By Zack Quaintance
At DC’s Vertigo panel Friday, creators went into detail about seven forthcoming books the publisher hopes will return that line to prominence.
A lot, however, has changed since DC’s Vertigo imprint was a powerhouse of prestige comics that served as a bridge for fans of a certain age (hey there, fellow ‘90s readers!), taking them (us?) from superheroes to a broader understanding of graphic storytelling. In recent years, however, basically a dozen Vertigos who aren’t literally Vertigo have sprung up. These publishers all make indie comics with complex and subversive ideas. So, the competition is fiercer, and, meanwhile, comic audiences have also broadened in a way that Vertigo no longer has such a simple avenue to draw fans from. The challenge is stiff.
DC, however, should be encouraged by its Vertigo panel. These new Vertigo books uniformly have exciting concepts and creators, but even with such a strong lineup, eliciting a big response is still difficult for original properties at an event where the biggest crowds reliably turn out for superheroes older than them.
The Vertigo panel was packed though, likely to capacity, and a line even formed down the hall before it began. So yeah, maybe the combination of remaining goodwill for Vertigo and a set of powerful creator-driven comics will bring Vertigo back.
In one telling moment, Bryan Edward Hill (just as entertaining in person as he is on his prolific Twitter account) sent the audience into rapturous applause by telling them he shares their nostalgia and plans to do right by it, albeit it with more powerfully language and theatrics than that.
“My Vertigo was 100 Bullets, and Preacher, and Scalped,” said Hill, sending that big packed room into rolling applause.
You can find official PR about the Vertigo relaunch here. Also, here are some creator quotes we compiled during the panel and a roundtable discussion for press held immediately beforehand:
Writer Bryan Edward Hill on his book American Carnage: “What if a guy went undercover into white supremacist Game of Thrones…winter is coming and it hates me.” Also, “This isn’t a political story as much as a story about how politics are used by people to further their own ends.”
Writer Mark Russell on his book Second Coming: “The superhero is called definitely not Superman…and he shares a two-bedroom apartment with Jesus Christ.”
Writer Eric M. Esquivel on Border Town: “It’s stuff that your grandparents used to scare you as a kid, and my grandmother definitely scared the sh*t out of me with stories about how if you were playing with toys and if you don’t stop doing that, there’s a ghost and you know she’ll turn into your toys and your toys will kill you. It’s stuff like that.”
Artist Ramon Villalobos on Border Town: “I’m looking at this as Dawson’s Creek meets the Invisibles.” Also, “I love the Dawson’s Creek and Degrassi. That’s the one thing I tell him, I want more teen romance stuff, more kids getting into petty little arguments—then mix in the intense violence and horror stuff.”
Writer Ben Blecker and artist Mirka Andolfo half-jokingly described their book Hex Wives as “sexy, strange, dark, and weird.”
Writer Zoe Quinn on Goddess Mode: “I want to pander to my fellow weirdos on the fringes and talk about our stories, because we don’t usually get to do that on a big platform like this.” Also, “It’s so easy to be pessimistic and fall into despair these days, and the thing about Vertigo is it’s always been a publisher with subversive titles. I think in the modern day having hope in the face of all that is subverting.”
Writer Rob Sheridan on doing High Level on Vertigo: “Vertigo showed me what comics could be and the type of stories comics could tell. It opened the horizon for me in a lot of ways, and all those classic ‘90s Vertigo titles changed who I was completely. When I had the opportunity to tell this Vertigo story, that’s bucket list, dream-come-true sh*t for me. Are you kidding me?
One last thing of note was that organizers spared no swag at this panel, handing out a full issue of both Border Town and American Carnage, a Sandman lithograph, and a code for all 75 digital issues of Sandman for free. Sweet sweet swag, indeed.