ACTION LAB: Building on the first five years
EDITOR’S NOTE: During the BALTIMORE COMIC-CON in late September, BC Refugee correspondents attended many panel presentations and gathered reams of information. Unfortunately, production issues prevented us from presenting much of that here in a timely fashion. However, we plan to sort through our data and post what is still relevant and worth sharing. We have tagged ACTION LAB as a publisher to watch in 2016. Since we have never posted any information about this company previously, we aim to make up for that here by sharing the news from their panel at Baltimore Comic-Con on September 26, 2015 . . . . .
According to the Saturday Programming notes in the official souvenir program book from Baltimore Comic Con: “ On the eve of their fifth anniversary, ACTION LAB shows no signs of stopping!”
In a lively and audience-interactive presentation, Action Lab Marketing Director Jamal Igle (Molly Danger) and writer Vito Delsante (Stray) revealed all the upcoming 2016 projects, including more comics based on Full Moon horror and science-fiction films, more all-ages titles, and the debut of the Actionverse.
Pictured above: Writer Vito Delsante (left) and Marketing Director Jamal Igle (right). Delsante is the creator/writer of the popular STRAY. Igle has a 20-year career in comics as artist and writer, and has worked for Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, Disney Studios and several television networks. His current work is MOLLY DANGER for Action Lab.
For those readers new to Action Lab, the company information on their web page does a fine job of noting what sets them apart from other smaller and independent comics companies: “The Action Lab is a group of mad scientists who collectively have over 25 years of comic book creating experience. After slaving in obscurity and alone for lo, these many years, these quasi-evil geniuses have now gathered together from around the globe to form a secret research and development collective devoted to world domination through the purification of the comic book art form. The Action Lab has sworn to use its powers for a single purpose - - to bring the world the most action-packed, most thought-provoking, most entertaining comics available, thereby ushering in a new age of world peace under the dominating yet benign control of the Action Lab.”
Their first major release, FRACTURE, was published in July 2011. PRINCELESS, the two-time Eisner nominated and five-time Glyph nominated work, followed in October 2011. Action Lab continues to publish genre-spanning comics from the all-ages MONSTERS ARE JUST LIKE US to mature reader books like SNOWED IN and DOUBLE JUMPERS. Delsante explained that Action Lab books are picked by a committee with no set agenda, which helps add to their diversity of creators and line-ups.
Because of the diversity of titles they publish, Action Labs will introduce a new rating system for their books beginning in February 2016. E books are appropriate for everyone. A books are intended for ages 9 and up. T books are aimed at readers aged 12 and up. T+ books are for older teen readers and adults. Lastly, M books are aimed at mature readers aged 18+.
Here are some of the coming attractions, as announced during the Baltimore Comic-Con presentation . . . . . . . . . .
- Following the success of the PUPPET MASTER comic based on the horror film, Action Lab will
- publish a trade paperback edition of TRANCERS in January 2016. Tracers will be written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with art by Marcelo Salaza. Trancers is a popular 1985 cult sci-fi film by
Full Moon Productions which introduced Jack Deth, a rogue trooper in post apocalyptic Los Angeles. Seth gets sent back in time to pursue Whistler, a vicious cult leader with the power to turn people into mindless zombies. In the new original graphic novel, Jack Deth has been framed for murder and tries to escape from a prison full of recently converted Trancers.
Action Lab is in the process of obtaining the license for more Full Moon properties, with plans to publish 10 different books in 2016.
- The popular PRINCELESS series will be collected in an oversized hardcover edition for Christmas 2015. The series, written by Jeremy Whitley with art by M. Goodwin, tells the adventures of Adrienne Ash, locked away in a dragon-guarded tower on her 16th birthday by her parents (the King and Queen). Never wanting to be a princess Adrienne becomes a runaway and encounters various perils and challenges, including clashing with pirates.
Out of the pirate stories comes the first spin-off series, RAVEN THE PIRATE PRINCESS. The first trade paperback, collecting Issues #1-4 was published in November 2015.
- Also announced is a creator-owned book by writer/artist Mia Goodwin called TOMBOY, a psychological horror/thriller that the Bleeding Cool website favorably compared to Spider-Gwen. Issue #1 debuted on November 18. The death of a childhood friend sparks a series of events hat leads young Addison from a promising teenage field hockey player to a murderer of criminals.
- One of the company’s top books, ZOMBIE TRAMP celebrates its anniversary with three special issues and becomes an ongoing series. VAMPBLADE, a spin-off from the Zombie Tramp series is described as a funny bad girl book and debuts in 2016.
- AWAKE features a girl with the power to awaken planets. Written by Susan Beneville with art by Brian Hess, this all-ages adventure features 12-year old Regn, who can heal planets. On her first mission she discovers an angry planet tearing itself apart and has to confront the planet’s consciousness.
- The popular HERALD: LOVECRAFT AND TESLA limited series now becomes a bimonthly ongoing title. Amelia Earhart has been sucked into another dimension. During the search, inventor Nikola Telsa must work with horror writer H. P. Lovecraft as they uncover a Cthulhu cult conspiracy. The book is written by John Reilly and illustrated by several artists including Tom Rogers and Dexter Weeks. Author John Reilly was part of the Action Lab panel, and announced that HERALD has been optioned for television and is currently in negotiations. He has plotted out the series through 54 issues at presentation, and will also be introducing Houdini, Einstein and Edison in future issues.
Pictured Above: HERALD: LOVECRAFT & TESLA writer John Reilly
- The ACTIONVERSE, created by Ingle and Delsante, will be a brand new imprint for Action Lab’s superhero titles. Those lucky enough to score a copy of the Halloween Comicfest free comic received a preview featuring Molly Danger, Stray, Midnight Tiger and a new creation: Action Lab, Dog of Wonder by Delsante and Scott Fogg. A series of one-shot specials lead into the February
- 2016 mini-series, described as an homage to “old school crossovers in two worlds.” According to Delsante during the Baltimore presentation, “It’s great to be part of a project where everybody is a fan of each other. In a time when everybody is suffering from event fatigue (in superhero comics) , this is going to surprise everyone!”
- The HERO CATS OF STELLAR CITY will experience its first multi-issue storyline in #7 through #9 and crosses over into MIDNIGHT OVER STELLAR CITY, described by Delsante as “a little darker but still for kids. Midnight is the Hero Cat (version of) Batman. The GALAXYMAN / COMSIC GIRL back-up feature in HERO CATS will get a spin-off series as well.
- All ages book AERO GIRL has ended its first story arc. She pops up again as a character in ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER.
- “The biggest surprise of the year,” NUTMEG becomes a regular series. Back issues are now available in trade paperbacks. Delsante described it as ‘Betty & Veronica meets Breaking Bad in the Home Ec room
- at school. It’s funny and dark.”
- HOLY F*CKED is the sequel to HOLY F*CK and “lots of fun.” Described by Delsante as “subversive and slightly blasphemous” its the sequel to The Bible. “Jesus and Satan live together and all the Gods don’t like it.”
- ARCHON involves events at a strange casino with dragons, orcs and elves in charge of operations. CYRUS PERKINS AND THE HAUNTED TAXI CAB is the all-ages story of a boy who dies in a cab, and then his ghost haunts the cabdriver.
- In December 2015, Action Lab has partnered with Red Stylo Media to co-publish a hardcover anthology of THE 27 CLUB. The title refers to promising rock musicians who died too young, all at the age of 27. Members include Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jim Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. Various comic artists and writers have taken their favorite song or member of the 27 Club as the foundation for their original comic stories.
Under he Danger Zone label, Nightshade Comics’ BLOOD & DUST will continue as an Action Lab title. BIGFOOT: SWORD OF THE EARTHMAN is a pulp-themed title that imagines events if Bigfoot had been transported to Mars instead of John Carter. KINGDOM BUM is “Game of Thrones with cardboard homes, a Shakespearean dare with shanty towns and secret societies.” In JUST ANOTHER SHEEP 1960’s kids develop super-powers and try to cope in the age of protest and unrest. SUPERHUMAN RESOURCES Volume 2 comes to Action Labs with the HR (Human Resources) Department getting involved with a superhero team. STRAY becomes a regular bimonthly book in June 2016 along with MOLLY DANGER going bimonthly in July.
Pictured above: Cover to Issue #3 of BIGFOOT: SWORD OF THE EARTHMAN.
Pictured at Left: The front cover to the hardcover edition of THE 27 CLUB.
Pictured Below: THE 27 CLUB editor Enrica Jang.