After DC's Vertigo imprint was put more under the auspicies of the DCU and editors such as Shelly Bond abruptly left, many former Vertigo fans wondered whether this was the end – and if there would ever be another bed of creativity like Vertigo was in its heyday.
But Bond landed firmly on her feet and decided to give that "bed of creativity" thing a try elsewhere — this time at IDW Publishing, who gave her the ability to curate a brand new line of comics that launches this week.
Titled Black Crown, the imprint was announced earlier this year and begins with this week's Kid Lobotomy #1 and next week's Black Crown Quarterly #1 - gathering talent that proves Bond is using her years working with top-name creators and titles that sound like she's being given freedom to continue pushing boundaries.
"Black Crown is Freaks and Geeks take over the Warhol Factory," Bond told Newsarama of the new imprint. "It's all the swagger and hustle of the indie scene coupled with seasoned flair. Bring the celebrities. Point and shoot. Throw the paint on the wall."
First up this week is Peter Milligan's Kid Lobotomy, a book that Bond calls "the work of his career." Featuring art by Tess Fowler, the book is about a famous hotelier's son named Kid, who - after a being lobotomized to heal his rebellious nature - is now running an off-beat and dangerous hotel of his own.
"The inaugural title of an imprint has a serious mission: set the tone of the line while retaining its singular vision," Bond said. "Come out of the gate like a wise-cracking cadaver dog."
"No one brings the myth, the mirth and the madness like Peter Milligan," she added. "Coupled with Tess Fowler's lush renderings and characters, Kid Lobotomy pointed its neon drillbit propane laser raygun at my head. There was no other option."
Then on October 25, Black Crown Quarterly is a 48-page anthology featuring a regular 10-page lead story by Rob Davis set in the 'Black Crown Pub,' a sort of staging ground for the stories that follow.
"The Quarterly is the sandlot where creators commingle and corrupt - and steal each other's toys," Bond said. "I wanted to make sure the compendium was full of regular, continuing features like Rob Davis' brilliant Tales from the Black Crown that surreptitiously setup the inner dynamics of street life itself, including the shared landscape, coupled with shorter features like CUD: Rich and Strange. The latter is my sycophantic attempt to heighten the band's profile."
The list of stories in the anthology is impressive, including Cathi Unsworth's Swell Maps, Will Potter's Beat Surrender (and the aforementioned CUD: Rich and Strange), and even a pullout poster by Frank Quitely.
Coming up for Black Crown are books by Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez, as well as a January title from artist Martin Simmonds and novelist David Barnett.
At Vertigo, Bond took over for the departing Karen Berger and oversaw recent acclaimed comics like Sheriff of Babylon, Unfollow, and Art Ops. She was helped create the Young Animal imprint at DC with Gerard Way, and was cited for years as an important part of the success of Vertigo's long-time money-making leader, Fables.
When talking about her hopes for the new Black Crown imprint at IDW, Bond alluded to the type of stories Vertigo used to publish when she worked there.
"I want to bring readers the kind of stories that got me into this crazy business - comics with soundtracks that can be enjoyed in one sitting and handed off to a friend or re-read often," she said.
And above all, the editor made it clear that the first goal is quality, with an eye for art and design.
"A Black Crown comic is an art and design joyride with sharp commentary, process, interviews, and letters pages," she summarized. "The Black Crown imprint stands for quality. If you've liked my editorial instincts over the past 25 years, buckle up."