San Diego Comic-Con: Dare To Be Dynamite: Licensing Adventure

KISS, Wonder Woman, Sheena, and passion showed at this panel.

The last panel I attended on Thursday, July 20, at the San Diego Comic-Con was one spotlighting Dynamite Entertainment. The panel was moderated by Jeremy Atkins, publicist for Dynamite, and included as panelists Nick Barrucci (publisher), Amy Chu (writer of Red Sonja), Anthony Marquez (editor), Moritat! (artist of Sheena), and Andy Mangels (writer of Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman).

Publisher Nick Barrucci introduced each panel member. “Amy’s take on KISS has made it the best selling KISS comic in forty years. She’s done a great job putting KISS in the past and Red Sonja in the future…Anthony is a little shy. Once an editor at DC Comics and a teacher at the Joe Kubert School of Art, three days a week. He helps out with our artists and colorists as an editor…Relaunching Sheena, after the Sheena and Tarzan team-up, is Moritat. The first issue will be out in August for only twenty-five cents…Andy Mangels has been around for along time. The Wonder Woman-Bionic Woman crossover is his baby. He’s friends with Lynda Carter. The passion Andy brought to the table got the book done. He’s had to ensure the editors are happy, as well as Universal, Lynda Carter, and DC Comics. And this happened right when DC was ramping things up for the Wonder Woman movie.”

As a side note, Moritat was doing sketches for people in the audience during the panel, with one causing the attendants to pause. A young woman requested Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman at a coffee shop, sipping their drinks, while on their cell phones. How this picture ended up is unknown, but its specificity and subject matter created laughter among those on the panel and in the audience.

Jeremy asked Amy what it was like to work with Gene Simmons. She said that she loved working on KISS. There was pressure as the first woman to be writing a KISS comic, but that it’s been great. The premise of her book is that the members of KISS are avatars in the book and the universe is based on KISS. She just met Gene and he really liked the book.

Andy was asked if he has a large collection of Wonder Woman collectibles. He said he does and that Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman were groundbreaking for being the first female leads of their genres. “I’ve had elements of this story in my mind since I was ten years old.”

Moritat was asked who influences his work. “I keep following Will Eisner in my career. I draw Sheena all the time.”

Amy stated that she did a composite of Red Sonja for her run of the character. “I wanted it to appeal to the most recent readers of Red Sonja, as well as new fans. I wanted action for new fans, but Easter eggs for old fans. I love Gail Simone’s run, but I can’t do what she did.”

“I’m influenced by the actresses’ portrayals,” Andy said, “because I know them…Budgets mean nothing in comics. Three hundred fembots can invade Paradise Island.” Nick jumped in to add, “The original story had Steve Austin. Universal turned that down, so Andy had to adjust the story.”

The next question Jeremy asked was what was exciting about working with licensed characters. Nick said, “There’s no cookie cutter answer. When people buy Dynamite comics it’s rewarding. Characters are adopted babies, but we love them.”

John Wick was brought up as one of the biggest announcements of an upcoming series at Dynamite. “It’s going to be gorgeous,” Nick said. Anthony added, “It’s fantastic. Everyone involved has approved it. It feels like a film got smashed into a comic. It’s the early stories of John Wick.”

The final question asked to the panel was what characters would they like to do. Nick said he’d love to do the Flash or Green Lantern, but “I’d ruin it.” He loves the characters so much he’s afraid he’d do them wrong. Amy said she’d love to take a crack at the Green Hornet. Anthony said he would want to do a Doc Savage-Superman crossover. “I’d drop kick someone for that.” Moritat stated he wanted to do Casino Royale. “James Bond. That’s a life regret I never got to do.” Andy felt fortunate. “I’ve gotten to write Boba Fett. Star Trek. I’d love to do The Super Friends.”

One of the greatest difficulties with licensed characters, Nick said, is “dashing things to the ground,” having to stop a book. There was a book, whose title he wouldn’t name, that “we were thirty pages in and the licensor wanted to start over.” And they did.

Questions were taken from the audience, with the first asking Amy how long she’s plotted out her run of  Red Sonja. She said she was plotted out for fifteen issues.

Taking a break from the sketch he was creating, Moritat stated he’s love to illustrate a Spirit and Sheena crossover.

An audience member inquired if there could be a KISS crossover in the future. Nick said that nothing is being planned until the current series finishes up. This prompted Amy to say she’d like to write a KISS meets Predator book.

Another crossover between Red Sonja and Conan was possible according to Nick.

The final question asked to the panel was what makes a franchise resonate with Dynamite. Nick fielded this: “Passion. There are so many things. It’s not one.”

The passion for making great comics was certainly present at this panel. Their words and works continue to fan my fervor for Dynamite comics.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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