LA Times Festival of Books: Brubaker, Mignola, Oliver Talk Comics

The LA Times Festival of Books brought hundreds of authors, publishers, and patron to the UCLA campus this past weekend, and those of us in the Department were no exception. We went Sunday for the two panels that interested us the most– first, a lively discussion of comics publishing moderated by Geoff Boucher of the TimesHero Complex blog, and then a new media panel hosted by Jacket Copy Times blogger Carolyn Kellogg.

Simon Oliver's Chas: The Knowledge #1.

Oliver's sticking with Vertigo for a new crime GN.

Boucher’s panel featured Criminal and Secret Avengers author Ed Brubaker, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and Exterminators creator Simon Oliver. Topics ranged from the exact definition of an indie publisher (Mignola: “Does Dark Horse even count as an indie any more?”) to the challenges of moving between comics, film, and TV writing (Brubaker: “There’s always room for more comics, where there’s only so many slots for new pilots or films.”). Superheroes were also on the agenda, with Brubaker discussing his espionage-oriented approach to Secret Avengers and Oliver talking about the mixed fan reactions his no-Spandex run on Gen13 provoked. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mignola is content to be “in [his] own corner;” he’s concentrating all of his creative efforts on the continuing Hellboy mythos, including an upcoming return to art duties on the main Hellboy series.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #1 cover.

...while Mignola's returning to art duties on Hellboy...

Brubaker and Oliver also gave out some hints about their upcoming projects, with Brubaker explaining that he and co-conspirator Sean Phillips are working on the sequel to Icon supervillain tale Incognito. Possibly subtitled “Bad Influences,” the new Incognito should debut in September. After that, there are plans in the works for another Icon pulp series, this one a science fiction adventure. (If you didn’t just emit a bodily fluid of your choice in anticipation, this might not be the blog for you, by the way.) Oliver’s also dipping into the pulp waters with a weighty 200-page graphic novel for Vertigo’s new Vertigo Crime imprint; although I don’t have too much solid information yet, I understand it’s a period piece, taking place on the border during the Mexican-American War.

Incognito #6, by Brubaker and Phillips.

...and Bru's going Incognito again in September.

Also, as if the idea of SF pulp wasn’t tantalizing enough for you, Mignola and Brubaker exchanged a few interesting asides during a discussion of Mignola’s undead pulp adventure hero, Lobster Johnson. Mignola noted that there could always be more Lobster Johnson tales to tell, to which Brubaker said “…gee, maybe I should write one of those Lobster Johnson stories!” Mignola merely eyed him speculatively and said “Maybe you should.” Again, if this isn’t a personal wet dream for you, the Department may not be your kind of reading material– the idea of a Brubaker-penned Lobster Johnson mini seems too good to be true. (Scott Allie! Are you reading? Make that happen!)

Next post, I’ll tackle the new media panel. Stay tuned.