From "Sandman" to "Preacher" and "The Invisibles" to "Y: The Last Man," since 1993 DC Comics' celebrated Vertigo imprint has delivered adult comic stories that fall very left of normal, push boundaries and generate serious critical acclaim. Since the beginning, Karen Berger remained at the helm, steering the imprint and its creative vision. Following Berger's departure in late 2012, longtime Vertigo editor Shelly Bond -- who joined DC two weeks before Vertigo was officially formed -- was named Executive Editor of the imprint. And in the two and a half years since Bond took over, Vertigo's mission hasn't changed, which is to deliver, in her words, "deft storytelling, incomparable artistry and the bravado that has made Vertigo an industry leader."
CBR TV's Jonah Weiland caught up with Bond at Comic-Con International in San Diego during a time of transition. The acclaimed ongoing series "Fables," created and written by Bill Willingham and primarily drawn by Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, was nearing its end with the landmark "Fables" #150. As the longest running current Vertigo series, and the imprint's lengthiest creator-owned series ever, there would presumably be a not insignificant hole to fill. But Bond and her editorial team announced twelve new series, all launching this year between October and December, making a serious statement that Vertigo is far from finished and much more than just the home of "Fables" for the last 13 years.
CBR TV spoke at length with Bond about her personal journey on "Fables," which she edited from the very beginning, Bill Willingham's greatest strengths and accomplishments on the series, and what fans can expect from the next wave of Vertigo titles as the company heads in a bold new direction to close out 2015.
On "Fables" writer Bill Willingham's greatest strength and the legacy of "Fables":
Without a doubt, I think Bill Willingham's greatest strength is picking the best editors in comics to work with. It's been quite a journey. But I will tell you that from the day that Bill pitched me "Fables" I knew in my bones it was going to be something special. And I knew that it had the scope to be much more than just an ongoing monthly. I mean it's just been, I think, one of the most substantial creator-owned Vertigo series we've produced in the history of the imprint.
I think Bill has such a gift in relating to people, all types of people. Back in the day, there was a lot of credit given to "Sandman" for bringing in a lot of female readers, and absolutely justified. I think "Fables" continued that tradition and I love hearing from girlfriends of readers, of kids who have grown up with "Fables" because their parents read the series -- and librarians, who simply adore Bill. So it's been terrific that this series has continued on the tradition.
On her emotional reaction to the end of "Fables":
I was blown to bits. It was so unexpected. If I didn't see it coming, you know that Bill has talent. Of course, when you're working on a series for over 13 years there are different points that you look toward, that Bill looked toward as a writer. You'll recall going back over the many different pivotal moments in "Fables," of course when the Adversary was discovered, there were so many points when you thought maybe it could have ended, but Bill always had more tricks up his sleeve and more stories to tell. I think a lot of people expected a bloodbath from the end of "Fables," but he did Shakespeare when he ended "Jack of Fables" so I knew that wasn't gonna be the way he was gonna bring everything to a close. But I never saw this ending coming.
On the 12 new series that will launch by the end of the year:
It's pretty exciting. It's an unprecedented rollout, because in the history of Vertigo -- and I would know, because I started two weeks before the imprint launched in 1993 -- but in the history of Vertigo we have yet to roll out books in a consecutive way, twelve new books, one a week, from October to December. So it's really exciting, and I can't stress the -- I think Vertigo has always been known for pushing the boundaries of genre fiction. What we do with this new group of books is we take the reader some place stranger by bringing together creators who have always respected each other's work, and finally they get to collaborate on the page. And we bring in a lot of new voices, rising art stars and new writers, and often pair them up with some of the Vertigo veterans that you mentioned, and what they're gonna produce will be the game changers of tomorrow.