s a very character-driven story, Blackman said, following Hope, a girl who is a thief who steals something from a despotic wizard. On the run with fellow thieves from the wizard, and meanwhile explores this world and the hidden mysteries in it. Williams III said that he created the character Hope when he was a kid, and that she’s a character with a messed up past who will go on a journey that makes her even more compelling. She’s part of a thieves guild set in San Francisco and teams up with other interesting characters on this journey. It’s a creative risk for them, but a labor of love, Blackman said. In terms of format, they’ll be taking risks, figuring out layouts that convey this “roller coaster ride” of a story. There will be more announcements in the coming months about Echolands, and release date will be forthcoming “on the horizon”.

JH Williams III also spoke about the Where We Live anthology to benefit victims of the Las Vegas shooting. It comes out in May with the work of over 200 artists. It will be a book that raises money, but also talks about wide-ranging issues that we are all facing, he said.