With thought-provoking series like "Sandman," "Preacher," and "Y: The Last Man," Vertigo has left an indelible mark on the face of modern storytelling. And in front of a packed crowd of Comic-Con International in San Diego attendees, Vertigo Senior VP and Executive Editor Karen Berger moderated a panel devoted to four of the company's current successes: "The Unwritten," "American Vampire," "Sweet Tooth," and "IZombie."
After thanking the crowd, Berger kicked off the discussion with a preview of the cover to issue six of "American Vampire." Writer Scott Snyder explained that issue six would take readers a decade further into the world of the series. The backdrop for the story will be Las Vegas in 1935. A new set of characters, including "a young sheriff who is in over his head" will be introduced and called upon to solve a mysterious set of murders.
Snyder promised Skinner and Pearl would return, and that the new arc would introduce readers to "new species of vampires."
Berger then asked "American Vampire" artist Rafael Albuquerque how he approached the two styles of art he employed for the book. Albuquerque said he was influenced by movies, particularly the silent movies of the 1920s and the "gritty and dirty" Westerns of Sergio Leone.
Berger then pointed out that despite their collaboration, today was the first time Albuquerque and Snyder had actually met in person. Snyder joked, "We chat like schoolgirls on instant message."
Next, Karen Berger showed the cover to issue #18 of "The Unwritten." Artist Peter Gross said issue sixteen "is the penultimate chapter of the arc, with some pretty shocking events." He added that issue seventeen is a special "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style book. "We wanted with 'Unwritten' to play with the idea of different genres and different formats of fiction," Gross said.
For this special expanded issue, artist Ryan Kelly was also brought in, reuniting the team that had worked together previously on "Lucifer." And issue nineteen will begin a new arc altogether. "It will kind of take us in to the Moby Dick story, and how the writing of that, and the legacy of that is still kind of reverberating through fiction," said Gross.
Next, Berger asked Chris Roberson about the mysterious monkey on the cover of issue six of "IZombie." Roberson replied, "It took me six issues to get a talking monkey into 'IZombie.'"
Issue number six of the series is entitled "I, Were-Terrier," and it will focus on the character of Spot, whom Roberson described as "a dude who, once a month, is possessed by the lusts and appetites of a well-behaved house pet."
Issue four of "IZombie" was also discussed, and Roberson promised readers would learn more about the monster hunters and mythology behind the series.
Berger next showed the cover to issue fourteen of "Sweet Tooth," and writer/artist Jeff Lemire said that issue twelve, slated for release in August, would be a unique stand-alone story. "Things start getting action-packed" in issue thirteen, said Lemire. "All the different storylines I have been setting up come together really quick with violent, bloody results."
Berger asked for questions from the audience at this point, and "IZombie's" Chris Roberson threatened to sing if there were no questions.
Each member of the panel was then asked if there had been a moment in their childhood that had inspired them to create comics. Most of the panel could point to a defining moment in their childhood that had put them on the road to their career, but Scott Snyder admitted he actually wanted to be an illustrator first, and when he realized he wasn't good enough, he started writing.
While being asked about the work he has been doing as a writer on the upcoming "Superboy," Lemire made the announcement that fellow panelist Albuquerque would soon be the new cover artist for the series.
One attendee asked the panel if the reaction of readers ever influenced future plans for storylines or characters. Gross answered, "it doesn't change what you're doing, but it helps to kind of tilt it one way or another."
Another question from the audience dealt with whether or not it was helpful to have the ending of a story in mind while the comic is being written. "It is always easier to journey when you know where you're going to end up," Gross said.
Lemire and Snyder agreed, but Roberson joked, "'IZombie' has no end. I could do 'IZombie' forever!"
When asked about the historical research he did for "American Vampire," Snyder said research was important, but doing too much research "can make you feel not smart enough to write it." Gross agreed with Snyder, saying, "A little research goes a long way."