Vertigo Comics held its San Diego’s Comic-Con International panel Friday evening, with G. Willow Wilson, Matt Wagner, Jeff Lemire, Peter Gross, Matt Sturges, Chris Roberson, Mike Allred, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, Bill Willingham, Amy Hadley, Fabio Moon,, Gabriel Ba,and editors Karen Berger and Shelly Bond on and around the stage.
Berger opened the panel by talking about “Sweet Tooth,” which is written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire. “It’s about a deer boy named Gus who’s raised in the woods with his father. Something happens in the first issue and he’s forced to leave his home,” and ultimately finds an American wasteland with other animal hybrid children who are a result or cause of the plague that devastated the country.
The next slide was Peter Milligan’s “Greek Street.” “Pete is reimagining Greek myth in modern day London as a crime thriller story,” Berger said of the title. “Weird shit happens,” she said, lamenting that a show of applause suggested many hadn’t read it.
“The Unwritten” by Mike Carey and Peter Gross received more readership-applause. “Mike Carey are having a phenomenal time working on this,” Gross said. #5 takes place 100 years ago and stars Rudyard Kipling. “It’s the best script I’ve ever read in an issue,” the artist said.
Moon and Ba’s “Daytripper” was up next, which, like Unwritten, deals with writers and the troubled relationships with their father. “I think the great thing about Daytripper is that, at any given point in a person’s life, a life-changing thing can happen. And you want to be there,” Moon said. Each issue will feature the main character at a different life stage.
“Joe the Barbarian” is an eight-issue mini by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. “Grant described it as a mix between Lord of the Rings and Home Alone,” Murphy said. Murphy stumbled as to whether the star was lactose intolerant (Berger said he’s diabetic). “Anyway, he has rabies.” The main character halucinates himself into a fantasy world.
The “House of Mystery” Annual will feature a Merv Pumpkinhead by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham, stories by Mike Allred and Matt Wagner–and the mask seen in the cover image will be wearable.
Williamham said the fun announcements about “Fables” would come tomorrow. Instead, he asked for a show of hands of who’s reading “Unwritten” and “Air.” “Everyone who didn’t raise their hand, get out of the room.” He joked with Buckingham that the latter would “knock Fables out of the water,” and continued by describing his own Kipling cred, having written part of the series in Kipling’s house.
Berger spoke of “Peter and Max,” the “Fables” novel. “Both of the title characters appear in at least one panel of every book,” Willingham added, and said that George R.R. Martin is providing a blurb.
The next slide was “Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love,” a Fables miniseries by written by Chris Roberson Chrissy Zulo. “It’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ meets ‘Sex in the City,'” Roberson said. It’s slated for a November release.
On “Air” #12, Wilson said, “Zane comes back in a dramatic fashion, and Blythe takes a sidetrip to other corners of the world to get more clues as to Zane’s past.” She felt bad for setting the story in Tehran because she thought the city was too stable, but then the protests to the presidential elections happened. “It’s like life immitating art.
Next was “Scalped,” the current arc of which has “bad shit happening,” according to Jason Aaron. “This arc really kind of tips over the truck a bit, and changes the characters and sets things up for what’s coming after. Which is bad shit.”
Wood said “DMZ” will end around issue #66-70, meaning a couple years are left. But in the current story, “this is where things start to end. The events that will lead to the end of the book,” the writer said.
Wood continued with “Northlanders.” The next 8-issue arc is about a plague (“not the Plague,” which came a couple hundred years after”). A small village in Russia will close its doors for protection, “but that seals everything in.”
“Unknown Soldier” came next. “The next issue, it will all come to a head,” Dysart said. “We’re dealing with the issue for foreign aid in Africa, so it’s a laugh riot,” he joked, also saying that issue 10 was his favorite since issue 7. Patrice Macioni will be doing a guest arc on art, who is from Kinshasa. “To my knowledge, this is the first time a major publisher has published a Central African artist–I don’t know if that’s true but it sounds awesome.
Berger announced “Neil Young’s Greendale,” which ships in May. Cliff Chiang illustrates from Josh Dysart’s adaptation.
Berger noted that Vertigo Crime hopes to cover the various aspects of crime fiction, including supernatural.
The editor then showed a slide of “Absolute Death,” which will be out in the Fall.
Mike Allred and Chris Roberson’s new book will be “I, Zombie,” Berger announced. “It is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. The proposal, I fell in love with immediately,” Allred said. “I had some ideas and everything that we talked about, it all just gelled in an amazing way.”
“This is fresh as dead brains can be,” he added.
“It’s the zombie girl detective,” Roberson said, starring a girl who discovers she has to eat a brain once a month to retain her memory. She takes a job as a gravedigger, but finds that she shares the memories of the brain she’s eaten for a week. “So if they died with any unfinished business, she’ll have to deal with it.”
“I hope it is to monsters what Fables is to fairytales,” Allred added. He praised Bond and Berger, who were his editors early in his career. “This has been magic,” Allred said of the project. “I love drawing dead people.”
The floor was then opened to questions.
Berger said that, as far as she knows, there are no plans to raise Vertigo’s monthlies to the $3.99 price point.
“It’s Amelia Erhardt meets Home Alone with fairy tales,” Wilson joked of “Air’s” pitch. “That’s not that far off the mark, actually. Except Amelia Erhardt is not a zombie.” Wilson said the project started as a novel.
There are no plans to collect the Vertigo “V2K” books, “But there should,” Berger said.
“Absolute Invisibles?” Berger said they are sticking with current editions and that Vertigo tends more toward the Deluxe Editions like “Y: The Last Man” rather than Absolutes.
DC characters moving to Vertigo? “I’m going to give Ambush Bug an existential crisis!’ Dyart joked.
Brian Azzarello’s “Filthy Rich”
Berger announced two new graphic novels, “Revolver” by Matt Kindt, starring a character who has a parallel lives. After a terrorist attack, the people in his life “seem very different to him, and he seems very different.” It’s scheduled for Spring.
“Red Ring” by Mat Johnson is a heist during set during Hurricane Katrina. It will be released in July 2010.