The crossover event has become a large part of the comic book world, for better and worse. Writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw intend to turn the concept on its head with the appropriately titled Crossover. On Thursday, Cates and Shaw were part of a Comic-Con@Home panel alongside colorist Dee Cunniffe and letterer John J. Hill. The panel was moderated by artist Megan Hutchinson.
Cates began by describing Crossover as “The scariest goddamn book I’ve ever attempted to produce in my goddamn life, and that’s why it’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.” He also likened the series to what happens when Avengers: Endgame meets Cloverfield.
The series begins when a massive battle between villains and heroes spills out into the real world. As expected, the destruction wreaks havoc on cities and civilians alike. Cates said that the idea came from discussing event comics with Shaw; the two have previously worked together on God Country for Image Comics and the “Thanos Wins” storyline for Marvel.
The duo said that they wanted to explore the idea of a crossover event becoming so epic that it literally crossed over into our world. The lead will be a comic book store employee named Ellie who goes on a quest to figure out why the crossover happened. Along the way, she will run into faces both new and familiar to readers. Cates said the story was a “quest series”, drawing upon The Dark Tower and Lord of the Rings for example.
“I hope that you will trust us enough to come back enough to see if we can pull this s*** off,” Cates said. “We have no f***ing clue if this thing is going to work but that’s what makes it so exciting.” “That’s how you know you’re doing something good!” Shaw added. While the series is billed as an “anti-event”, Cates insists it is not an attack but a celebration of the comic book form.
“The idea that we’re essentially following a bunch of creator-owned characters trying to survive in a world where everything around them is dominated by superheroes speaks volumes about our need as independent artists to make a stake and be loud,” Cates said. Hill said that he enjoyed the book’s visual style. “It’s a great concept…one of the other cool aspects of it is the techniques being used from a visual standpoint. You haven’t seen anything like this before. It’s really different.”
Next up was Cunniffe, who discussed the way the book is colored. He tried to create a visual language that matched what Cates and Shaw brought to the table. “It’s a great challenge,” he said of receiving art pages. The panel then proceeded to show pages from the first issue.
“I was just as daunted but excited for the scope of it and the fact that we were taking on something that I’d never seen before in a comic book,” Shaw said, describing the artistic challenge of the series. “We had to bounce things back and forth a lot just to visualize this vocabulary we were working with.”
“Issue six has one of the more epic and — I would argue historic — sequences in comic book history in it,” Cates added, noting that the series was ongoing. However, he said that the book would have a “human element” to it, especially the idea that the concept of fiction has essentially died. “How does that affect society? How does that affect the notion of the comic book store?” He pointed out how terrifying it would be to be locked in the middle of a battle with superheroes, and how the relationship between these characters and real people would change.
Talk then turned to the themes the book explored. Cates said that the book would explore themes of persecution, noting that citizens from fictional worlds were stranded in the real world. He also said the book explored the theme of “finding your family.” When asked if other Image characters would appear, Cates cryptically said “The book’s called Crossover for a reason.”
You can watch the full panel here.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.