On Thursday morning of New York Comic Con, Image Comics hosted an exclusive press event to announce three new titles, including two original series and a graphic novel. Hosted in a small meeting room, the intimate setting gave press the opportunity to speak to creators from the titles, which include Bingo Love, Infidel, and Analog, to discover what these titles bring to Image’s massive slate.
Infidel is a five issue mini-series launching in March 2018. The title is written by former Vertigo editor Pornsak Pichetshote, drawn by Aaron Campbell, and colored/edited by Jose Villarrubia. The title focuses on a group of multi-ethnic individuals– including a muslim-american woman, an Asian-American man and women, and others– who move into an apartment building in New York City that “feeds off xenophobia.”
Pornsak said that the team set out to make a “super updated,” modern version of a “haunted house story.” He said that the penchant of good horror is its ability to feed into the anxieties of the time, and the problem with many horror stories nowadays is that they port over anxieties from another era into ours. With that in mind, it was important to Pornsak and the team to tell a story that people “haven’t seen before.” And according to Pornsak, if you talk to people today about their fears, race isn’t far from the top of the list. It was the Infidel team’s goal to untangle the complications that surround race and defining what racism is.
New York City, where the story is set, factors into Infidel in a big way. When Pornsak is there, he says that he feels like he’s “living in the future.” He’s a native New Yorker, though he has lived in LA for the past six years, and he is struck by how multicultural the society in NYC is. Infidel, to some extent in his eyes, is about probing how much we “really want” the multicultural lifestyle we say we do when push comes to shove.
Pornsak said that he and the rest of the team took pains to make sure that they accurately represented the various cultures featured by characters in Infidel. He said he had countless conversations with people of all races and backgrounds because the minority experience varies so much from group to group. He said that he was “terrified of getting it wrong.”
While the story itself may not have much in common with Infidel, the Image original graphic novel Bingo Love continues the push for strong minority representation in comics. Written by well known advocate Tee Franklin, drawn by Jenn St-Onge, and colored by Joy San, Bingo Love tells the story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, two young black girls who meet at church bingo in 1963. They fall in love but are torn apart by their families. Years later, when both women are married with kids, they find each other at church bingo again and decide to rekindle their romance to new drama and new consequences.
Bingo Love was originally funded as a Kickstarter project, attracting nearly 2000 backers and over $50,000 of funds. Tee said she was initially surprised that her book raised that much money due to its focus on elderly women in love: “Gay grannies? Who wants to read about that?” she said.
Tee said the story was inspired by a few sources. Firstly, there was her personal life, where she was involved in an abusive marriage for a decade. When she finally decided to leave, “it was important to me to be me…I was living a lie…I am bisexual, this is who I am. I came out to my children.” It was “embedded” in her head growing up that she had to grow up, get married, and have kids. It was “programmed” into Tee that “this was normal.” So she says, “I know how it is, I know how it feels…” to be different. Then, one night, she saw a commercial that featured two women sitting on the steps of an NYC brownstone….”and there was this older gentleman looking the opposite way…there was a flirting thing” and Tee wondered “why can’t this be a woman” flirting with a woman?
“This is a really black book…it’s family oriented,” which Tee characterized as a rarity in comics. You’re gonna see people doing the electric slide in the book….it’s really important,” Tee said, because “if you are a black person, you’re going to say “oh my god I have this in my living room” and actions characters take will resonate…”it’s going to be a very relatable book.”
“My daughters read comics,” Tee said, and “they don’t see themselves in comics.” It’s “really important” to Tee for Bingo Love to be comic because it fills a much needed niche in the industry…something that isn’t being represented in the medium right now. She says she could have taken it to someone like Dark Horse, but they might have said no because the book is too different.
Interestingly, Bingo Love ended up at Image because of Donny Cates. On Free Comic Book Day, Tee was signing the anthology Love is Love, which Tee is featured as a creator in, and Donny Cates and Donny said that he’d talk to his friend Eric about Bingo Love. At the time, Tee didn’t know who Donny was talking about so she had no expectations. However, then, Tee got an email from Image publisher Eric Stephenson and her jaw dropped.
Bingo Love will be released on Valentines Day, 2018.
Finally, Image Comics today announced Analog, a new ongoing series written by Gerry Duggan, drawn by David O’Sullivan, and colored by Jordie Bellaire. Speaking for the creative team, Duggan says that Analog asks the question: “what if the internet became less reliable than it is today?”
After an event called the Great Doxxing, individuals’ personal information and loads of international government secrets are revealed to the world. The world changes overnight as people, companies, and government leaders reevaluate how secrets are transferred. They ultimately settle on a hard copy solution where secrets are printed on paper, packed into briefcases, and sent around the world under the protection of armed couriers, known as “ledger men.” Jack McGinnis, a former member of the US security facility, is one of these individuals and the lead of Analog.
Duggan said the team has been working on this series for a long time– since 2015. The election changed a great deal of their conception of the series, resulting in the paranoid end product we’ll see on store shelves beginning in 2018. Duggan said that the team already has the first arc almost entirely completed and that he is currently working on the second arc of the series.
In terms of tone, the series recalls 70s paranoid thrillers including Point Blank, Parallax View, and Three Days of the Condor. Duggan said that he “hopes the series has laughs” but also gave the impression that the story would be action packed. It’s a “globe-hopping” story that will see Jack go to Tokyo in the first arc, whose government deals with the Great Doxxing in a very different way than America does. In this initial story, Duggan says, “we’re going to meet all of our players…we’re going to catch up with Jack on the job” as well as his antagonist and someone who they’re not sure will be an antagonist or not—“Aunt Sam,” the head of the New York branch of the NSA.
“It’s been really fun to have Jack butt up against an NSA that’s trying to reconstitute itself as rows and rows of Xerox copiers,” Duggan said.
According to Duggan, the world-building will be paramount to Analog. It will feature elements including a conception of AI Duggan believes he has never seen before that “takes it kind of personally that the internet was switched off.”
A lot of the series is the creative team trying to “guess” what the generation ahead and behind of Duggan, is thinking. What is life like for people who have lived with this technology all their lives and to some extent, don’t have the same expectation of privacy?
In conclusion, Duggan said that Analog is “not really not about the internet. It’s about us.”