NYCC: Vertigo -- Snyder, Willingham Talk Future Of Vertigo Titles

At the Vertigo Comics panel, part of New York Comic Con, the writers and artists behind Vertigo's comic book series entered stage to talk about their titles, what's coming down the road for Vertigo and to answer fan questions. Moderator and executive editor Karen Berger kicked things off by introducing the panelists: "Scalped" artist R.M. Guerra, "Sweet Tooth" writer Jeff Lemire, "Saucer Country" artist Ryan Kelly and "Fables" writer Bill Willingham. The audience burst in applause as "American Vampire" writer Scott Snyder ran up onstage at the last minute.

Snyder then told the audience that he and "American Vampire" artist Rafael Albuquerque would go on a hiatus from the title to get ahead on the series as well as do other work in the DC Universe.

"#34 will be the issue before we take a little bit of a break," Snyder said.

"And it's not [for] a full year," Berger added. Snyder told the audience there would be one-off and special "American Vampire" issues as well, promising that when the main series comes back the story will time-jump to the 1960s.

"What happens in 'Blacklist' really changes the status of the characters...we felt this was a great time to move away from the series," Snyder added.

Moving onto the final issue of "American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares," Snyder said the issue will introduce a figure that would, "haunt the series for a long, long time," Snyder said.

Berger then announced Snyder and artist Sean Murphy will be creating a new series for Vertigo, titled "The Wake."

"This is a story I've been working on with Sean for over a year," Snyder said, adding that it was a 12-issue horror/science fiction series that would begin with a "horrifying realization of human evolution," Snyder said. Promising that there would be sea monsters and creatures of all types in the series, Snyder added, "Hopefully you guys will like it as much as we do!"

Turning to Murphy's other miniseries, "Punk Rock Jesus," Berger stated that Murphy had trepidations about the series at first but was thrilled people were enjoying the series.

Willingham then displayed told the audience that issue #125 starts a new storyline in "Fables," saying that there will be three "lighter" issues before jumping into the next, heavier arc with #125.

"The story arc is titled 'Snow White' and is about a certain series of events that happen...through her point of view," Willingham said. Berger then showed a picture of the cover for "Fables: Werewolves Of The Heartland."

"Most of what you need to know is in the title and the cover. There's Bigby, he's fighting werewolves, he's in the heartland," Willingham said as the audience laughed.

Stating that it was set in a real place called Story City, "The real Story City has only 14, 15 werewolves, tops," Willingham joked again. He then said that the story would examine how much of the monster was still lurking under Bigby's surface and delve into his "origins" a little more.

Willingham also spoke briefly on Lauren Beukes' "Fairest" arc where the South African writer tackles Japanese folklore and Rapunzel, Willingham praising Beukes' writing and stating that they "begged" her to come over and work.

Lemire brought up a slide of the last arc of "Sweet Tooth" where Gus looked like an old, wrinkled man. Lemire then said issue #40 would be double-sized and thanked the audience and his fans for reading the series as the audience whistled and applauded.

Berger then announced "Trillium: The Last Love Story Ever Told," Lemire's next Vertigo comic coming out some time next year. A ten issue maxi-series, the art and story would be by Lemire, who described it as a "Time jumping love story" about a future space botanist and a 20th century soldier who meet through time, and "Their love affair brings about the end of the universe," Lemire said.

Moving to "Saucer Country," Kelly told the audience that writer Paul Cornell had established the main character's enemies throughout the series, including the science-centric Bluebird Group, and there would be more attention paid to them in the next arc that begins with issue #8.

"We go a little more into the political side of things...Arcadia is deep into the Democratic Primary contest," Kelly said, adding, "It's happening at the same time as our real-life political stuff, so I'm really excited about our next storyline."

The audience applauded as Brian Azzarello, writer of "Spaceman," arrived at the panel to speak about his miniseries.

Speaking about the strange slang and language in his series, Azzarello said he actually would speak the dialogue out loud in his house as he wrote to get the cadence down.

"The deluxe edition looks great," Azzarello said about the Vertigo collection, joking, "We're going to sell it for a dollar like the first issue!"

The crowded room burst into applause again as Berger brought up a slide for Peter Milligan's "Hellblazer" and Mike Carey's "Unwritten" issue #45. "Mike Carey has really evolved his vision about what he wants his book to be about," Berger said.

Willingham then announced that starting with issue #50 of "Unwritten" for five issues the characters in Carey's book will find their way into "Fables."

"It takes place entirely within 'The Unwritten,' so it's not a crossover, it's an event," Willingham continued, saying that readers should be caught up with both books to take full advantage of the story.

Showing off a montage of images for "Ghosts," Vertigo's next anthology Berger name-dropped Geoff Johns and Lemire and stated the anthology would also feature the pencils to Joe Kubert's very last story ever before his recent death. Written and drawn by Kubert, Berger called him a "mentor" and a "father figure" for the company.

"He sort of put it aside until he had an opening in his schedule...he had written it, he had lettered it," Berger said, adding that Kubert's sons asked her to publish it in the anthology even though it was still unfinished at the time of his death.

Berger also showed off artist Lee Bermejo's cover for "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" before Guerra spoke about his work on the Vertigo adaptation of "Django Unchained."

"It was sheer luck," Guerra said of his chance to work with director Quentin Tarantino. "The idea is to have the first chapter before the 25 of December when the movie comes out," Guerra continued, saying the director had contacted him about the idea and that it would be five issues diving into some character flashbacks.

"We get to get to know about Django along with himself," Guerra added, Berger chiming in that the script for the miniseries is the original script for the film, uncut. Showing off DC artist and Co-publisher Jim Lee's variant cover, Guerra also showed off his character sketches, stating that he had the freedom to change the looks of the other characters in the story.

The biggest audience cheer of the afternoon erupted as Berger showed the cover for Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III's "Sandman" prequel.

Saying she was under strict orders to keep the plot a secret, Berger said that it was a prequel that happens before "Sandman" volume one.

"We're going to meet the parents of the Endless as well," Berger said.Berger also said the next annotated "Sandman" book would be coming out soon, before she threw the floor open to audience questions.

The first fan to the microphone just wanted to tell Lemire that he "loved" him and asked for a picture afterwards.

"I'm kind of scared of you!" Lemire joked as the audience laughed.

An audience member then wanted to know if Guerra was working with the "Django" cinematographer, to which the artist said, "Not really."

"They give me the freedom but I need answers, and everybody's busy [on the film]," he added.

A "Hellblazer" fan wanted to know if there was a special for the #300 issue, Berger said they were planning a double-sized issue. The fan then implored Azzarello to do more independent work.

"Buy my fucking books!" Azzarello joked as the audience laughed.

Snyder told an "American Vampire" fan that after the hiatus the story will focus on "bringing those bloodlines and characters crashing together...but we will be doing some special stuff with 'American Vampire' during the hiatus as well," Snyder said.

A comic book retailer asked Berger to do more Vertigo merchandising as the audience and panelists laughed.

"Stuffed animals? I'd buy one of Gus!" Berger said.

The Lemire "love" fan returned to end the panel and asked if "Trillium's" two narratives would tie together in the end in a similar way to "Sweet Tooth," to which Lemire said it would come together.

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