Image Expo 2014: I is for Incognito

Maya Zach ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Photo by Maya Zach of Emertainment Monthly.

Image Expo’s surprise guests gather together for a lively panel, where they discuss their work, work habits, and why they love Image.

Eric Stephenson moderates the panel of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Chris Burnham, Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder, and Bill Willingham.

Both the writers and artists unanimously agreed that working for Image has been great (But then again, what else would they say at Image Expo?). Most of the panelists have been making comics with Image for years, but there are a few newcomers, as well. When Snyder was in preliminary talks with Image about creating a comic, they gave him free reign; this led to the creation of Wytches, a comic that he is overly excited about. Not only is C.O.W.L. Higgins’ first Image series, but it is also his first ever creator-owned comic. A large part of Willingham’s excitement about his work with Image is that the characters are his own; no longer is he restrained by what the publisher thinks Batman would do in a situation—it is up to him to decide.

Each of the writers has their own style of scripting their comics, but they all change their methods based on the artist they are working with. Gillen almost exclusively writes full scripts, unless he has worked with his artist for a long time and really trusts him; however, he understands that the artist sometimes knows best and really doesn’t mind if he goes off script. At first, Higgins was incredibly strict, but once he realized that he was stifling his artist on Nightwing he began to use much looser text. Snyder gives his artists a lot of freedom; he writes the dialogue, the main emphasis of the scene, and a few tips and lets the artist do whatever he deems fit. Willingham, on the other hand, almost exclusively writes full scripts, he is incredibly anal-retentive when it comes to his scripting.

Another commonality between most of the panelists is that they hate their work. Their art and writing is rarely good enough, and it often makes it hard for them to read their work. But McKelvie uses this as fuel to make himself a better artist, he is always improving. Higgins jokes that he hates his writing, but none of his readers are allowed to.

The panelists offer aspiring comic book writers and artists a bit of advice. With the Internet, it isn’t quite as hard to “break into” comics as it once was.  Though you probably won’t make a living producing web comics, it is a way to get your work into the world, the first step to getting noticed. Another tip for both writers and artists is to make your work in panel-form. Whether you are just drawing stick figures to go with your story or drawing the art for a friend’s comic, the paneling practice is definitely necessary.

To end the panel, each panelist gushes about what they are most excited about with their new series. Gillen is thrilled by how quickly The Wicked and the Divine is getting made and by how original the idea is. McKelvie raved about the ability to design the characters as he sees fit, rather than using a template for a pre-made character. Burnham is excited to “draw things that can’t be drawn.” Higgins is really excited about Rod Reese’s art for C.O.W.L. Snyder is both excited by how scary Wytches is and getting to work with Jock once again. And Willingham is excited by the enormous cast in Restoration (that he plans to kill off).

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