NYCC: Vertigo: On the Edge

The Vertigo: On the Edge panel at New York Comic-Con kicked off with a virtual parade of talent marching on to the stage. Over twenty comics professionals who work with the DC Comics imprint were on hand to give insight and answer questions about the future of the Vertigo Comics line. Moderating the panel was Senior VP and Executive Editor of Vertigo, Karen Berger.

The panel began with technical difficulties as the projector meant to show off artwork refused to turn on. Moving past the problem, Berger introduced the impressive array of talent, which on it's own took almost ten minutes, and then moved on to discuss the first project showcased, "Green Woman" by writer Peter Straub. "Green Woman" features a recurring character in Straub's writing, a serial killer.

"The second you say a story is really dark, my ears perk up!," Straub said.

Discussing the book's artist, John Bolton, Straub said that while he loves him, he is not the speediest artist in the world. A lot of it was due to health and family issues, however, so neither Straub nor Berger hold it against him. As for writing comics, Straub said "I'd love to do it again sometime!"

With the slideshow still not functioning, Berger moved on to discussing the ongoing Vertigo series "American Vampire." Scott Snyder, the series writer and creator, revealed that issues 10 and 11 would feature a fill-in artist, Mateus Santolouco. The arc after that, Snyder said, will be set in the 1940s during World War II.

Berger commented on how regular series artist Raphael Albuquerque, who was also in attendance, did an amazing job switching art styles between Snyder's stories and series co-writer Stephen King's stories. "Now I'm feeling confident to do different art styles in different arcs," Albuquerque said.

Next up was "The Unwritten," by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, with Carey himself present to discuss the series. With the slideshow finally working, an image of issue #18 of the series popped up on the big screen. "It's an incredibly collaborative book," Carey said.

Berger brought up the Pick a Story issue of "The Unwritten" which was recently released. The issue functioned in a fashion similar to one of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books you read as a child. Carey petitioned for and was granted permission to extend the issue to an oversized issue, and on top of that, split each page in to two pages. Ryan Kelly, who drew the issue, was sitting next to Carey and commented, "It was the hardest comic book I've ever drawn in my life!" Berger added, "I used to think Mike was the sanest writer working at Vertigo until this story!" to big laughs from the crowd.

Next, Berger announced the miniseries "The New York Five" by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly, both in attendance at the panel. The series will be a four issues debuting in January 2011 and will serve as a sequel to the Minx OGN "The New York Four."

"We always planned to do more," Wood said.

Berger then side tracked a minute to discuss the recent pricing changes at DC Comics, which will be affecting Vertigo as well. All Vertigo books will be $2.99 starting in January, and "American Vampire," in particular, will drop from $3.99 to $2.99. "Your dollar goes further," Berger said.

"DMZ" and "Northlanders," also Wood books, were next to be discussed with Berger revealing that "DMZ" would end with issues 72. "There's a bit over a year left," Wood said. "I'll be very happy to be done, but I've also lived with this book every day for seven years." Berger then asked Wood for a hint to the ending of "DMZ" but Wood refused to give away anything, in respect to both monthly readers and those who read the book in trade.

A slide came up next featuring "Hellblazer," written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli. Berger said that John Constantine will be getting married and Camuncoli said "I can't believe John Constantine can do it!" Berger revealed issue #275 would be oversized, with an oversized price, out in January 2011.

Staying with the John Constantine theme, next discussed was "Hellblazer: City of Demons" by Sy Spurrier and Sean Murphy, with Murphy on stage to discuss the series. The series will be sort of a Vertigo Elseworlds tale, although no one was willing to give away any details as to how. Murphy did slip up and reveal it will somehow involve an out of body experience for John Constantine. Debuting this month, the 5-issue series will be released bi-monthly. "It's a good jumping on point," Murphy said. Berger said that the current crop of John Constantine plans is because of the 25th anniversary of the character, which is this year.

Berger then briefly discussed the new book "Cuba: My Revolution" with writer Inverna Lockpez and artist Dean Haspiel. Lockpez spoke about how much of the story was true and how she lived through seven years of the Cuban revolution, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Berger says she is extremely proud of the book and expects it to be highly talked about in the future, on the same scale as "Perseopolis."

Berger then introduced Sarah Glidden, writer of "How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less." The book, a memoir of Glidden's time in Israel, tries to shed light on the ancient conflict. "Israel's kind of a complicated country," Glidden said to big laughs from the crowd. Glidden visited Israel through the Birthright Israel program that the Israeli government runs. Through it, anyone with Jewish heritage can go on a ten-day tour of Israel, all expenses paid. Glidden wrote about her experiences going over using the program.

"She lays out both sides of the conflict," Berger said. The graphic novel is out the first week of November.

"Aaron and Ahmed" by writer Jay Cantor and artist James Romsberger was briefly discussed. The book, out next Spring, is about a guard and a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay and spans the globe in its scope. Romsberger, who was on the panel, said "I was lucky to get this brilliant script. It's trying to explore the roots of terrorism."

Three "Vertigo Crime" hardcovers were shown on screen at this point - "Noche Roja," "Darkness in the Family" and "Ratcatcher." "Ratcatcher" writer Andy Diggle was in the panel to discuss the book and the format. "Not often in comics you get to do a 180 page straight-up crime thriller," Diggle said.

Berger said she loves working with Diggle and hopes he'll be back writing for Vertigo again soon. "I'll be back," Diggle replied in a deadpan Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation.

Jason Aaron's "Scalped" was brought up next, with both Aaron and series artist RM Guera there to discuss the book. NYCC is Guera's first time in the United States and also the first time he's ever met his collaborator face to face. Guera, who was born in Serbia, now resides in Spain full time. Aaron reflected on the fact he's been able to make the book last 50 issues saying, "It's pretty amazing, when I think about it."

Jeff Lumiere, who showed up late, briefly discussed his ongoing Vertigo title "Sweet Tooth." He said that there was a war coming in the title and the series' protagonist Gus was going to go through major changes.

"Vertigo: Resurrected" is a new title composed of 100 page issues that will collect unpublished or rare Vertigo stories. The first issue will feature the John Contantine story "Shoot" by Warren Ellis and Phil Jimenez, which was originally banned before it could be published. Concerning a school shooting, Berger felt it was too closely timed to the Columbine school shootings when Ellis originally wrote it a decade ago, and so it was never released. She then told Brian Azzarello, who was sitting next to her, that stories of his were featured in the series. "Nobody told me!" Azzarello said with the crowd laughing with him.

Vertigo editor Shelly Bond then announced a new "Fables" miniseries, "Cinderella: Fables are Forever" by writer Chris Roberson and artist Sean McManus. The series is a sequel to the "New York Times" best-selling "Cinderella" miniseries, also by Roberson and McManus.Cover artist for the series, Chrissie Zullo, was on the panel and discussed how she was discovered by a talent search at San Diego Comic-Con. The six issue miniseries launches in February 2011.

"Fables" #100 was also shown and Berger revealed the issue would pack more than your usual anniversary issue. Along with a 60 page lead story by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham, it would have short stories and even cut out "Fables" paper dolls. "Anything that Shelly would get us to throw in there!" Berger said.

Berger quickly revealed two new upcoming releases. "Delirium's Party: A Little Endless Storybook" by Jill Thompson, and "Get Jiro!" by writer Anthony Bourdain and artist Joel Rose. "Get Jiro!" will feature a send-up of food culture by the popular chef Bourdain. Set in Los Angeles, it features a city run by chef gang bosses who will kill to get the best cooks working for them. Joel Rose is most famous for his "Big Books" published by Paradox press in the 90s.

One of the last slides of the evening merely said "AZZARELLO / RISSO" to thunderous applause from the audience. Berger admitted that the slide was so bare bones because she had no idea Azzarello would be on the panel until minutes before the panel started.

"We're getting the band back together," was the only thing Azzarello would say about the project, immediately handing the microphone back to Berger.

The final announcement of the evening was for "The Annotated Sandman," a four-volume collection. This series of books will feature a page-by-page commentary on every issue of the Sandman, as compiled by Leslie Klinger, author of "The Annotated Sherlock Holmes" and "The Annotated Dracula." Berger said that Klinger worked exhaustively with Neil Gaiman to make sure the books were full of new information.

With only a few minutes left, Berger opened the panel up to a quick Q&A.

The first question asked if there were any plans for the creators of "Unknown Soldier" to work with Vertigo again, to which Berger gave an enthusiastic, "Yes, we love those guys!"

A fan asked if new releases will really be dropping to 20 pages, which Berger confirmed was happing as of January, 2011.

The next questioner asked how Jason Aaron researches "Scalped" and makes it feel so authentic. Aaron answered, "You read a lot, you make some stuff up and you talk to people who know."

The final question asked if there were any more plans to do "Vertigo Visions" style books about DC Universe characters. Berger said there were no plans and, in fact, she is proud that Vertigo no longer uses many DC characters. Almost all of them have been returned to DC, Berger said, and "Vertigo has become a creator-owned line."

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