WW Philly: Vertigo Comics Panel

Editor Bob Schreck and Adam Phillips from DC's Marketing Department were on hand for a sedate Vertigo panel Saturday at Wizard World Philadelphia. The first project discussed was an update of the obscure mystical character "Madame Xanadu." The book will explore Xanadu's origins, and their basis in Arthurian legend. Also guest-starring will be one of the better-known inhabitants of the DC occult universe, the Phantom Stranger.

Matt Wagner will be penning the series, with up-and-comer Amy Reeder Hadley, best known for her Tokyopop manga "Fool's Gold", on art. Schreck showered Hadley with praise, calling her an "amazing visual storyteller and illustrator." He also noted how special it was to have Wagner back for his first Vertigo work in 16 years. Schreck said there was more news to come which he wasn't yet authorized to discuss, but then went ahead and spilled the beans for all intents and purposes by saying "All I'm going to say is that Mike Kaluta was well-known for his covers on the original Madame Xanadu series."

The "House of Mystery" revival by Jack of Fables writers Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges was brought up next, with the panel mentioning that free copies of the first issue could be obtained at the DC booth. The series was described as having different stories by different artists in each issue, with an overarching framing story illustrated by artist Luca Rossi. Mike Allred is slated to do a story for issue #4.

Journalist-turned-comics writer G. Willow Wilson will be penning the new series "Air" with artist M.K. Perker, which focuses on an acrophobic stewardess who becomes entangled with someone who may or may not be a terrorist. Phillips compared it to "Lost" in terms of the level of intrigue and twists in the plot.Brian Wood became the next subject of discussion with his two books "DMZ" and "Northlanders." Said Schreck with a grin, "There are maybe 3 or 4 people in this room who haven't tried Brian's work. And you're fools!" Details of upcoming storylines were discussed, with an election forthcoming in the post-apocalyptic "DMZ" series, and Vikings invading Britain in "Northlanders." Free copies of "Northlanders" were also available at the DC booth.

Superheroes finally come to Vertigo with David Tischmann and Glenn Fabry's "Greatest Hits," the story of a British supergroup modeled on British rock bands of the '60s and '70s, including the Beatles. Schreck wryly acknowledged the surprising change of pace for Vertigo, but emphasized that this series would be offbeat enough to fit right in with the rest of the line.

The world of "Fables" was explored next. A hardcover collection featuring all of James Jean's covers for the series is in the works, and it will contain artist commentary, sketches, development work and an intro by series creator Bill Willingham. Also coming up is the double-sized "Fables" #75 which Schreck promised will hold big shake-ups for the series. Last, a "Jack of Fables" cover was shown featuring metatextual librarian Priscilla Page in a story that promises to delve into her background.

Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's long-running "100 Bullets" series is speeding towards its conclusion, naturally at #100, with issue #94 due out in August. Remarking on the longevity and stability of the creative team, Phillips said, "That's got to be some kind of record."

Chas, the cabbie from "Hellblazer," gets his own miniseries in "Hellblazer Presents: Chas - The Knowledge." The title refers to the special skill that Chas possesses as a cabbie, almost innately knowing every inch of his city, London. Also on the docket is "Hellblazer: Pandemonium," by original "Hellblazer" scribe Jamie Delano. Schreck said it was "ripped from the headlines", with John Constantine being called in to deal with demonic possession in Iraq.

In Sandman news, "Absolute Sandman" Volume 4 is due out soon, and P. Craig Russell will be adapting Neil Gaiman's prose story "Sandman: The Dream Hunters," into comic form. Phillips next brought up Peter Bagge's new OGN "Second Lives," which he described as a take-off on the Second Life online world, where a group of friends who haven't seen each other in years begin interacting again online. "Peter's made an entire career out of making fun of nerds, and it takes one to know one," Phillips joked.

The panel then took a few more questions. The subject of graphic novels versus single issues came up several times, with Schreck saying that sometimes the singles simply don't make enough to justify publishing them, and then they will consider putting out an OGN. Schreck cited "Fables" in particular as doing extremely well in collected format. They were also very pleased with the initial orders for "House of Mystery's" debut, and are now anxiously awaiting numbers on "Madame Xanadu." The panel made a plea for questions regarding something other than the business side of things, but there were few takers, and the panel wound up wrapping in half the allotted time.

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