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NYCC 2017: Tons of Titles to Enjoy at the Skybound Comics Panel

Skybound kicked off its New York Comic Con panel with an array of guests. Moderated by Skybound Senior Vice-President / Editor-in-Chief / Gasolina writer Sean Mackiewicz, the panel included writer Robert Kirkman, writer Donny Cates, writer / artist Daniel Warren Johnson, and writer / artist Dan Panosian. Although Skybound covered a number of titles, not all were horror related. I'm just going to go over the horror stuff here.

First up, unsurprisingly, was The Walking Dead. Covers were shown for the next few issues, including #174, which will be an all Negan issue. The Here's Negan 64-page oversized hardcover collection is in stores now. It was originally published in 4-page segments over the course of 16 months in Image+. Kirkman said it was a fun and challenging way to tell the story.

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Daniel Warren Johnson shared a quick anecdote about almost meeting Kirkman at a signing in 2006. This was before Johnson was working in comics. He had drawn a picture of Kirkman as a zombie and wanted to give it to him. Unfortunately, he was intercepted by a store employee who told him he would make sure Kirkman got it. He didn't. Kirkman said he probably kept it.

The cover for The Walking Dead #175 was shown, which harkens back to the cover for issue #25. It kicks off the New World Order storyline where we'll see the community that Eugene has been talking to all this time. It's called the Commonwealth and features a different way of life and a lot of new characters.

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Kirkman also announced a new book earlier at the convention called Oblivion Song. Illustrated by Lorenzo de Felici (who conveniently joined the panel at this time), the book is set in modern day Philadelphia where a section of the city with 30,000 people in it is flipped into another dimension and replaced with its counterpart. The main character discovers a technology that allows him to send people to the other dimension to rescue folks. As time goes on, less and less people come back and the program is shut down, but he keeps going. Kirkman described it as “apocalypse adjacent” and it looks terrifying.

De Felici apologized for being late, to which Kirkman jokingly replied, “This is America, man. We're all rude.” He recounted the story of how the book coming together. He didn't expect it to happen in his career. Kirkman had emailed him out of the blue and he was very excited, as he's one of his favorite writers. Kirkman revealed that he'd been cyberstalking De Felici for a while. Oblivion Song is right up De Felici's alley, as it's a theme that he really likes reading and drawing. The first issue is set for release on March 7th, 2018. He's now working on the pencils for issue #9, so everything will be shipping on time.

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Redneck was up next. The first trade paperback is slated for release later this month. Issue #7 features new cover artist Nick Pitarra. Writer Donny Cates described the series as a family of vampires trying to life as normal a life as they can. The second arc picks up with them on the run and in hiding. It does not go well.

Cates went on to say that the first story is about revenge. The second is the scariest and most brutal arc. In the book, the characters talk about how their lives keep getting darker and darker. This arc is what they're talking about. Cates thought about slowing down a little, but then ended up making the most brutal thing they could have done. Issue #7, which kicks off the new arc, is the one where the creators had the biggest conversation about. If they did this, what do they have left after that? He's now wrapping up the scripts for the third arc. To close, Cates said he's not trying to punish the reader. It's DARK. Just hang in there. I can agree with this. The book is worth it.

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Cates spoke briefly about the special blue Texas Forever Redneck shirts Skybound is making. All proceeds are going to the Houston Coalition for the Homeless to aid in the Houston relief efforts. This is not the first time Cates has used Redneck to help. The previously created Pride shirt raised almost $12,000. There will also be a special cover for an upcoming issue by Nick Derrington that will go towards charity.

We jumped back to Kirkman with Outcast. Covers were shown for upcoming issues, including #31, which introduces Roland Tusk and sets the stage for the Invasion storyline beginning in #32 in December. The arc will show how bad the evil entities really are and how they've infiltrated all areas of the town. The main character, Kyle, is living in isolation with a small group of people, but more and more folks are drawn to him, making the place look like a cult. The government then gets involved and they're the bad guys.

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Mackiewicz spoke briefly about his comic, Gasolina. It starts as a crime book and transitions to horror. He described it as “Narcos meets Aliens.”

Next up was Evolution, a book that's easily one of my most anticipated titles of the year. Skybound took the writer's room approach like Thief of Thieves. There are four writers, all based in Portland, working on the book. It takes place in a world where human evolution escalates a million years in the blink of an eye. The Cronenberg-inspired series is set to begin at the end of November.

To wrap up the titles, we had Kill the Minotaur, a new take on the tale of Theseus, replacing the Minotaur with an alien creature that crash landed on Earth. It's currently in development at Universal and the writers of the comic are working on the script.

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The panel was then opened up to Q&A. A fan asked about the idea of a shared universe between Skybound titles. Kirkman joked about bringing Redneck characters into The Walking Dead. Cates said he's talked with Jordie Bellaire about her book, Redlands, as they're both set in the South. There is a tiny crossover of sorts in Redneck #8 that is a nod to another hugely successful Image book.

A fan asked what else they might be working on, which is kind of a weird question because they just went over all of the books in the library. Kirkman pointed out they're working with Skydance to make a Walking Dead VR game. Mackiewicz said they're starting work on the Season 4 writer's room for Season 4 of the Walking Dead game. This is the conclusion of Clem's story.

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The question of Texas stereotypes was brought up to Cates, as it's become a setting for a number of stories lately. Cates responded by saying, “If I got hung up on stereotypes about my people, I'd never get out of bed.” He uses Texas as a backdrop because it's something he knows and loves. He's not an ambassador for the state and he's not trying to change people's minds about it. All the characters in Redneck are based on real people and friends. In the end, he's all for the Texas love because there's plenty of room for everyone.

A fan asked Mackiewicz if there were any dream monsters he'd like to include in Gasolina. He said he thinks Predator is cool, although he's not going to pull in any specifics because this is a creator-owned title. It has its own mythology. A big influence on the series was Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. universe.

All in all, Skybound is an exciting imprint of Image Comics and there is definitely a book for you. I'm already digging everything in the line-up so I'm pumped to check out these new books.

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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