The always witty Bob Wayne bravely tried to ride herd on a Vertigo panel some described as "grueling." He was joined by rookie writer Jason Aaron, writer/artist Peter Gross, indie superstar Brian Wood, Tony Moore from "The Exterminators," the well-known Brian Azzarello and editor Will Dennis.
"How many are you are here to get a good seat for the 'Dragonball Z' movie?" Wayne asked as he stepped up on the podium. Then, under his breath he seemed to say, "This is gonna be a rough hour for you ..."
Two exclusive announcements stood at the center of this panel: both Peter Gross and Brian Wood have signed two-year exclusive agreements with DC, although Wood talked about continuing developments on "Local" and "Supermarket," so perhaps his agreement has some flexibility. Wood let slip that he'd be working on a Vertigo book about vikings called "Northlanders."
The only new project announced was Jason Aaron's "Scalped" (see an interview here at CBR), a new ongoing crime drama set entirely on a Native American reservation with covers by Jock
The majority of the projects had already been announced at San Diego, including "The Pride of Baghdad," with art by Niko Henrichon, a project that's been a long time coming. Dennis said, that Vaughn "calls it the work that it's the most proud of that he's ever done. It comes out in mid September, finally. We were worried it wouldn't come out in time to be relevant, but unfortunately ..."
Wayne quipped, "I remember them saying, 'What if the war is over by the time it comes out?' Good times ..."
Another of a number of projects set in the eastern hemisphere, "Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall" by Bill Willingham will feature a host of artists chiming in, and David Lapham is doing an hard cover black and white crime story called "Silverfish." Other previously announced OGNs that were presented included "Incognegro," "Cairo," "The Alcoholic," "Sentences," and Jason Aaron on "The Other Side." This five issue mini series was of particular interest, because of how "Seaguy" veteran Cameron Stewart threw himself into research. cameron, last year he went to Vietnam and crawled through Viet Cong tunnels and fired off rounds from an AK-47."
"Absolute Sandman: Volume 1" was announced with a $99 price point. "If you were saying you can't buy the 'Absolute Sandman' hard cover because you were saving up for 'Watchmen' action figures, I have good news -- you can buy the 'Absolute Sandman' book. These are Sandman comics you've seen before, and we're hoping you'll buy them again."
New series and minis that were previously announced include "Crossing Midnight," "The Un-Men" spun off from "Swamp Thing," "Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason," Mike Carey and Jock on "Faker," a new "American Splendor" by Harvey Pekar and "Army @ Love" by Rick Veitch.
Quick updates were given on a number of ongoing series and specials, including "Y: The Last Man" approaching its terminal point, a new "Deadman" series away from the movie development and Boston Brand, Hansel being chosen as the Adversary's envoy to Fabletown in "Fables," (as well as Willingham accepting questions fans will be able to ask via the Vertigo web site and writing short stories to answer the best of them in a 2007 issue. "Testament" being what Gross called, "hardest thing I've ever worked on ... I don't think we've pissed enough people off yet. Hopefully we'll figure out how to do that."
"DMZ" #12 will be drawn and written by Wood, which he hopes to do once a year. "This is the Matty's personal guide," Wood said, "his journal, his notebook, his first year in the city. Should be pretty cool."
For "100 Bullets," Brian Azzarello said, "I should apologize to everybody who's been a long time fan of this book for this next story arc. I'm sorry. It's necessary." Tony Moore was enthusiastic about his work on "Exterminators," saying, "I get to draw all kinds of great disgusting horrible things. My challenge is to have my editor say, 'I don't think we'll be able to get away with that.'"
Fan questions came in at a pace that was far from brisk. When asked how Jack of Fables got his own series, a panelist responded, "How did the Jeffersons get their own show?" When someone wondered what was next for Swamp Thing, Dennis said simply, "Cancellation." Wayne tried to clean it up by saying that until they got a pitch that worked for them, the character would probably remain dormant.
"That means my 'Swamp Thing' proposal didn't quite ... " Gross began.
"I thought Shelley had already told you," Wayne returned without missing a beat.
Given that so many stories were socially conscious based in Asia and the Middle East, Dennis pshawed the idea that it was all a plan. "I'm not running a cabal" he said. "It's what we're all sort of obsessed with at the moment. Right?" He turned to the assembled creators, who said nothing. "These monkeys don't know what we're doing. Shelly tells us to do it. Seriously, it's just sort of the way things work out. A lot of us feel frustrated by what's going on, and we're telling different stories. It's a very different world than it was five years ago."
"it's a lot easier to tell stories about stuff you care about" Gross chimed in.
Brian Wood was asked if he could show a scene in "DMZ" where the New York Yankees were blown up. Wood admitted the appeal, since he is a Red Sox fan. Dennis muttered, "I'm glad he waited until after he signed the exclusive to tell me he's a Red Sox fan."
Brian Azzarello provided some compelling answers. When asked who he'd kill if he got a gun and a briefcase of 100 untraceable bullets, he said simply, "She knows who she is." He also jumped in when Brian Wood said he had no definitive end planned for "DMZ." "Don't throw a number out there," Azzarello warned, "'cause they'll hold you to it!"
Another audience member asked Brian Azzarello about the "100 Bullets" game. "Acclaim went under," Azzarello said. "Not because of '100 Bullets'"
"Because of 'Red Star?'" Dennis offered.
"I think they're doing something in Japan," Azzarello continued. "They don't tell me ... just leave the money on the dresser."
In that same vein, someone asked the memorable "how can I break in?" question, whether new people approach him or if he hunts down talent, and Dennis replied, "There's people that I wanna track down, people outside of comics, but a lot of people come to me. However, it's rare that someone starts out at Vertigo, that's like starting in the NBA."
"Well, I did it," Aaron replied, getting some laughs "but I sent lots of free porn to Will."
Dennis responded, "... and my email address is S-H-E-L-L-Y ..."
Wayne simply sighed and shook his head. At one earlier point, thirty five minutes in, he asked, "is it time for us to stop yet?" It was that kind of panel.