As part of Comic-Con International in San Diego, Vertigo Comics Executive Editor Karen Berger took to the stage to tease the imprint’s upcoming lineup as part of the Vertigo Editorial panel. Joining the longtime editor were the creative minds behind almost all of Vertigo Comic’s big titles: writer Scott Snyder (“American Vampire”), writer Jeff Lemire (“Sweet Tooth”) artist Mike Allred (“iZombie”), writer Chris Roberson (“iZombie”) artist Mark Buckingham (“Fables”), writer Les Klinger (“Annotated Sandman”,) artist Rebecca Guay (“A Flight of Angels”), writer Max Collins (“Road To Perdition”) and writer/artist Bill Willingham (“Fables”).
Kicking off the panel, Berger showed the audience slides of upcoming comics and teased the ending of “Scalped.” Pausing on a cover for the new ongoing series “iZombie,” Allred told audiences that he got inspiration for that cover, which shows the main character Gwen against a purple background, from the wallpaper of a men’s room at a music club.
Berger then revealed the full range of Scott Snyder’s “American Vampire” covers as Snyder told the audience that the covers, when put together, show the full cast of the comic.
Artist Rafael Albuquerque from “American Vampire” joined the group onstage and told listeners that the five covers are also all interlocked, and showed an image of all five “American Vampire” covers side by side. Snyder then touched on the miniseries “American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest” saying he wanted to use the series to expand the vampire world.
“It’s also the completion of the story of Cash and Felicia and Cash’s son Gus, who is actually named after Gus from ‘Sweet Tooth,'” said Snyder. The audience let out a collective “aww” at this tidbit as Lemire laughed.
“It’s Scott and my anniversary,” joked Lemire.
Assistants then handed out a poster for one of Vertigo’s newest original graphic novels: “Marzi” a story about a girl growing up behind the iron curtain. Showing pages on the big screen, the series tells the story of “What it is actually like growing up in a repressed society,” said Berger. Despite the darker tone, Berger said it was not an adult book and would be marketed for younger readers as well as older.
Writer Derek McCulloch came in and apologized for artist Colleen Doran being unable to attend the panel before discussing their new joint comic, “Gone to Amerikay.” Berger then showed an image for the first issue of Brian Wood’s newest “DMZ” story arc, “DMZ: The Five Nations Of New York.” Set to end this December, the audience broke into applause when Berger asked if anyone had read “DMZ” or “Northlanders,” Wood’s other Vertigo series.
The audience cheered louder, however, when Berger introduced the cover for “Fables” issue #107. According to Willingham, “We left Sleeping Beauty years ago in the Imperial homeworld where she put the whole…Empire to sleep all at once.” Saying that in #issue 107 readers will catch up with Sleeping Beauty once again, Willingham confessed that the issue ends on a cliffhanger which will not be resolved in “Fables.” Willingham then hinted that in order to find out where the story ends fans will need to attend tomorrow’s “Fables” panel.
Buckingham then displayed the cover image for “Fables” issue #108. “This is a return to watercolor washes in the comic which we did in issue #100,” Buckingham told the clapping audience before saying that he modeled the look of Rose Red after his wife.
Showcasing Guay’s new series “A Flight of Angels,” Guay explained to listeners what the series is about. “It came out of wanting to explore the theme of fallen angels in a dark, edgy way I hadn’t seen before,” said Guay. Pointing to the cover image which shows two angels nearly embracing, Guay said the series begins with a group of fairies who find a fallen angel. Holding a tribunal over what to do with the angel, Guay said what follows is not one linear story but a series of vignettes on love, loss, and Biblical stories.
Berger then flipped though the art for the various stories, written by multiple writers but all illustrated in incredibly varied styles by Guay.
“It’s just lovely, lovely work,” said Willingham, praising Guay’s work before adding that he is one of the writers in “Angels.”
Klinger, who is working on “The Annotated Sandman,” said that when he first talked to writer Neil Gaiman about doing “Sandman” Gaiman jokingly told him to “Wait ’til I’m dead.” However, a few years later Gaiman called Klinger up and the project moved forward. Working off of Gaiman’s original scripts, Klinger said much of his work was “reverse engineering.”
“It’s the original art; actually the pages are going to be larger than the absolute version and in gray scale…so we didn’t reduce the art too much,” said Klinger.
Another newcomer to the panel, writer Max Collins, spoke about his graphic novel “The Road To Perdition.” Saying he did the second “Road To Perdition” with a different artist, Collins said he decided to come “full circle” to do a third and last “Perdition.”
“All we wanted to do is not superheroes and be able to understand and comprehend what was going on!” said Collins, touching on the troubles he faced when first publishing the story back in the ’90s. He added, “It’s a solid end to this story…we finally get to the end of this revenge trail.”
The audience applauded wildly when Berger brought up images from Grant Morrison’s new collections of “We3” and “Joe The Barbarian” on screen, the latter of which will be out in October. Berger then displayed the cover for an upcoming issue of “The Unwritten” which features a female writer who has to hide her gender in order to write. In November, Berger revealed they will ship “Unwritten” twice a month: the first whole number issues (issue #10, issue #11, etc.) follow Tommy as he takes the Cabal down while the second .5 issues (#10.5, #11.5, etc.) will show the history of the Cabal and other supporting characters.
Also in October, Vertigo will debut a new Halloween anthology and, in a few months, the imprint will announce a brand new series. The editor added writer Brian Azzarello will return to Vertigo with “Spaceman,” a story set in a post-apocalyptic world.
Vertigo editor Shelly Bond then took the microphone to answer the “Age-old question: does John wear boxers or briefs?” joked Bond.
Showing the cover for “Hellblazer” issue #283 which shows Constantine in nothing other than flame boxers, the next arc follows the “Heinous things to all of the people who come in contact with the people who come into contact with John’s trench coat,” after Johns’ niece puts it on eBay, said Bond.
Bond then gave away a real trench coat signed by Vertigo artists and writers to a fan who was able to identify how many times John Constantine has been married in “Hellblazer.” The answer? One.
“Put it on!” Bond demanded, leading the applause as the fan modeled the coat, which also features a drawing of Constantine on the back.
Berger then opened the floor to questions. Of course, the first question was whether Vertigo was planning on ending “Hellblazer,” the imprint’s oldest series. The answer was a resounding no.
“As long as they want to keep doing it, as long as people keep reading the books…we’ll do it,” said Berger.
An audience member then asked about whether there is truth to the rumors about a “Fables” TV show or video game.
“Yes to there is some truth to the rumors,” said Berger, then said nothing was finalized at that moment.
Another fan wanted to know what Willingham thought about the resurgence of fairy tales in TV.
“I trademarked all fairy tales!” joked Willingham. He then seriously answered that it would be “hypocritical” of him to be upset about others adapting different fairy tales.
“The success and popularity of ‘Fables’ I think has helped,” added Buckingham, touching on that recent surge of fairy tale TV pilots and movies.
A female fan asked Lemire about themes in “Sweet Tooth,” specifically about his championing both animal and human rights. “That is in there, but…it’s not going to be preachy,” said Lemire, hinting that the current Project Evergreen story will have a twist coming up.
Berger then ended the panel with a big thanks to “Everyone who reads our work” as the panelists stood onstage and applauded.