The last remaining remember of DC’s Vertigo imprint before cutting ties in the early part of last year, Shelly Bond has since moved on to a much more personal project. In October of this year, Bond will be launching Black Crown, an imprint with IDW. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Bond along with writer Tini Howard, artist Gilbert Hernandez, artist Tess Fowler, and IDW’s Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall talked of what was to be expected later this year.
The level of excitement among the collected was evident, giving a strong impression that all they believe in Shelly Bond’s idea. The excitement was especially evident with Bond whose own husband, Philip Bond, designed the striking logo for Black Crown. “There’s no better place to do the comics that I want to do other than IDW,” said Bond after sharing a story of how IDW’s Chriss Ryall had initially reached out to her through a six-page email.
The idea behind the Black Crown imprint is that all the stories published under its moniker are to exist loosely around each other, namely with the “Black Crown” pub tying them together. Sharing the imprint’s name, the pub is to be somehow featured in each of the various titles. “It’s possible characters from the other books might mingle together here,” said Bond.
For example, take the first title to be published by Black Crown called Kid Lobotomy, which is to be written by Peter Milligan and drawn by Tess Fowler. The story follows an ex-rockstar named “Kid” who owns a hotel that is “grotesquely haunted by anything and everything” as Fowler put it; particularly the likes of ghosts and echoes. Kid’s ex-profession especially ties into the Black Crown imprint as Shelly Bond professed her additional love of music. “I want to create comics that celebrate music too,” she said. “I believe both have a special place.” As for the hotel that Kid operates, it appears to be situated exactly next to the Black Crown pub, having some prime real-estate in this universe.
Unfortunately, Kid Lobotomy’s writer, Peter Milligan, wasn’t able to attend the convention this year. Shelly Bond said though that Milligan would be with the Black Crown team for New York Comic Con as the imprint launches. The Kid Lobotomy title will launch in October alongside the imprint itself.
Debuting shortly after in December, the next title under Black Crown will be Assassinistas. Combining the writing talents of Tini Howard (Power Rangers: Pink and The Skeptics) and the art of Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets), this comic centers around an aging ex-assassin named Octavia who decides to take up her “femme-fatale” status after a colleague’s child is kidnapped. Ocatvia’s grown son Dominic doesn’t find this out until his college tuition payment doesn’t go through, as his mother spends the money on black market weapons. Dominic and his boyfriend, Taylor, are eventually swept into this story of aging assassins, adding a young love story to the comic.
Punks Not Dead is to be the third title so far on record for Black Crown. It follows adolescent Fergie, the son of a single mom, as he finds a father figure in the ghost of “Sex Pistols” lead singer Sid Vicious. Vicious and Fergie become linked somehow, leading the teenager to discover the punk culture and himself. Much like Peter Milligan, writer David Barnett and artist Martin Simmonds were unable to make the convention. Punks Not Dead is due to release January of 2018.
Throughout the panel, Kid Lobotomy’s artist Tess Fowler couldn’t help but express how much she appreciated working with Shelly Bond. “I just have to say, working for her is the hardest thing in my life and the most rewarding thing in my life,” said Fowler. This sparked a whole back and forth with the rest of the table in how they loved and respected each other. Eventually, it ended with Chris Ryall remarking, “This is all overly saccharine for a book launch.”
It appears that Shelly Bond is so far setting her imprint for success. With the level of enthusiasm that IDW, the writers, the artists, and Bond herself have exhibited, one would assume great things for Black Crown come October.