The past few years, Vertigo Comics has relied on a combination of fan-favorite titles combined with several choice innovative projects to keep the most daring line in comics fresh. This year at Comic-Con International in San Diego, the powers that be at Vertigo announced an even dozen new series set to premiere starting in October and ushering in a modern day Vertigo resurgence.
On Thursday at Comic-Con, DC Comics editor Brian Cunningham led a panel of Vertigo all-stars and gave fans the inside scoop on all these new Vertigo titles plus a look at the future of some Vertigo staples. Joining Cunningham were Vertigo executive editor Shelly Bond, artist Mike Allred (“iZombie”) writer Simon Oliver (“FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics”), writer Scott Snyder (“American Vampire,” “The Wake), artist Rafael Albuquerque (“American Vampire”), writer Tom King (“Grayson,” “Omega Men”), writer/artist Lee Bermejo (“Suiciders”), writer Gilbert Hernandez (“Love and Rockets”) and writer Gail Simone (“Secret Six”). This esteemed group of panelists discussed Vertigo’s new wave of titles and the current state of the DC imprint that constantly defies genre and constantly strives to push boundaries.
“We are releasing twelve new books,” Bond announced to kick off the panel. “One title a week starting in October. We are going to take you someplace strange.”
The first book announced was “The Twilight Children” by Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke. Bond described the team-up between comic legends by saying, “Just the idea of Gilbert working with Darwyn Cooke — ’nuff said.” Bond then handed things over to Hernandez who discussed the origins of this new project.
“I always wanted to work with someone who was already a storyteller. I came up with the ideas for the story — I knew Darwyn would be able to visualize anything I came up with,” said Hernandez.
Bond added that “The Twilight Children” has a “David Lynchian, surreal aspect to it. It’s a fish out of water story.” The four-issue miniseries debuts October 7.
The second new project announced was “Survivors’ Club” by Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen with art by Ryan Kelly and covers by Bill Sienkiewicz. Bond described this new title as “a really creepy horror book that answers the question of what would happen if the kids from a slasher movie live to tell their story.”
The next book on Vertigo’s slate of new titles was the previously announced “Clean Room” by Gail Simone with art by Jon Davis-Hunt and covers by Jenny Frison. Bond told the crowd the series is “Gail going so dark.” When comparing Simone’s first Vertigo project with her work in the DCU, Bond said “This is the kind of book that when you start reading it, it will freak you out.” Scott Snyder said that he has read the book and “It is awesome.”
“Growing up, I read comics, and then came a time when I didn’t read comics. Too many things were happening with female characters that didn’t click-and then I read Vertigo,” Simone recounted of her love of Vertigo. “For me, writing a book for Vertigo was a huge dream come true.” The series centers around two characters. “One character’s name is Astrid,” Simone said. “And she is a motivational speaker with a global organization — and she has a huge business. She recruits people and when she takes you into her Clean Room, you will never be the same.” The other character is named Chloe, a journalist whose fiance becomes obsessed with Astrid’s teachings. “One day, Chloe comes home and finds her husband blew his brains out with a copy of Astrid’s book in front of her.”
Before Michael Allred announced his new book, both he and Bond expressed their love and appreciation for the work of Gilbert Hernandez, citing “Love and Rockets” as a book that inspired them to get into creating comics. From there, Allred announced “Art Ops,” his new book with writer Shaun Simon. The book follows a team of operatives “who free artwork from their prisons.” As Allred described the book, a slide was shown that featured the Mona Lisa free from the confines of her painting and frame.
“I equate it with what Grant Morrison did many years ago on ‘Doom Patrol,'” Bond said. “This is the new Vertigo team book.”
Moving on to the publisher’s November slate, Bond announced “Unfollow” by Rob Williams and Mike Dowling which is, according to Bond, “an amazing story about a billionaire who creates a Twitter-like app. He is dying and decides to leave his billions to 140 random strangers who lie, cheat, stalk and kill. The more they murder, the more money they inherit. It’s a look at social media and man versus nature.”
“Slash & Burn” by Si Spencer, Max Dunbar & Ande Parks was up next. Bond told the crowd the book’s high concept is that it’s about a “pyromaniac who fights her addiction by becoming a firefighter. It’s a story about overcoming desire.”
Bond then teed up the next new series, saying it will “satisfy that gaping hole in your heart” once “Fables” ends. “Red Thorn” by David Baillie and Meghan Hetrick is about “a swaggering demigod named Thorn who is freed from an eternal prison and now walks the Earth.”
The final November premiere for Vertigo will be “Jacked”, written by “Supernatural” creator Eric Kripke, whom Bond called “a natural Vertigo writer.” The book was originally announced in April under the title “Amped” and features art by John Higgins and covers by Glenn Fabry. Bond described “Jacked” as “a guy going through a middle crisis who orders a pill online. He not only becomes addicted to it but he gains super strength.”
The first December release will be “Sheriff of Baghdad” by Tom King and Mitch Gerads. King explained the project’s genesis, explaining to the crowd that after 9/11 he wanted to join the fight against Al Qaeda. The series is King’s reflection on his time working for the CIA in Iraq.
“I’ve been a writer for lots of years,” King said, “but I’ve never written about that experience, about what happened, what went wrong.” King added that his new book will be a “crime series like ‘Preacher’ and ‘Scalped.” King also revealed the book’s main characters will be the CIA operative, a female Sunni and a Shia politician. King said the book came about when his daughter saw a picture of him in Iraq, and when he told her he fought in a war, she asked “Who won?” King hopes “Sheriff of Baghdad” will help answer that question for readers as well.
From a tense political murder mystery to some Vertigo comedy, next up was “New Romancer” by Peter Milligan and Brett Parson. “This is Vertigo’s first paranormal rom-com,” Bond said. “It’s Peter Milligan like you’ve not seen him in a long time — he has that literary bravado that he showed in ‘Shade’ and ‘Enigma.'” Like most Vertigo books, “New Romancer” has a unique high concept: “It’s about a coder who is a little awkward who creates a romantic algorithm on the poetry of Lord Byron. This somehow brings Byron to life in the 21st Century.”
The penultimate announcement was “Last Gang in Town” by Simon Oliver and Rufus Dayglo. Oliver described his new series as a “dark take on drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll.” “I wanted to add the dark ethos of punk in a way we haven’t seen before.” Oliver said that despite this being a crime story, the book will have a “Behind the Music” feel. “This group feels they are the last game in town because no one steals anymore, everything is white collar crime.”
The last of the twelve titles will feature a character who will be featured in both comics and television in the near future, the devil himself, Lucifer. The new “Lucifer” series by Holly Black and Lee Garbett will link the character as he originally appeared with the one fans will see on the upcoming Fox TV series. “The connection between TV series and the comic will be Neil Gaiman, who introduced the character in the pages of ‘Sandman,’ which continued in a 70-issue run by Mike Carey and Peter Gross,” Bond sadi. “We decided to go back to Gaiman’s concept and take it to a different place. We are taking Lucifer out of hell and into Los Angeles.”
Moving from the brand new, Vertigo talked about the future of its current crop of titles, starting with Lee Bermejo’s “Suiciders.” Writer/artist Bermejo said the series, about televised gladiators in a future version of an earthquake-ravaged Los Angeles, is “the book I got into comics to do.”
Finally, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque received a huge round of applause as the conversation shifted to “American Vampire.” “‘American Vampire: Second Cycle’ has been about the close of the series. If there is one book that I could send into space that represents all my interests, it would be ‘American Vampire.'”
Speaking on the book’s current arc, Snyder said it will wrap things up for all of the series’ main characters, characters who have gone to some very interesting and unexpected places in recent issues. “I swore I would never put vampires in space, but I meant future space,” Snyder explained. “But the ’60s were so much about the space race that it played on the Cold War.”
The panel ended with a heartfelt video farewell from “Fables” writer Bill Willingham who thanked the Vertigo faithful for supporting the Vertigo staple for 150 issues. The video allowed fans in attendance to say goodbye to an old Vertigo favorite while potentially introducing them to their next.
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