By David Nieves

In the latest Thursday night panel, the recently formed Black Mask Studios attracted some die-hard support from fans willing to stay into the late hours of the SDCC to hear what their veteran group of artists had to say about where indie should go.


Matt Pizzolo introduced some big names for this gathering such as Darick Robertson, Adam Mortimer, Matthew Rosenberg, Steve Niles, and Brett Gurewitz. The creators explained what attracted them to the risky venture of Black Mask. Each of their stories echoed one sentiment of wanting to do more for comics than just cash a check.

Rosenberg talked about a different creative experience. For once he was asked, “What do you want to do with it?” rather than being told what to do with it.

Brett Gurewitz, who is also guitarist for the iconic punk band Bad Religion, talked about being attracted to the DIY approach of creating these books. He felt he was among an elite group of artists with similar sensibilities and interests.

Pizzolo then went into some of Black Mask’s philosophies, which echo social awareness and desire for change found in influential musicians like Ghostface Killa – who happens to be another creator for the publisher.

Robertson talked about how creator- owned work has changed comics today. So many different things can stem from the mind of one creator and the formulas of mainstream comics are thrown out the window. Black Mask are demonstrating this by bringing books like Ballistic, 12 Reasons to Die, and Liberator. All these are stories that don’t follow the routine of Marvel and DC while shinning a light on topics often left for mainstream media.

Pizzolo and Niles stressed social message is not a “prerequisite” for being published at Black Mask. Instead it depends on the vision of each creator. In Niles own words: “talent is talent.”

One of the most powerful signs of solidarity in art happened towards the end of the panel when the audience was asked if they were on board with Black Mask? Every hand in room 28 rose, almost in unison.

Everyone should check out Black Mask Studios at future conventions. This was the first time in a long time fans united at San Diego Comic-Con for comic books.