Image Comics is the publisher of such titles you’ve probably heard of such as Spawn, Saga, and a little something even non-fans are probably familiar with called The Walking Dead. Their third annual ImageEXPO, at which they announced all their cool new stuff coming out this year was held in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts this past Thursday, January 8, 2015. Here are some of the highlights!
The keynote speech by Image Comics’ Eric Stephenson, as well as the announcements themselves, were held in the Yerba Buena’s Forum room.
What sounded like someone’s personal David Bowie mix was playing before the event began, and I was very proud of myself when I realized that the orange-with-a-touch-of-blue lightning bolts on the Image logos were a reference to the cover of Bowie’s makeup on the cover of Aladdin Sane. Stephenson confirmed as much himself, saying that it was in honor of David Bowie’s birthday – how did I go this long without realizing that Elvis and Bowie were born on the same day, give or take a dozen years? Shame on me! – as was the fact that the artists’ names as they appeared on the screen were done in the same blue-white-red font as Sane.
The net result of all this is that it gives me an excuse to post one of my favorite images from my favorite film of 2014, God Help the Girl, in which Hannah Murray (you know her as Gilly on Game of Thrones) applies flawless Aladdin Sane makeup in a mirror.
Anyway, enough about indie Scottish films, and more about indie American comics!
1. Todd McFarlane Promises Moar Spawn, and Other S-words.
First up was Todd McFarlane, doing his best Steve Jobs impression on the stage, black turtleneck and all. He was super-proud of the fact that his comic has reached 250 issues, since it takes 20 years of doing one a month to even hit 240 (math!), and he sure isn’t going to restart the numbering sequence like everyone else does with long-running series. In stores this very month, McFarlane promised that Spawn 250 will feature the return of Al Simmons, and while the issue will cost $5.99 rather than $2.99, it will also have three times as much artwork (algebra, I think!).
Another new project he announced was Savior, which he somewhat sheepishly compared to Joan Osborne’s “One of Us”, in which a man who may or may not be God appears on Earth, and surprise surprise, things do not go well. It comes out in April 2015.
2. Emma R?os and Brandon Graham, in an 8House on an Island.
Creators Emma R?os and Brandon Graham announced two new anthology-esque collaborations, called 8House and Island. Ms. R?os’s story “Mirror” in 8House, involves animals given reason and free will – which, speaking as an animal cursed with reason and free will, sounds quite horrifying.
Meanwhile, her story in Island – a project which Graham described as sort of an updating of the old Heavy Metal magazine – is called “ID,” and concerns a future in which body transplants are a possibility, and how it effects individuals with identity issues. She said it was based on some of her own worries and complexes, and stressed that it’s body transplanting rather than the more common sci-fi trope of brain transplanting, which makes perfect sense to me. It’s due in June.
That wasn’t the only project she was announcing, however.
3. Pretty Deadly 2: Prettier Deadlier.
That is of course not the actual title of this second story arc in R?os’s collaboration with Kelly Sue Deconnick. Combining elements of fairy tales and Sergio Leone westerns (by the way, if you haven’t, you really need to see A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), this second volume takes place some years after the first; that there on the cover is the young boy Cyrus from the original, all grown up. Expected in September, when asked why this edition of Pretty Deadly was delayed – a recurring theme throughout the event was, “Y U No Have That Thing Finished Yet?” – Deconnick probably only half-jokingly replied that it’s because R?os “draws every leaf on every tree.”
But, y’know, sometimes it’s worth it.
4. Emi Lenox’s Trips to Japan and Elsewhere.
Two of the comics I’m most looking forward to this year are by Emi Lenox. The first is the graphic novel Tadaima, an autobiographical story about Ms. Lenox’s 7-day trip with her mother to Japan – the most time she’d ever spent with her mother, she said – to visit her grandparents’ tomb in Fukushima. It’s done in watercolors, entirely hand-lettered, and looks quite gorgeous.
Her other big project this year is a collaboration with writer Jeff Lemire, a series called Plutona.
A group of kids discover the body of a dead superhero, and things just go downhill from there, as the kids begin to explore the line between good and evil, if such a line even exists. Mr. Lemire described it as having a Lord of the Flies, River’s Edge kinda vibe. Sign me up!
And speaking of children slipping into darkness…
5. The Mercilessness of Alex de Campi.
Kids these days, amirite? A collaboration between Alex de Campi, Carla Speed McNeil, and Jenn Manley Lee, this spring’s No Mercy follows a group of totes-modern American teenagers on a Peace Corps-esque trip to build schools in Central America. But when their bus falls down the side of a mountain, shit gets real, real fast.
Ms. de Campi, whose boundless nervous energy made her one of the most entertaining and endearing presenters, seemed especially proud of the lack of superheroes and/or talking animals in her work, and as well she should be. She does, however, promise vast quantities of emoji.
For talking creatures with no emoji, there’s always…
6. The Monstressness of Marjorie Liu.
This collaboration between Margaret Liu and Sana Takeda is set in an alternative 1920s Asia, one in which otherworldly creatures called Leviathan roam the planet. When a lone teenage girl discovers she has a psychic connection with one of the most dangerous Leviathans, she becomes an outcast from, and target of, both sides.
So, it could be described as How to Train Your Leviathan, were that not horribly lazy and reductive, but it is, so I won’t.
Hey, do you like Saga? Sure you do. Well, there’s new stuff from the Saga guy.
7. The Saga Guy and Steve Kroce Stand on Guard.
Coming out this summer, this limited series is written by Brian K. Vaughan (the aforementioned Saga guy) and illustrated by Steve Skroce (who did storyboards for the Wachowski films you liked such as The Matrix, and ones you didn’t like such as a The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, not to mention my favorite Wachowski joint, Speed Racer). We Stand on Guard is set 100 years in the future, as Canada battles an invasion by the United States. Thanks, Obama!
Oh, and speaking of Saga…
8. Chip Zdarsky Queers Up the Joint.
Writer Chip Zdarsky started off by mortifying host Eric Stephenson by dragging Zdarsky’s Marvel Howard the Duck series into it…
…and not even a quick rebranding as Image’s Gary the Duck helped.
Sure, it was probably staged, but still, Stephenson had a definite edge of panic in his voice when he asked for Howard the Duck to please taken off the screen. Anyway, Zdarsky was actually announcing this March’s Kaptara, a collaboration with artist Kagan McLeod which Zdarksy described as “a gay version of Saga. Never having actually read Saga, I don’t have a frame of reference, but I’m intrigued all the same. Also, automatic favorite character: the Motivational Orb.
Y’know what, Orb? You’re right. I can do it. Thanks!
Something else I can do is agree with the sentiment behind this next title.
9. Skottie Young Tells Fairyland to Go Fuck Itself.
According to Young and Stephenson, for a good long while they were seriously considering going with the title Fuck Fairyland. It’s probably just as well that they didn’t, but the tone certainly remains. Young says that while he loved Alice in Wonderland as a child, listening to the audiobook as an adult was an unnerving experience, because of how truly deranged all the characters are.
Coming out in the Fall, the core concept of I Hate Fairyland is that a little girl named Gertrude has been trapped into the magical world for decades, and though her mind has aged, her body has not. As a result, she’s a tad on the deranged side herself, and a fan of the ol’ ultraviolence as well, particularly when she gets tired of the moon narrating her adventures.
In fairness, though, the smarty-pants Moon was totally asking for it. (Probably even liked Snowpiercer like all the other smarty-pantses.)
You can read about these and other upcoming works of sequential art over at Image Comics. Check ’em out.
Previously by Sherilyn Connelly: