The crowd for the Vertigo Visions panel at New York Comic Con was as mature as the comics line itself. There was nary a cosplayer in site as the dimly lit panel room was packed with comic book fans who preferred beards and cool tattoos to tights and utility belts. It still had a laid-back vibe, seeming more like all the top-notch Vertigo talent had come into your living room to share some news.
With moderator and Executive Editor of the Vertigo imprint Karen Berger running a little late, Vertigo Editor Shelly Bond stepped up to the podium and began introducing the epic panel line-up. She introduced Scott Snyder, Jason Aaron, Jeff Lemire, Douglas Rushkoff and Phil Jimenez before Berger arrived. The moderator torch was then passed, and Berger continued to introduce Chris Roberson, Rebecca Guay, Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, Marzena Sowa, Sylvain Savoia and Brian Azzarello.
After introductions were made, Berger began by announcing Vertigo will start rolling out day-and-date digital releases for their titles as new jumping on points appear.
Attention then turned to the giant projection screen as it displayed one of the final covers of one of Vertigo's current titles, "Scalped." Berger praised the series by saying that it is "definitely in the short list of the best things Vertigo has done." As the series comes to an end with issue #60, writer Jason Aaron said everything that's been brewing for the last five years is finally coming to a head. "If you've stayed with us," Aaron said, "thank you." Aaron noted how surprising the success of "Scalped" has been considering a Native American crime drama created by two relative unknowns -- Aaron and series artist R. M. Guéra -- seemed a hard sell. As the ending approaches, Aaron hopes they will be able to "stick the landing and not disappoint anybody."
Berger introduced the creator of the new Vertigo original graphic novel, "A.D.D.," as a "media guru." Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist and columnist who previously wrote the series "Testament" for Vertigo in 2006. Berger has wanted to get Rushkoff to put his knowledge of modern technology culture to use in a series, and this is the result. When asked to summarize the series, Rushkoff said it asks "what if attention deficit disorder was an adaptive strategy in a world where people try to program you everywhere you look." The series follows a group of children who are raised from the womb to be video game testers and documents what happens when they break through the "entertainment spell." Two pages by artist Goran Sudzuka, known for his work on "Y: The Last Man," were then shown, introducing the panel attendees to lead character Carl, which prompted Berger's to whisper, "Poor Carl..." suggesting the road may be rough for the protagonist.
Even though writer Derek McCulloch and artist Colleen Doran were not present, Berger delivered some information on the upcoming "Gone To Amerikay." Berger hopes this tale of three generations of Irish immigrants brings new readers to comics and calls "Amerikay" a "beautifully written story."
The biggest applause greeted the cover for "Fables" #112. "Everybody loves 'Fables,'" Berger remarked. She then took a second to address the numerous "Fables"-esque TV series debuting this season by saying the Vertigo series is "better than all those rip offs." This remark deserved, and received, another lengthy round of applause. "Fables" #112 is a Christmas issue, and while Berger remained tight-lipped about its contents, she did reveal something terrible happens in it. #112 will also be the first issue of "Fables" available for day-and-date digital download.
The conversation naturally turned to "Fairest," the upcoming "Fables" spin-off, and artist Phil Jimenez tried to summarize the first arc of the new ongoing. "It showcases the ladies of the 'Fables' universe," Jimenez said. "As long as I work at DC Comics, I will always draw a princess of one sort or another. This is the perfect project for me." The first arc, written by "Fables" creator Bill Willingham, focuses on the relationship between Ali Baba and Sleeping Beauty and his quest to wake her from slumber with a kiss of true love. "But he doesn't want love, he wants money," Jimenez clarified. Iconic artist Adam Hughes will provide covers for the series.
Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's "Spaceman" was then met with thunderous applause from an audience excited to see what's next for the creative team behind the acclaimed Vertigo series "100 Bullets." Berger explained the series will release nine issues a year. "People that have seen it and read it have said that 'Spaceman' is actually better than '100 Bulllets,'" Azzarello revealed. "I think that's bullshit. I'll leave that up to you to decide." Regardless of whether or not this series can top "100 Bullets," Azzarello insists that it is very different.
Berger offered that while "Spaceman" takes place in the future, it's not what you'd expect of a futuristic society. The first issue of comes out at the end of October and will only cost $1. Azzarello rallied the crowd to action by saying, "Do Vertigo a favor and make it outsell 'Justice League.'" If the crowd's uproarious approval is any indication, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee may have some competition.
The carefully constructed world of "iZombie" is about to get royally screwed up, writer Chris Roberson revealed. "[The status quo] keeps getting worse in, hopefully, interesting ways." Roberson also talked about were-terrier Spot's upcoming first date after making some realizations about himself. "He's gay!" Roberson whispered into his microphone, to which Berger jokingly replied, "You weren't supposed to tell that!"
A microphone was then passed to Marzena Sowa, writer of the upcoming graphic novel "Marzi." The OGN focuses focuses on Sowa's childhood growing up in communist Poland and was initially published in France. Berger asked Sowa why she wanted to write about her childhood, and Sowa replied it happened almost by accident. She originally wrote the vignettes in "Marzi" down so her partner, series artist Sylvain Savoia, could better understand her background.
Former editor-in-chief of "The Source" magazine Selwyn Seyfu Hinds spoke about his upcoming series "Voodoo Child." Illustrated by Denys Cowan with covers by Rafael Grampá, "Voodoo Child" explores voodoo demigos, a world previously untouched by Vertigo. Set in New Orleans, the series focuses on Dominique Laveau, descendant of noted voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau, after she gets pinned with the assassination of a voodoo queen during Hurricane Katrina. The series utilizes a "Fugitive"-style pace as Dominique tries to clear her name. "This is not your grandfather or grandmother's voodoo," Hinds clarified. "It's the fusion of the ethereal and the real that I think makes the book work."
Next up Editor Will Dennis announced a brand new Vertigo series called "Saucer Country" by fan-favorite writer Paul Cornell and illustrated by Ryan Kelly. According to Dennis, the series is essentially the "West Wing" meets "X-Files." On the eve of announcing her decision to run for President, New Mexico governor Arcadia Alvarado is abducted by aliens. The info she learns during the abduction could save the world or, as Dennis put it, she may just be "f-ing crazy."
Mike Carey's "Unwritten" is going bi-monthly for five months while it publishes all 10 parts in the "Tommy Taylor and the War of Words" story. Every other issue will be a one-off story that dives deeper into the events. "Tommy decides he's had enough with the cabal and goes after them," Berger summarized. "He takes no prisoners and mounts his own types of magical attacks all around the world." Berger has been impressed with the one-off stories and noted how disturbing many of them are. She explained, "Mike Carey is so clean cut and nice. I don't know where this comes from!"
Vertigo fans in attendance were apparently craving some "Sweet Tooth" as evidenced by the reaction to an upcoming cover for the Jeff Lemire series. Lemire discussed the upcoming three-issue arc, the first issue of which takes place in the early 20th century and seemingly has no connection to the ongoing story. Lemire reassured that "it all starts to connect, and it's a really big story that has ramifications for the present day story." Lemire then stressed that "Sweet Tooth" is starting to head towards its climax. "The series will be 40 to 45 issues as a whole," Lemire explained, which prompted Berger to tell the audience not to listen to him. Lemire chuckled and told the audience that the first twenty-five issues were leading up to the payoff that is beginning now.
Vertigo mainstay "Hellblazer" promises to have a busy year with the publication of its next annual. The annual features Simon Bisley on interior art and takes John Constantine back to his hometown of Liverpool to investigate a string of suicides.
"If you like angels, fairies, intrigue, murder, romance and beautiful naked people, then you will like this book," gushed artist Rebecca Guay when summarizing her upcoming original graphic novel "A Flight of Angels." Guay utilized numerous art styles and writers (including Holly Black, Bill Willingham and T.D. Mitchell, among others) to tell the story of a fallen angel whose fate is determined by woodland fairies who share stories of angels falling in love, falling from grace, and falling from Heaven. Guay is truly proud of this work, and said that "putting a project that is this deep a labor of love into words is like trying to pick out your favorite features on a child." "A Flight of Angels" will be released on November 2nd.
The first of four volumes of "The Annotated Sandman" will be released at the end of the year. Leslie S. Klinger, who previously annotated both "Dracula" and "Sherlock Holmes" tales, approached "Sandman" writer Neil Gaiman and Berger about doing the same thing for the critically acclaimed series. Every page of every issue of "Sandman" will include excerpts from lengthy interviews with Gaiman, discussing the panels therein. In all, four volumes will be released, the first of which contains the first twenty issues. Berger also took this time to reveal that Gaiman will appear in an episode of "The Simpsons" on November 20th.
With instant-hits like "Batman" and "Swamp Thing" under his belt, one could call 2011 the Year Of Scott Snyder. Snyder was on hand to discuss his Vertigo title, "American Vampire," as it begins the first of its story arcs set in the 1950s. Starting with issue #22, Snyder says they are reaching an era that the entire creative team has been dying to get to. "We're at the start of the second half of the century," Snyder said. "You'll see all the characters you love -- the ones that are alive that is." Snyder also talked in-depth about "American Vampire's" answer to Van Helsing, a vampire hunter who "bites back" by donning wooden fangs and taking a chunk out of undead necks. Artist Rafael Albuquerque is keeping with the '50s trend by parodying ads from the decade on the covers, including an homage to the squeaky-clean Donna Reed TV show.
Berger saved their biggest announcement for last: Starting in 2012, Vertigo will be adapting Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. Each novel will be adapted into two graphic novels, the first of which will be "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." The following two books, "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest," will be released in 2013 and 2014, respectively. "Vertigo doesn't normally adapt novels," Berger said, "but this opportunity came up and we could not turn it down."
Not much time was left for questions, but one fan asked if Vertigo was going to start leaning more towards real world politics and situations that mirror the world we live in. "The strength of the line is that the writers know how to deliver a good story that is more than just escapist," Berger responded. "These stories say something about the world we live in."
With that, Berger concluded the panel and plugged the next Vertigo panel on Saturday morning. "I promise I'll be early for that one," she joked.