Yesterday, comic book fans flocked in droves to the Lam Research Theater at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, all headed for Image Expo. Promising to create a one-of-a-kind experience for fans to connect with comic creators, the event didn’t disappoint.

Expanding on the event’s theme of “What’s Next”, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson delivered a passionate keynote address to an audience of more than 500 eager fans. After describing his own experiences at Image and showing numerous charts of the independent publisher’s growth, Stephenson began bringing out guest after guest, listing off upcoming titles that had the audience applauding excitably nearly without pause.

Here’s what we can look forward to in the upcoming months from Image Comics:

 

Robert Kirkman

Fans of The Walking Dead can rest easy. Kirkman has no plans to stop writing the series anytime soon.

In fact, with the tenth anniversary of his apocalyptic series coming soon, he revealed a new story arc, titled All-Out War, which will begin in October’s issue 115.

Focusing on the factions that formed among the survivors, All-Out War is aimed at telling the story of how civilization has started rebuilding. Kirkman said he was excited to begin exploring how people are finally living their lives, as opposed to just surviving.

All Out War will be a twelve-issue story arc, the longest of the series so far, and will have bi-weekly releases.

 

Ed Brubaker

Brubaker announced that he will be pairing up again with his Captain America: The Winter Soldier collaborator Steve Epting for a dark new take on the spy/crime comic. He described Velvet as a Bond movie meets a Cold War scenario, featuring a female protagonist.

The story focuses on Velvet Templeton, a personal assistant at the world’s largest intelligence agency. She’s in her 40s, and and very few people know about her past as a field operative. Things get complicated when she has to leave her desk job to go back into the field, on the run from her own agents.

Brubaker has been wanting to write this project for the last 8 years and it shows in the way he talked about it. This is clearly a project of passion for him.

Issue #1 will be coming out in October.

 

J. Michael Straczynski

Straczynski discussed his work on Ten Grand with Ben Templesmith, as well as a new project called Sidekick, which he says he would never be able to release anywhere but at Image because he plans to take some liberties with the characters. “Well, out of all those things that I can’t do, let’s now go and do them.” Sidekick, a story of what happens when the superhero dies and the sidekick needs to forge his own identity, comes out in August.

Straczynski also noted that he would be reviving two former Marvel/Icon titles under his Joe’s Comics imprint, Dream Police and The Book of Lost Souls, drawn by Colleen Doran. With these additions, all of Straczynski’s creator-owned titles are now published by Image Comics under the Joe’s Comics line.

Straczynski also announced Alone, a six-issue miniseries with interiors and covers done by renowned artist Bill Sienkiewicz. Their goal is to “re-imagine and reinvent how a comic book works.”

 

Kurtis Wiebe 

Wiebe discussed his upcoming deal with the BBC to create a motion comic of Peter Panzerfaust, with characters voiced by Elijah Wood, Summer Glau and Ron Perlman. He said that the success of that has paved the way for a live action production of the same by the BBC.

Wiebe also talked about some new things in Rat Queens, which he described as his fantasy homage to Lord of the Rings, where the women kill monsters and then use the money to party. Wiebe noted the Rat Queens webcomic, which he releases on his facebook page and the Image Comics facebook page, and which deals with a new topic every month.

 

Matt Fraction

Fraction discussed Sattelite Sam, which is debuting this week, with art done by Howard Chaykin. The story is about a Howdy Doody-type tv host from the ’60s whose strange sex life is revealed after he dies. “Sex, death and live television.”

Fraction’s next Image title will be Sex Criminals, a story about a girl that can stop time when she has sex. She feels alienated from society until she meets a guy with the same power. They team up and begin committing crimes. Chip Zdarsky will be doing the art for Sex Criminals and it is due out in September.

Fraction also announced ODY-C, “The heaviest trip is the one back home.” A take on Homer’s Odyssey, it will be set in deep space and completely gender-swapped, with the lead being a young woman. Fraction says that he chose to write this so that his daughter could have a hero to look up for. Due in early 2014, art will be by Christian Ward.

 

Rick Remender

After three years of writing exclusively as one of Marvel’s “Architects,” Remender is returning to Image Comics with two new titles.

Black Science, a “spiritual sequel to Fear Agents,” was inspired by Frank Frazetta art. This is a classic science fiction story where members of the anarchist league of science experiment with black science, drawn by Matteo Scalera with colors by Dean White, due out in November.

Deadly Class is a 1980s flashback to Remender’s own high school experiences in the hard rock/grunge scene in Seattle, except set in a school for budding assassins. Remender plans on “taking the metaphorical knife in your back and making it real.” Deadly Class will be slice of life stories.

Art by Wesley Craig with colorist Lee Loughridge, and variant covers by Jonathan Wayshak and Farel Dalrymple.

 

Jason Aaron

Aaron is excited to be back at Image, where he has the freedom to curse as much as he wants. Pairing up with artist Jason Latour, he’s releasing Southern Bastards, which he described as sort of “The Untouchables versus Boss Hog” or “The Dukes of Hazard by the Coen Brothers on meth.” It will be about the local high school coach, who has won a lot of trophies in his prime and buried a lot of bodies. Southern Bastards, is going to be “about a lot of southern bastards,” which Aaron says both he and Latour know a lot about because they are both southern bastards themselves. The first issue is due sometime early next year.

 

Mark Millar

Via video from his home in Edinburgh, Millar discussed the future of Jupiter’s Legacy, with Frank Quitely. The followup to that will be coming out in January 2014.

Millar also hopes to launch an entire line of books starting with one that is “as pivotal as Fantastic Four”, and which will kick off his ambitious plan to create an equivalent of the “Marvel Universe for the 21st century.” The first book in that line will be called MPH and will be drawn by Duncan Fegredo.

 

Other News

Stephenson wrapped the keynote with two more announcements:

In early 2014, Image will be publishing Noah, written by Darren Arronovsky and drawn by Niko Henrichon. Noah is a series of four original graphic novels adapting the upcoming film of the same name. The official synopsis is this:

“It was a world without hope, a world with no rain and no crops, dominated by warlords and their barbarian hordes. In this cruel world, Noah was a good man. Seasoned fighter, mage and healer but he only wanted peace for him and his family. Yet every night, Noah was beset by visions of an endless flood, symbolizing the destruction of all life. Gradually he began to understand the message sent him by the Creator. He had decided to punish the men and kill them until the last. But he gave Noah a last chance to preserve life on Earth.”

CaptureImage also announced that it had just relaunched its website.

Upgrades include easier navigation and purchase of comics, better graphics, and a sleek new look. But the big news was the introduction of downloadable digital comics. Fans are now able to be able to directly purchase their favorite digital comics in a variety of formats, both storable and DRM-free, for use on the computer, tablet or mobile device.

The current available comics are Jupiter’s Legacy #1 by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely and Scatterlands #1 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard.