Category: Emerald City Comicon 2009

ECCC 09: Wrap-Up And Looking Forward With Jim Demonakos

The Emerald City ComiCon has solidified its position as the little comic convention that could.
In fact, it’s not even fair calling it “little” anymore. It’s grown from its humble origins in a corridor of Qwest Field to the main room at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.

This year, Battlestar Galactica cast members Tahmoh Peniket, Aaron Douglas, and Michael Hogan, plus Wil Wheaton, Jewel Staite, Ray Park and the Suicide Girls worked the floor alongside an impressive horde of comic book writers, artists and publishers. All corners of the nerd-world were representing (including the cosplayers), making it a very enjoyable convention.

wilw1

ECCC organizer Jim Demonakos took the time to talk about this year’s con and answered some questions about the exclusive “Monsters and Dames” artbook, what it’s like running a convention amidst a recession, and forming the first-ever comic book rock band.

Pop Culture Zoo: First off, congratulations of what appeared to be another successful year. What were your impressions of the weekend? What were your highlights? Was there anything you thought could have gone smoother?

Jim Demonakos: Thanks! The weekend was great, the show was really successful and we’re really thrilled with the results. For me, the highlights was just seeing the fan response to all the stuff going on, whether it was the guests, the panels, the celebrity photos, it just seemed everyone was having a good time on both sides of the table everywhere. My only complaint, and this is something of us to address, was because of the growth of the show, registration didn’t run as smoothly as it could have and we aim to fix that by next year.

PCZ: Do you have any attendance numbers yet?

JD: We were at about 11,000 this year, compared to around 9,000 last year and 2,500 our first year, it’s been nice and steady growth.

wondertwins

PCZ: Why do you think Seattle has proven to be a successful breeding ground of nerd activity?

JD: Seattle is very technology friendly, and those fields and “nerd activity” as you call it blend together pretty well, so I think it’s something… of a no-brainer, we have some of the best fans in the industry.

PCZ: Let’s talk about the “Monsters and Dames” art book. I managed to snag a copy of it and it’s a fun book with a great lineup of artists. [The book has new art from many of this year’s guests, including Becky Cloonan, Dave Johnson, Amanda Conner, Bruce Timm, Ted Naifeh, Gene Ha, and features a great cover by Frank Cho.] Can you talk about the process of putting this book together?

JD: Well, the idea was to do something cool for charity, specifically, Seattle Children’s Hospital. It took me a long time to come up with the theme, but after I did and started talking to artists about it, it kind of came in a flood – everyone loved the concept and doing it for charity was definitely something artists could get behind. So little by little, we started getting in these amazing pieces of art and the book came together pretty nicely.

We have a few of these great books left, so if anyone out there reading is interested in getting a book and supporting a great cause, drop us an e-mail at info@emeraldcitycomicon.com.

md-1

PCZ: While I was walking the floor I saw the Kirby Krackle booth, which I found out you’re involved with. Can you talk about where the idea to form a comic book influenced band came from and your involvement in it? Also – how did Sunday’s show go?

JD: Kyle [Stevens, co-band mate] and I talked about the lack of good comic book music out there, it’s usually some guy yelling the name of a hero over and over again, or just small references to them in songs. Kyle is a full time musician, so that combined with our shared geekiness for all things pop culture, came together in to what Kirby Krackle is, a mix of real music with pop culture-infused lyrics.

The show on Sunday went great, it was a pretty full room and it was also the first time KK performed live with a bassist and drummer. You can check out some of the YouTube videos we posted. It was tons of fun.

kirbykrackle

PCZ: It doesn’t appear to be the ideal economic climate for comic conventions right now – but the ECCC continues to get bigger and better each year. Did the economic doom and gloom affect your planning for this year’s convention at all? What about looking ahead to next year?

JD: It definitely made us nervous about the show, we did try our best to be conservative on our spending, but at the end of the day, we just did the show like we always did and hoped for the best, which turned out okay, hahaha.

Same goes for next year, we have a definite plan and a budget, just trying to make sure we get the mix of exhibitors, guests, dealers and more that
makes ECCC a show people want to come back to year after year.

PCZ: Where do you see the convention heading in the years to come? Have you even started thinking about next year yet?

JD: I think eventually the show will find it’s way to three days, but that’s a couple years off minimum. I’m already working on guests and ideas for next year, I can announce that Skottie Young is on board and we’re talking to a lot of cool people. We’re also starting on “Monsters & Dames 2010” which
will benefit children with autism. It’s pretty early to actually announce anything, but I’ll say we have some really exciting things in the works!

The 8th Emerald City ComiCon will be held March 13-14, 2010. Jo Chen, Joe Casey and Darwyn Cooke are also tentatively scheduled.

ECCC 09: Catching Up With Dan DiDio And Ian Sattler

Here’s the final interview I conducted at Emerald City ComiCon 2009. Just like last year, DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio and Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler were gracious enough to chat with me for a few minutes. Much like they are in the DC Comics panels at conventions, these guys are easy-going and a pleasure to talk to. Enjoy!

PCZ: Last year when we talked I got in trouble for not asking you for more details on Aquaman. Dan, I know you brought up Aquaman yesterday.

DD: Yes I did, but I couldn’t get a straight answer from the panel. If I can’t get a straight answer about Aquaman how are you going to get one?

PCZ: He’s in Blackest Night obviously.

DD: Yes, he is. He’s a Black Lantern.

PCZ: Is there a plan for the character after?

IS: Ok, I’m going to jump all over you for asking that now. Blackest Night starts in July and is easily the biggest event in comics this year and we get questions all the time about what’s going to happen after. Why doesn’t everyone just enjoy the eight months of awesome “dead shall rise”, multi-colored Corps. fighting that we’re going to get in the meantime? Then, when we get to issue seven of Blackest Night then we can start talking about what we’re doing down the road. I think that’s my soapbox statement for the day.

DD: You did a good job with it.

PCZ: So, Blackest Night isn’t just a way to say “Hey we killed all these characters, now we can bring them all back!”

IS: No. This is something Geoff Johns’ been planning for how many years now, Dan?

DD: Almost since he started Green Lantern: Rebirth. He always had this idea of the story of Blackest Night in mind from the start of Rebirth. You’ll actually see little threads that will go all the way back from there to now.

IS: We kid and say it’s a way to get all our dead characters back, but this is the third part of a big trilogy that Geoff’s been doing in Green Lantern. It seems to have been embraced by the fans. I loved Sinestro Corps and Blackest Night is poised to quadruple the action and the stakes.

PCZ: Again, this isn’t an “end point”, this is another story that propels the DC Universe forward.

IS: We have no endpoint.

DD: You shouldn’t or we’re out of jobs!

IS: Yeah, Blackest Night ends and we’re like “Ok, everybody, see ya! Thanks!”

PCZ: So, Wednesday Comics is the new weekly that picks up after Trinity is finished.

DD: Yes it is. For twelve weeks.

PCZ: Will there be a weekly past that or is it time to give them a break?

DD: I think we see weeklies as an extremely viable formula. We’ve built an office to support it and we have more ideas down the road.

PCZ: Ok, let’s hit a couple of characters we haven’t seen in a while. Ray Palmer as the Atom?

IS: Yes, he’ll be in Cry For Justice. That series will answer a lot of questions…and then set up a lot more. See how I did that?

PCZ: Hawkman and Hawkgirl, were they killed in Final Crisis?

DD: No, nope.

PCZ: Ok, so there are plans to follow that up?

IS: Oh yeah! (big laugh) Yeah, that’s a huge story coming up.

PCZ: Other than Blackest Night, what are a couple of books that you are most excited about in the next few months?

IS: I’m going to go nuts here. Final Crisis Aftermath: Run!, Dance, Ink and Escape.

DD: He only likes those because they’re easy to pronounce.

IS: Yeah, single syllable titles are something I can get behind! But seriously, between the creative teams and the storylines on those books, they are so exceptional and so different from what I think people are expect from a normal DCU book. Like I’ve said, they have ramifications, they count, they take the everyday characters from Final Crisis and re-establish them.

Then, we’ve got Cry For Justice, which is as beautiful and as big a deal as you can imagine coming from James Robinson. Nobody knows how big a deal that book is going to be. It’s massive to the DCU. I’m going to say every Batman book, Greg Rucka on Action Comics, James and Greg on World of New Krypton, James on Superman. All the Green Lantern stuff that’s going on. Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges coming up on Justice Society, awesome stuff there, when you see the art on the first issue it’s going to totally blow your mind.

We’ve got a bunch of new characters on Wonder Woman with Achilles and the Olympians and major plans for how that’s going to spin-off into the DCU. We have massive, massive changes coming up for Titans and Teen Titans in the post Deathtrap crosssover. Big plans for Green Arrow/Black Canary, Captain Atom’s coming back, we have co-features in a bunch of books, we have Wednesday Comics. So, you know, you ask me for a couple of things we’re stoked about…Everything! I could not be more thrilled with our line right now and with what we have planned. There’s stuff we’re not even talking about yet.

PCZ: Yeah, it seems like you guys have always had things going on, but in the last year and this year and going forward you seem to have multiple things going on in many areas. There’s something for everyone.

IS: We spent a lot of time focusing on each core franchise in the DCU and figuring out a way to make them as vital and exciting as possible. We have talent that has been with us for a while, like Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and James Robinson and we have guys who have been with us for less time like Eric Wallace and Matt Sturges, who are really bringing a new and vital energy to what we’re doing. I stand behind every single book we’re doing right now.

PCZ: And when are you making Grant [Morrison] write a multiverse book?

IS: Soon!

PCZ: Great. Well, thank you guys, it was great talking to you again.

DD: Thank you.

IS: You too, thank you.

Thanks to Dan DiDio and Ian Sattler for talkign to me once again.

ECCC 09: A Conversation With Aaron Douglas

Over the last decade, Canadian actor Aaron Douglas has had several prominent guest-starring roles on many high profile television series. Six years ago the Vancouver, British Columbia native landed the role of Chief Galen Tyrol in the re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica. We caught up with Aaron at this year’s Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle, Washington and he graciously agreed to chat with us about BSG and where you will see him next.

PCZ: Have you been to Seattle before?

AD: Yeah, I live in Vancouver, I come down for Mariners games and Seahawks games. I probably get down four or five times a year. I love Seattle, Seattle’s gorgeous. The restaurants are great, the people are lovely, obviously. Seattle is very much like Vancouver. Same kind of city.

PCZ: BSG is done. That show had to have been a lot of work, a physically demanding, emotionally demanding, mentally demanding show.

AD: Absolutely. Six years of getting put through the ringer day after day. Our writers are unbelievable. The stories mirror our real lives so much, a lot of it was really difficult to do, but exhilarating and fantastic. I’m really proud of the show, really proud of the work. It’s over, but it’s a good thing.

PCZ: What did you think when you got the first script, where you familiar with the first Battlestar Galactica?

AD: Oh yeah! No, I grew up on the old show. I read the mini-series and I thought that it could be really great. It’s a weird thing, you know, you read all kinds of scripts. I’ve read scripts that are fantastic, but the movie turns out to be a piece of crap and I’ve read scripts that are kind of so-so and, for some reason, it just works. You have no idea what’s going to really happen. It really depends on the actors, the crew, the director and then sort of tweaking as you go along. It’s a really interesting process.

PCZ: Was it a little more appealing because it wasn’t hardcore sci-fi where you were going to be having pages of techno-babble?

AD: Thank god I didn’t get the Gaeta role for sure! The techno-babble is tough stuff. The great thing about our show was it was really just a human drama that just happens to take place on a spaceship. So, it could be anywhere, on a battleship, it could be in a conference center, it could be anything. What’s so great about the show is the human drama and the interaction in the relationships. And that we don’t have green monsters.

PCZ: Were you surprised or did you find out ahead of time that the Chief was going to be a Cylon?

AD: They sat us down the day of the read-through before we started shooting that episode and told us initially. I didn’t like it at first, but I sure like it now.

PCZ: It played out pretty well.

AD: Absolutely, absolutely.

PCZ: And in the finale episode the Chief gets to be the first Highlander.

AD: That was my idea!

PCZ: Excellent!

AD: Yeah, Ron [Moore] wrote it to be Vancouver Island. The dialogue I think in the script was, “The last raptor out tomorrow is going to drop me off on an island off the northern continent.” My mind immediately went, “Scotland!” because I’m a Douglas and I’m fiercely, fiercely proud of my Scottish heritage. I called Ron and I asked if it was Scotland and he went, “Oh, ummm…” and I said, “Can it be Scotland?!?” He said he was thinking more of it being Vancouver Island as an homage and I went, “No, no, no, Scotland, Scotland!” So he sure, of course. I ad-libbed the part about the Highlands and a few other things and that’s what it became. I then talked to Bear McCreary and told him the island I’m going to off the northern continent is Scotland and so then he put in the bagpipes and the Celtic flute, which I just loved. I can’t hear that stuff without crying, it just melts my heart. It’s in my blood and DNA. Bear is such a genius and it was so wonderful of him to put that in. It was very, very cool.

PCZ: As the show went on, I was starting to wonder if we’d get to the end and still like any of the characters. Every one of these characters did something reprehensible…

AD: What the hell did I do?? What did the Chief do that was reprehensible?

PCZ: He killed one of the Number Eight Cylon models to replace Boomer in prison so she could escape.

AD: (pause) Ok, fair enough. (laughs)

PCZ: And then she absconded with Hera!

AD: Yeah, well that’s true. He didn’t know she was taking Hera, though. He just whacked some Cylon.

PCZ: Has there ever been anything in the show where you were like “Guys, are we sure we want to do this?”

AD: No, I love all of that stuff. The more difficult it is to watch or read, the better it is, because it just gives you more to play and it’s more interesting. I mean, people in life are really screwed up. It really mirrors life. Not everybody is good, everybody has sides of themselves that are good and not so good. That’s really what it was.

PCZ: Especially in the situation that the characters were in, that seems how people would behave instead of being a merry crew.

AD: And that’s what they wanted to match, they wanted to match real life.

PCZ: You have a new show, The Bridge. You get to be a cop in that one?

AD: I play a guy who was a cop for eighteen years and becomes head of the police union for six. It’s based on a real guy. So, it’s the story of him being a beat cop and then also being head of the union and dealing with all the brass, all the bullshit they go through. The pilot’s amazing. Fortunateky, I have the creator of the show also being the guy who I’m playing. He’s on set everyday and he’s a great resource.

PCZ: So, it’s based on a true story?

AD: Based on a real guy, yep. It premieres July 9th on CBS after CSI. Thursdays at 10:00PM.

PCZ: You’re also working on Emissary?

AD: Yeah, yeah, we won’t start shooting Emissary until the Fall. That’s going to be a direct-to-iTunes show. That’s with Phil Morris and Thaao Penghlis. It’s sort of a sci-fi thriller and should be really, really interesting. (pause) I play a cop in that too. (laughs) I can’t get away from being a cop.

PCZ: Cool. Well, that’s all I have for you. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.

AD: Not at all, it was nice to meet you. Thank you.

ECCC 09: Wacky Hi-Jinks With Brandon Jerwa And Eric Trautmann – With Exclusive Art!

Brandon Jerwa and Eric S. Trautmann are no strangers to critically acclaimed comics, as each has written well-received titles at two major publishers. Brandon has crafted the stories for Dynamite Entertainment’s Battlestar Galactica – Season Zero and Highlander and Eric has co-written DC Comics’ Checkmate and goes solo for the upcoming JSA vs. Kobra mini-series. I had the pleasure of speaking to both at this year’s Emerald City ComiCon and, as the title implies, it was a lively conversation!

wa01From “Popgun” Volume II, art by David Messina with Mirco Pierfederici

PCZ: As Brandon told me earlier, you guys are working on something together, is that correct?

Eric: Yes.

PCZ: …and what is that?

Eric: All we are currently authorized to say is that we are working on a book for DC/Vertigo. It’s a stand-alone graphic novel. We can’t tell you who the artist is yet, but he’s awesome. It’s a name you will recognize. We don’t know when it’s coming out and we can’t tell you anything about what it’s about.

Brandon: It will have a front cover, a back cover and several pages.

Eric: They may be in sequential order.

PCZ: Some words, some pictures…?

Eric: Right! We don’t want to over sell it.

Brandon: Yeah, before Eric can completely make you feel like this interview is a total bust, I was actually referring to Wide Awake, which is our new webcomic.

Eric: Yes, that we can talk about!

PCZ: Excellent, do you have a website for it already?

Brandon: We do, it is www.wideawakeonline.com.

PCZ: And what is this webcomic about?

Eric: It began as sort of a nine-page teaser that we did for the second volume of Image’s Popgun series, which is also available online at Brandon’s wonderful “Anything Goes” column at Comics Waiting Room, complete with Director’s Commentary. It’s a supernatural adventure story, for lack of a better term, about a young woman who has the ability in her dreams to encounter various monsters, supernatural horrors, awful things. If she doesn’t defeat them in her dreams, she wakes up and they’re in the room with her and she no longer has fantastic powers. That’s the general high concept. Sinister demonic forces from the other world are trying to manipulate her power in such a way to bring about the end of the world. If she dreams Armageddon, it will happen.

“It’s a supernatural adventure story…about a young woman who has the ability in her dreams to encounter various monsters, supernatural horrors, awful things.” – Eric Trautmann on “Wide Awake”

PCZ: Is this a full-page comic or a four panel strip?

Brandon: Basically, we are approaching it very much in honor of the greatness that is FreakAngels and we’re going to have a new six-page installment each new chapter. And we are actually trying to keep it strip-like in the layout. It will read like a comic book page, but keeping the panel count low and letting it just serve as a nice little strip piece. We have three issues worth of material plotted out for the first installment, so it’ll essentially be like a big mini-series when it’s done. We’re intending to launch a “zero chapter” on Free Comic Book Day as a free comic book online.

Eric: [The free comic] will be indicative of the format that we’re going to use, six pages. Poor Brandon had written a chapter before we’d had a lot of time to sit down and talk about the format and the first script was perfect for a traditional floppy comic and I said “Yeah, I don’t think we should do that, we should totally do it this other way. Everything you’ve done is great except we gotta do it all over.” And then once he’d stopped hitting me and I’d stopped crying we worked it out. We spent a lot of time looking at FreakAngels and Watchmen.

Watchmen is fascinating to me because it’s constructed almost exclusively on a nine panel grid, which is a deceptively simple layout, but allows you to do some rather surprisingly cinematic effects. Most of Watchmen consists of pans and zooms and, really, camera movement. It’s also really easy for someone who’s never ever picked up a comic book to decode those pages. If you look at a conventional comic book as layouts get more sophisticated readers who’ve been reading comics for twenty to thirty years get it, but if you hand it to someone like my mom, she’d be lost. It’s a webcomic, we’re not just selling the product to comic readers, but to anyone on the Internet. We have the same shelf-space as anyone in that regard. A lot of work went into the page layout and the methodology.

PCZ: Is this something you’re going to collect in a trade eventually?

Brandon: That is the end result that we’d like to get to. Right now we just want the story to be told and get it into the hands of as many people as possible and sort of let their reaction dictate what format to present it in after that. We don’t have any publishers lined up for a trade deal or anything. We figure that will come in time.

Eric: Story first.

Brandon: Yeah, and we should speak about the artists since they can’t be here to speak for themselves. They are many, many miles away. We first did the Popgun piece with David Messina, who seems to draw every IDW book, and I met David through Stefano Caselli, who I did G.I. Joe – Master & Apprentice with and he went on to become a Marvel super-star. We got together with David and did the Popgun piece and he had some assistance from a guy who was one of his students, because David’s also an art teacher in Italy, Mirco Pierfederici. It really became sort of a collaborative effort for Popgun for them and when it came time to do the webcomic we came back to them and said are you interested in doing this. Mirco actually stepped up to the plate to be lead artist while David is going to serve as art director and oversee it from that standpoint.

Eric: And he’s going to do covers for each installment and that’s awesome!

PCZ: Is there going to be Internet gold-foil covers or…?

Eric: Yes! We’re working on that right now. Grant Morrison has been sitting on that technology for decades.

Brandon: We’re actually having the entire website polybagged. But in all seriousness, the Italians are out of their freaking minds and they will cut you with knives, as we’ve learned via email. David once told us that he would cut us with knives.

Eric: Yeah, and that was a joke. That was actually one of the funny things when we first started doing the Popgun piece. Of course, they correspond with us in English, but English is not their first language and I had written a description of a character who had a five-o’clock shadow. I got this note back saying “Ok, so I got the clock on the wall and it’s at five o’clock, but I don’t know where you want the shadow to go.” So, it’s been an interesting exercise in writing the scripts and really boiling things down to avoid just idiomatic differences. When we were joking about it, and I’m sure this joke is just hysterical in Italian, but David said “I will cut you with knives.”

Brandon: I occasionally get instant messages from Stefano asking me for help with translating something he’s working on, if there’s a reference he doesn’t understand he knows I’m quick to reach. Once he asked me, “What does this mean, a range rover? Is that a type of cowboy?” and I said no, no, no, let’s not have anybody riding a cowboy in your script.

I think, too, that with Wide Awake, you know, none of us are getting paid, it’s just putting art out there and just doing our thing. There’s nothing purer than that, there’s no incentive to do anything other than your best work, which of course we would never dream of doing otherwise! It’s just the purity of the form, I suppose.

“…with ‘Wide Awake’, you know, none of us are getting paid, it’s just putting art out there and just doing our thing. here’s nothing purer than that, there’s no incentive to do anything other than your best work…” – Brandon Jerwa

PCZ: That seems to be the way to go for people that can’t get work at Marvel or DC, they just go “You know what, I’m just going to do my own website, put out my book that way, collect it in trades and hopefully enough people will want to pick it up.”

Eric: Exactly, this is indicative of the both of us being at the end of our careers now. Thank you!

Brandon: Thank you very much!

Eric: The stuff I’ve done for DC has always been collaborative and it’s all serving DC’s overall editorial vision, which is great. It’s their toys and I am incredibly thankful that they’ve let me do that, but at the same time it’s a lot of me subordinating my own personal aesthetic to DC’s. Something like Wide Awake, this is not like that, the sky’s the limit, we can do whatever we want. It’s just really invigorating.

PCZ: So when you’re writing it, there’s no “Can we do this?”, instead it’s “Why yes we can!”

Eric: Yeah, exactly. A great example is in the JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith series I’m doing I’ve actually written back up scenes because I can’t imagine DC will let me get away with what I just put down on paper. Ironically, I get “Yeah, no problem, can you do worse?” and I’m like “Y-yeah, you’re daring me, you know that, right?” Actually, the note I got back from Rachel Gluckstern, who’s editing the JSA vs. Kobra book, was “You have to work really hard to shock me,” but yeah, don’t test that.

PCZ: That’s a challenge!

Eric: I don’t want to make her cry, but I’ll consider it a victory.

Brandon: Far less work than you realize…

PCZ: Ok, staying with JSA vs. Kobra, is that from a plot point that comes out of Justice Society of America or does that follow the storyline from Checkmate?

Eric: Yes. It is not a Checkmate story. They came to me after Ivan Brandon’s Faces of Evil: Kobra one-shot that closed off some of the Checkmate plot-points that were still there after the end of the series. At one point I was considered to take over the series and Kobra was going to feature very prominently in that and they knew that. There had been some talk for a long time of doing a Janus Directive style spies versus terrorists in the DC Universe story, which I discussed very thoroughly with Joan Hilty, who had edited Checkmate and is now editing our Vertigo book. Apparently the idea took root at DC editorial and at some point somebody said “You know, Trautmann did a lot of work prepping Kobra, we should probably ask him if he wants to do it.”

The funny part was that they asked me if I wanted to do this book about Kobra and I said absolutely. Marty Pasko and Jack Kirby had done the solo book in the ’70s and those are great footsteps to be following. And I get to write a bad-guy book and that’s right in my wheel-house. I wrote a couple of proposals for it and I got a note back from Rachel at one point going “Hey, this is really good, but I’m a little puzzled why the Justice Society isn’t in it.” I was a little puzzled why they thought they should be and I was told internally it was referred to as JSA vs. Kobra. That’s great…I’m external, that’s important information, thanks, let me go revise that really inappropriate proposal! It was funny. But I couldn’t be more thrilled. The JSA on the cover is going to move more books and expose more people to my particular mental illness. Gene Ha is doing the covers, how could you not be happy with that? Don Kramer, who drew nine million pages of Justice Society is doing the art. It’s great, he sent me a note back saying “I’m not sure this guy would do that.” You’re right then, I’ll change it! He knows the characters better than I do.

wa02From “Popgun” Volume II, art by David Messina with Mirco Pierfederici

PCZ: And you’re pulling in everyone in the JSA that you can?

Eric: As many as I can fit. There are about, what, three hundred of them now? Battalion strength. For the most part, most of the JSA players that I could fit on the page are in it. I do break off Power Girl and Mr. Terrific and the Alan Scott Green Lantern briefly in issue two for reasons that are fairly apparent when you read the issue, so I won’t be telling you now. In issue three, the idea is that while they are off doing something, the kids back at the Brownstone are not sitting idle, so there’s a bit where they’re split up for a little bit and then back together by the end. So, yeah, as many as I could fit on the page without killing Don.

PCZ: When’s the first issue out?

Eric: June. And it should be monthly.

PCZ: And Brandon you’re going to the big Highlander convention, right?

Brandon: I am, it’s my second Highlander convention and I’m super excited. They invited me to the one in Vancouver a couple of years ago and I was scared to go, honestly, because the Highlander comic book series was at about the halfway point and I wasn’t very clear on how the hardcore fandom was receiving the book. I got there and sold out of every book I’d brought in something like ninety minutes. There was almost a literal fist-fight between two women for the last copy.

Eric: Because “There can be only one!” It had to be said, I’m a horrible person.

Brandon: Eric Trautmann, ladies and gentlemen! So yeah, this one’s in Los Angeles and I’m very, very excited to go with the Highlander Origins: The Kurgan book that just wrapped up. The Adventures of Li’l Kurgan! Beyond that, Eric and I are just focused a lot on the Vertigo book because it’s ginormous and intense and huge. Wide Awake is obviously occupying our time as well and there are some other possibilities on the horizon that are fantastic that I cannot discuss.

Eric: Yeah, we’re right at that stage of “Wow, it’s really great! Yeah, I can’t tell you.”

PCZ: Well, maybe we can talk down the road when you guys can talk about these other projects.

Eric: Absolutely.

Brandon: Absolutely.

PCZ: Cool, well thanks guys.

Eric: Thank you.

Brandon: Our pleasure.

Thank you very much to both Brandon Jerwa and Eric Trautmann for taking the time out of their busy con schedule to talk to me. Be sure to bookmark www.wideawakeonline.com!

wa03 From “Popgun” Volume II, art by David Messina with Mirco Pierfederici

ECCC 09: ‘Pint O’ C. B.’

For proof that the Emerald City Comicon is the coolest and laidback convention around, one need look any further than Saturday’s “Pint O’ C.B.” panel.

A spin-off of Joe Quesada’s “Cup O’ Joe” panels – where the audience is given free reign of questions – editor C.B. Cebulski was joined by current Marvel Universe architects Brian Michael Bendis (New and Dark Avengers), Ed Brubaker (Captain America and Daredevil) and Matt Fraction (Iron Man and Uncanny X-Men).

Cebulski told the crowd he lost a list of announcements he was planning to make, and that the audience was free to start asking questions. The dialogue between creators and fans was light, making the hour fly by.

While no news was pimped, the informal Q-and-A covered everything from what books the creators were digging to reflections on the old Marvel Fanfare book, Rom: Space Knight and the death of Ultimate Daredevil.

The gauntlet for good questions was dropped when Bendis announced that he had brought along a few advanced copies of his Free Comic Book Day New Avengers issue, drawn by Jim Cheung, and would reward only “great” questions.

“And by great, I mean really kiss my ass.”

The panel began with clearing up some rumors surrounding the potential of a “Dark X-Men” book, which Fraction said, “at this point in this in time, there is no Dark X-Men book.”

One of the first questions was if Wolverine could be a candidate for Sorcerer Supreme, referring to Bendis’ current arc on New Avengers.

The writers then threw out some suggested ideas for what a more magical version of the hairy Canadian might look like, including Fraction’s revelation that Logan is already dressing like Zatanna, with fishnets and a top hat.

Bendis offered proof that the feral mutant might already be displaying new magic-based powers:

“He made his movie magically appear on the Internet,” which drew some laughs from the crowd.

Next, Brubaker talked about his decision to leave Daredevil.

“I figured out the plotline all the way to #500…and I realized if I left right there I would be screwing over the person who followed me in the exact same way [Bendis] screwed me over.”

He also said that’s he been continuously taunting Andy Diggle, his successor on the book.

The conversation turned to the writers discussing comics they’re currently enjoying, and Bendis gave away the first free comic of the panel.

Fraction said Scalped, Ivan Brandon’s upcoming Viking and Fear Agent.
Brubaker cited Ted Naifeh, creator of Courtney Crumrin, Locke & Key, Northlanders and the Buffy comic. He then asked his fellow writers if he “should recommend a book that outsells all of ours?”

Props were given by Bendis to Fraction’s Casanova and Brubaker’s Sleeper, and also Jonathan Hickman’s Transhuman and Nightly News. Cebulski gave praise to Joe Kelly’s I Kill Giants and to manga creator Noaki Ursawa (Monster and Pluto), which Fraction also agreed with.

Some of the geekier discussion revolved around praise for Marvel Fanfare (which might be reprinted!) and Bendis’ love for Rom: Space Knight, which ended with him stating he could die happy if he ever got to write a nerd-porn crossover with ROM, Buckaroo Banzai and the Micronauts.

Discussion also turned to the going-ons of Norman Osborn and it was agreed that the initials of H.A.M.M.E.R. would probably never be revealed because it’s more fun guessing, similar to how the initials in W.A.S.T.E. [Fraction’s organization in Casanova] never stay the same from issue to issue.

One fan asked Bendis why Ultimate Daredevil had to die in the tidal wave that destroyed much of Ultimate New York, to which Bendis revealed that aside from helping Peter man up, it also boiled down to science. (The buildings in Hell’s Kitchen are lower?)

But a highlight was Fraction’s re-enactment of Ultimate Daredevil’s final moments.

“No, seriously, guys – I hear what sounds like running water. Does no one else hear that? It’s so weird.”

One convention-goer asked the writers if there was anything that Marvel had rejected of theirs.

“I can’t get the word “taintpunch” into Ultimate Spider-Man. I’ve written 133 issues – that means I’ve tried 133 times.”

Bendis also said he’ll never be able to get another humor book printed after Wha…Huh?.

Fraction described his pitch for a Sabretooth story that involved the mutant teaming up with a P.R. manager and killing a busload of children. Despite it being rejected, the crowd seemed into it.

Fraction also talked about one of things he was most proud to see appear in his and Brubaker’s Iron Fist: Artist David Aja’s sound effects, which included a neck being broken to “ka-neck” and a shirt slashed with a sword to “shrrt.”

The panel quickly ended with a fan calling for the return of Graviton – which he was denied – along with the last free comic.

However, the highlight of the panel was unquestionably a verbal throw-down between two fans, ending with one getting a free comic for a quick and snarky comeback to a heckler in the audience regarding Thor’s odds of joining the Avengers.