Your Big, Bad Recap of the 2016 In-Store Convention Kick-Off
What better way to launch the comic convention season than with the In-Store Convention Kick-Off? In this marathon eight-hour live streaming event, creators and major publishers were on hand to talk about upcoming books and editorial plans. More than 400 comic and game stores in nine countries participated as venues for watching the broadcast, including four in Minnesota: Comic Cartel in Minneapolis, Book Review in Rochester, Source Comics and Games in Roseville, and Level Up Games in South St. Paul. If you missed it, have no fear! I'm here to give you a "quick" run down of what you may have missed. Jim Lee, co-producer of DC Comics, was the keynote speaker and opened the event with DC's upcoming line, Rebirth. He talked about how Rebirth will embrace the past and use it to focus on the future. I, personally, am a big DC fan. I love everything Justice League and have tried to keep up with every arc out there. I've read the entire 52 series more than once, and I'm looking forward to Rebirth, about which DC Comics will be announcing more information at a special WonderCon press conference on March 26. Can't make it to WonderCon this year? No worries: it will be live streamed. Gotta love technology! (Rebirth was further discussed by DC's Dan DiDio as well---see below for more.) Lee closed his keynote with a hope of bringing new and old comic book fans together. The Dynamite Entertainment panel featured Marguerite Bennett talking about some of the backlash against the costume redesign for her character, Red Sonja. Bennett mentioned having comics that reach a wider audience but that the old costume could reappear for special occasions, stating that "just because a woman changes clothes doesn't mean her identity is changed." Bennett also teased a possible crossover with Kath Leth's Vampirella. Joshua Johns and Hunter Gorinson from Valiant Entertainment told us about their upcoming four-issue event, The Summer of 4001 A.D. An exclusive preview will be in the Valiant Free Comic Book Day special and will be completely accessible to new readers as a great jumping-on point. The 4001 A.D. series will also include four one-shots: XO Manowar, Bloodshot, Shadowman, and a classified new female character. Someone microwaved a burrito for way too long and set off a fire alarm, therefore interrupting Matt Fraction's and Kelly Sue DeConnick's interview panel. (This brought back memories of my little brother putting a potato in the microwave for 20 minutes instead of 2. Set the microwave on fire. We all know someone who has done it.) Fraction and DeConnick recently worked with David Goyer (Krypton, Man of Steel, Dark Knight) on a television pilot. Fraction is also working on the Sex Criminals pilot, which he emphasized is not a show for NBC but more likely Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon with weekly episodes. Dan DiDio, DC Comics co-producer, also talked Rebirth, mentioning that there will an oversized DC Comics Rebirth Special by Geoff Johns. DiDio avoided questions regarding Blue Beetle, more Green Lantern titles, and the Justice Society of America. When asked about the fan petition for Young Justice season 3, DiDio responded that nothing lasts forever and that the voice of the people is getting louder. This gives hope for fans like me who are currently watching season 2 on Netflix. Skottie Young talked about his series I Hate Fairyland, whose second arc should be hitting the shelves in June. He's still having fun writing Rocket Racoon and Groot. The Boom! Studios panel featured Sam Humphries (Jonesy), Hope Larson (Goldie Vance), and Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (Joyride). The first issue of Jonesy, about a self-described cool dork with Cupid-like powers, is in stores now. Joyride, described as a punk-rock teenage Star Trek, and Goldie Vance, a throwback, retro, jack-of-all trades story, are hitting shelves soon. Matt Hawkins and Stjepan Sejic from Top Cow talked about Postal being in the works for a television series, and the new series taking place in the Witchblade universe, Switch. Hawkins also announced that Top Cow is giving away 50 comics digitally, for free. Dan Jurgens, one of my all-time favorite artists---and not because of Superman nor Booster Gold, for which he is best known---also made an appearance at the in-store convention. He didn't speak of any new titles of Green Arrow, which would have had me fangirling for months, but he did talk about how Superman: Lois and Clark and Batman Beyond fit into the current DC continuity. There was also some talk about a possible feature film version of Booster Gold . . . with Nathan Fillion playing the role? I wouldn't want to start any rumors, but I will pass them on. Harley Quinn writer Jimmy Palmiotti announced that our beloved Harley will be traveling back to Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, and Quinn herself will take the role of Ali; The crossover will feature artwork by Neal Adams. Also, Zatanna will be making an appearance in Harley’s Little Black Book with artwork by Dawn artist Joseph Michael Linsner. Dark Horse Comics is celebrating their 30th year anniversary with special variants throughout the year and Dark Horse Day will take place on June 4th. One of the biggest surprises for me, shamefully, was seeing Ryan North on the list of attendees. I've followed the creator of Dinosaur Comics on Twitter for a few years now and really didn't think much else of the guy besides enjoying his fix-art web comic. When I saw his name, I thought, "This can't be the same guy." Well, I was wrong---not only does North write those witty little comics that feature the exact same drawings of dinosaurs, but he is also the writer of the Adventure Time comic-book series, of which I own several issues, and is currently writing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for Marvel Comics. He showed up to the in-store convention to talk about the crossover with Howard the Duck, featuring the villain Mole Man, who falls in love with Squirrel Girl. Comic creator Jim Zub announced he will be teaming up with Omar Dogan to create a new Street Fighter Legends: Cammy miniseries. On the Marvel Comics panel, Brian Michael Bendis, Cullen Bunn, and Tom Brevoort talked about their upcoming event Civil War II. Bendis warned fans not to expect to see the Fantastic Four as part of the event but said that the Guardians of the Galaxy and Inhumans certainly will be involved. X-Men will have a limited series that ties into the Civil War II event. Pat Shand of Zenescope spoke about the finale of Robyn Hood, the launch of Hellchild, and the future of Charmed. Diamond Select Toys showed off new items coming in 2016. Writer James Tynion IV talked about how he's blown away that his series The Woods (Boom! Studios) has been optioned for television. Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, and PJ Haarsma talked about their new comic, Spectrum. Con Man, a web series starring Fillion and Tudyk (both from canceled sci-fi cult favorite Firefly) as actors from a canceled cult sci-fi show, is a comedic look at the world of fandom and conventions. Spectrum will tell the story that launched their careers: a vicious invasion from an alien force devastates the world, but Captain James Raaker warns that the suffering has just started. Humanity’s last hope is escape in an untested spaceship built by a madman. The first issue of Spectrum will debut as part of Free Comic Book Day. Mike Deodato, Invincible Iron Man artist, will work with Brian Michael Bendis for another five issues. Jeff Parker and Evan "Doc" Shaner talked about DC Comics' new Hanna-Barbera series of comics, including Scooby Doo Apocalypse and Wacky Raceland. They also chatted about Future Quest series and cramming every available action adventure character from the archives together, with at least 30 characters. Look for a new Space Ghost origin that will put him in the same galaxy as Herculoids. Ending the convention was Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with closing keynote on how TMNT has impacted his life. He also recommended for anyone who visits the San Diego comic-book gallery at IDW’s offices to look into his studio, which is part of the exhibit, and see all the toys he’s buying and the comics he’s reading along the shelves next to his art boards. There you have it, fellow comic-book lovers! A little bit of what to expect this year as conventions start creeping near. Now you can start making your lists of what you want to see more of and what comics you need to get your hands on. As for me, I have a cosplay outfit to get started on. See you all in May!
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