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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2006

MID-OHIO-CON: THE GUARDIAN LINE PANEL

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Guardian Line, a series of faith-based comic books from Urban Ministries, Inc. (UMI), hits the starting line in two weeks with its first titles reaching the stands.

On Saturday at Mid-Ohio-Con, The Guardian Line's Michael Davis and Lovern Kindzierski talked about the launch, the publisher's plans and its first four titles.

Following are highlights:

* Davis said the publisher's plan is for four initial titles -- Joe & Max, Genesis Five, Code and Seekers. The first three launch in December, followed by Seekers in February.

The line will then expand by four titles and then four more within two year's time. Davis said that the first eight titles will be in a shared universe, but he anticipates creator-owned works with the third set of four titles.

* Davis noted that UMI has been in the publishing business nearly 40 years and is very committed to the comics line. In addition to distribution from Diamond, Davis said Guardian Line has other outlets, including Christian bookstores.

* Davis said the books take "a biblical world view."

"The characters have got to act and follow, by their actions, a certain doctrine," he said, noting he wouldn't be bothered if stories "get a little preachy."

* Although UMI is a Christian-based publisher, Davis said other faiths will be respected and represented.

* Asked if Guardian Line was "the new Milestone," Davis, a co-founder of Milestone, emphatically said it wasn't.

He said a big difference is that Guardian Line has its own distribution deals, where Milestone's were tied to DC Comics. "I'm very proud of Milestone, by the way," he said.

Davis said he would like to follow Milestone's on-time shipping policies. He said that making The Guardian Line's books bi-monthly was part of a strategy to keep the books on time. "Any time you try something new like this, you know something's going to go wrong at some point," he said.

* The Guardian Line's shared universe was arranged to make things easier for creators and readers to navigate, Davis said.

* Davis said two original graphic novels are also on Guardian Line's horizon.

* Davis said The Guardian Line's initial books were intended for new comics readers. "To help grow the industry, we looked at people who weren't being represented," he said. "People of color weren't being represented, women weren't being represented and kids weren't being represented."

Davis said it was also important that The Guardian Line properties are easily translated into television, toys and other merchandise.

* Kindzierski is co-writing Code with Mike Baron before taking over as solo writer with #5. He characterized the book as "Bruce Wayne, but he's not running around in his underwear."



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