CCI: Vertigo: On the Edge

On late Friday Afternoon, the Vertigo: On the Edge panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego kicked off with a plethora of guests from the creative spectrum, including Senior VP/Executive Editor Karen Berger and creators Rafael Albuquerque, Gabriel Ba, Cliff Chiang, Peter Gross, Matt Kindt, Fabio Moon, Chris Roberson, Max Allan Collins, Joshua Dysart, Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder, Shelly Bond, Matt Sturges and Bill Willingham.

Berger hosted the packed panel and introduced the audience to the guests, some of whom sat toward the back of the stage as the table was completely filled. "I, Zombie" was the first topic of discussion. Roberson talked about the upcoming issue #6, which is the secret origin of Spot the were-monkey. "You should all buy it," he said. "You don't have to read it. Just buy it."

Editor Will Dennis spoke about Brian Wood's series "Metal" and "DMZ." In regards to the latter, Dennis said that Vertigo will be releasing a series of five issues, each drawn by a different artist, that take place over the course of 24 hours. "It all takes place in one day, when the DMZ is being bombed," he said. "It's seen from five different points of views from five different artists."

Snyder then talked about his series "American Vampire." "Issue #6 begins the next story arc that takes place in 1965 Las Vegas," he explained. "It begins with a series of dead bodies showing up around town drained of blood. What we're trying to do is broaden the mythology a little bit." The writer explained the high concept behind his series, which follows the idea of different breeds of vampire born from across the world. Specifically, the title focuses on the American vampires. Berger asked series artist Albuquerque if it was difficult drawing the series as it is based in American and he is from Brazil.

"United States is something known in Brazil. We have movies and had references," laughed Albuquerque. "I just face it as a comic I have to illustrate and tell in the best way I can."

Dennis took the stage once again to talk about two original graphic novels coming out under the Vertigo banner, one by writer Andy Diggle named "Rat Catcher" and another by Simon Oliver called "Noche Roja." The editor described "Rat Catcher" as an "action, mafia, hit" title. "Noche Roja," on the other hand, focuses on the Juarez serial killer. Both are more very dark tales, which Dennis said keeps in line with what the company has been trying to do with their crime novels.

Dysart then spoke about wrapping up "Unknown Soldier." "It's a real victory that we got to do this book at all, so I feel really good about having two years," said Dysart. The writer joked that people love books that are comedic, so his next book will be called, "Wise-Cracking Protagonist." "It will be about the sex slave trade. It's going to be awesome. All singing, all dancing."

"I feel really good about the ending," Dysart said of "Soldier." "It's a real victory getting this done. Doing a book about genocide always blazes up the charts."

Lemire discussed "Sweet Tooth." "Issue #12 is a great issue for people who have maybe heard about the series but who haven't read it yet." Lemire said in regards to his series. "It follows a day in the life of Gus and other hybrid characters." The issue also features a sub story on the bottom of each page, which contains excerpts from the journal of the mad scientist who created the hybrid characters. "That's where a lot of pieces I've been setting up on the board start to move and converge," said Lemire.

Kindt's original graphic novel "Revolver" follows a protagonist who leads a very boring life, working a boring day job. One day, the entire world starts going to hell around him; however, when he goes to sleep that night and awakens the next day, everything has returned back to normal. The character continues to shift between his regular, boring life and the dangerous, world-ending reality. "He's trying to figure out what's happening, but he also ends up having to make a choice," says Kindt. "Do I live in this world that's crazy and out of control and try to make a difference or do I live in a world where I'm bored to death and I don't know what to do with my life?"

Berger talked about four new graphic novels coming out this fall: "Dark Rain," which deals with New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; "Cuba, My Revolution," a fictionalized memoir about a woman who grew up during Castro's takeover of Cuba; "The Green Woman," a book by writer Peter Straub and co-written by actor Michael Easton; and "How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less," which tells the story of writer Sarah Glidden's experiences in Israel.

>"Daytripper" comes to an end with issue # 10 in September, and writer Moon vaguely discussed the final issue of the title. "It's the last issue," joked Moon wanting to keep things a secret. "Anything can happen. It's like all the other issues." The writer asked the audience how many people were reading the series. After the applause, the writer/artist said, "I love you!"

Next, Bond talked about "Hellblazer," as writer Peter Milligan was unable to attend. "I decided to tell everyone something major that happens, but only in four notes," said Bond. She then hummed the tune to Here Comes the Bride."You guessed it. John Constantine is going to get married - which we think is a pretty radical thing." She added that, "Of course, there's going to be some demons from hell and devil succubi who want to make sure that doesn't happen because they don't want John Constantine to be happy. It's going to be an interesting journey up to the altar, which happens in issue #275."

Bond then talked about "Delirium's Party: A Little Endless Storybook" by Jill Thompson. The series follows in the footsteps of the Little Endless storybook Thompson previously did and comes out in March as a hardcover. "Every time she picks up a paintbrush, she just blows my mind with her imagination and powerful pop talent," said Bond about Thompson's work. "She'll make the Endless cry, and for that alone you should buy this book."

Glass talked about "The Unwritten," saying that the upcoming issue #16, featuring the release of the fourteenth Tommy Taylor book, has a "really shocking reunion between a couple of the characters that you really have to see to believe." The writer also said that issue #17 is a one-shot done as a "choose your own adventure." Glass said he wasn't sure if anyone has done a choose your own adventure style comic book before, but even if so, he joked that it was "certainly not a sophisticated one." The issue will be 32 pages, but is formatted to be read sideways. As such, each also page contains two pages of story, bringing to the total length of the story to 64 pages.

"This is the paperback cover to 'Peter & Max.' I'm not even sure why we're coming out with a paperback, because every one of you bought the hardback, right?" joked writer Bill Willingham. "It is one of the terrific moments from Peter & Max. We get the duel between the two brothers. We get zombie fights. We get rats. It's really everything a good story deserves to be."

Willingham also discussed the upcoming 100-paged "Fables" issue #100. "For this kind of Vertigo book, reaching 100 is kind of a milestone, so we're pulling out all the stops," he said. "You can see there's a Mr. Dark on the page, and a young, well-armed witch some of you may recognize, and they are finally going to come to some sort of an agreement."

"It is choose your own adventure in the sense that you can choose to turn the page if you want to," joked Willingham.

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