Welcome to the ComicsBulletin Boston Comic Con coverage! Here is man-on-the-scene report from the Image Comics panel. Featured panelists are Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, Revival), Mike Norton (Revival), Nick Pitarra (The Manhattan Projects), and Ming Doyle (Mara).
12:00 PM: The panel begins with the question “What makes you guys wanna work for yourselves and work through Image?” “Masochism”, Tim Seeley says, saying that having to do everything for themselves is both wonderful and terrible.
12:02 PM: Regarding if they grew up on Image Comics, Mike Norton says he wanted to play guitar before he worked in comics. Ming Doyle was too young to be part of the Image crowd. Seeley says he was the perfect age for the “boobs and guns” comics of the ’90s. He thinks that the Image Comics of today is really reaching its potential more with a wider variety of content.
12:07 PM: Ming Doyle is asked about Mara. “It’s been great for me because it’s my most well-known work,” attributing a lot of the fame to co-creator Brian Wood. She calls it her first time writing the “mainstream superhero” character as opposed to weird side characters like Rocket Raccoon. It was her first time “drawing things normally”, and if she does another Image book she wants to go in the opposite direction. She says that Image gives her “a whole new appreciation for the editorial side of the business” given how loose and free working at Image is. Mike Norton calls it “trial by fire”.
12:10 PM: Tim Seeley says he’s “screwed up everything you can screw up”, and acts as a consultant to other people because of all the Image work he’s done. He says that Image lost faith for a while due to inconsistent releases, and it took a bunch of “workhorses” releasing content regularly for a few years to get the company’s credibility back up.
12:14 PM: Revival is brought up. Seeley says that the seed of the book was that he and Mike Norton were at a point where they wanted to do something original. He wanted to do a “small time Wisconsin farm noir story and also an undead story”, to which Mike Norton says “what the hell is farm noir?” The idea to combine the two kinds of stories was Norton’s idea. The creative process is Tim Seeley writing the story and Mike Norton telling him whether it’s good or not. Seeley doesn’t see the art until the book’s about finished, since both he and Norton are always busy. Regarding the crossover with John Layman’s Chew, Layman actually wrote the crossover against their wishes, sent them the finished script, and then they decided to make it.
12:17 PM: Nick Pitarra is asked about The Manhattan Projects. He enjoys drawing the Presidents, because “anything that’s got quirky weird character stuff is fun to play with”, and says it comes from “John [Hickman] and me ruining John’s scripts”. It’s also revealed that Image doesn’t read the books before they’re published unless creators request a proofreading. Seeley and Norton state that creating a letter column is really hard to do, and also say that social media is like a daily letters column.
12:22 PM: Mike Norton reveals that he never had an interest in drawing anything but Spider-Man or Blue Beetle appealed to him until about five years ago, when he did a 24-hour comic. Ming Doyle brings up the fact that Image still has an open submission process, but also notes that they’re picky. “Nobody do anything with a pug in it”, Norton says, referring his comic Battlepug.
12:24 PM: The panelists are asked which big heroes they’d like to ape and take a shot at. Pitarra wants to do The Tick or X-Statix. Seeley refers to Spawn being a sort of combination of Batman and Spider-Man, and Ming Doyle jokingly refers to the whole thing as fanfiction. Doyle thinks she’s never going to get to do Aquaman, but says she could make her own deep sea comic. Similarly, Seeley and Norton have an X-Men idea about a non-mutant human getting into the academy. Ideas involve a kegger where he drinks Doop, and a mutant whose power was making his human friend appear to be a mutant. The idea is referred to as “X-Bros”.
12:28 PM: Image has been known to match artists up with writers that the company really wants, but usually people have to come in with a creative team assembled. Pitarra met Jonathan Hickman through Hickman sending his DeviantArt panel to Marvel Comics. Tim Seeley says he “stalks” artists on DeviantArt, watching good but improving artists until he feels they’re “ripe” and “plucks” them. Ming Doyle refers to them as “DeviantArt creeps”, but the panelists feel that tumblr is becoming the new place to find artists. Ming Doyle also notes that the weird usernames on DeviantArt makes communication difficult. “You’ve gotta work on your branding. Branding is important”.
12:35 PM: Nick Pitarra says that Jonathan Hickman works to have consistent graphic design through all of his books, even at Marvel. Pitarra feels that his and Hickman’s styles clash, referring to it as “organic vs. clean”. He says Hickman gave him a very tight layout for Redwing.
-If you’re a writer who can’t draw, your artists need to own some percentage of your book’s rights, says Seeley. “Be really nice and stroke the artist’s ego”, Pitarra adds.
-Most promising project? Doyle says Mara. Seeley says Revival. Norton says it’s a tie between Revival and Battlepug. Pitarra says the best is Manhattan Projects, but the most promising moment of his career was when he got an e-mail from Marvel, because he started dreaming of winning Eisners.
-Seeley and Norton disagree on things a lot of the time, but are both friends who get along. Conflict can actually be good for collaboration.
-Regarding a recent controversy with a shirt at Hot Topic featuring some stolen My Neighbor Totoro/Adventure Time fan art, one person asks if DeviantArt is untrustworthy. “Basically, you should assume that if you put stuff on the Internet, it can get stolen”, says Seeley. “It’s better to get stolen than to be paralyzed by the fear that you’ll get stolen. An idea is worthless. It has to be made to be worth something.”
-Regarding old comics that failed being revived, Seeley says that getting popular is the way to do it.
–Revival #1 had the first issue written and one-third drawn before it was shown to Image Comics. They say that the submission process’s requirements work because within five pages, you’ll know if your collaborator doesn’t work.
-Image doesn’t pay you until the book comes out, and pays based on sales. It takes three months for Image to collect money from retailers, and then they cut the check. Image takes a cut of $2500.00 every issue for advertising and productive, and then doling out money amongst the creative teams is the team’s job. Getting 10,000 copies is a profit of roughly a dollar a book.
-Promoting your own book is the worst part of the job. You have to shill, promote your book everywhere, try and convince friends to promote the book, go to conventions, and more. “Image does some promotion, but that is not their job. It is on you.”
– Max Dweck