“Locke and Key” wraps up while Little Nemo returns in IDW’s “Panel to End All Panels”

(CBR) IDW Publishing titled its Saturday afternoon panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego the “Panel to End All Panels,” and judging by the sheer volume of announcements made they may have been right. New projects were announced for “Locke and Key” co-creators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, “SNL” star Taran Killam, “The Maxx” creator Sam Kieth, legendary artist Walter Simonson and more.
IDW Publishing EIC and moderator Chris Ryall kicked off the panel by introducing everyone on stage. The packed panel included editor Sarah Gaydos and Darby Pop Publishing E-i-C David Wohl, SNL-alum and “The Heat” star Taran Killam, “Manhunter” writer Marc Andreyko, special projects editor Scott Dunbier, legendary artist Walt Simonson, writer Eric Shanower and “The Maxx” creator Sam Kieth.
A picture of IDW’s “Doctor Who Special 2013” by writer Paul Cornell came onscreen and Ryall immediately pulled up writer Cornell, who was seated in the audience, to briefly describe the story.
“The Doctor lands in the real world, meets Matt Smith, goes to a ‘Doctor Who’ convention and discovers all his adventures are available on DVD,” Cornell said. “It’s 40 pages of glorious Jimmy Broxton art with lots of back-ups. IDW have done us really, really well… It’s my farewell to Matt Smith and it’s my celebration of the show, which I still love desperately as the heart of everything I do.”
Ryall then pointed out a mysterious silhouette between the eighth and ninth Doctor Who in a lineup of the Doctors on the issue’s cover. “There’s definitely something big going on,” he said.
The panel then moved to “Locke and Key: Alpha” #2, the finale to Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s epic, six-year-long saga. Ryall described the book as “one of the best things that I’ve ever been involved with.”

“In every way this book has become a big and important thing,” said Ryall. “It really resonates with fans. I don’t think I’ve been to convention in four or five years that I haven’t seen a [‘Locke and Key’] tattoo on somebody’s arm or their back or their neck. It’s really meant a lot to a lot of people.”

To help celebrate the ending of the book, IDW will be publishing variant covers by Bernie Wrightson, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Sim, Glen Fabry and Michael Kaluta.

Ryall revealed that Hill and Rodriguez would be doing a couple more “Locke and Key” stories after the finale of the main series in a book called “The Golden Age.” “They’ve done a series of one-shots over the years, some of them have been Eisner nominated, but they haven’t been collected,” Ryall said. “So they’re gonna add a few more to that and we’re gonna collect that in one more book called ‘The Golden Age.'”

“In fact, if you saw Joe [Hill] on twitter this week,” continued Ryall. “He found these old keys from the 1800s that are actually guns. They have littler triggers and fire a shot. Joe said, ‘There’s no way I’m not doing a story with these keys, guys!'”

After “Locke and Key,” both Rodriguez and Hill have new projects coming out through IDW. Hill and artist Charles Paul Wilson III are putting out “Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland” in November. The book tells an early tale of the child-stealing Charles Talent Manx III from Hill’s best-selling novel “NOS4A2.”

Rodriguez is teaming with writer Eric Shanower for “Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland.” When Ryall put the gorgeous cover of the first issue onscreen it elicited audible gasps from the audience.

Shanower described the book’s basic story, saying, “Little Nemo is going to be a new child from modern day, but Slumberland is going to be the same as it was back then. King Morpheus of Slumberland is going to send the Candy Kid to get Nemo to come and be the princess’s new playmate just like the original Little Nemo was sent to become.. But unlike back then, this Little Nemo doesn’t really think becoming a playmate for the princess is such a hot idea and conflict ensues.”
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to match the original ‘Little Nemo’ by Winsor McCay,” sad Shanower. “It’s a classic strip and I don’t think it’s been matched much in 110 years of comics history. We’re not trying to redo ‘Little Nemo’ exactly as it was and beat Winsor McCay. I think that’s a losing proposition.”
IDW special projects editor Scott Dunbier added, “Eric makes great all-ages stories. They work for younger readers, they work for older readers, they work for everybody.”

Next, Ryall revealed “Saturday Night Live” star Taran Killam was on the panel because he’s co-writing new IDW series “The Illegitimates” with “Manhunter” scribe Marc Andreyko. The book sees government organization Olympus assemble a team comprised of all the illegitimate children a James Bond analogue named Agent Steele fathered with femme fatales over the years.
“I’m a huge fan of James Bond films and spy films in general and I found that most of them tend to end with him and some beautiful woman on a tropical island after a plane explosion. And I don’t know where he’s hiding that condom!” Killam said. “Over the years many of these warrior-type women have been impregnated by Steele and sired children. Olympus has been anonymously nurturing and monitoring them in hopes that one day they will come together and take their father’s place. And they do! “
The series will focus on five of these children,” continued Killam. “Five of these bastards who don’t know about each other, who don’t know about their father and are asked under very high pressure circumstances to take their fathers place and save the world.”
Both Killam and Andreyko joked Steele was “not James Bond at all!” “
To be working at the same company as Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird is pretty unbelievable. It’s a dream come true because ‘Ninja Turtles’ has always been a huge part of my life,” Killam gushed.
Andreyko interjected, “You’re so young!”
Ryall showed a cover image and announced IDW would be putting out a new “24” miniseries soon, based on the classic Fox show featuring anti-terrorism agent Jack Bauer. IDW has published several “24” comics in the past.
Veteran comic book editor and writer David Wohl next revealed upcoming offerings from his new IDW imprint, Darby Pop Publishing.
“Indestructible,” from writer Jeff Kline and artists Javi Garron, Salvi Garcia and Chris Johnson, is about a man who survives a bullet-wound by chance and gets celebrated as a super hero, so he decides to run with it. Wohl revealed the original title of the book was “Stoner.”
“City” by “Matchstick Men” screenwriter Eric Garcia and cover artist Tommy Lee Edwards is about a man who gets every closed circuit camera in the city hooked up directly to his vision, allowing him to see everywhere and everyone.
The last Darby Pop title announced was “The 7th Sword” by John Raffo and artist Nelson Blake II. Wohl described the book as an apocalyptic Western sci-fi tale.
Dunbier and “The Maxx” creator Sam Kieth then announced that IDW would not only be publishing “The Maxx: Artist’s Edition,” announced the previous day, but also recolored collected hardcover editions of “The Maxx,” as well as “The Worlds of Sam Kieth,” a three-volume series of hardcover art books showcasing years worth of Kieth’s art. Dunbier said the “Worlds of Sam Kieth” line “shows Sam’s progression from literally a young boy up to breaking into comics. It’s a very, very personal book. It’s very unusual, I’ve never heard of anything quite like it.”
Kieth was tight-lipped when asked to describe the project saying, “I think you guys nailed it.”
The announcements kept coming as Walter Simonson gave the audience a peak at “Ragnarok,” a new creator-owned book featuring an alternate take on the Norse gods, including his own version of Thor. In the book, Thor is not around during Ragnarok, the Norse end of days, to stop the Midgard Serpent from ensnaring the world. As a result, the balance is destroyed and the nine realms collapse into one until hundreds of years later Thor returns to avenge his fallen kin. Simonson proved his master storytelling ability as he transfixed the entire audience by merely describing the book.
“Ragnarok is the end of all things, it’s the twilight of the gods, it’s the end of time,” Simonson explained. “The gods and their great enemies — and there are many — gather together to battle and fight. In the end they kill each other and the nine worlds burn and the earth sinks below the ocean and all things erode. I like that story, but it doesn’t go anywhere for me. “
So Ragnarok has happened and as things work out, Thor is not there,” he continued. “In the myth he fights a creature called the Midgard Serpent who encircles the world. He’s a huge, terrible serpent. Thor kills Jormungand, the serpent, and as Jormungand dies, blood and death and noxious fumes emit from the giant serpent and overwhelms Thor after he steps back nine paces and drowns in the poisons and he dies along with the rest of the gods, as they die of their own foes. In this story Thor is not there for Ragnarok. I’m not going to tell you why not, but he’s not there and the serpent lives. And because the serpent lives the great enemies of the gods prevail and instead of killing each other and dying together in a great battle the enemies survive and the gods are dead.
“In the Norse myths there are nine worlds. Midgard is one of them, Asgard is one of them, there are others. Because the gods are dead and their enemies live, the great balance of the nine worlds has been destroyed. As a result the nine worlds collide and are no longer separate. So the giants may walk among us. Those that are left alive. Hundreds of years go by and Thor returns without knowledge of what has happened. On the other hand, he’s a smart guy and he figures it out. He understands that his parents are dead. Most of the gods, his brothers and sisters, they’re dead. His family is dead. He’s the only survivor and he carries with him the most powerful weapon among the gods, which is Mjolnir the hammer. And, of course, as a good Viking, when your family is dead and the enemies that killed them are still alive. What would you do? The book is called ‘Ragnarok’ because Ragnarok is not yet over.”
After Simonson’s description there was a brief, electric pause before the audience erupted into cheers.
Ryall gushed, “I could listen to that for hours!”
Simonson is also releasing “Star Slammers: Artist’s Edition” and a new collected edition of “Star Slammers” through IDW next year.

A few more new projects were then announced.
Darwyn Cooke returns to his Eisner-award winning series “Parker” with “Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground.”
“Cerebus” creator Dave Sim will continue to push the envelope of both comics and graphic design with his photorealistic 18-issue maxi-series “The Strange Death of Alex Raymond.” Knowing Sim’s work, Ryall joked, “The strange part is going to play a role more than the death of Alex Raymond.”
And finally, the last project of the panel to be announced was “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” based on the classic Hunter S. Thompson novel about gonzo journalism. No writer or artist was announced for the project, which Ryall described as the “dream project” of IDW founder and CEO Ted Adams.
Ryall then opened the panel up to questions from the floor. A fan wanted to know if the original “Little Nemo” was required reading for “Return to Slumberland.” Shanower said, “It’s gonna be a self-contained story. You won’t need to know anything about the previous ‘Little Nemo,’ but I hope it inspires a lot of people to go back and look at the original ‘Little Nemo.'”
Finally, Killam was asked if “The Illegitimates” would feature any daughters of Agent Steele or only sons. Killam revealed, “Of the five we meet in the beginning of the series it’s two girls, three boys and the mothers do play a key role in the plot of the first six-issue arc. But we hope it’s ongoing.”
Ryall closed the panel by saying, “We do a lot of licensed books and we’re known for that, but we do a lot of these books with independent creator voices that are very important to us. We started with ’30 Days of Night.’ We started with that. As we go forward, we want to keep doing those kinds of things.”