SDCC 2018: More Than Marketing – Lion Forge’s Comics For Everyone Panel

by Noah Sharma

Lion Forge’s core SDCC panel was hosted by senior publicist Jeremy Atkins. The panelists included editor Greg Tumbarello, senior editor Amanda Meadows, co-founder Dave Steward II, Batman producer and creator of Dinosaucers Michael Uslan, artist Andrew Pepoy, newly announced architect of the Catalyst Prime line Gail Simone, and Superb writer David F. Walker.

Being at Comic Con, Atkins says that he keeps hearing that “it’s a changing world” this week and it kind of bothers him. The world is not changing, it’s evolving – it’s being revealed, “It’s not like we’re discovering new races,” he joked.

Lion Forge is collecting Pie Comics, a strange and wonderful webcomic, in Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears. It’s a collection of the strip’s fairytale and children’s book parodies and Meadows encourages you to pick it up and to check out the archives immediately.

Cellies, by Joe Flood and Dave Steward, is about a group of people “living the retail dream” for Americas fourth most trusted cell carrier. The book is all about the pressure of dealing with customers and broey managers, and it includes a backmatter series called “Retail Nightmares” airing real misadventures in the customer service industry.

Michael Uslan spoke directly to the children of the audience to pitch the revived Dinosaucers. Though the non-avian dinosaurs were killed in the KT impact sixty-six million years ago, we did not know that Reptilon, a mirror planet that orbits the sun in synchronicity with earth, exists. Because it is always behind the sun, Reptilon and Earth are unaware of each other and, because the asteroid only hit Earth, dinosaurs became the dominant species of Reptilon, splitting into the sinister Tyrannos and heroic Dinosaucers.

The new book takes the original premise and ages it up a little, adding in new discoveries about dinosaurs (such as the presence of feathers and protofeathers) and telling a story of young people caught up in Reptilon’s war. Andrew Pepoy has really designed Reptilon, with Uslan comparing his importance to that of the worldbuilding in Tim Burton’s Batman. Uslan also felt that the impact of climate change and the symbolism of the dinosaurs as an example of what can happen when you ignore the natural world made it a timely revival.

Turning to Catalyst Prime, the panel handed things over to Gail Simone. Simone was awed by the guts that it takes to launch a new superhero universe with diverse characters in a world where new concepts are few and far between. Simone has been fighting for a smarter, more diverse and compassionate comics industry for over a decade and, for her, Lion Forge is that wish as a physical entity in the world.

Simone will be overseeing a huge crossover event in summer 2019. She promises that it will have huge ramifications and that the characters do not know whether they will see the other side of it.

David Walker immediately jumped at the opportunity to write a superhero with Down syndrome, wanting a personal hand in ensuring that the book was as good as it could be and did all it could for that community. Walker is a teacher who frequently works with students with disabilities and knew he wanted to write for them. Through writing the book, Walker truly discovered the “absolute lack of civil rights that people with Down syndrome have in this country” and promises that those elements will enter into the book going forward. People always relate to the X-Men, but there are people who are oppressed and marginalized the same way as the X-Men and comics needs to help us confront those blank spots and those biases.

Steward spoke about how it was important to Lion Forge to tell a story about a character with Down syndrome, not to hide from it or cheat around the realities of it. The traditional tropes needed to be avoided and the characters needed to be real people. There are consequences in the Catalyst Prime universe, dead is dead and there are no reboots. “You’ll see characters grow up,” promised Steward.

Steward says that he is fascinated to see “Gail Simone unleashed.” For her part, Simone wants to let everyone working on Catalyst Prime universe be unleashed as well.

Asked about her position in the line, Gail Simone confirmed that there will be at least one new series coming out of the upcoming event and that she could not resist writing in this universe.

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