By Zack Quaintance

Writer Donny Cates (God Country, Venom) and artist Megan Hutchinson (Rockstars, An Aurora Grimeon Story: Will O’ the Wisp) announced plans to collaborate on a new creator-owned book, for which they will also produce a soundtrack, with Hutchinson playing keys and Cates on the drums.

That little bit, however, was all the info the two offered, noting a formal announcement would be coming next year. Given that this was Image Comics’ We Believe in Suspense panel on Saturday morning, it was perhaps fitting they only doled out a tease, leaving the audience to gasp, move to the edge of their seats, and hold onto each other as they weathered the sheer force of the curiosity.

Perhaps also fittingly, Cates opened that same panel by playing a metal riff into the mic with his cell phone and letting loose a guttural metal growl, “Welcome to Image!”

Music is a familiar subject to both creators, with Hutchinson having co-created Rockstars and Cates often writing total symphonies of madcap destruction, especially his Marvel work on Thanos.

The entire panel, it should be noted, was fantastic for anyone interested in the mechanics of suspense in some of the industry’s most high-profile creator-owned comics, including other books by Steve Orlando, Mirka Andolfo, Jacob Semahn, and Dean Haspiel.

One major highlight, though, was Cates asking several of his friends from Austin, Texas to stand up, because they were used as analogs in both name and appearance for his creator-owned bloody vampire romp Redneck. This prompted someone to ask if they’d brought barbecue, to which Cates said no, “It would be wasted on Californians.”

Everyone booed. Having lived in Austin and currently residing in California, I can say Cates is 100 percent right, but it would be a different story had talk turned to kombucha or life-changing fennel salads.