Frank Miller at New York Comic Con
With their first major release – Frank Miller’s controversial graphic novel Holy Terror – finally on stands, Legendary Comics hit New York Comic Con to talk more about their upcoming slate with Official Comic-Con Moderator (not really, but he basically is, let’s be honest) Chris Hardwick. On the panel? Editor-in-Chief of Legendary, Bob Schreck, the aforementioned Frank Miller, and writer/artists Paul Pope and Matt Wagner.
Schreck came out first, talking about how his first convention in New York was 1969. “So yes, I’m an ancient, rotting cadaver,” joked Schreck. He continued to talk about how the heads of Legendary Pictures, and Frank Miller got together to talk with him about starting up a Legendary Comics imprint. He also expressed a fair amount of relief that heir first book, Holy Terror, finally got in stores. “We had a baby,” said Schreck, mock wiping his brow.
“You basically burn these things in your belly – no one knows what the next things are…” continued Schreck. “[We] just want to put out great comics. Lots of people are trying to make comics like spaghetti on the wall. If it works in another medium great, let’s go – but if they don’t stand on all four legs as comics, we’re not interested.”
Bob Schreck and Frank Miller
Asked about Holy Terror, Schreck said that, of course, 9/11 got in the middle of working on it, as some parts were too scarily close to reality, but they kept working on it, through various jobs, until they ended up releasing it through Legendary. Then they showed off the Holy Terror trailer…followed by the entrance of Frank Miller himself!
Talking about how the story changed over time, Miller said, “You know I’ve been asked by my girlfriend why I can’t remember where the dishes go, but I remember every little bit of every story I’ve ever written. These things stick with me.” Over time, he changed the book so that even with all the violence, he wouldn’t show any dead bodies – and he made the character more like Captain America than Batman.
“I usually write the last line of the story first,” continued Miller. “Word for word, on this one I definitely did, I had it on the wall the whole time I was working. And I end up at the beginning. Always know your ending. You should always know what your ending is, even if you change it.”
Miller: “I’m not trying to outrage in particular, it just comes naturally.”
He also talked about how it was, again, 9/11 that kept him going on the project. “I’m too old to go in service for my country, but I do have a specific set of skills, and I can say something about Al-Qaeda,” said Miller. “This is not a religious tract. It’s propaganda. I don’t know squat about Islam, but I do know a lot about Al-Qaeda…and I want them all to burn in Hell.”
Continuing, Miller said, “Propaganda is only bad if you don’t agree with it. If you agree with it, it’s called relevant.” Added Schreck, “Or news.”
Then it was time to bring out Paul Pope, and a little bit lighter chat about Hardwick geeking out about Paul Pope’s Nostromo patch on his jacket, from Alien. And apparently when they were chatting about the patch backstage, Miller walked up to the and said, “Nerds.”
Back to the comics, Pope talked about his Art of Paul Pope book, which will be in LP format… Which led to a lot of riffs about how nobody buys records anymore, and general old fogey-ing around. Good natured, though, so I feel okay about saying that.
Next, an announcement: The One Trick Rip-Off, a book Paul Pope and Bob Schreck worked on together that’s been out of print, will come out from Legendary with 100 extra pages that were never published in America. The book will be full color courtesy of the All-Star Superman team, and completely remastered. The book hits in May, and the Art of Paul Pope will be December of 2012. Pope said that other than his DC and Marvel work, this is pretty much the entirety of his art from the past two decades.
Then Hardwick welcomed out Matt Wagner to the stage. Wagner talked a bit about his title, The Tower Chronicles, which is three separate graphic novels. He compared them to the Jason Bourne movies, which each feel like a separate story, but with an overall mystery. The title follows a supernatural bounty hunter, who has an “intricate back-story,” according to Wagner. The first novel is called “Phantom Hawk,” and Wagner is almost done writing it.
There’s also a social media component to The Tower Chronicles, which led to a bit a discussion about how, for the most part, its about the story, and the writer, not the promotion aspects… Though they’re also important. That discussion morphed into how, as everybody on the panel is writer/artists, and they’re able to get their vision out however they want. Chiming in, Schreck said that his job as an Editor is to ask questions, point out potential problem areas, but not force the creators to change their basic ideas.
Wagner added that, “It’s fun to create your own thing, and then there’s also fun for playing with the pieces on the board.”
Next up, a surprise addition to the panel, Michael Kaluta. He’ll be drawing a, “big, meaty graphic novel based on the John Milton poem Paradise Lost.” The book will be written by Steve Niles, who you know from 30 Days of Night (probably). Kaluta talked about how people confuse it with Dante’s Inferno, but it’s actually about the establishment of Hell. No news on date yet, other than, “quite a while.”
Then it was time for audience questions!
– Paul Pope said that THB will be coming out from First Second after Battling Boy – which has a release date, but he wants to leave that for First Second to announce.
– Asked whether the panelists had any concerns about getting involved in a, “Hollywood comic book company,” Pope said, “If Schreck said he was going to pump gas in Tucson, Arizona, I would go along.” Added Schreck, “Well, I’ve got a surprise for you.”
– The talk turned to whether Miller was getting more outrageous, the creator said, “I’m not trying to outrage in particular, it just comes naturally.”
– Any new Sin City books? “There are Sin City books on the back burner right now. There will be more Sin City stories, and I have every intention of doing them with Dark Horse,” said Miller.
– The next fan told Hardwick that not only has he been his gateway to most things geeky, he inspired him to lose a lot of weight, and gave him the courage to get a girlfriend. Hardwick was noticeably flattered, said thanks, and the fan said, “But my question for the panel is—“ “No, no, keep it here,” joked Hardwick, to applause from the audience.
Legendary Comics panel moderator Chris Hardwick
– The last question – which was amazing – was whether the panelists know if there’s a difference between writing, “A comic book, and a real novel?” When the crowd started to boo, he clarified – no joke, totally seriously, “No, I mean, do you guys see yourself as failed novelists?” Easing things over, Miller answered, “The man asked a decent question, and my answer is, if you’re picking up 300, you’re reading a novel.”
With that, we were done with the Legendary Comics panel, and on to the next one! See you back here for more from New York Comic-Con.