Today we’re going to have a bit of a time warp as I post something written by our roving photographer and some time writer, Craig Gordon. While I was off to see Neil Gaiman speak at Comic Con last year, he went off to do other things. This is what he did.
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Welcome to our panel this afternoon. Thank all of you for managing to attend a panel at 3:00 on Sunday.  I know it was difficult with all the last-minute sales in the dealer’s room.
To my left is the man himself, J. Michael Straczynski aka JMS or just Joe. We call him the old man of the studio in reference to the Old Man Of The Mountain, the legendary leader of assassins, because if that guy in the front row implies one more time that Joe is too old to write a love story he will have you killed. Really. If you doubt his ability to write a love story, just give him your mom’s phone number.
Next we have the multi-talented Patricia Tallman, possibly best known as Lyta Alexander from Babylon 5, who decided stunt work wasn’t risky enough so she agreed to be CEO of Studio JMS. A very brave woman indeed.
Next to Pat is Phil Smith, the production editor for Joe’s Comics who also runs his own web comic at http://www.fightinglioncomics.com and is apparently an awesome bartender. I intend to test that last part later.
Down at the end we have Bill “my name is harder to pronounce than Worcester sauce” Sienkiewicz.  Bill is an Eisner Award-winning artist and writer known for his unconventional comic book art often utilizing oil painting, collage, and mimeograph.  Joe plans to do some unconventional things with his comic line and Bill’s art is a part of that.
And I, your humble moderator, am a squirrely fanboy caught gushing over Pat earlier this week.
So, even though this is a spotlight on Sidekick, the newest comic in Joe’s Comics line, we’re going to talk about the line in general.  Because, based on circulation numbers, we know most of you haven’t read it.
If you are familiar with Joe’s stuff you know the focus is on the story.  No filler arcs.  No “let’s keep treading water until we come up with something.”  If there is no story to tell, there won’t be a comic.  But, and this is a good but, while there is a story there will be a comic every month.  What does that mean for you, the reader?  It means that each comic will come out in complete arcs.  Once they’ve told the stories for that comic, they’ll take a break and see if they come up with more stories.
Now let’s talk about the series themselves.
The launch title is Ten Grand.  This is the story of a hitman in love who is planning one last job before he retires.  So of course he dies.  And so does she.  That’s the beginning of the story.  Our hero makes a deal to stay on Earth helping people who have been screwed over by the supernatural and he hopes that if he does a good enough job he’ll end up in the same place as his lady-love.  This is a dark comic for mature readers about a guy trying to clean up a lifetime of bad deeds by helping others.
Releasing right now is Sidekick.  This is the story of the heroic duo The Cowl and Flyboy and just what happened in that cave when no one was watching.  Just kidding about that last part .. probably.  And at the beginning of the story, The Cowl is killed.  I think I’m sensing a trend in main characters dying in the first issue here.  After The Cowl is killed, Flyboy, the titular sidekick, is left to try to find his way in the world.  He’s too old to start working with a new hero and too young to be a hero on his own.  Then it turns out that nobody likes Flyboy because he’s an annoying brat who can’t land a punch(line).  And then it comes out that The Cowl actually faked his death just to get away from his pesky sidekick.  We have a woman in the audience saying she’s feeling a bit concerned about redemption for this character or if he will just be ground down.  Joe responds by telling her she shouldn’t worry – Flyboy will *definitely* be ground down until he snaps.  And then they’ll keep grinding him down just for fun.  This is the story of what you do when everything you thought you knew and thought you were comes unraveling around you.
Another comic coming soon is Alone.  We don’t get to hear much about the plot of this comic but this is why Bill is here.  The advantage to running your own comic line is getting to do whatever you want and one of those things is experimenting with layouts and designs that other publishers don’t want to risk.  They are going to break the visual mold with this comic.  Forget about the traditional comic paneling and anything you thought you knew about reading comics.  They will use whatever design their creative minds think fits the story best.
We also get small visuals previews of Protectors Inc, which thankfully will not be made into a movie by a certain couch-bouncing name because Joe feels it works better as a comic, and The Book Of Lost Souls, which had 6 issues published in 2005/2006 that I have in a box somewhere.  I’m happy to see a return of this latter book because I think this series had a lot of things it could explore.
We have someone asking if the Joe’s Comics line would be good for him considering that he has never read comics.  Why are you at San Diego Comic Con again?  But back to the question – definitely.  Because Joe is planning to break the mold with these series, it might be more appealing for someone without a huge background in comics because there is no expectation or standard to compare them to.  And, because each series is starting fresh and will be told in complete arcs, there aren’t decades of continuity, ret-cons, what-ifs, and crossovers to worry about.
Those people who wouldn’t let Phil throw those t-shirts to you are saying we only have a couple minutes left, so before we get kicked out let us tell you about one of the best parts of these comics!  Other than the stories of course.  Each first issue will have an audio reading available online.  And one of the vocal talents you can expect to be hearing is our very own Pat!  Like me, this may make you lose focus on the comic, though.
Alright, they’re kicking us out now.  I’d say we don’t care where you go but we really do.  Follow us downstairs for the final signing session of the con before you have to try to cram all those precious, precious treasures into your too small luggage.  And remember – the corp is your friend, trust the corp.
They made us say that last part.
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