Opening day of Emerald City Comic Con saw an incredibly diverse number of panels, among them the much anticipated Vertigo: New Blood panel, which promised exclusive info on the ending of Fables, as well as a discussion of new and continuing projects like Wolf Moon, Effigy, and Astro City. Moderated by Bill Willingham, the panel boasted a long list of guests including Amy Chu, Tim Seeley, Kurt Busiek, Jeremy Haun, Gail Simone, Marley Zarcone, and Shelly Bond.
"So why is this called New Blood?" Willingham began. "For one, the old blood is being moved out. I can reveal now that I did not decide to end Fables, I was told to end Fables. You'll notice that the 'Old Guard' like Kurt Busiek and Gail Simone haven't made it here yet because we're old, and we're tired, and our walkers just don't work the way they used to."
Bond took to the microphone briefly to introduce Vertigo's new editorial team of Ellie Pyle, Rowena Yow, and Jamie S. Rich. "This new team has twenty-six years of experience at DC Entertainment!" she said. "Twenty-two of those are mine, but the rest!"
The panelists were then invited to give a synopsis of their current works.
Amy Chu started off by asking the audience how many of them had played dodgeball before. "I wrote "Dodgeball Kill," and that's for all of you guys, and myself included, who were traumatized by playing dodgeball at a very early age. It's set in a prison in the future, and it is gory - a mature title, not for kids. The story is great because of the art, honestly. It's in Strange Sports Stories, which is available now."
Haun was next, saying that his book Wolf Moon is "basically a slightly different take on the brutal, brutal werewolf genre. The writer [Cullen Bunn] and I wanted to tell a story about not nice werewolves. They're not friendly, they're not cuddly. The fifth issue comes out next week, and we're just having fun with it."
Busiek said of Astro City, "Well, we've been at Vertigo for a couple years now, coming out far more regularly, so there must be something in those threats they keep sending me… Astro City #22 is a guest artist issue, drawn by Jesus Marino. It's the story of what Starfighter, a cosmic superhero from the 70's is up to these days. #26 will be our 20th Anniversary issue, and we'll hopefully have some nice extras for that."
The creative team of Effigy followed, with Seeley saying, "Well we are part of the new blood, and we're on our third issue. I write it, and it's drawn by Marley Zarcone. It's a book about a former child star who is now living in a post-celebrity world and trying to be a cop. She gets involved in a sort of bizarre cult murder, so it takes her through the seedy underbelly of comic convention celebrities. It's also sort of about modern American society and how we treat celebrities like how we used to treat religious figures, and also sort of a sexy, grimy, gritty mystery story."
Clean Room rounded out the group, with Simone saying, "This is my first Vertigo book I've ever done. Some of my most favorite books were published by Vertigo, so it's such an honor to be part of the new blood that's coming up with them. So C] is disturbing as hell. It's about a woman named Astrid who has a global self-help organization, and she's published self-help books that main character Chloe's boyfriend read and got obsessed with. Chloe came home from work one day and found him with his brains blown out and the book on the kitchen counter. She's a journalist and decides that she wants to live long enough to take down Astrid's organization."
The panel then switched gears, putting attention on the upcoming final issue of Fables. While Willingham spoke, exclusive art from Fables #150 was shuffled quickly across the projector screen.
"The final issue of Fables is 150 story pages long," said Willingham. "So it's a collection and an individual issue, and it's coming out in July. Mark Buckingham is doing the best work of his career here, which is saying a lot. One thing Mark and I promised #150 would do, unlike the Jack of Fables series, is that we wouldn't kill everybody. If someone survives, we've kept our promise. The story spans from when #149 left off to about a hundred and fifty million years in the future. It's gonna be pretty fun."
The floor was then opened up to audience questions, and the first question was directed to the new editorial staff.
"How much of your job is spent reading scripts and herding cats?" asked a fan. "How much of it is doing stuff you thought you'd be doing, and how much is doing stuff you didn't think you'd be doing?"
"You learn to get a handle on it," said Rich. "There is a lot of reading scripts, a lot of chasing things down, herding the cats. Every day is a new challenge and a juggle. The best parts of our day is when scripts and art roll in and we get to sit down and look at it."
"One of the greatest joys in comics is uniting two people who could be from different parts of the world," added Bond. "There's nothing more gratifying than bringing people together to create a great story on paper."
The next question was directed to Willingham - which Fable did he regret killing off the most?
"I know you want me to say Boy Blue because it was a really good death," he replied. "I think we got a good story out of that, so I don't regret it. We got a good death out of Shere Khan, his was the first big death in terms of significance, and the atomic moment that the book was out and we couldn't take it back, I thought of all these things I could have done with him. We try to make the deaths count, so we couldn't bring him back."
"What's easier, writing something that you have canon to pull from, or writing something new and being able to do whatever you want?" a fan asked.
"It is way easier to write superhero stuff," said Seeley.
"I enjoy doing both, but they are completely different in some ways," remarked Simone. "It's so rewarding when someone reads a superhero story you've written and connects with it, but when you have a story where you've created everything in it and someone really connects with it, it has that deeper meaning. They both have their challenges and rewards."
The final question from the crowd was, "When discussing your comic ideas with peers, do you ever think about protecting your ideas as far as legally or copyright?"
"Don't worry about it," advised Seeley. "All ideas are ripped off. That's reality."
"You've just got to do what no one else can do, and then they can't copy you," said Simone.
"The truth is ideas are easy," finished Willingham. "Very similar ideas come to a lot of people. Execution is everything. That's what you need to know how to protect."