SDCC 2018: Image’s We Believe In Fantasy Panel With Charles Soule, Sam Humphries, Johnnie Christmas, Grace Kelly, Jeremy Haun & Megan Hutchison

by Hannah Means Shannon

The Image Comics Panel, “We Believe in Fantasy” at SDCC 2018 featured Charles Soule, Grace Ellis, Jeremy Haun, Sam Humphries, Johnnie Christmas and Megan Hutchinson.

 Humphries described his upcoming book with Jen Bartel, Blackbird, as a project where he asked Bartel what she’d like to draw, and “big magical cityscapes” were part of the menu. The descriptions made him want to write it. The character in Blackbird has “visions” and Humphries explained that when he was a child he had a series of seizures that he didn’t understand, which he described as “psychedelic” and “intense”. He was eventually diagnosed as being epileptic.

Humphries also said that when he lived in New Orleans, he feels he saw a ghost, also witnessed by a cat. It was “dope”.

Haun is both writer and artist along with Seth M. Peck on The Realm, which they co-plot and build together. The Road Warrior and Dungeons and Dragons were his favorite thing as a kid, so he always wanted to get back to those kinds of things in comics. He wanted the comic to have a Mad Max style world, but also have “crazy looking wizard people”. The villain of the book is like a “glam rock star” at the end of his career who becomes a “terrible dark sorcerer”.

Ellis is the creator of Moonstruck with Shae Beagle, and she said that the series started as a five page short story. The thought was to start with a normal coffee shop, then add a “twist” that there are mythical creatures, and then another twist was added further on. It was meant to be a “world anyone can walk into”. It’s a great environment for “body horror metaphors”. It’s a way of “talking about identity without being heavy-handed”. The second arc gets more into the “college town” setting and expands the world. It’ll get more into relationships and how beings relate to each other. Mermaids are also coming up.

Johnnie Christmas talked about Firebug, and said that he used to belong to the “mythology club” at school. In some ways it led to Firebug. The premise posed the question: what if there was a very old prophecy about the arrival of a volcano goddess who might destroy the world. She’s not sure what she wants to do, despite cults pulling her in both directions of destroying or saving the world. He thinks fire powers are cool, too. Christmas is also working on Alien 3 at Dark Horse, building on Bill Gibson’s original script. Asked if there’s more Firebug that could be written in the same universe, he said “absolutely” and that he has many ideas now for that.

Megan Hutchison is the artist on Rockstars, and also a musician and a Wiccan. Originally the story was going to be more music-focused, but Hutchinson asked to bring in occult elements since it’s her forte. Drawing music is “really hard” she said. It’s more “gestural” and “psychedelic”. Kelly Fitzpatrick, the colorist on the book, brings in her own spin, too. In Part 3, “everything goes to shit”, and they’ll be wrapping up the series for a break soon, too.

Charles Soule spoke about Curse Words talking about its “delightful” aspects. It’s origin story rests with Ryan Browne, the artist, who he’s known for a long time. They’ve tried to work together for years. Looking at the “comics landscape” made them realize what was missing was “the best comic in the world” and so that’s what they made. They wanted to be able to tell each other jokes that would still work in a story setting, so magic made that possible.

The swimsuit special is coming up, with guest artist Joe Quinones while Browne takes a break. All the popular wizards are going to the beach. There’s the invisible wizard, for instance, and it’s set during a time when Wizord and Ruby Stitch were still together. And they’ll be fighting giant crabs. Because at Image you can do anything you want, they decided to do a swimsuit issue.

Going forward, the series will move into a fourth arc. Soule described Margaret as the “conscience and core of the whole book”. Jacques Zaques is going to get a big plotline as he brings a team against Wizord.

Asked about the function of fantasy as a genre, Christmas said it’s a great way to weave metaphors and “big ideas” into things. Soule said that he likes the imaginative element of sci-fi and fantasy, including design and imagery. Haun commented that working on post-apocalyptic stories help examine the world in a larger way.

Asked if they’d like to bring their own “flavor” to the genre that’s so popular, Humphries said that there’s a “twist” on fantasy that’s “personal and emotional” for many of them. It’s a way to put a “stamp” on things.

Asked if fantasy elements can be “confining”, Soule said that rule systems and magic systems need some consistency and to be “structurally sound”. That’s built intentionally into the comic, like Wizord’s beard conveying how much magic power he has at any one time.

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