Today is the last day at Vertigo for Executive Editor Shelly Bond after a 23-year run as an editor, mentor and friend to many creators. It’s truly been one of the most extraordinary editing careers in recent comics history, and I’ve reached out to some of her friends and others in the comics industry to give her the send off she deserves. (Please note, this is just my own mailing list, there a ton of names missing from this who worked with Shelly and I know would want to pay tribute to her, so the comments are open to any one I missed.)
I worked with Shelly for only a brief period at Vertigo; both of us under Karen Berger. I can’t imagine there have ever been too many comics offices that contained three such strong willed women; as with any group of strong willed people, there wasn’t always 100% agreement, but one thing I noticed immediately about Shelly was that no one worked longer or harder, or cared more about the finished product. Shelly was (like myself) a comics lifer. She had a vision of what comics could and should be and pulled out all the stops to bring that vision to life.
Shelly loved so many things: Courreges, Eastenders, David Bowie, scooters, gogo chex, gogo boots,
Damon Albarn,* OASIS, Cheekie Wee, Budgie Boy. But what I’ll always think about when I think about Shelly Bond is tap dancing. Shelly’s decision to take up tap as a way to exercise was as quirky and individual as everything else about her and she was always encouraging me to come take lessons with her. I was a bit too stressed at the time to take time out to learn tap dancing, but I’ll I’ll confess to a little fantasy of the two of us recreating the classic Bugs and Daffy Tea for Two routine at a convention some day.
There was and is only one Shelly.
And now some more tributes:
STEVEN T. SEAGLE, American Virgin, Vertical, Man of Action
Most of what I would say to Shelly about the conclusion of her time with DC/Vertigo I’ve already said to her in person. So this will be a shorter, more a public proclamation that Shelly Bond is one of our finest.
I worked with Shelly (then) Roeberg from pretty much her first day in the industry when she signed on to edit the still-unpublished lost comic JAGUAR STRORIES written by me and drawn by Mike Allred for COMICO. I watched her go down with the Comico ship and rise again to newer heights at DC/Vertigo. We worked together on many projects there – first SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATER along with the esteemed Karen Berger, then HOUSE OF SECRETS, THE CRUSADES, AMERICAN VIRGIN, and VERTICAL flying solo. Each is fondly remembered for Shelly allowing me freedom at a company with constrictions. I attribute that freedom to Shelly’s style as an editor. She always runs blocking to keep the eyes of her teams on their work. It’s an invisible art, but not one that ever goes unnoticed.
As the “mate of honor” at her wedding to Philip Bond, I can assure you that I know her well. And what I know is this: Shelly loves comics. Shelly loves her projects. Shelly loves her creators. And Shelly loves all of these things even when they don’t deserve or warrant her love because like a good boss, or a good parent, she knows that she has to care as much (if not more) than the people involved in order for them to have the best chance at success. She is fair. She is intelligent. She has a unique perspective. And she never once wanted to do the job she was giving notes on which is a rare quality among note-givers.
Shelly will rise again to newer heights, and we will all be better for it when she does.
Hope Larson, Goldie Vance
Shelly and I had been looking for a project to work on together, but we hadn’t found the right one yet. I feel lucky that I ate burgers with her once and got her feedback on a couple of pitches. She’s smart and cool and has a style unlike any editor I’ve met, and I hope we do eventually get a chance to collaborate. I could learn a lot from being edited by her.
Sean McKeever, The Waiting Place
Way back before I was a regular at the House of Ideas, Shelly looked me up and asked me to pitch to Vertigo. I was floored. I mean, Vertigo was the standard bearer for smart and cutting-edge comics throughout the 90s. Not in my wildest dreams did I think they’d be interested in what my goofy brain had rattling around in it. But here was Shelly, seeing something in my indie comics and rolling the dice.
It wasn’t a simple process for me. For the first time, I was really pushed to think beyond my instincts and to spell out what the hell I was actually doing. Shelly was always firmly in my corner, but I more often found myself frustrated than enlightened. Ultimately, the series I proposed and wrote a script for did not get approved and I was sore over the whole process. I’d put in all this work and, while I did get paid, I felt like I got nothing out of it–no credit, no published work to help me snag that next gig. In time, though, I realized it was actually a big win for me: through Shelly’s guidance, I grew as a writer in ways that I’m not sure I would have otherwise.
Over the years, we occasionally revisited the idea of my writing for her at Vertigo, but the stars just never aligned. It happens. It’s a shame that precise opportunity can no longer be, but I’m grateful for the chance Shelly took on me fifteen years ago, and I’m excited to see what the next chapter in her impressive career will bring.
Joan Hilty, former Vertigo Editor, EIC of Pageturner
Years ahead of the YA fiction boom with MINX, of vampire chic with BITE CLUB, of modern fairytale action-drama with FABLES, Shelly’s always been ahead of the curve — and her curve always becomes a bullseye, with a fabulous color scheme.
Darick Robertson, The Boys, Strange Sports Stories
Back in 2001, when I was living in New York and regularly going into the Vertigo offices to turn in pages for Transmetropolitan, I would take my then infant son Owen in with me. Shelly always took time from what she was doing to talk to me and play with my Owen. Shelly gifted us with a pair of little overalls that had Popeye on them and he wore those until he outgrew them. Owen kept a love of Popeye well into his walking and talking years and throughout his childhood. Shelly has a great imagination and the kindest heart. While I never got to work with her directly as my editor, all those who did speak so highly of her. As my friend, she has always been someone I love to see and spend time with. Wherever Shelly goes, she’ll bring her sharp mind and excellent wit with her.
Michael Allred, Art Ops, iZombie
Shelly Bond is one of our most favorite people in the world. Period. I could write a book on how significant she has been in our life and careers. I’d like to mention just a few things to illustrate how so.
First off, When I was trying to find a way into this wonderful industry I had sent out several art samples, and pitches to pretty much every publisher. Initially all my responses were form letter rejections, or no response at all. Except from one publisher, Comico, I did receive a standard “thanks but no thanks” form letter, but there was an incredibly encouraging hand written note at the bottom from Shelly. She wrote how much she personally dug my stuff and wanted to see more. We stayed in touch and eventually bonded over our out of control obsessions with David Bowie and other stuff.
Also, along the way, My friend Steven T. Seagle (of Ben 10 and Big Hero 6 fame, the first comics pro I ever met) got a green light for our proposal, Jaguar Stories from Comico and all of a sudden I had my first paying gig in the comic book biz with SHELLY BOND (Then Shelly Roeberg before she fell madly in love with some brit named Bond, Philip Bond) as my very first editor. And then, and with every project I’ve done with her since, she demonstrated a talent of bringing the best out of anyone she worked with. She never phoned it in, and she would never let ME phone it in. She helped nurture the desire to attempt progressing and growing with every project. And also the power and value of never losing the love and appreciation for getting to play in the comic book industry sandbox. Through her I’ve never been allowed to take any success for granted. To maintain the joy of creating.
Through her I was able to be there at the very beginning of Vertigo, working on a Shade the Changing Man story (putting me together with my X-Statix co-creator, Peter Milligan, for the first time) and a Brother Power The Geek special with Rachel Pollack. And soon after Sandman with Neil Gaiman (where Karen Berger inspired a life changing moment, but that’s another story).
She is virtually a co-creator on everything I’ve worked on with her, though never credited beyond “Editor”. She put Chris Roberson and I together to create iZOMBIE, and many of our best ideas were inspired through conversations with Shelly. And the same with Shaun Simon on Art Ops. She’s one of about five people in the biz I’ve learned to never say “no” to without a fight, or I’d regret it. Even if it means going without sleep, it’s always worth running with an idea or a challenge from Shelly.
But beyond all the great times making comics, always feeling like we were riding rockets, she has always been a dear friend to us. Laura and I both adore Shelly immeasurably and value every moment we’ve been able to spend with her. And we look forward to all the good times ahead of us.
It’s the end of an era. Shelly will never get full credit for all of the amazing things she did at Vertigo. She’s not the type to blow her own horn. It always amazed me how deeply she cared for everything she was responsible for, and though she might gripe now and again (reminding me she was human), she never stopped pushing forward, only ever giving her best.
It’s sad to think of DC and Vertigo without her there, but it’s exciting to think about what she’ll do next, and what new and thrilling thing will benefit from her inspiration.
Ed Brubaker, Criminal, Fatale, Scene of the Crime
I owe at least part of my career to Shelly Bond (back when she was Shelly Roeberg). My first work at Vertigo was for Lou Stathis, who Shelly took care of when he was dying from a brain tumor, and after he passed away, Shelly reached out to me, because Lou had enjoyed working with me, she said.
I had not been trying to get writing work at Vertigo for a while, but Shelly was insistent that I pitch ideas to her. I spent months trying to come up with things that seemed “Vertigo-y” with no luck, and eventually told her I didn’t think Vertigo would publish the kinds of things I really wanted to write. She wouldn’t take no for an answer, and basically forced me to write a proposal for the book I did want to write – which ended up being Scene of the Crime. It was approved within a week, and a month later Michael Lark was drawing it. And from that book came my first Eisner nomination for Best Writer, and more importantly, my working relationships with both Michael Lark and Sean Phillips.
In those early days, Shelly was probably my biggest champion, or at least tied with Bob Schreck. I remember when Alan Moore won that Best Writer award that year, Shelly was sitting beside me and she whispered “I really think if he hadn’t come back to comics you would have won” which I didn’t believe for a second, personally, since every other name in that category was a hugely known writer, but is exactly the kind of thing that typifies Shelly. Blindly supportive of the artists and writers she believed in.
And Shelly really cared about the entire package. No book I did with her ever went to print with a mistake, even back in the pre-digital days when they were much harder to fix. I’m sure she drove production crazy sometimes, but it was worth it to me.
Charles Kochman, Abrams ComicArts
Shelly and I go back over 25 years—we met when I was an editor at DC Comics. She also lived in my neighborhood, so we would hang out after work, especially after Lou passed away and she needed a bar friend to spar with. Ours was a brother-sister teasing relationship. More hate-love than love-hate, but I always respected the hell out of her. A lot of us read comics, but not everyone can edit them, and Shelly made it look easy. She’s smart, dedicated, and has a vision for what she does (which is not easy to maintain in an industry that values conformity). I have no doubt she’ll land on her feet like the minx that she is, and I look forward to seeing what she’ll do next. If it’s anything like our conversations over the years, it’s sure to be unpredictable and entertaining.
Curt Pires, POP
I learnt how to be invisible by reading comics with Shelly Bond’s fingerprints all over them, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
I was invisible, but not in the way that I wanted to be. Passed by, slipping though, standing and a distance and observing, not wanting to be a part of it, all of it, any of it. And then I realized, I could be invisible. Not the way that I used to be, the way I wanted to be. That being invisible could be empowering. I could slip through the cracks of mass culture, immerse myself in the unknown, the unknowable, I could bleach my hair and drink whiskey, take strange pills–see how weird the outer limits of reality could really be. I could be invisible–just like King Mob. Like Danny Noonan. Like Sadie Browning. Reggie Riot. Like Shelly herself seemed to be.
Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve taken out of all the amazing comics Shelly has been a part of, is that the dividing line between comics and rock n roll, between fiction and reality, is as paper thin as we want it to be. That comics can be, should be, whatever we want them to be.
I can’t wait to see what you do next.
Godspeed, Mrs. Bond.
-Curt Pires, 2016.
Stuart Moore, writer, former Vertigo editor
Cheers and best wishes to the hardest working editor in comics!
Douglas Rushkoff, Testament
I knew Shelly Bond as the scary, hot, brilliant, demanding, but ultimately infinitely supportive black-haired young woman in the office next to Karen Berger. Over the years, however, as I’d meet up with her at Comiccon or a panel, I’d end up complaining about one challenge or another, and she’d offer an off-handed word of advice. Only that little casual comment would always stick with me – not re-directing me at all, but somehow getting me to commit more fully, more confidently forward. She made the crazy voices go away.
Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics
I wish Shelly the best though we’ve only briefly crossed paths over the years. Literally the only conversation I can recall having with Shelly was her telling me about 15-20 years ago that her favorite Fantagraphics author was Bill Willingham, which frankly baffled me at the time, given the deep well of Fantagraphics talent. But of course, then, when FABLES started a year or two later, it all began to make sense.
Marc Arsenault, Alternative Comics, Publisher
DC (and later Vertigo) had a continuity of a small group of very influential executives in various creative positions that lasted an incredibly long time, and only recently (and fairly quickly) ended. It was an impressive run that started at the very beginning with Sheldon Mayer and stemmed through the heady days of the late 1960s and ealy ‘70s when Carmine Infantino served as art director and later as publisher. Carmine hired artists as editors—including Joe Kubert, Joe Orlando and Dick Giordano, and they changed the comics DC was producing for the better. Their influence was long felt through the people that came up under them—in particular Paul Levitz and Karen Berger. Anything groundbreaking or interesting that I think of from the now over 80-year history of that company, these people or the talents they nurtured had their thumbprints on in some way. Shelly Bond was possibly the last link in that long creative legacy at the company.
Kieron Gillen, The Wicked and the Divine, Phonogram
When Shelly’s name was on a worrying number of my favourite comics, you can imagine how I felt when she was the first editor who ever even noticed Jamie and me, back in the Phonogram days. While we never found a way to actually work together, she was an enormous encouragement, and we definitely owe her for several lunches. In terms of a single story… well, we always recall that our first meeting with Shelly was actually in the Redfield’s bar at the San Diego Hyatt… at midnight. We considered that very on brand. All Vertigo meetings should happen in the Witching Hour.
Dave Gibbons, Watchmen, The Originals
Me and Shelly were Mods. Or, as we like to think, still are.
I was there in the sixties, all Italian tailoring, sleek haircut, Motown and chrome-panelled scooter. Shelly came along a bit later.
Despite the generational gap, we spent a memorable afternoon in and around Carnaby Street together in the late nineties, checking out the state of Mod then. In a shop called Merc we found a trove of sharp items. I kitted myself out in a blue tonik jacket and a bluebeat hat for a Millennium New Year’s Eve party. Shelly was my style guru and a font of obscure Mod lore.
Later, she encouraged me from the sidelines as I put together my semi-autobiographical Mod graphic novel THE ORIGINALS, although I suspect she was choked that she didn’t get to ride pillion on it.
Time passed. DC let THE ORIGINALS go and now Shelly, too. She’s a top bird, an inspirational editor and I know she’ll do just fine out there in the modern world. And you bet I’ll be cheering her on from the sidelines.
Us Mods gotta stick together.
Steve Rotterdam, Bonfire Agency
I was pretty much a mostly capes ’n tights fan before my brief tenure as DC Comics’ SVP of Sales and Marketing began in the fall of 2007. Working closely with the entire Vertigo crew, but notably Shelly, quickly changed that. The memory that most stands out was working with her to produce a YouTube trailer to support the debut of David Lapham’s “Young Liars” – something easily rolled off the assembly line these days, but uncharted territory for the DC Comics imprints back in the spring of 2008. Shelly had a definite vision in mind and it was part of my job to make sure that the hands actually putting it together understood that vision. Not an easy task, but Shelly was an enthusiastic and supportive “client.” She also turned me on to Lapham’s Stray Bullets, something for which I will be forever grateful.
Tony Lee, Doctor Who, Stoker’s Monster
I never had the pleasure of working with Shelly at Vertigo, but I did have, at the start of my career, the opportunity of working for her in a fantasy world, during the ‘Hypotheticals’ game show, moderated by Lee ‘Budgie’ Barnett and David Gibbons, during the 2006 Bristol Comic Con.
For those that never saw it, Hypotheticals was a panel that gave each panelist a role in an imaginary comics company, on ‘Earth Dave’, where we discussed controversial stories in a fictional setting.
I was pretty much a nobody at this point – there’s an argument that I haven’t really changed that – but I sat on a table in front of an audience with Shelly right beside me, on a panel that was specially created to answer hypothetical questions about the industry, while trying not to kill your career in the process.
I was ‘the Writer’. I recall Liam Sharpe was ‘The Artist’. And Shelly was ‘The Editor.’ the questions and scenarios were merciless. We were forced very much outside our comfort zones. And, as the show went on the scenarios became wilder, it would have been so simple for Shelly to slam me down, to cut me off or to simply contradict everything that I said. Instead she didn’t, taking my hypothetical comments and giving solid, helpful answers. And, on several occasions she even added to my opinions, championing her team against ‘The Publisher’.
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as Shelly has always championed her teams, and I’m sure will always do so, wherever she ends up next.
David Lloyd, Ace Comics, V for Vendetta
I met Shelly for the first time at a convention here in London. We shared an umbrella on the way to a dinner. It’s a fond memory. I’ve only worked with her actively twice – once on a project that didn’t reach completion, despite it having terrific potential that Shelly tried hard to realize, and on a story for House of Mystery a few years ago. Her interaction with me on the Mystery story reminded me of just how sharp and perceptive she is an editor. DC’s loss is bound to be someone else’s enormous gain.
William Dennis, former vertigo editor, current freelance editor
If it weren’t for Shelly, I wouldn’t be in comics (so yeah, blame her!) She hired me as her assistant, YEARS after I was past the age to be an assistant and she pushed me from Day 1 to climb the ladder at DC and achieve great things. For that, I am forever grateful. BUT…If it weren’t for ME, Shelly wouldn’t be in comics (so yeah, blame me!)
In the late ’80s, I was the one who introduced her to the amazing art form that is comics — Matt Wagner’s Grendel #16 sticks in my brain — and she took it so much farther than I ever dreamt possible. She is the hardest working person I’ve ever seen and I don’t think she’s capable of cutting corners. That’s not always a good thing, but it was her thing and she made comics a better place through her passion and relentless drive. She’s opened the doors for so many people and I’m sure she will continue to do so in whatever is next. One thing I’m sure of is that she won’t be quiet for long…she always had a list of new ideas, new titles, new talent and a Plan A, B and C.
I spent nearly 16 years at Vertigo trying to pay back her faith in me through the quality of the work I produced. I’d like to think that makes us even but there is still that time I took a “two week” vacation when the JOKER hardcover was due to the printer and, well, let’s just say, “mistakes were made”…
Despite all our ups and downs, I love you Shelly and I sincerely wish you and your beautiful family the very best in the future. Thank you for believing in me.
Peace & Hair Grease,
Paul Pope, Heavy Liquid, 100%, Battling Boy
My relationship with Shelly Bond, editor on my books Heavy Liquid and 100% for the Vertigo imprint, began in 1996, during a visit to the DC offices in Manhattan. DC wasn’t sure where’d I might fit in, but knew they wanted me to work on something for them. Shelly was the assistant to Karen Berger at the time, and she was still Shelly Roeberg. That’s the day we met. My connection to her runs even deeper, though, we’d find later–we share a birthday, both discovered David Bowie at basically the same age (seven), both studied in London during the same shoegaze/postpunk early 90s. My formative early years in rural Ohio were largely influenced by a writer and critic named Lou Stathis, who edited an interview/review section in Heavy Metal magazine in the early 80s called Dossier. Dossier was where I was exposed to ALL KINDS of cool stuff– from The Southern Death Cult to Ryuichi Sakamoto to Chip Delaney to Captain Beefheart (whom I knew first as an abstract expressionist rather than recording artist, thanks to Lou) to Klaus Nomi to The Coen Bros. Heavy Metal in those days was the COOLEST thing on the stands, and Lou Stathis was its culture filter. I later found out, while first visiting Vertigo, Lou Stathis was also up there. We found our fit.
Shelly was a solid steersman during the making of Heavy Liquid and 100%. Shelly assigned me to work with Paul Jenkins on a comic strip eulogy to Lou (‘Tell Me’ in Winter’s Edge #1), when Lou was sadly taken by cancer far too young. My book-length works were projects considered a bit left-of-center, even by Vertigo standards. The production department called me “The Headache,” due to the oversized originals they’d have to scan. We tried many new things with the company when it came to creating and promoting my books, and Shelly was a tireless defender and advocate for this approach (and to Vertigo’s great credit, if you could make a rational argument for your position, they would often go along with it). Outside of work, Shelly showed me around LES and East Village in the early days when I wanted to take reference photos for Heavy Liquid. We used to shop for Hysteric Glamour and Courreges on West Broadway, and vintage boots on east 10th. We discussed Pollock and Amos Poe, we argued over Andre Breton. We could agree on The Clash. I got her to listen to Verve (early Verve, that is) (…and Ghost, and Loop). It never felt like she was an editor, but a companion. The dynamic always seemed like a blurry Polaroid dream, half Warhol, half Northern Soul. And when it came time to get the books done, the companion turned back into the editor. The headphones went on, the bolt locked, the halogens went white and the brushes went black. It was the right place and the right editor at the right time.
Frank Quitely, WE3, Flex Mentallo
I was at a con in Bristol a few years back.
Finally, cartoonist/fine artist Ganzeer passed along this visual tribute to Shelly’s legacy.
- I’ve been informed that I missed the great Oasis/Blur divide. I was misled by the time Shelly, husband Philip and I all showed up at a Gorrilaz concert. I am toldhat Shelly is 100% Oasis, for the record.