NYCC: Vertigo ‘Welcome to the Edge’ Panel – Getting Bullish on Grant Morrison and Seaguy
When you attend some of these publisher panels, you’re usually shown a few slides and given a brief description of upcoming titles — kind of like someone reading the Diamond Previews catalog out loud. So, instead of just parroting the entire affair, I’ve assembled an account of what you need to know about Friday’s "Vertigo: Welcome to the Edge" panel at New York Comic Con.
Before we get started, I just want to note that the room was surprisingly packed. Being a fan of the Vertigo Comics imprint, I’ve attended a few of these over the years and they’re usually well attended, but not crowded. Maybe this one is the exception because New York is the home of literati?
Here are my notes from the panel:
Karen Berger, Executive Editor of Vertigo Comics, takes the stage. Instead of introducing the panelists in order, she starts with Grant Morrison in the middle. The benefits of being a comic book rock star, eh? Introductions follow with Amy Hadley, G. Willow Wilson, Joshua Dysart, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, Brian Azzarello (big applause, even a few yells), David Tischman and Russ Braun. Mark Buckingham arrives just in time and gets a big reaction out of the audience.
House of Mystery – Berger explains that this project will not be an anthology. It’s about a waitress stuck in a mysterious house with strangers who tell their stories, illustrated by a different artist every month. So basically it is an anthology — with a framing device. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
Madame Xanadu – The mystic DC character finally receives an origin. Since she’s nigh immortal, her stages of life take decades. Puberty must’ve been hell. [Sidenote: This news was responsible for Olivia Newton-John’s "Xanadu" getting stuck in everyone’s head later at the ComicMix HQ.
Air – Crazy stewardess adventures. ‘Nuff said.
DMZ – Big reaction, but no new informationis provided… Strange.
Northlanders – "Who’s reading Northlanders?" One solitary clap… also strange, given that the series is receiving so much attention lately.
Greatest Hits – This one looks interesting. Imagine superheroes treated like rock stars. The main characters, "The Mates," look as close to The Beatles as possible without DC getting sued. Cover artist Glenn Fabry is doing rare interior work for a change. Each cover will spoof a famous album cover.
Scalped – Nice audience reaction to the slide… So why just skip over it so quickly?
Hellblazer Presents: Chaz – The Knowledge – John Constantine’s cab driver gets a solo story written by a real cab driver. Um, really? Someone call Shia Labeouf to reprise his role. The fans will go crazy over this.
Hellblazer: Pandemonium – Jamie Delano writes Constantine in Iraq. Now this more like it: Constantine not shying away from hot political issues.
Fables Cover Book – That’s not its real name, but that’s what everyone’s going to call it.
Fables – The cover to hotly anticipated Fables #75 debuts, with Editor Shelly Bond shouting off-mic, "Bill [Willingham] said that if I said anything, I’m fired." Artist Mark Buckingham warns of big changes, then ends with, "Bill said that if I said anything I’m fired." Apparently, Fables writer Bill Willingham is the most feared man in comics.
Jack of Fables – Nice Brian Bolland cover, but quickly moves on to…
Unknown Soldier – The series is reimagined in wartorn Uganda. Writer Joshua Dysart went there on his own dime to get the right atmosphere. Like most stories of wartorn Africa, it feels like we should read this, but will we?
Young Liars and Vinyl Underground – Both were skipped over fairly quickly…
100 Bullets – Big audience reaction to this one. Berger says that, as they ramp up to the big, final 100th issue, no one in editorial knows what’s going to happen. Riigght. Brian Azzarello comments on the slide shown, "That cover is a metaphor for my past and my present murdering my future." The audience laughs nervously.
American Splendor – This one was skipped over fairly quickly. I’m willing to bet that if Harvey Pekar was here, he would’ve written a whole issue about being ignored at New York Comic Con.
Army @ Love – The "Second Season" — Is that the trendy way to say "Volume Two" in comics now?
Seaguy – Cover from the first issue of the old series is shown to huge audience reaction, but was it for the book or Grant Morrison? I don’t remember the first volume selling all that well or being praised all that much, so… Let’s face it: People came to hear what crazy thing Grant Morrison was going to say. And he doesn’t disappoint. Here goes: In the future, after getting wiped out from Mad Cow Disease, cows are a protected species. So Spanish bullfighters adapt by dressing up bulls with each charge. Really good ones will have them wearing high heels by the end of the match. Hearing him explain all of this in his Scottish accent is almost worth the price of NYCC admission.
War Cop – Grant Morrison likens soldiers to emo kids. Arrives next year.
Me and Atomica Bomb – Morrison’s humor story about the daughter of one of those James Bond-ish villains who wants to take over the world. Also arrives next year.
Sandman Dream Hunter – That Neil Gaiman Sandman illustrated story he did with Japanese Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano is being adapted by P. Craig Russel as a proper comic book.
Highlights from the audience Q&A:
– A nervous attendee asks Morrison if he prefers Shelly or Byron. Morrison went with Shelly.
– One fan asks which Vertigo titles were being canceled this year. Loveless and Un-Men. Azzarello apologized for not making Loveless survive.
– Is there an editorial mandate to do more DC spinoffs instead of creator-owned titles? No, it just worked out that way this year.
– Apparently, American Virgin didn’t find its audience. Vertigo watches trade sales closely because a big chunk of their readers don’t buy monthlies.
– When asked if there was anything else coming from Brian Azzarello, he took so long to answer Berger swooped in and answered, "Yes." With Eduardo Risso. But nothing they can talk about.
– Morrison doesn’t like to revisit old works, so don’t expect new Doom Patrol from him.
– Is the audience for Vertigo growing? New comic readers are more likely to pick up trades and those are usually Vertigo books. I can attest to that. Vertigo the most girlfriend friendly label out there.