WW PHILLY '08: Vertigo Panel

Bob Schreck and Adam Philips from Vertigo, DC’s “edgy” imprint, have a lot that they’re excited about.

Madame Xanadu is the next classic character to be resurrected by Vertigo, though few people at the panel seemed to remember her. The June-debuting Xanadu will be written by Matt Wagner, in his first time back at Vertigo in 16 years, and drawn by 27-year-old artist Amy Reeder Hadley, who Schreck described as, “An amazing visual storyteller and illustrator.”

Schreck said that there will be an “Arthurian legend vibe” to the character, whose story takes place across space and time, with a stop in Whitechapel at the time of Jack the Ripper and encounters with the Phantom Stranger.

“Mike Kaluta is very well known for his covers with Xanadu back in the day…” Schreck said, hinting at more news to come with the character.

House of Mystery’s second issue hits stands in June, written by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges of Fables and Jack of Fables fame, and will include guest art from Eisner Award winner Jill Thompson (Sandman).

Another new ongoing series, Air by G Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker, is the story of a flight attendant and her involvement with a frequent flier who may or may not be a terrorist. “It reminded me a lot of LOST in terms of depth of storytelling,” Philips said.

DMZ and Northlanders drew rounds of applause from the crowd, and Schreck agreed, saying “If any of you haven’t read anything by Brian Wood, you’re fools.”

Northlanders will have a new storyline starting with issue #9, and will feature guest art from Dean Ormston (Judge Dredd, Sandman)

Glenn Fabry (Preacher) will be illustrating a new miniseries, Greatest Hits, written by David Tischman (Bite Club), about a British superhero team called the Mates. Schreck described it as “Sort of a VH1 history of this superhero team, who were as popular as the Beatles.”

The end of October will see a collection of James Jean’s Fables covers. Jean “is so good you want to hate him, but you can’t because he’s the nicest guy in the world,” said Schreck.

In other Fables news, issue #75 will be a 64-page special that Philips said, “will shake up the status quo of the series in ways you won’t even believe.”

Though there are no current plans to expand the Fables universe, Schreck and Philips did confirm that Fables will be ongoing as long as Willingham has ideas for it, and that there is no end in sight.

100 Bullets, however, is “speeding toward its epic finale,” though it will pass the 100th issue mark before it ends, making it one of the longer Vertigo series.

Another long-running Vertigo series will see some new offshoots soon, as Chas from Hellblazer gets his own miniseries, Hellblazer Presents: Chas—The Knowledge, and the first Hellblazer writer, Jamie Delano, returns with an original graphic novel, Hellblazer: Pandemonium, set during the Iraq war.

Army @ Love will be returning in August, with a series subtitled “The Art of War” featuring covers that will be homages to great works of art—the one they showed featured the Mona Lisa.

Just in time for the 20th anniversary, the final Absolute Sandman, Volume 4, will be out in November, and P. Craig Russell will be adapting the Sandman: Dream Hunters book into regular comic form soon afterward.

The Nobody, an original graphic novel written by Jeff Lemire, nominated for an Eisner for his work on Essex County Line, will be out next spring. It’s “got an Invisible Man bent to it,” Schreck said, “but goes off on another tangent.”

Another original graphic novel will be Second Lives, by Peter Bagge, who has “made an entire career out of making fun of nerds,” Schreck said. The story will focus on the Second Life gaming phenomenon, and will be due out in the summer or fall of 2009.

The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel rounds out the new offering of graphic novels, and is a semi-autobiographical story that touches on events of September 11, among other things. “I can’t recommend that one enough,” said Philips.

Questions from attendees centered on the decision to release original graphic novels, as several readers were unhappy with the need to cancel comics that weren’t selling well as single issues.

“As a publisher you do your best,” Schreck said, “You can’t do it by committee,” adding that you really have to believe in a book beyond its sales, but that sometimes it’s impossible to keep running a book that doesn’t even pay for itself.

The balance between graphic novels and single issues “really is kind of a yin-yang thing,” he continued, noting that the Vertigo reader is not the same as the typical comic reader, and that 50% of comic sales these days are trades, which are more expensive to put out.

They are feeling good about their imprint though: when asked about feedback from retailers on their line, Schreck replied, “They love Vertigo.”

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