Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question comes from Harry Donaldson and is as follows:-

“What is the most exciting thing happening in comics at the moment? New Talent? New Ideas? What has got you excited?”

Dez Skinn Writes:

New talent and new ideas are always exciting, but nothing new in a medium as creative in comics. New formats and new markets are what could drag comics out of being in its current insular environment. Established publishers have opted for short-termism.
As long as something makes an instant profit (courtesy of an insane system of the retail lifeblood pre-ordering on negligible information) there’s little incentive for either experimentation or the entrepreneurial spirit which gave birth to comic books.

Manga, in content and format, has given the US a rude awakening. Girls will read comics, as will the masses, if they’re appealing. It’s amusing watching previously set-in-stone complacent major publishers scampering around as they attempt to carve out a piece of this exciting new market for themselves. Let’s hope they don’t overcrowd it with unappealing hastily repackaged dross as they did when they killed it in the graphic novel fiasco of the 1980s.

Dez Skinn is the boss when it comes to Comics International – The UK’s Leading Comic Mag, he is also the big brain behind this year’s UK Comic Expo in Brighton… more information is available at http://www.comicexpo.biz

Mike Bullock Writes:

I’d say the sheer number of highly talented folks creating comics. Every company from DC, Marvel & Image to Speakeasy, Viper and Boom Studios and back again is just over brimming with great talent and great stories. Sure, there are some stinkers out there, but it really seems like the current talent pool is stronger than it’s ever been. If a reader wants established characters, then you have Gail Simone knocking Birds of Prey out of the park every month, Geoff Johns doing it up on Teen Titans, Brian Bendis & Mark Bagley making sure Ultimate Spider-Man is the best it can be and don’t get me started on Jim Lee & Frank Miller working together. If you’re after something new, there’s Kirkman’s Invincible & Walking Dead, Rick Rememder’s Sea of Red and Strange Girl, books like The Grimoire, Stardust Kid, Dreamland Chronicles, all offer something new and refreshing. It’s simply one of the best times in history to enjoy comic stories.

Mike Bullock is a writer, promotion agent and President of Runemaster Studios, Inc. Lions, Tigers & Bears, his first published foray into comic writing, debuts in January 2005 from Image Comics. His other comic credits include editorship on Alias Enterprises’ Imperial Dragons and Dreamwave’s Warlands. Bullock has several other creator-owned comic properties in the pipeline, including Gimoles a book set to debut in the summer of 2005.

Kev F Sutherland:

The response of kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses. Most never read comics, and most teachers are ignorant of the artform. But as soon as they’ve seen comics in action, everyone responds favourably. Comics are alive and there’s a hunger for them. It’s unfortunate that next-to-nobody is producing material for that target market (of UK kids aged 9 – 16). They’d eat it up.

Writer and artist on most genres of comic from (currently) The Bash St Kids in The Beano, thru Tarquin Hoylet He Has To Go To The Toilet in Viz, to Star Trek and Dr Strange for Marvel, plus Dr Who, Red Dwarf, Gladiators, Goosebumps and heaps more.

Daley Osiyemi:

What I am so excited about right now in comics, is the strong wave of ideas and quality coming from indie publishers. Also the fact that other industries like films, games, communication are looking to comics for new ideas. You only have to visit San Diego each year to see this in action. This for me is very exciting for the future and it will only spread the appeal of comics to a wider audience.

Daley Osiyemi creator of Brodie’s Law and co-founder of Pulp Theatre Entertainment where he works as producer and creator on various new media and comic projects. Writer and producer of online animated comic series None But Us, developed a character to help promote broadband and is currently working on a graphic novel and a film idea.

Egg Embry Writes:

Marvel’s plans to bring Peter Milligan and Mike Allred back for a limited run at X-STATIX again! I love those books!

Egg Embry edits DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES and a number of other books for Arcana Studio as well as writes mini-series and short stories for IDW, Viper Comics, and Arcana.

Bart Thompson:

Having Frank Miller and Jim Lee on one book, having Wizard and Mr. Miller bury the malice they had for each other, and meeting both at Wizard World Chicago and getting to shake both of their hands. Words can not describe.

But there are TONS of amazing things happening in comics. Dreamwave was bought by a businessman and it’ll be interesting seeing how that develops. Richard Emms parting ways with APC (or is he still with APC and it’s now an imprint under Markosia?). Arcana, Speakeasy, and Alias are still going strong (and hopefully not going anywhere anytime soon). Chaos Comics has returned under Devil’s Due. FC9 is starting to make itself known on the stands. Heck, even Approbation has planted seeds into the subconscious of the minds of readers and we’re already getting a larger fan base! Both Marvel and DC are putting out quality material left and right. It’s a new comic renaissance and there are so many things to be excited about all across the board! This is a GREAT time to be a comic fan!

Bart Thompson is the founder of Approbation Comics, creator of Vampires Unlimited, the Metamutoids, ChiSai, and Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies while the publisher of Myriad from Approbation and writer/creator of Blood, Shells, & Roses coming soon from Arcana Studios!

Craig Johnson Writes:

The manga explosion.

You have people like Warren Ellis on his mailing list complaining that there’s no market for 100-200 page original works, except that’s exactly what over a dozen Manga books are. Kindaichi Case Files – self contained books. X-Day, a two book series. Erica Sakurazawa’s one-shot deals, adult themed stories done in one book.

Craig is the 2nd in command here at SBC – and for some reason or ten he hates Superman…

Roger Langridge:

Darwyn Cooke, on the superhero end of things, is showing everyone how to tell a bloody good story for a change. On the stylistic end of things, Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man is brave and fresh.

Roger Langridge is the creator of Fred The Clown, a new issue of which is right now … your orders are to look out for it.

Vince Moore:

I’m excited mostly about the wave of newness the Manga fans are bringing to comics as a whole. Most of them may never read the comics that reach the direct sales market, but these people are making comics seem cool again. That can’t be bad for all kinds of comics in the long run.

On a personal note, I’m excited by the books I’m editing (plug, plug, plug; pimp, pimp). And I’m excited by many of the books Alias Comics is putting out.

It ain’t a perfect world yet, but there are many more good things happening in the comics industry than bad.

Vince Moore is the editor for DarkStorm Studios, a comics company started by Kevin Grevioux of Underworld fame.

Stephen Holland:

Everything has me excited.

The fact that we’re in the age of the anthology and autobiography, where sales of “McSweeneys 13” at Page 45 are measured in their hundreds, where “Kramer’s Ergot Five” sells out several times, where “Mome” volume one – really fresh talent there – was snatched up within a week, and – on the autobiographical side – where Jeffrey Brown and John Porcellino outsell almost everything that’s their corporate antithesis.

The fact that something as bonkers as Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim”, a surreal student Battle of the Bands meets romcom knockout Nintendo quest (no, I’ve not idea what I’m typing there), has such broad appeal from the indie music girls and guys to the manga surfers and the superhero crowd that its sales register at twice the level of anything else – anything!

The fact that we’re handed at least two quality home-grown efforts a week which we can get behind and promote. New talent everywhere, and such ridiculous enthusiasm for it.

I’m an optimist, but even I would have had trouble imagining, ten years ago, this world I’m seeing now.

More than anything else at the moment, though, I’m particularly stoked about R. Kikuo Johnson – you’ll want to remember that name. Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics sent me an uncorrected proof of Johnson’s debut graphic novel, “Night Fisher”, due out in November. Reynolds believes it’s one of their best debut releases since “Love & Rockets” #1, and I’m not about to argue. I absorbed the whole thing the other evening in a single sitting, and it’s haunting. It’s an almost poetic story of friendship between two boys on the verge of becoming men, with one constantly trying to play catch-up with the other, and failing. And by “poetic”, I don’t mean romanticised, because although it’s set on a Hawaian island, it’s backdrop is a stagnant economy, tacky malls and petty crime, but there’s a silent scene, for example, where Loren and Shane, on an amphetamine-fuelled nocturnal wandering, have wound up by the pool of a sleepy hotel, and the light as Loren dives under the water is just breathtaking. The pencils seem to me like David Lapham inked by Paul Pope, and the words “Cut the line” are going to stay with me for a very long time.

So, overall: everything.

Plus, my cat has started peeing again, so I’m very excited about not going to the vets this week. Although I will have to pick up all my comics off the floor.

Stephen Holland runs Page 45, a comic shop in Nottingham UK, with Tom Rosin and Caroline Makin. His tribute to the late great Mark Simpson, co-creator of Page 45, and the “John Peel of comics” can be found here.

Donna Barr:

Print On Demand. Leakage between comic and mainstream markets.

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once…including writing a column for SBC at this link!

What is the most exciting thing in comics at the moment – another damn fine question for The Panellists from our readers.

I think that is a hard question to answer with all the wonderful things that are happening at the moment – from my narrow POV I would have to say All Star Superman has to be one of the most exciting projects I am looking forward to.

Also the exciting work coming from Arcana Studios, Pulp Threate (Brodie’s Law), Alias Comics, Speakeasy – all these new publishers are producing great works.

In the UK we have the Brighton Comic Expo (http://www.comicexpo.biz) which is promising to be an amazing event with Jim Steranko and Mark Millar guest starring – Simon Bisley is doing a huge painting LIVE at the event… I’ll be there with my own little small press thing Portent Comics, a huge array of UK Publishers will be there BIG & small – this event alone has got me excited enough to last the rest of the year!

Remember if you have a question for The Panel please email me at the link at the top of this here page!

“The views and opinions expressed on the panel are solely those of the panellist who has written them. They do not reflect the views or opinions of silver bullet comic books or myself. Freedom of speech is great isn’t it – James”

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