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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

NEW YORK COMIC CON: FOX ATOMIC COMICS

NEW YORK -- Fox Atomic Comics' Eric Lieb pulled off a bit of super-feat to be at the New York Comic Con for the publisher's panel on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, Lieb was hit by a truck while crossing the street in the city. Taken to the hospital, Lieb was told he was lucky he didn't break his arm -- or worse -- during the accident.

Still sore, but in good spirits, Lieb was joined by editor Heidi McDonald, editor/writer Jimmy Palmiotti, writer Justin Gray, writer Steve Niles and artist Dennis Calero for Saturday's panel.

Fox Atomic is publishing only original graphic novels -- "You don't have to wait for the trade, the trade comes first," McDonald said -- and Lieb and company previewed the first two based on Fox film franchises, 28 Days Later: The Aftermath and The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning, and talked a little about the third.

Following are highlights:

* 28 Days Later: The Aftermath launches the Fox Atomics line on April 3, preceding the film 28 Weeks Later, in theaters on May 11. The book is written by Niles, with art by Calero, Diego Olmos and Nat Jones.

Lieb explained the book ties into the first movie and serves as a bridge to the second. It is broken into four 22-page stories.

*The first one shows how the virus was created and how good intentions were corrupted. The second set during the initial days of the outbreak, the third is the story of a survivor in London during the time of the first movie and the final story is a couple of months after outbreak.

"I really liked the movie," Niles said, explaining that the stories that ended up in the book were the result of extensive bouncing ideas off Lieb.

* Comics writer/artist Walter Simonson modeled for one of the scientists in the book, and Calero used himself as a model for another.

* Niles noted one of the weird e-mail chains in creating the book concerned how the infected would sound. "I thought he had too many g's," Lieb laughed.

* Palmiotti edited the book and said he was strict with Calero on the coloring. "There were many pushes and pulls with the color," he said. "But Dennis understands it."

* As the title indicates, The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning is a prequel to the film remake. The book is an origin story written by Palmiotti and Gray, with art by John Higgins.

"It has hardcore violence and mutants killing people," Lieb said, "but it has a strong emotional core."

Palmiott said the book features the best art of Higgins' career.

"He's mostly known as the colorist of Watchmen," McDonald added, "but he's an amazing artist."

* The book will be released in July, to coincide with the DVD release of The Hills Have Eyes 2. The DVD will include a segment on the making of the graphic novel.

* Fox Atomic's third graphic novel, The Nightmare Factory, won't be based on a film but rather the stories of

Stuart Moore and Joe Harris are the writers, with art by Colleen Doran, Ben Templesmith, Michael Gaydos and Ted McKeever. Ashley Wood provides the cover.

"I wanted to get writers on these that understand the structure of short stories," McDonald said. "This is a nice book that you can leave out on your coffee table and not be looked down upon."




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