By Joe Grunenwald
Vertigo’s first convention panel of their 25th year was held yesterday at ECCC. Executive Editor Mark Doyle was joined onstage by Joshua Williamson (Death Bed), and the Mother Panic: Gotham: A.D. team of Jody Houser and Ibrahim Moustafa. Doyle kicked things off by outlining his goal for the hour: to talk about where Vertigo is now, and where Vertigo is going. Doyle briefly reviewed some of the newest Vertigo titles, including Tim Seeley and Stephen Molnar’s horror-infused Imaginary Fiends, the sci-fi drama Motherlands by Si Spurrier and Rachael Stott, and Death Bed by Williamson and Riley Rossmo.
Williamson talked about how he had met Rossmo at conventions before eventually becoming “Skype buddies” with him. He described Death Bed as being about peoples’ legacies and their last words as the culmination of their life story. The series is about a ghost writer who has been hired to write the life story of a man who has lived an incredible life, but who also wants to also have an incredible death. With that goal in mind, the characters set out on an adventure together. The first issue of the series is on stands now, with the second issue coming later in March. Williamson described upcoming issues as including a “very exciting funeral” and a Journey to the Center of the Earth-style trip. With that, Williamson had to leave due to a scheduling mix-up.
The panel was then briefly interrupted by a panelist from a previous panel, Chris Claremont, looking for a lost cell phone. Doyle jokingly asked the audience if anyone else needed to leave or had lost a phone, to laughter from the crowd.
Doyle then segued into discussion about Young Animal, the imprint curated by Gerard Way. He described how Way pitched the recently wrapped “Milk Wars” crossover, and Houser talked briefly about her work on the Mother Panic/Batman tie-in one-shot. They also determined that there had never been another ‘Man Man’ in comics before, making the villain of the crossover, Milkman Man, the very first. Doyle then provided an overview of the relaunching Young Animal titles – Shade the Changing Woman, Mother Panic: Gotham: A.D., and Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye – coming out of “Milk Wars,” as well as the launch of the new title Eternity Girl.
Houser elaborated on Mother Panic: Gotham: A.D., in which the title character has ended up on the wrong Earth in the Multiverse, in a Gotham in which the villains have taken over the city and Batman is nowhere to be seen, and in which she has to find her mom. Since it’s a new version of Gotham, Houser said that she and Moustafa can play with different members of the Bat-family without having to worry about impacting continuity. One of the sidekicks from the sidekick school in Houser’s “Milk Wars” one-shot will also be sticking around the title. Houser talked about wanting to shake things up on the series without discarding the progress that has already been made by the characters. Moustafa came on as a fan of Mother Panic already, in particular the art of Tommy Lee Edwards and John Paul Leon on the series. He says the series is kind of like an Elseworlds Gotham book, and while the first 12 issues of the Mother Panic series are definitely recommended reading, the new series is still an accessible jumping-on point.
While Houser and Moustafa talked about what to expect from Mother Panic: Gotham: A.D., a few pages were shown from the first issue that feature a version of The Joker who has become a sad clown in the aftermath of the loss of Batman. Moustafa expressed excitement at getting the chance to draw his own versions of the existing Bat-characters, saying that the publishers are giving he and Houser a lot of leeway to try new things. He also teased Houser about the amount of research that he did on tiny houses for the series. Houser described the approach to the series as “Neon Noir,” and a comparison to Batman Beyond was made. The first issue of the relaunched series is out on March 28th.
Doyle described Young Animal as a good indication of what Vertigo is going to be doing going forward, segueing into discussion of the recently announced Sandman Universe. He revealed that the kickoff Sandman Special would hit stores on August 8th, 2018. A video was then shown featuring Neil Gaiman discussing the launch of the new imprint, which will look at the corners of the Sandman universe that haven’t yet been explored. This includes spaces beyond The Dreaming, including a brand new location, the House of Whispers, which will be similar to the Houses of Secrets and Mysteries. Other titles will focus on The Dreaming and Lucifer.
The panel ended with all audience members receiving digital codes for all 75 issues of the original Sandman series in order to prepare for the launch of the Sandman Universe.