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Friday, July 18, 2003

COMIC-CON: CROSSGEN PANEL

SAN DIEGO -- At Comic-Con on Thursday, CrossGen Entertainment announced Abadazad, a coming-of-age fantasy tale written by J.M. DeMatteis and marking the return to comic of artist Mike Ploog.

The series, which launches in December from CrossGen's Code 6 imprint, marks the first monthly art from Ploog in more than 20 years.

Here's how CrossGen describes the book:

"In the tradition of The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia, Abadazad reveals the story of Kate, a teenaged girl riddled with guilt over the mysterious disappearance of her younger brother five years ago. Now, given a glimmer of hope, Kate must travel from home and undergo dangerous and terrifying trials in order to rescue the person she holds most dear."

"Abadazad is a dream project that I've nurtured for years," DeMatteis said. "It's a chance to tell a rich, character-driven fantasy tale in the tradition of L. Frank Baum, J.M. Barrie, C.S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, Madeleine L'Engle and so many other great writers whose work has touched and inspired me - and stuff my children's heads full of wonderful dreams. A story that can nurture an 8-year-old imagination - and be accessible and entertaining to adults, as well.

"At a time when so many comics seem to be about limiting the audience, about playing to the familiar, about creating an 'adult' and 'edgy' image, I am delighted to find that CrossGen understands the need for material accessible to a broad audience. I'm also happy to see that the company is wildly enthusiastic about finding new and innovative ways to reach that audience."

"At times funny, touching and exciting, Abadazad will appeal both to adults and younger readers who enjoy contemporary fantasy," said Code 6 managing editor Ian Feller. "J.M. has long dreamed of writing this story, and it's clearly showing in the work he's submitted. As J.M. wrote in his original pitch, this is the type of story that he can read with his 8-year-old daughter.

"As for Mike Ploog, he's coming back to comics to illustrate Abadazad - he's that enthusiastic about it. And any time a legend the likes of Mike Ploog is excited about a project, you have to stand up and take notice."

After the panel, Feller told The Continuum that Ploog is currently working on character designs. It's also possible another artist will be used to draw the more realistic scenes to contrast with Ploog's fantasy art.

In other notes from the panel:

* Mystic #39 will be the climax to a yearlong story, writer Tony Bedard said. "All the growth and wisdom Giselle has picked up in the last year and a half come together, although she's still charmingly shallow," Bedard said.

Bedard said that artist Aaron Lopresti has brought new energy to the book. "He gives her such an engaging look," Bedard said.

CrossGen's marketing director Bill Rosemann noted that Mystic #39 will have "a very funny fight scene."

* Robert Rodi, writer of The Crossovers, told The Continuum that the property is still in development for television at Davis Entertainment. Rodi said show-runners have been linked to the project, but he could not reveal who they are yet. In terms of the comic, Rodi said to look for extended members of the family to appear, and there will be a three-issue magic arc.

* Route 666 #15, drawn by guest-artist John McCrea, will feature a major new foe for Cassie Starkweather. "It's really disturbing," writer Bedard said. "It's the best one-issue thing I've ever come up with."

* Writer Ron Marz on Scion #39, the last issue for him and artist Jim Cheung that will feature a tilt-book approach: "We wanted to do something special and something unique. A lot of inspiration was drawn from Prince Valiant and we wanted to do the issue in the style and format of Hal Foster. So you have to turn one side to read it and it's all double-page spreads with narrative text in the style of the Prince Valiant strips."

* Marz said that Luke Ross' first issue as artist of Scion, #40, starts with a splash page and two double-page spreads. "This is going to be big-scale, over-the-top action," said Marz, who is giving way to Ian Edginton as writer.

* Asked about the positive reception his new Lady Death series is getting, creator/writer Brian Pulido joked, "To have a book with any kind of critical praise is a new experience for me."

Pulido described the new approach to Lady Death as "more mainstream" than his past efforts. "I've done crazy comics before and I'll do crazy comics again, but this has been fresh," he said.

* Negation writer Bedard said the title will be "right in the middle" of some big story arcs that are building in the CrossGen Universe.

* Ruse writer Scott Beatty said that he is edging toward the final Enigmatic prism story. "Simon and Emma are left with taking this really bad talisman and doing what it takes to get rid of it," Beatty said.

* Look for more CrossGen news from Comic-Con this weekend here in The Continuum.


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