It was a good year for comics, according to most, including DC/Vertigo editor Heidi MacDonald. But it was also a year that changed her mind about something in the industry.
"I've long been of the opinion that the people who make comics need to stop worrying about market forces and concentrate on making good comics," MacDonald told CBR News. "However, in, 2001, with the market showing improvement after what can only be termed a precipitous decline, I've emended that attitude a bit. I think we've stripped down to an audience of readers, and every reader counts. So while at the end of the day, putting out good work will always be the bottom line, I also think you have to be very, very aware of your market, more so than ever before."
Looking ahead to 2002, MacDonald was asked which one title she's editing for release in 2002 has her most excited.
"Of course, I CAN'T choose just one.
|Pages from "Fight for Tomorrow #1". Click to enlarge.|
"The other book I'm really excited about is 'Fight For Tomorrow.' It's written by Brian Wood, with art by Denys Cowan and Kent Williams. 'Nuff said! Brian W. is one of the most exciting new writers in comics, and he's the perfect guy to write a John Woo-esque, kung fu gangster epic about lost love and found honor with lots of fights. It's about Ced, who has a dark past as a fighter in slave camps somewhere in Asia. He comes to New York's Chinatown with the girl who helped him escape from his past, but she's kidnapped by the head of a gang, and he has to rescue her. Except maybe she doesn't want to be rescued. I'm a big fan of the old kung fu comics, and this is in that tradition but with a totally modern, cutting edge sensibility. Denys hasn't really done anything for us in a while, since he's been so busy with the Static TV show, but he's back and in top form. And Kent Williams is Kent Williams. I couldn't be more excited about getting to work with these guys."
MacDonald also thinks she's got a curve ball to throw at fans this year:
"'The Darwin Theory' by Joe Casey and Ben Templesmith. Although I think by now people have caught on to the fact that there is a lot more to Joe Casey than just a superhero writer, this will really show what he can do. It's a 3-issue prestige series about Jimmy Darwin who is a super spy for, believe it or not, the U.S. Census bureau. You know if you ever met anyone like James Bond in real life, he'd probably be a complete prick, and that's what Darwin is. But he starts following a case involving alien appearances that makes him question why he's cut himself off from being a real human, and it sets him in all sorts of crazy directions. This story is about struggling to be a whole, functional human being, but it also has the midget mafia, gun running nuns and god knows what all. Ben Templesmith has gotten some attention for his Web comics and his 'Hellspawn' work, but he's going to knock this one out of the park."
Looking back on the successes of 2001, MacDonald counts the relaunch of "The Books of Magic" as "Hunter: The Age of Magic" among them.
"'Hunter' is really the book I want it to be. I knew Dylan Horrocks would turn out to be a great writer, I'm just lucky I managed to get him on a project that he could really sink his teeth into. Both Dylan and Richard Case are terrific talents, and I think this book has really reinvented the character."
2001 also had its share of disappointments.
"Well, 'Swamp Thing' got canceled, which was sad. It just never caught on. I don't think people wanted to read about a female anti-hero. I think you can get away with that with male characters a lot more easily. Just a theory."
2002 will see the end of Vertigo's current biggest hit, "Transmetropolitan." What the next Vertigo flagship title will be is anyone's guess, MacDonald said.
"Ugh. No one can answer this question. You can't sit down and create the NEXT anything. You can only create the first something else. Certainly, '100 Bullets' is already poised to be the 'flagship' book, but beyond that you can never predict anything."
If "100 Bullets" seems an odd and unlikely hit series, "Midnight, Mass." may well be another.
|The cover to "Midnight, Mass #1."
Click to enlarge.
Also sliding around on the dark fantastic fringe Vertigo once was known for is "Hunter," which shook up the old "Books of Magic" status quo, although MacDonald promises that it'll be returning to its roots in a big way in 2002.
|"Midnight, Mass #1."
Click to enlarge.
CBR News Editor Beau Yarbrough contributed to this story.