Welcome to our second annual ?Countdown to San Diego? edition of ATR. Ladies and gents, we are on the verge of the biggest comic convention of the year. All the news and rumors this week are just a taste of what?s to come. Which isn?t to say we don?t have a lot to go over?

Not at all.

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

About two months ago, Mark Millar made some allusions to Go!, a four issue creator owned miniseries which he said would come out later this year. At the time, he didn?t mention who his art team was or where Go! would be published. And while there?s still no word on his fellow creators, I think I know where it?s going? Rumor has it that Go! will be coming out through Image and that an announcement may be made in San Diego or Chicago. If the rumor pans out, I won?t be shocked. There?s been a lot of activity at Image lately. Just this year, they?ve either brought out or announced new titles by Warren Ellis, Joe Casey, Steve Niles and Frank Cho. Not to mention books by rising stars like the Luna Brothers, Rick Remender, B. Clay Moore and Robert Kirkman. Adding Millar to that mix would be another feather in their cap.

Either way, the Image panel at San Diego should be very interesting?

This Has A ?WHAM!? Factor of Six Out of Ten


Ride For Vengeance

Been wondering what Garth Ennis and Clayton Crain?s Ghost Rider miniseries is going to look like? Well, wonder no more, as we?ve got some fresh pages below. Enjoy.




This Has An ?Inferno Road? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


High Adventure Takes Flight

The long running, Eisner nominated webcomic, Athena Voltaire is finally set to make the jump into print this December, courtesy of Speakeasy Comics. The official announcement will probably come in San Diego, but I?m told that plans are in place for a five issue, full color miniseries, entitled Athena Voltaire: The Flight of The Falcon by the creative team of Paul Daly, Steve Bryant and Chad Fidler.

Should the miniseries prove successful, a follow-up miniseries will likely go forward and that could also lead to a collection of the Athena Voltaire webcomics?


This Has A ?Rapid Fire Danger? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Land of 1000 Cuts

Tim Seeley?s Hack/Slash is coming back this October with a new three issue miniseries called Hack/Slash: Land of Lost Toys. As hinted here a couple of weeks ago, Dave Crosland will be the artist and the story will combine two of the most popular subgenres of Slasher fiction: the dream killer and the killer toy. Basically, Cassie Hack and Vlad go to a town where children are killed in their sleep by ?evil toys.? Among the toys rumored to make appearances are evil G.I. Joes and evil My Little Ponies.

Though saying ?evil My Little Ponies? implies that they weren?t already?

Ah? yes. One more thing. I?ve also got the poster that the New Millennium Theatre Company will be using to promote their production of Hack/Slash: Stagefright.

This Has A ?Hired Meat? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Army of Freshmen

Top Cow?s new book, Freshmen has been generating a lot of buzz largely based on the strength of Seth Green?s (Austin Powers, Buffy, and Robot Chicken) name. But while Green co-created the book and its characters, the bulk of The Freshmen writing chores are on the shoulders of Hugh Sterbakov. Sterbakov is a former video game magazine writer with over 700 video game reviews, previews, feature stories and interviews to his name. And although he is a relative newcomer to Hollywood, Sterbakov has already sold a feature script and a pilot. Originally developed as a movie script, Freshmen marks Sterbakov?s first comic work to date. Earlier this week, Sterbakov checked in with a few words about the premise of the series:

      It’s

Revenge of the Nerds

      meets

American Pie

      meets

X-Men

      . A bunch of college kids– in a normal world, where super heroes only exist in comics– go to college, are considered outcasts by the older, cooler kids, and get super powers. There are the shenanigans of

Animal House

      , the desperate sex drives from

American Pie

      , the frat guy nemeses from

Revenge of the Nerds

      and the bizarre love/hate relationships that characters have with their powers from

X-Men

    .

The powers are based on whatever the kid are doing at the very moment that a special machine explodes in their dorm. One girl becomes able to jump into people’s minds, another guy gets the ability to talk to plants. Another kid can get you drunk with a burp.

We have one particularly compelling character– the uber comic book geek who has dreamed of being a super hero all of his life, who goes out for pizza when the explosion occurs. He’s powerless, and frustrated, and wants to be the leader of the team. The others come to call him Wannabe. This kid– his hero’s journey– is one of the main stories of the series.

We’re doing six issues, then we’re going to step back and see how people feel about it. If there’s a good response and people want more, I’ll certainly deliver. I’ve set the seeds for the second series within the first, and the third series has a story in place as well. It’s a real-life world, where characters grow, time passes, and relationships change. We’ll see how people feel about it. I’m understandably nervous and anxious.

Sterbakov also spoke about how Top Cow EIC, Jim McLauchlin helped him adjust to writing a comic book style script by having him sketch out the pages himself:

    I grew up voraciously reading and collecting comics. I have over 45 long boxes, and had first printings of every appearance of Spider-Man until they rebooted with Chapter One. But comics in general have changed since they were my life’s blood. Captions have replaced thought balloons. Stand-alone stories are virtually nonexistent. There’s been a shift toward more dynamic art, which results in more posturing and, if you think about it, less action. And although I wrote and drew my own comics in junior high school, I’d never written a professional comic script.

The point Jim was trying to make was that there’s only so much information you can fit into a panel, or a page. He gave me a rule that you shouldn’t have more than 18 balloons and captions (combined) on a page. I break that rule at least once in each issue. I was very concerned, but then I saw studied some of my good friend, Geoff Johns’ work and saw him break it occasionally, so I felt okay. And Jim agreed that there are times when you break it. The opening page of #2, for example, has a Brady Bunch shot of our characters in nine boxes, discussing what they’ve realized since the end of #1. Which was like two hours prior in their time. I had to break the rule, but it was worth it, and even if it reads crowded, it’ll be funny and deliver important information.


I’m less concerned about rules and more focused on telling a great story. We’ve done some funky things with format– issue #4, for example, tells two stories concurrently by dividing the page– and it’s a lot of fun, but ultimately, it has to service the story. The story is everything, and the art, the layouts, the inking, the lettering– all must service it. To that end, I asked Geoff Johns and Matt Senreich for a couple tips, and here was their advice: Don’t be afraid to have panels with no text, simply to show things. Don’t be afraid to only have 3 panels on a page. And make sure everything has ramifications. I took that advice to heart.

In any case, I drew those pages exactly the way I wrote them. I realized that even if they were drawn exactly to my specifications, it’s doubtful that all of the information I was counting on conveying would actually show up on my readers’ radar. But such is life. Freshmen is a book that will offer more to careful readers. We have one kid show up in issue #1 who doesn’t say a word. He appears, again without saying a word, but as the focus of a panel, in #3, and that’s it. And he’ll be a major, major character in a future series.

Here’s the script for those pages, by the way:

And finally, Sterbakov had a few thoughts to share about Freshmen artist, Leonard Kirk:

    Leonard Kirk’s contribution has been absolutely phenomenal. When he came aboard, we had a detailed outline, with all of the characters and all of the plot. So he was late in the game, and I expected to find an artist who would simply deliver what I’d written in a professional manner. But right off the bat, Leonard’s character designs were fleshing out the story, adding touches and ideas that simply made the characters more complete and the story more detailed. This was before he even had the job, too. Jim and I looked at a number of potential artists, some with more famous credits than Leonard, and we asked for a couple sketches as a sort of audition. Leonard went absolutely nuts to get the job– he simply stole it from us. His enthusiasm was clear from the get-go, and it’s stayed at 100% at every stage of the game.

It’s very exciting for a writer to see his work visualized. Especially for one like myself, who has been toiling in Hollywood’s development community with nothing concrete to show for it. Every time I get a piece of Freshmen artwork, the little kid inside me squeals with delight. And I’m blessed to be getting the bulk of it from Leonard. His attention to detail respects my writing, and that really pleases me.

We ship on Wednesday the 13th, and we’ll be in San Diego with the three newsstand covers and two exclusive ones. I think they’d put a special cover on me if they could.

I hope everybody likes this first issue, and I hope they stick around for the rest of the series. Numbers four and five are among the best things I’ve ever written, in my opinion, and I simply can’t wait to get them out there.

You can find more about the series at http://www.fatboughl.com.

This Has A ?Quaker Rocks? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Solve My Mystery

IDW?s first Spike one-shot hasn?t hit yet, but there?s already word that a second one-shot is in the works, for a January 2006 release. Reportedly, the second Spike one-shot will be primarily set in Los Angeles during the 1940s, with Spike coming under suspicion of being the infamous Black Dahlia killer. Angel, Fred and Los Hermanos Numeros are also said to make appearances in the story.

The artist for the second one-shot will be Fernando Goni, who also drew the first one-shot. However, Peter David will not be writing this one? it will be someone new?

This Has A ?Happy Meals With Legs? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Straight Outta Emeryville

According to a story on Boing Boing, a number of Pixar artists have joined together to form E-Ville Press, an independent comic company which will debut this week in San Diego. Among the titles coming are: Afterworks an anthology of short stories by Max Brace, Simon Dunsdon, Louis Gonzales, Robert Kondo, Kevin O’Brien, Sanjay Patel, Jay Shuster and Nate Stanton, Rose and Isabel (http://roseandisabel.blogspot.com) by Ted Mathot and Colossus (http://talesofcolossus.blogspot.com) by Mark Andrews. Incidentally, we have some art from Colossus, which can be seen below:



This Has A ?Digital Age? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


No Place For A Street Fightin? Man

Udon?s Street Fighter comic series is slated to relaunch in October, after an absence of several months. The details of the relaunch will be announced at the Street Fighter panel in San Diego. What?s not clear at this point is if the series will return to Devil?s Due Publishing or if Udon will self-publish it. After all, Udon is already planning to put out a comic based on White Wolf?s Exalted by themselves. That could potentially be the start of something bigger?

This Has A ?Hadoken!? Factor of Five Out of Ten


Skate or Die

Jim Mahfood will be selling some limited edition skateboards at his table in San Diego, based on his designs for the New York based company, Mint Skateboards. A quick look at the first design can be seen below:

In semi-related news, Mahfood will be co-hosting the Comic Con Funk Party V.2 with Scott Morse next Saturday starting around 9:00pm at the Beehive, which is located at 14th and C Street in Downtown San Diego.

This Has A ?Bring On The Noise? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Tower of Powers

A group of Powers fans has gotten together and made a short film based on the ?Who Killed Retro Girl?? storyline. And it?s not bad at all?

You can check it out here.

This Has A ?Flash In The Pan? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


This Is Just A Tribute

I?m kind of surprised no one else online seems to have noticed this, but apparently Tenacious D is going to be performing a live set on Saturday night at 6:30pm. That?s right, Jack Black and Kyle Gass are coming to the Comic Con.

Oh yeah?

No way in HELL Am I missing that?

This Has A ?Good God, God Lovin’!? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Primal Fear

Here?s a quick glimpse of the Fear Agent movie poster that?s going to be available for purchase at San Diego this week.

Also, while you?re down there, drop by the Actor booth and pick up a Green ?Excelsior!? wristband. The proceeds from that are going to golden and silver age comic creators in need of medical or financial assistance.

I?ve got mine?


Alright people, quick announcement time. I probably won?t have computer access until I get back from San Diego. So don?t freak out if the column isn?t up next Sunday. I?ll get the column out as soon as I can, probably late Monday or Tuesday some time.

As always, I?ll be actively looking for ATR material while I?m at the con. But I can?t be everywhere. So if any ATR readers hear any good rumors or stories at the convention, please drop me a line at blairm@silverbulletcomicbooks.com.

See you in San Diego.

Blair


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