NYCC: Vertigo Gets Scary

Vertigo Executive Editor Karen Berger opened the panel by stating that she wanted it to be more informal than the publisher's "Vertigo Visions" panel the day before at New York Comic Con. Because of the sheer number of people on the previous panel, there was only so much time to discuss each project and very little time for Q&A. This panel featured Scott Snyder ("American Vampire"), Chris Roberson ("iZombie"), Ryan Kelly ("New York Five" and the upcoming "Saucer Country"), Brian Azzarello ("Spaceman"), editor Will Dennis, Jeff Lemire ("Sweet Tooth"), colorist Jose Villarrubia ("Sweet Tooth," "Cuba: My Revolution"), Marzena Sowa ("Marzi"), Sylvain Savoia ("Marzi," "Strange Adventures") and Selwyn Seyfu Hinds (the upcoming "Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child").

Turning to Snyder, the new story arc of "American Vampire," which begins with issue #22 is set in the 1950s, as the cover shown made clear. Snyder described Vertigo as "home" even though many of the creators are working on the New 52 or other projects, he described the book as picking up momentum as they move into the second half of the 20th Century.

The four-issue arc is framed by a car race between the main character and a vampire in another car who isn't immediately revealed. "The story is very much about youth and rebellion," Snyder said. "Whether human or vampire, you get older and new people come along to take your place." The main character is the best vampire killer in the world. They want him to be part of the vassals, but he just wants to kill every vampire in the world. He even has wooden fang which he uses to kill vampires because he wants to bite them back.

"There's lots of suburbs and rock and roll and drive-ins," Snyder said. And the covers are all designed to echo '50s ads. "It's the stuff we've been dying to get to since the series started."

Berger introduced Hinds, a music journalist, writer of many books a and former editor of The Source who's writing the new book "Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child" and showed off some pencilled pages from the book's artist, Denys Cowan. "The book's main character is Dominique Laveau, a student at Tulane who finds that she's the heir to the Voodoo Queenship. There's a voodoo court which maintains the balance between magical and mundane worlds. The book opens with the previous queen being killed and Dominique is fingered as the killer. The book stretches from the French Quarter back to the Civil War and to the edge of the cosmos," Hinds said. "It's grounded in mythology, it's grounded in character, it's grounded in the city." The writer is especially excited to be working on a book involving West African cosmology.

Turning to Chris Roberson and "iZombie," the new storyline begins with the next issue. The last story arc involved the zombie invasion and the new arc deals with the aftermath. Roberson compared the city to post-Katrina New Orleans with FEMA handing out bottled water. And monster hunters and secret agents wandering the streets. Gwen has gone to ground. Ellie has fallen in love, a relationship that is fraught with peril. Roberson did tease that readers will be introduced to the "Brain smoothie."

One character who will be taking more of a prominent role in the book in this arc is Gwen's brother Gavin. Spot and Gavin met at the comic shop and Gavin was hitting on Spot, who didn't notice, and issue #19 is their first date. Roberson was quick to defend Gavin's role as more than the significant other of a character. Gavin has become possessed by the ghost of a Depression-era avenging monster hunter called The Phantasm. The character has been mentioned in the background and Roberson described the new arc and its elements as a ridiculous amount of fun.

The current three-issue story arc of "Sweet Tooth" is being drawn by Matt Kindt and though it's a very different book, the three issues explore the origins of the plague in the Twentieth century and Lemire promised that its connection to the main storyline will become clear by the end of the arc.

Turning to Villarrubia, a longtime colorist for many Vertigo titles, Lemire said that he had never worked with a colorist before coming to Vertigo, so he sought out a colorist whose work he admired. Villarrubia joked that he and Lemire talk regularly, but never about the coloring. As far as his approach to the book, it differs from coloring other books because Lemire's work is very well structured, but it's rendered quickly. "He's a fast artist whose work is very gestural and spontaneous and I wanted to mimic that with the color."

Berger also mentioned that "Sweet Tooth" will feature its first variant cover by "Animal Man" artist Travel Foreman.

The next book was the just announced "Saucer Country" written by Paul Cornell and drawn by Ryan Kelly, who said he's been trying to follow Cornell's lead and not give away too much. The book involves the Governor of New Mexico who is running for President, a challenge for a Hispanic woman, who is abducted and must come to terms with what happened, prove it, and possibly warn the government that an alien invasion is imminent in the series Ryan described as "'The X-Files' meets 'The West Wing.'"

Azzarello was secretive about his upcoming "Spaceman" series. When asked what the book is about he answered, "It's a dollar. And it's ninety-nine cents." He encouraged people to spread the word and to buy it, especially digitally, and repeated his statement that he made in the previous day's panel that he wanted "Spaceman" to beat "Justice League" as the best selling DC digital comic.

Turning to "Marzi," the graphic novel from creative team and real life couple Marzena Sowa and Sylvain Savoia coming out at the end of the month, Berger mentioned it was originally published in France, making it unusual because Vertigo has rarely published material it does not originate. "What attracted me to it was it's about Poland at a time nobody talks about much," Berger said. "What life was like under the communists and that combination of the universality of childhood and what it was like living at a time of food lines and strikes."

"I didn't grow up reading comics because it's not widespread in Poland," Sowa said. "I always wanted to write and it wasn't until I met my husband [Savoia] that I became introduced to the world of comics." The project began when Savoia asked her to write down some stories of her childhood, which she did because Poland has changed so much since she lived there. "I started to write first of all about daily life and then realized that politics were so present and I hadn't realized it at the time. My parents didn't want to share with me," Sowa said. "But when there's nothing in the shops and your father sleeps in the factory, children feel it."

For Savoia's part, he said that he always knew it would be a great story. "I really wanted to make a work I hadn't done before. I had done adult books and sci-fi stories and when she told me about her childhood, it was so rich, I was intent on drawing it," Savoia said. Berger also revealed Savoia, who made his Vertigo debut in the "Strange Adventures" anthology earlier this year, is teaming up with Peter Milligan for another story in a future anthology.

During the question and answer session, one fan asked if there would ever be a Prince Charming series. Berger mentioned that he would appear in the "Fables" spinoff "Fairest" launching next year, though not in the first story arc. The fan pressed on, calling Charming a great character who could support his own book.

When Azzarello was asked whether there's a character outside of his past work that he'd like to write, he said "Orson. He's the main character in my new series 'Spaceman.'" After the audience stopped laughing, the fan rephrased her question despite being told by Berger that Azzarello would not give a straight answer. "Prince Charming," Azzarello said.

Roberson was asked about how "iZombie" seems to have shifted from its original set-up where Gwen ate brains and then had to solve who killed them and whether the book would be returning to those kinds of stories. Roberson said that was intentional. "I didn't want to turn it into a formulaic mystery TV show where every week Angela Lansbury has to eat brains and solve a mystery," the writer explained.

When asked if there would be any crossovers with DCU characters, Berger said no. "They took them all," she said, but mentioned Peter Milligan was writing both the Vertigo and DCU versions of John Constantine and that Snyder and Lemire were writing Swamp Thing and Animal Man. "It's our guys, they're just doing it a little bit differently." Lemire said he and Snyder were writing the books in the same way they would if they were at Vertigo, "except we can't swear."

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