No sooner did I go to bed this morning and it was time to get up! At the Skybound Xpo Panel, attended by Tommy Andreasson, Creator and producer of Ninjago, as well as Writer/Artist Tri Vuong and Skybound’s Editor in Chief Sean Mackiewicz, we got our first glimpse of the new title due for release in 5 parts, starting April 2022.
Read on to hear more about what was discussed on the panel:
The panel, moderated by Eric Huang, VP and publisher of AMEET and LEGO Books, consisted of a few more than just those three: we had six panelists all up, including Hayley ‘Sensei Wolfe’ Wolfe: Ninjago superfan and host of Ninjagocast on TTV; Daniel Konstanski, the author of the ‘The Secret Life of LEGO Bricks’ – a crowdsourced LEGO Book produced specifically for AFOLs due out early next year; Sean Mackiewicz – Editor in Chief of Skybound Entertainment; Tommy Andreasen, one of the creators, who has been working on Ninjago since 2009; Tommy Kamar – another producer of the series, and also responsible for International Transmedia storytelling. Finally, we had Tri Vuong: Writer and artist of the new comic book. For Tri, LEGO was one of the first toys he ever played with that allowed him to express his creativity.
“Skybound don’t typically work with licensees, but rather invests in original content such as The Walking Dead, Invincible and Super Dinosaur. What made them want to work with AMEET to make LEGO Comics? “
Sean Mackiewicz said that shortly after starting at Skybound, he had emerged from his dark ages, via the DC superheroes sets. Once they started going to shows, they were often set up near the LEGO Booth, and they got to know the staff over the years. “We had started to consider licenced comics, and LEGO was on the top of the list for licences we would like to work with. Skybound has always been about partnering with creators and expressing their personal visions. There is no brand that expresses creativity and innovation than LEGO. While there is a ton of possibilities and themes, along with the ways to tell stories there, it has been a welcome challenge.
“From a fan perspective, what makes LEGO A Great fit for comics?”
Dan Konstanski responded:”Several things make LEGO a great fit for comic books. There is a focus on setting and characters. Often, The way that kids interact with LEGO sets can be a bit like comic book panels in terms of having characters interacting in settings and stories. Comic books tap into those same universal ideas: characters and setting and things that appeal across the board.
Sean Mackiewicz announced the new comic would be LEGO NINJAGO GARMADON. The comic is set in canon, and takes place after we last saw Garmadon at the end of season 10. It will reveal where Garmadon has been since then, and where he is going.
Tri Vuong, the writer and artist on the comic went on to explain:” Garmadon is off on his own adventure. We will see him wrestle with the question of ‘Am I bad, or am I evil?’ This complexity yields some interesting results..
“Will this book appeal to comic book fans, even if they are not Ninjago fans?“
Sean Mackiewicz explained that they are in a monthly business – needing to have people come back. As such, even if you are not a current NINJAGO Fan, the comic will help to bring you up to speed on the mythology that you need to know. We have been getting a lot of help from the LEGO group and Ameet in this area.
While interpreting the minifigures into comic-book format, but still setting out to maintain the LEGO-ness Tri realised there are some limitations to the Minifigure format. In part, the limited articulation is part of their charm: “None of these characters can hold a spear above their head: their arms are too short; they cannot scratch their heads. there are some things that they just cannot do!
“As an active member of the fan community, what would you like to see in a comic book about Garmadon?”
Hayley:”Garmadon is a beloved character in the community – he has had a number of iterations in the series over the years, and every iteration has been popular. To see that he is going to be taken to another level… that’s such a bit deal. The word that really gained my attention was the word ‘Canon,’ because NINJAGO has always been dancing between what is canon, and what is not. the series has been the central place of storytelling, and we have had offshoots of books and what not, but it is a huge deal for Ninjago to get more official canon content. I can’t wait until April.
“What makes Ninjago resonate with fans of all ages?”
Dan K: It touches on the icons of ninja, teammates, going on missions and saving the world. these are things that childhood play is made of. Each generation has something that comes in as part of their story growing up. With timeless characters, concepts and settings, it arrived at a time when this was not being explored in the culture at large. The timing made it something that many kids just connected with, growing up.
Tommy A: We have this huge back catalogue of Ideas, and huge amounts of Lore. But there are more stories to tell than we have been able to fit on TV. this gives me a chance to take part in Ninjago as a fan, as I have not been directly involved in creating it.
“What will the comic stories bring, that we haven’t seen before?”
Tommy K:”It fills the story gap with Garmadon, since he left the monastery at the end of Masters of Spinjitsu, when we had a change in format. We haven’t head from him for some time. Previously, we only told the story through the TV series. Today, we want to design more story that is driving canon. It’s like a soap opera or drama for kids. It keeps evolving. The format can reach a new audience, as well as go to our core audience in a new vibrant and aspirational tone of voice that comes with this format.
We followed with a lightning round of quick questions to the panel:
Who is your favourite character?
Tommy A is a fan of Cole; Tri and Sean both nominated Garmadon. Dan and Tommy K both love Kai and Hayley was also on team Cole.
Which Ninjago ability would you like most?
Tommy A: That would be fire, it looks so cool. Tri: the tornado creation would be really handy for deadlines. Sean: I hear there is a vacancy for master of winds, so I am going to slide in there. Danial is a hydraulics engineer by day, as such mastery of water has its appeal. Tommy K: Master of Amber – the ability to absorb and copy powers from others. Hayley opted for Lloyd’s green energy “…so I can find out what it is!”
What LEGO theme would you like to see Skybound work on next, outside of Ninjago?
Tommy A: “I worked on Hidden Side, Nexo Knights and Legends of Chima. So, one of those please: they need some love.”
Tri “Something Space related, with Benny”
Dan: “I’m old-school: I’d like to see something on the origins of the Futuron – Blacktron War”
Tommy K “More Ninjago”
Hayley: “I think Monkie Kid would thrive with the comic format.”
Sean (save to last in the hope that he might give something away):”I think we have discussed about half of those seriously, so I have been told to wait and see… Part of the challenge is to explore things that haven’t been done. Personally, I’d love to see a Pirates comic. Or Garmadon in Space…”
You can find the Super Secret LEGO Panel at the 1:02 minute mark of the live stream video here.
Here’s the official press release:
Today at The Skybound Halloween Xpo, Image Comics and Skybound announced LEGO® NINJAGO® GARMADON #1, an official new chapter in the worldwide phenomenon that arrives in stores April 6, 2022 from rising star writer/artist Tri Vuong (the upcoming Everyday Hero Machine Boy)!
This is the first LEGO® branded comic book series release from the landmark partnership between multiplatform content company Skybound Entertainment and global children’s book publisher AMEET, with additional top-secret new series to be announced in the coming year.
“When it came to our first LEGO® comic book series launch, we knew it had to be full of action, adventure and heartfelt drama. Everything that’s made the LEGO® NINJAGO® franchise so iconic,” said Sean Mackiewicz, Senior Vice President, Editor-in-Chief at Skybound Entertainment. “We’re excited to expand the official NINAGO mythos in partnership with our friends at AMEET and the LEGO Group to bring you the grand return of the bad guy you love to hate—Lord Garmadon!”
Far away from Ninjago City, a village is terrorized by a mysterious new threat when they’re saved by a stranger with incredible powers known as… Garmadon, Lord of Destruction?! Has Garmadon turned over a new leaf since his disappearance, or is this just the first step in his master plan of finally defeating Master Wu and the ninja forever?
“It’s been such a great opportunity to play within the LEGO universe,” said writer/artist Tri Vuong. “The LEGO® NINJAGO® franchise has all the qualities that I love in a story; action, adventure, humor and compelling characters. In our new series, we’re paying homage to the LEGO® NINJAGO® franchise while expanding the mythology with new stories on this beloved property.”
LEGO® NINJAGO® GARMADON #1 (of 5) will be available at comic book shops and digital platforms including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.
I have not been a diligent follower of Ninjago Lore over the years, but the opportunity see the established canon get expanded on is exciting, and I am looking forward to reading this next April.
I do find myself asking a few questions, however. What will be the target age for the book? Will it be aimed at younger fans, or a teen/young adult audience? and will it tie into the LEGO sets being produced and released next year? This would be exciting to see.
Are you excited to see this new NINJAGO Comic book project come to fruition? Why not leave your comments below, and until next time: