Comic-Con 2014: Vertigo Panel

The Kitchen


The creator-driven wing of DC Comics is called Vertigo, and it proves that not everything in this industry has to deal with superheroes. So let’s check in with the panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

On the panel: John Cunningham of DC, Fables‘ Mark Buckingham, American Vampire’s Scott Snyder, FBP’s Simon Oliver, Shelly Bond, Mark Doyle, Will Dennis. Tula Lotay.

Here’s the live-blogging of the panel as it happened.

First up is American Vampire Second Cycle. Snyder thanks the crowd for being supportive after their time off. The first week they were off the series, Snyder realized he really missed it. Now they’re full steam ahead. This part of the series is about bringing all of the characters they created in the first cycle into conflict. Mummies, werewolves, demons all together in a big crescendo. This cycle gets you up to speed, as a great place to start. Issue #5 is a standalone going back to The Gold Rush – different moments in American history are open to the series. It’s an opportunity for him to talk about American culture and why things are heroic or monstrous at different times. The Great Trader returns, and he’s an amalgamation of folklore about the devil. The Miner 49er culture is there as well. Issue #6 is a bombastic arc dealing with the space race. Vampires in space! A panel is shown saying “Great, vampires in space. Fuck me.” There will be vampire chimpanzees. American Chimp Vampire will be a spinoff series, he jokes. With a Batman cameo to move units.

Related Link: American Vampire Second Cycle #1: Rejoice!

The Wake is up next. The Wake #10 is due out next week, the finale with Sean Murphy. Snyder talks about how they miss it, and joked with Sean that maybe they’ll come back for a series with just the dolphin and the robotic parrot. It was designed as a place for Scott and Sean to experiment. Murphy’s art style is so daring and different with so much detail in every panel, and it’s so convincing that it allowed Snyder to experiment. The tenet was that it would always be them improvising things they never tried, to be unafraid and explore, and #10 is a testament to the idea of waking up fearful and finding the courage to explore, be curious and fearless. It has the nuttiest things. “What if we have a robot dolphin?” “Only if it’s in an avalanche.” “Only if someone’s riding it in an avalanche!” It’s about risking failure to try things. Cavemen have lasers in this issue. Don’t be afraid to try things that shouldn’t go together and shouldn’t work. They never expected the level of response it got. Hardcover collection comes in November.

Fables is on #142, and it’s coming to an end soon. Shelly Bond says “two words. Body bags.” The plan for this issue was a big shocker. They kept the surprise that Bigby Wolf is back, hungry for the kill. Buckingham (aka “Bucky”) says the final story arc is bringing back the core things that hooked readers, Snow/Red and Snow/Bigby. Bigby is back and Bigby has changed, and he now represents a potentially huge threat to the entire Fables community. They’re also exploring Snow and Rose, discovering they are magical creatures of great power that neither of them understood before. The gathering storm taking place reveals aspects of them we haven’t seen before. New powerful beings are showing up and leading towards a chaotic conclusion. It’s also potentially a very sad time. Nobody is safe in this arc. Bond says that Bucky and Bill Willingham and she have conference calls where they wrestle about who is going to die and who Bucky doesn’t want to die. 150 issues is a monumental achievement, and they are very proud of the book.


Fables #142

Fairest with Bucky and Russ Bralin. Bucky is now writing Fairest after being an artist on Fables so long. He’s writing about Raynard the Fox, going back to the story of Animal Farm, which brought Bucky into the Fables universe and made him realize that he doesn’t like drawing people and likes drawing animals and environments, so he left superheroes behind. They’ve never really properly spent time with the animals created to get their backstories. He’s wanted to write for it for so long, to revisit the Farm and deal with their confinement to the farm. Prince Charming had promised he’d grant them freedom to explore the mundane world if elected, but that never happened. Raynard is telling people how great his life is now that he can become human sometimes, and the animals are pissed about it. Over the course of six issues, he’s highlighting a different character – the Sunflower Kid, etc. He’s glad that this happened now since Bill is taking a cleaver to the population of Fabletown, and if Bucky takes over the farm, Bill can’t kill them. Until 150, where Bucky has no say.


Fairest #27

Will Dennis cracks wise about his recent bathroom visit about how there’s something in the stall that is “a level up from what you’d expect to see.”

Dead Boy Detectives, also with Buckingham on board. Two Dead Boys are Detectives, and now there’s a third – a young lady from Bristol who is now in the world of the Dead Boys. She’s had a perilous adventure that revealed this other world to her, and their potential together is great. In the first arc, Charles realizes he has a sister he didn’t know he had, which opens up another new world. Bond says “Two words. Rollicking Adventure.”

FBP, from Simon Oliver. Two of their lead characters went into the quantum machine and they are in a different version of reality. Last year, this book was called Collider, and he jokes that they should change the name of the book every year. FBP is Federal Bureau of Physics (maybe he doesn’t like that name?). #14 revisits Cicero’s story and how he came to be in the FBP and the academy they had to graduate from, and explains why Professor Hardy is so important as “the white whale they’re all searching for.” The plan was always to build the book up and then scale it back down again. The current arc gets to the heart of the main characters even with the weird quantum stuff. Bond says “two words, Rosa Reyes,” one of the greatest female characters in comics right now. She grew up in an alternate dimension and has problems relating to people and places the way everyone else does. Snyder says it’s one of the best books on the stands and you should read it.

The Names, coming in October. Dennis says it’s a “financial thriller.” Peter Milligan and Leo Fernandez. It might be 8 or 9 issues, depending on who you talk to. It’s a revenge tale of a woman married to an older man, and this guy comes into his office and says ‘write your wife a suicide note and jump out the window.’ His wife has to investigate why that happened. The Names is a strange cabal he’s involved with. They control the financial world as we know it, but it’s even starting to get out of their control. This young woman, Katya, and her stepson have to get to the bottom of all this, and they realize the stepson has mental issues but is a math genius. The financial world is very obtuse to the average person, but it’s a huge part of our lives, so it’s trying to figure out how to do a Da Vinci Code kind of feel set in that world. There’s a revenge kick and a lot of current financial trends being dealt with. It’s very violent, but smart, timely and twisted. Dennis compares it to 100 Bullets in feel. Celia Kale is doing covers.


The Names #1

The Kitchen, coming in November. Dennis says it’s a 180 from The Names, set in the 70s in Hell’s Kitchen. The wives take the places of their Irish gangsters who get sent to prison, and the women realize they like running the rackets and taking over the neighborhood, but the husbands get released and now do they just give it up or fight for their control? The Summer of Sam, punk rock, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets world. Ali Masters is writing, a young British guy. This is a very clearly defined high concept, hard boiled characters, compared to The Sopranos. Eight issues. Bond says Vertigo is all about the unexpected angle, and this one is completely unique. Ming Doyle is doing art, Becky Cloonan doing covers. It’s very dirty and gritty in tone, but it’s clean in that it’s tight and self-contained.


The Kitchen #1 - Becky Cloonan

Bodies #1. Bond says “four words. Four Eras, One Body.” Four different covers for the first issue. Sy Spencer (Hellblazer: City of Demons, The Vinyl Underground) writes a story about a time-traveling serial killer. Bond loved it from the first page. Each issue has four chapters set in a different time. Tula Lotay is on art. In the future, there’s a mass amnesiac thing, and there’s a character trying to work through the memory loss. Lotay says she’s based on Janet Monroe to try and capture the 1950s pinup style. She’s sassy, but living in a futuristic world where everything’s broken down. Lee Loughridge is doing colors to differentiate each time period. Eduardo Risso, Paul Pope, Francesco Francavilla, David Finch did covers. It’s due out next week!


Bodies #1

Suiciders, coming in 2015. It’s along the Escape From New York and Mad Max lines. 80s sci-fi. Post-disaster story in LA, 30 years after a huge earthquake decimates SoCal. New Angeles is a wealthy citadel, and on the other side of that is Lost Angeles, a crime-ridden ghetto. One character from Lost Angeles is trying to hit the big time, and one in the citadel at the top of his game whose life is unraveling slowly. There’s a gladiatorial game in New Angeles – UFC mixed with the X-Men’s Danger Room – the chosen sport of the city.


Suiciders #1