WC: Vertigo - Innovative and Provocative

The Vertigo panel had a slight change of plans, as DC VP of Marketing John Cunnningham ran the panel instead of the originally scheduled senior editor Will Dennis. Joining John was respected 100 Bullets writer Brian Azzarello, and later in the panel, "fabled" inker and artist Steve Leialoha.

John asked for compassion from those in attendance for having to do the panel last minute, and jumped right into Vertigo's upcoming line up of new books. Right away, he mentioned the new Vertigo imprint coming up, Vertigo Crime, which will be focusing mainly on original graphic novels.

There will be 2 launch books for the new imprint, the first being "Filthy Rich" by Brian Azzarello and Victor Santos. Brian shared that he saw Santo's cover before he came up with the story, and just had to write it. It will feature a disgraced football player barely working as a used car salesman who is hired by his boss to follow the boss' daughter around. It has a "dumb guy, smart girl dynamic."

Brian mentioned he met Victor years ago, thought he was a great guy, and has been waiting for a project to do together ever since. Even though the artist lives in Spain, Brian thought he captured the era of New York depicted in the OGN perfectly. John Cunningham chimed in saying it is, "a very sexy book."

The second launch book will be "Dark Entries" by Ian Rankin, an international best selling author of crime novels. The writer has always wanted to do a John Constantine story, so this mystery places the popular character in a "locked room mystery" of sorts, mixed with reality television. Cunningham said that for the start of their new crime imprint, they made sure the first two books were done by a best selling comic book writer and a best selling crime writer.

The plan following the imprint launch is to have 6 or 7 more books out by next year, with hardcover editions coming first, followed by softcover.

Cunningham then moved the discussion to Verigo's regular monthly titles, first mentioning that Christos Gage will have a new title out in 2010, simply described as twisted.

Another new series, "The Unwritten" by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, will feature a blend of fiction and reality. Cunningham said to imagine it like a "Harry Potter-like" character who is real, and whose father wrote best selling novels based on his son. He made special mention that the series is the strongest new title he has ever seen. It comes out in May, with the first issue being 40 pages, and will only cost a dollar. As Brian put it, it is part of the Vertigo value menu of titles.

Peter Milligan will continue his run on "Hellblazer." John Constantine is trying to figure out why he's been cursed his whole life to always end up with the "wrong" girl. The writer also has a new series coming out titled "Greek Street," which is set in Soho London, but features themes and characters right out of Ancient Greece. A very mild comparison was made to "Fables," but the audience was assured that the book is truly its own creation.

A quick mention was made of "Daytripper," a story that will feature a seemingly normal man, who as the story progresses, is revealed to be quite extraordinary.

"Unknown Soldier" continues on with issue #7 being the start of an all new story storyline. Moses must figure out if he has been fighting evil all this time, or fighting for it.

Brian Wood's two Vertigo books were discussed next. "DMZ" will be venturing further into the outside world, and "Northlanders" will feature a huge fight between two vikings that goes on for pages, with close ups and break downs of every action the vikings take in their battle.

Jeff Lemire has a new OGN coming out in hardcover for $19.99 titled "The Nobody." The story is more than it seems at first, and much grander.

The seventh issue of "Air" will be out in March, the same time as the first trade paperback collection. It was described as a good jumping on point for new readers and another $1 addition to the Vertigo value menu. It was mentioned by the panel that the great thing about this book is how involved the deep storyline is becoming.

"House of Mystery" #12 will feature the return of Rina, mentioning, "her political convictions will blow your mind!"

Coming up in "Madame Xanadu", there will be a murder in modern New York City that will somehow be linked to the Spanish Inquisition.

"Scalped" #28 is a very important issue that reveals exactly what happened that fateful night of the murder that has been the focal point of the series.

"Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye" will be released in April.

"Preacher: Book One" will be out in June, in a slightly oversized format, and include the first 12 issues in hardcover form.

Next was "Absolute Death," which will feature every single story Neil Gaiman has every written for the character, including the AIDS pamphlet he did with the character years ago. The introduction is written by Amanda Palmer from the music group The Dresden Dolls.

"Absolute V for Vendetta" will feature 100 pages of additional art that has never before been collected. Cunningham had originally questioned where all this art would come from, but quickly remembered that the original issues for the storyline always had a 4-5 page 'wordless' opening scene that was never collected before.

"Fables" has a big crossover storyline coming up with "Jack of Fables," as well as a connected limited series called "The Literals." At this time, John took the opportunity to invite "Fables" inker Steve Leialoha onto the stage to reveal more breaking news, announcing that Bill Willingham has a "Fables" prose novel coming out titled "Peter & Max," which will feature illustrations by Steve. The inker has taken time off from "Fables" to devote to work on the prose novel. It will feature an 8 page traditional comic story in the back of the book, which will serve as a bridge between the novel and the regular series. The in house reaction to the book so far has been tremendous, and the novel is scheduled for an October 2009 release.

Fans then took control of the panel, with the first asking Brian about what happened to the "100 Bullets" video game. Brian flat out answered that the company went out of business, there are no more plans for it, and that in his opinion, it would be impossible for someone to really make a video game based on "100 Bullets" work.

Another fan praised Brian for his take on the Riddler in the recently released "Joker" OGN, and hoped there were more plans for the character. "Maybe," was his answer, adding that he simply wanted to make the character make sense to him, and wanted to update him, making a sly joke that Lee absolutely hated the character. They couldn't understand a guy carrying a cane everywhere who didn't actually need it, and questioned how they could make him cool. Thus, the Riddler became a younger character with computer Internet skills.

It was revealed in one answer that Eduardo Risso and Brian would probably have something new together within the next two years, but nothing soon.

It turns out that Brian loves "The Northlanders," especially the way in which each arc has its own artist leaving their stamp on the title. He read "The Nobody" already and loved it, and thinks Jeff is a great talent, recommending everyone read his Top Shelf published work, "The Essex County Trilogy." He also really enjoys "Young Liars," wondering, "where the hell was the slide," in relation to the book not being mentioned at all during the panel.

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