Chicago, Day 3: Vertigo/"Constantine" Panel

The final day of Wizard World Chicago began winding down with the last of the company panels. DC Comics Vice President of sales and Marketing Bob Wayne served as host and moderator for a look at the upcoming slate of Vertigo projects and for a special preview of "Constantine," the movie based on the Vertigo title "Hellblazer."

Some material presented included the already announced "Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall" which will feature the works of writer Bill Willingham, artists Charles Vess, James Jean, and others.

Mike Kaluta was announced as the new cover artist for the remainder of "Lucifer's" finite run, currently expected to end at issue 75.

"Angel Town," a five issue mini series by writer Gary Phillips will explore the crime and politics of Los Angeles.

Brian Azzarello, writer of "Superman" and "100 bullets" was on hand to talk about his new western project, "Loveless." "I don't say this very often but I'm really excited about it," said Azzarello. It's a western and they're not supposed to sell. You're supposed to prove them wrong," he said.

"If you don't support it, don't bother bringing copies of Superman for me to sign," he quipped.

Azzarello further explained that "the series is set during the Reconstruction, when the South was essentially an occupied nation. That's a term that's familiar these days. It's going to be very political, but it's going to be a spaghetti western."

The writer also talked briefly about the "100 Bullets" video game. "The game is an adaptation. You don't need to play the game," he said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

"But it wouldn't bother him if you bought it," Wayne added.

"Yeah. Buy the Game. Just don't play the game." Azzarello joked.

On the subject of "Swamp Thing," editor Jonathan Vankin explained that following a two-parter with Richard Corben art, Enrique Breccia will return to the art duties along with new writer Joshua Dysart. "It will bring [Swamp Thing] back to it's roots, also with an homage to the great Alan Moore era as well."

Brian K. Vaughan spoke briefly on coming events in his series "Y: The Last Man." "By issue 30 we'll find out why Yorick survives the plague and we'll soon be leaving the United States and see how the plague affects the rest of the world."

Vaughan also talked about his new 128 age graphic novel, "Pride." "I feel like it's one of the best things I ever written."

"Pride" is based on the true story of four lions that escaped from the Iraq zoo during recent bombings in that country. "It's like an Animal Farm for the Iraq War," Vaughan said.

With a "Hellblazaer" film on the horizon both in preview form during the panel and in the coming year, talk turned to the goings on with that character and related titles.

Among some "Hellblazer" trades being ramped up for release and the previously announced "All His Engines" graphic novel by current series writer Mike Carey and artist Leonardo Manco (in which Constantine visits Los Angeles) a new mini series was announced.

A five issue limited series centered around the character of Papa Midnight is on the schedule to be written by novelist matt Johnson. The character of Papa Midnight was introduced early in the "Hellblazer" series and is featured in the Constantine film. Art will be provided by "Fables" artist Tony Akins. The story revolves around an actual incident in 18th century Manhattan in which there was a rebellion of slaves.

When the floor opened to questions, an interesting idea was proposed by a con-goer. Given that Azzarello is primarily a Vertigo writer but also handles "Superman," the concept of a Vertigo story featuring Bizarro Superman was floated to the writer. Without missing a beat, Azzarello responded "Me am not adverse to that."

Asked if any characters currently in the regular DC Universe would be considered for a Vertigo revamp, Vankin mentioned the coming "Deadman" by writer Bruce Jones. "There are other characters always being kicked around, but nothing on the schedule right now." he added.

"Were doing a vertigo revamp of "Deadman," written by Bruce Jones ang its going to be an interesting series. These other characters are always being kicked around, but nothing on the schedule right now."

Attention was then turned to the world of cinema as an 18 minute preview of "Constantine" was presented and warmly received by panel-goers, some of which were openly dubious about the adaptation.

"We were admittedly very nervous about making Vertigo characters into movies. [Director Francis Lawrence] was very enthusiastic about what they were doing and felt they were working on something very special. The studio is supporting it 110%," said DC VP Richard Bruning following the clip.

"I actually first received the script in May of 2002." said Lawrence who was on hand for the preview. "I went through a whole process of meeting with executives and slowly built up a large visual presentation and sold the producers....and Keanu on me."

"There was a battle with the studio," he explained. "The studio wanted lighter fare, but I think you'll see...we won."

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