Vertigo Panel Report from WonderCon

Fri, February 10th, 2006 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Michael Berry, Contributing Writer

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Executive editor Karen Berger outlined some of the new projects and latest developments in store for her imprint at WonderCon's "DC Vertigo: Building Momentum" panel. Accompanying Berger on the panel were "Fables" artist Steve Leialoha, "Bite Club" co-writers David Tischman and Howard Chaykin and "Swamp Thing" scribe Josh Dysart.

Fans of "Fables" can look forward to "Fables: 1,001 Nights of Snowfall," a collection of all-new stories to be published in October. Series creator Bill Willingham provides the script, but the art chores are handled by an eclectic roster of illustrators, including Brian Bolland, John Bolton, Jill Thompson and Mike Kaluta. "1,001 Nights of Snowfall" casts series regular Rose in the role of Schaherazad as she spins stories about the other storybook folk, including some not previously encountered in the series.

"Fables" will celebrate its 50th issue with a double-sized edition. Berger also announced a new monthly spin-off book, "Jack of Fables," to be written by Willingham, drawn by "Papa Midnight" artist Tony Akins and slated to debut next spring.

"Pride of Baghdad" "Can't Get No"
"Pride of Baghdad" is a new book written by Brian K. Vaughan that's based on the true story of lions escaping from Baghdad zoo once the War began.

Erstwhile "Swamp Thing" artist and writer Rick Veitch returns to Vertigo in June with "Can't Get No," a 350-page, half-size, stand-alone book. It chronicles the story of a Wall Street executive who awakens from a night of debauchery with a terrible hangover and the realization that he has been colored from head to toe with indelible Magic Marker. Worse, he finds himself in the middle of a national tragedy.

Berger said, "Rick pitched this idea to me about a year or so after 9/11. It's a very original and personal piece of work, but I think it's something that everybody can relate to."

Berger personally edited "Can't Get No." She said, "The story really deals with America values, American symbols. What's cool about it is that it shows you the power of comics, the different things you can only do in comics." The story is told in two different tracks, with captions recounting part of the narrative and graphic elements working in counterpoint to convey the rest.

"Sloth"
Gilbert Hernandez of "Love and Rockets" fame chronicles the tale of a guy who wills himself into a coma for a year in "Sloth," a black-and-white limited series scheduled for July.

Berger gave props to Scottish mystery novelist Denise Mina, writer of the current "Hellblazer" arc. "I think it's great that Constantine is finally being written by a woman after all these years," Berger said. "She's actually giving him the power of empathy, which he really doesn't want to have."

With 30 issues until its culmination, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's "100 Bullets" promises the introduction of a new Minuteman.

Much of the panel discussion centered around "Bite Club: VCU," the follow-up to the successful vampire mobster mini-series, now given a police procedural twist. The five-issue mini-series, which begins in mid-April, features art by David Hahn. Frank Quitely again provides the covers.

"Testament" #6 "Hellblazer" #220
Berger recalled telling "Bite Club" editor Shelley Bond, "You have to go back to Howard and tell him to put more sex in there." This bit of editorial advice was heeded with a vengeance.

Chaykin said that the book gave him the opportunity to present "some of the absolutely most disgusting shit" he's ever come up with.

"This book brings out in me a truly reprehensible side that keeps me young and fresh," said Chaykin. "It's really funny dirty. I don't like grim filth; I like funny filth."

"The Exterminators" #5 "DMZ" #7
Chaykin did, however, credit Tischman with devising the clever central conceit of "Bite Club: VCU," especially given that most of the undead lead characters were killed off in the initial run.

The first arcs of recently introduced Vertigo on-going series will be collected beginning in May, starting with Brian Azzarello and Marcelo Frusin's revisionist spaghetti Western "Loveless." Brian Wood's futuristic look at a militarized Manhattan, "DMZ" will arrive as a trade in June," followed by David Rushkoff and Liam Sharp's feverish mix of technology and religion in "Testament" in July.

Berger also took a moment to promote Vertigo's "sleeper of the year," Simon Oliver and Tony Moore's "The Exterminators" -- "'Preacher' without the religion" -- and offered only a quick glimpse of "American Virgin" by Steve Seagle and Becky Cloonan, Vertigo's latest "sex and religion" book.

"Deadman" #1 "Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason" #1
Boston Brand apparently cedes his otherworldly spotlight to a new Deadman when a new monthly series devoted to that character arrives later this year. Bruce Jones handles the writing chores, while John Watkiss provides the art.

"Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason" takes place in the modern-day Middle East and introduces a new version of the Golden Age Sandman. "Books of Magic" writer John Ney Reiber is the author.

"Swamp Thing" #27
Josh Dysart enthused about working with fill-in artists Jock and Dean Ormston on "Swamp Thing." He also sang the praises of The Fluoronic Man, who appears as the villain in issue #26.

Dysart said, "He's a really great character but I don't think anybody really knows what's going on with him in the DCU. That's why I'm really excited to be working with him. Because I have continuity issues."

Berger wound up the panel by introducing DC Marketing VP Bob Wayne who showed trailers for two big-screen adaptations of Vertigo properties, Darren Aronosky's enigmatic "The Fountain" and the Wachowski Brothers production of "V for Vendetta." Wayne announced a drawing for tickets to a screening of "V For Vendetta" late Saturday night. The drawing will be held at the DC Comics booth starting Saturday morning beginning at 10:00 AM.

Dave Sikula contributed to this story.

 
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