ECCC 2018: Black Crown At IDW With Shelly Bond, Tini Howard, Chris Sebela, Martin Simmonds, Nick Robles, Tamra Bonvillain

by Hannah Means Shannon

At the Black Crown: The Ruling Class panel at Emerald City Comic Con 2018, Shelly Bond, Tini Howard, Chris Sebela, Martin Simmonds, Tamra Bonvillain, and Nick Robles took the stage.

Bond said that the original announcement happened about a year ago for Black Crown, and she’s been “blown away” by fan and retailer reactions, as well as the team efforts to “revitalize comics”.

Bond teased that Sebela would be announcing a new book during the panel.

Starting with Assassinistas, Howard said that she likes to “make up words”, hence the title. It’s a story about an assassin who comes out of retirement. She and her son take a “work study” semester off to earn some dosh to pay his college fees. The third issue will be arriving soon, next week. Drawn by Gilbert Hernandez, the series is a testament to Shelly Bond’s ability to get to legendary creators to do monthly books, Howard said.

It’s an “action comedy”, Howard said, and injecting “gut punch realness” with humor and realism is part of her thing. She was also tired about the fact that heroines over 25 were not represented in comics, which is corrected in Assassinistas. The book is presented in two time periods with different color schemes from colorist Rob Davis.

Asked why she names the Iguana “Lazy Susan”, Howard said that there’s a sense in that what she presents neatly is a fraction of what Howard has been envisioning. Bond then asks Howard to expand, since she knows there’s more behind the scenes. Lazy Susan is a result of that, since the details emerged from the past of a character who purchased an Iguana after giving up assassin work, an Iguana who now lives in her handbag. Casey Gilly actually named the lizard after being texted by Howard and asked what she would name a 20 year old Iguana.

Tamra Bonvillain commented on working with Tess Fowler on Kid Lobotomy covers, and looking at the cover to #5, she commented that they “click” as creators. Bond said that when asking Fowler about color notes, Fowler always said “she gets me” and didn’t have notes for Bonvillain. Asked about her favorite part of coloring, Bonvillain said that “getting to the rendering” is a big part of it. Figuring out the flat colors, the overall palette, and the direction you’re going is one thing, but the actual rendering is rewarding.

Bond said that what talented colorists do so well is heighten the colors to create depth in foreground, midground, and background.

Talking about Kid Lobotomy, Bond said that issue #6 will wrap up the first arc, and comes out next month. That’ll be followed by a trade collection, Kid Lobotomy: A Lad Insane.

Robles got a cover on Kid Lobotomy #6 by posting fan art originally, and Robles said he was looking for something “new and different”. Following Tess Fowler’s work, who’s a friend of his, made him feel that he had to draw the character.

Bond said that Black Crown Quarterly allows Phillip Bond to shine, becoming about 45% of the operation. The Quarterly is full of what they love about comics, and about British magazines of the 80’s and 90’s. Simmons said that covers on that are a challenge, fitting in characters and concepts on the cover for #2 in a wraparound. It’s probably one of the favorite covers that he’s done, he said. The poster included in #2 as a center spread is also in honor of magazine tradition. The Quarterlies are there to show previews, but also to let people know about the creators behind the titles.

Bond said that every one of the Black Crown books is put together with the “community in mind” in the imprint.

Howard said that these books “scratch that itch” for a desire for the tactile, for the same reason that fans buy vinyl records even if they have Spotify. Bond agreed that they are concerned about every aspect of design of these comics, from the early concepts through to the color coding. They are very proud of the outcome.

Black Crown is about creator-owned titles with a very particular point of view, Bond said, but they all unite in geography of a secret street called Cannon Street.

Martin Simmonds of Punks Not Dead said he’d recently lost and re-found his passport, which was a relief on his trans-continental journey to the show. The idea for the book came from the fact that Sid Viscious’s ashes actually got scattered at Heathrow airport accidentally by his mother, which leads to the premise that Sid is trapped at the airport as a spirit. It’s a “buddy story” about a boy who never knew his father and an older boy, really, a 21 year old singer, who becomes his father figure.

One of the reason that there are not apostrophes in the title of this book is that it’s about more than one punk, Bond said. Dorothy runs a department in the UK, that’s like a British X-Files, and she has a musical history as well as being very old, Simmonds said.

Bond said that Simmonds has “reinvented” the “wide-screen double-page spread” in Punks Not Dead, and you’ll see that in issue #2.

The big announcement at the Black Crown Panel features Chris Sebela, who shared a project called House Amok, by himself and Shawn McManus, colored by Lee Loughridge, and lettered by Aditya Bidikar. It’s based on the psychological concept of “shared madness” where two people, either siblings or in a relationship, where one person lures the other into a delusion.

The star of the book is Dylan, one of two twin sisters, who live with a brother and parents in “middle of nowhere Oregon”. They all begin to buy into massive conspiracies, and get in a converted schoolbus and drive across America to bring down a “faceless conspiracy”. Dylan has to make important decisions, despite her young age. It’s a horror story where the biggest enemry is the family. Dylan has to go along with her family or be left alone in the world. It’s taken to a weird extreme, though based on family dynamics.

Bond praised McManus’ “style unlike any other”, which renders both monsters and children well.

The title of the comic was originally from a David Bowie B-side that was way too long to be a comic book title, but Bond was won over by the comic, not the ungainly title.

Bond described the book as a “crazy maiming and murder spree” about a family “caught up in something strange”.

Bond loves the “dysfunctional irreverence” of the title that will launch in Summer 2018.

Tini Howard will also be doing another project with Black Crown, a second project, which will be drawn by Nick Robles. Euthanauts will be a strange story with Sandman and Six Feet Under aspects. It’s about people who can travel to the afterlife by dying in a certain way. The afterlife is a “void” and “frontier” and there are ways to explore it. But what’s out there? Can our consciousnesses even interact with it? We follow Thalia, a receptionist at a funeral home, who represents how most of us feel about death: Spooked, fascinated, but not close to it, Howard said.

Thalia meets Mercy, a brilliant scientist who is very ill, and their meeting sparks the story. Their story will be “Oregon Trail” and a little “Donner party”, Howard said. It’s a book about that “Major Tom feeling” of wanting to explore, but not being sure how to “get that message back” if you “go too far”. We also meet a character called Indy, who comes from a “queer” and “witchy” series.

Robles had never done “floating panels” before, but now he’s using them a lot on the series, with large spreads, getting to bring in beautiful characters from many backgrounds, according to Robles. He tried to bring “realness” even to incidental characters.

Bond also called out the upcoming paperback edition of Femme Magnifique, and teased that Year Two of Black Crown will be a lot about the shared geography of the universe.

There will be a “lot more to come”, Bond concluded.