DC Comics made news earlier this week with the announcement of The Sandman Universe, a line of four comics inspired by the seminal Neil Gaiman-written Sandman series. That was one of the topics of discussion on Saturday at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, with the "Vertigo - At the Center of Modern Storytelling" panel, also including a focus on the Young Animal imprint.
In attendance: creators Jody Houser, Joshua Williamson, Ibrahim Moustafa and Vertigo Executive Editor Mark Doyle.
Doyle, serving as moderator, started the panel by talking current series Imaginary Fiends, by Tim Seeley and Stephen Molnar; and Motherlands by Si Spurrier and Rachael Stott. "It's a crazy science-fiction series, but at the heart of it is family drama," Doyle said of Motherlands.
Williamson talked the recently launched Deathbed, illustrated by Riley Rossmo. "We wanted to do a book that's about storytelling in general, also a little about legacy," Williamson said about the series. "We started having these conversations, if you were on your death bed, what would your last words be?"
"As a writer, I think you should know the end of your story when you're starting out," Williamson continued. "But if your life is a story, how can you know the ending?" The comic stars a character named Antonio Luna, who doesn't believe his life story is over yet -- sparking a new adventure.
Upcoming issues of Deathbed will explore the concept of how when we leave someone's life, we may think that their story ends -- but of course their stories continue, and Luna will make that realization.
Moving to Young Animal, Doyle detailed the concept behind the imprint (which was announced two years ago at ECCC 2016): "new characters, also fresh spins on some existing DC properties.
Doyle recapped the freshly wrapped "Milk Wars" crossover between Young Animal and the DC Universe. "I remember when we were first told the event was called 'Milk Wars,' and the villain would me Milkman Man, we were all on board at that point," Houser said. "The whole concept is RetCo is essentially homogenizing and repackaging reality to sell it as entertainment across the universe. They're trying o make squeaky clean versions of some of the DC heroes."
Shade the Changing Woman #1 by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone is out this Wednesday, March 7, and Shade will meet Shade the Changing Man in the issue. Eternity Girl #1 by Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew is scheduled for release on March 14. It's about a "former superhero, former superspy, and she wants to die, but she can't," Doyle told the crowd. Cave Carson Has an Interstellar Eye #1 follows a week later on March 21, from Jon Rivera and Michael Avon Oeming. "He goes from spelunking on Earth to exploring black holes in outer space."
The refresh of the Young Animal line continues on March 28, with Mother Panic: Gotham: A.D. #1 by Houser and Moustafa. "She's dealing with the fallout of this reality she never wanted to be in, after dealing with an adventure she never wanted to be a part of," Houser said, but Violet Paige's first priority is finding her mother. "Since we're in a new version of Gotham, we get to play around a little more with some of the Bat-characters without worrying we're ruining continuity."
"One of the things I've always loved is drawing my take on a character, even just for fun," Moustafa told Doyle. "Getting to do it officially, when it doesn't have to go through a lot of scrutiny [because it's set in a Gotham apart from mainline continuity], we can do a lot of cool stuff. You guys are really giving us a lot of leeway to try cool things."
Houser said the guiding aesthetic of Mother Panic was "neon-noir." Moustafa mentioned the visuals of Batman Beyond and Blade Runner 2049 as inspirations.
Turning to the future of Vertigo, Doyle referred back to a teaser released last July at Comic-Con International in San Diego, which read "080818." It refers to the date of August 8, 2018, the launch of the Sandman Universe. Doyle said this marks the start of the next era of Vertigo. This led to a video featuring Neil Gaiman discussing the new imprint.
"It's all going to start in the [Sandman Universe one-shot], which will introduce spaces beyond the Dreaming," Gaiman said. "It's going to introduce a new House, called the House of Whispers. Following the special, we're going to be introducing four new series, written and drawn by the most incredible collaborators I could ask for."
Cards were passed out to attendees of the session, with a digital code to redeem digital copies of all 75 issues of the original run of Sandman. With that, Doyle wrapped the panel.