When we arrived at Wondercon on Saturday, we hadn’t planned on attending the Lion Forge/Roar Comics panel, but it was taking place in the room where the panel we wanted to attend was going to be, so we sat down early. I was vaguely aware of Lion Forge as a company that was bringing back some 1980s properties such as Knight Rider, Airwolf, and Miami Vice as digital comics. What I wasn’t aware of was that they had started an all-ages imprint, Roar Comics, which they had just announced at Emerald City Comic Con.
The panel was moderated by Dennis Haskins, the actor who played Mr. Belding from the Saved By the Bell TV series. With several new arrivals (we weren’t the only ones to come in early/late), Haskins had the trailer for Lion Forge rerun before continuing the panel. It included images of licensed titles as well as their original ones, and even some of their newest announcements. Haskins was a great moderator. He was very enthusiastic about all the titles, not just Saved By the Bell, and interacted well with the panelists, even joking about starting a new series just for Mr. Belding.
The lead titles for the Roar Comics imprint were Saved By the Bell and Punky Brewster, both of which already have issues out. Saved By the Bell was going to restart the High School years, with everything modernized for the 21st century. So no “Zack-phone”, though it may make a guest appearance. Punky Brewster has had a few changes made from the show, but nothing too extreme. Two new titles were announced for specifically for the imprint. Crystal Cadets is a magical girl series targeted for tween to teen girls. It is about girls from around the world finding magical crystals and teaming up to fight the forces of darkness. The other title aimed at teen to older teens is Mer. It is the new girl who moves to a new town and discovers her new friends sprout scales when they are in the water. Both titles look to have a lot of potential.
The phrase “Comics for Everyone” was stressed a lot at the panel. Adam Staffaroni, senior editor in charge of the Roar imprint spoke about what they meant by comics for everyone. It was just about age. They want their comics to appeal to everyone, men and women, boys and girls, people of any color. This creed is reflected in their original titles. Quincredible, The Joshua Run, Accel, and Trimaxx all feature protagonists who are non-white males, which is really refreshing. They have also reached out to the sports world to create titles for mixed martial artist Rampage Jackson and six time WWE champion Chavo Guerrero Jr. to star in their own titles. Guerrero was on the panel, and he was enthusiastic about his comic and creating superheroes that everyone can relate to.
I was really impressed with the company’s stated goals. A lot of people and companies talk about making comics more diverse. It’s nice to see a company really take that mission to heart. Not only are their characters diverse, the writers and artists are as well. Lion Forge publishes almost exclusively in digital, and all of their titles are available on Amazon Kindle and soon to be available on Google Play. I’m looking forward to checking out their titles in the future.