Robot 6

Brandon Graham suggests you skip that Vertigo short he drew


For the Brandon Graham completists, the King City creator and Prophet writer has posted the pages from the Madame Xanadu short story he drew for the 2010 House of Mystery Halloween Annual, preceded by his recollection of the Vertigo experience (aka “before I came up with my ‘never ever work at DC ever’ plan”). While the artwork is lovely, the process was a bit of a mixed bag.

“It was fun enough to draw and paid well but I don’t actually recommend anyone track it down. (I really didn’t like the story),” he wrote. “After this I wanted to make sure I only put out books I would want to buy myself. Live and learn and all that.”

After recounting his experiences with layouts and a “heavy-handed” editor, Graham offered, “I was always amazed at how much they paid and Vertigo’s ability to hire good artists and still put out books I wouldn’t take for free.”

You can check out all of the pages on his blog, along with more details about the process.





Matt Halteman

May 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Now, this is just silly. Do the work, put the work out there and be proud of the work. I’ve done a fair amount of acting and this is akin to someone complimenting you on a performance after a show, only for you to say, “Really? I thought I sucked. I was way off tonight!” when the correct response is “Thank you. I appreciate you coming out”. Remember, your least favorite work is someone’s favorite.

And all this badmouthing of the behind-the-scenes process is getting a little out of hand, I think. You had an experience you didn’t care for, fine. Don’t duplicate it, warn other professionals about it so they can make their own decisions, but don’t tell us about it. It really doesn’t matter to the work itself, on our end. Others will disagree, I know, and like this “all access” world we live in, but I honestly do not care. It’s all just such “he said, she said” baloney to me.

Matt…. I thank you.

well said Matt

and then he bashes all the other Vertigo comics, bad move mr Graham

I like hearing about behind the scenes. Knowing that he isn’t the only one to have an awful experience there. We can’t all pretend things are great. But, then I agree, he shouldn’t bash the work of others.

While I support your comments I have to disagree. I like hearing the behind the stuff. You’re an actor would you want people supporting a show that was mismanaged poorly and treated the actors horribly. Yes you get paid but if the players keep getting hurt and replaced over and over again then you gotta look at the bigger picture. Maybe the dc editors should write the books.

The story is only a few paragraphes and probably paraphrased what his blog said. I really didn’t see any bashing in the two sentences he said that vertigo hires good people who turn out books that he wouldn’t read. He didn’t name artists or say the line sucked or are no talented hacks. Honestly no line is perfect. I mean look at all star batman and robin beautiful looking book still a horrible comic put out by the industries best.

I like hearing stories like this because I don’t like how D.C. treats their characters or creators and this gives me further proof that allows me to not support them and not sound just like another angry fanboy. Lastly I know I didn’t follow the like link but did you Matt, Trey or Eh_ver? I mean you guys are ready to burn him at the stake. Trey do you buy the entire vertigo line or even happy with it? I don’t buy any of the books now I used to buy Preacher and would like to get a run of Books of magic but those were released more than ten yearsago and they don’t publish anything that makes me go I should really buy this except fables. and what vertigo books did he bashed precisely?

This is obnoxious beyond belief. There’s a certain way to sever relationships and this isn’t it.

The work was done at least three years ago.
Part one:
I just discovered that you drew a madame xanadu comic for vertigo. How did that happen?


That was before I came up with my “never ever work at DC ever” plan. It was around when my pal Marley Zarcone did an issue and my misses, Marian did one too.

It was an interesting experience. The editor was super heavy handed. but missed some basics ,like I was never told that the kids I drew were meant to look like Akira old/babies. I just drew them as kids.

I got asked to do a lot of layouts— I think it was 16 pages of layouts for an 8 page story or something. That kind of thing just makes me second guess my own work. I feel like I’m fairly competent as a storyteller but I was being asked to make changes that I thought made the storytelling weaker. —Maybe it’s just that I’m coming from more of a manga background and not a Vertigo aesthetic.

After that I also colored a Ulises Farinas story for Vertigo—I was always amazed at how much they paid and Vertigo’s ability to hire good artists and still put out books I wouldn’t take for free.

part two before the art work

So you wouldn’t read even Sandman, 100 Bullets, Sweet Tooth or Scalped (just to mention a few)? Btw loved those pages, can’t wait for Walrus to be available on Amazon (since I’m not near any LCS). Oh, and could I ask if the rumors about Stokoe doing a Prophet issue/backup are true? Thanks a bunch.


I’ve read all those books, they’re entertaining. The last Vertigo book that really blew me away was Pope’s Heavy Liquid. I did really like the art in Scalped. I don’t buy it or anything but it’s not part of a personal ban on DC or anything. I think mostly they just don’t do stuff that’s my scene.

And thanks, I hope you like Walrus. & yeahhh Stokoe is gonna do a 5 page Diehard thing with me. Unless he doesn’t —he is an elusive creature.

Part three:

Here’s the art from the Xanadu thing I was just ranting about. It was fun enough to draw and paid well but I don’t actually recommend anyone track it down. (I really didn’t like the story) After this I wanted to make sure I only put out books I would want to buy myself. Live and learn and all that.

“I was always amazed at how much they paid and Vertigo’s ability to hire good artists and still put out books I wouldn’t take for free.”

Then claims to have read a bunch of Vertigo books. Hipster hypocrite alert.

Graham is ridiculously talented. If Vertigo hired him they should’ve known the work he does and what to expect. As we’re seeing DC does not know how to treat their middle/lower level talent. That’s why so many people are leaving to go to Marvel or Image.

P.S. I also like the behind the scenes talk. Sometimes makes you appreciate things on a different level.

Matt Halteman

May 29, 2013 at 6:41 am

Well, as I said, I knew there would be people who disagree. To those who are more attracted to the behind-the-scenes tales of woe, this is your time. And just to be clear, I’m not saying that I never enjoy peaking behind the curtain. Of course I do. I just feel it’s gotten a little out of hand and it’s not my default setting. Also, as previously noted, it’s a “he said, she said” situation. We rarely hear all sides of a story.

But aside from all that, I simply find an artist of any type disparaging his or her own work to be in poor taste. Again, that work may well be, and probably is, someone’s favorite work by that artist.

Well something here is pretty silly. Graham wasn’t responding rudely to a gushing fan. Graham was asked how he came to do some Vertigo work and it was implicit in the question that it was an odd pairing. Graham gave a candid response about his experience and the professional lessons he derived from it which more or less confirmed that it wasn’t an ideal working relationship. No shit it’s an anecdote representing his personal opinion of the situation, an anecdote that he was invited to give by a curious fan. I’m sure he is very sorry to all the delicate flowers who will now wilt over his mildly negative assessment of a handful of pages he drew for some minor work for hire job that might be, no “PROBABLY IS” despite any actual evidence someone’s absolute favorite work of his. I bet that reader has terminal cancer too! Clearly Graham does not understand what it means to be a true arteest. He should be ashamed over that imaginary reader whose spirits he just crushed.

Yup l’ve liked his work on Prophet and even just last week had King City in my hands. Plenty of all star creators have no public problems getting along with DC and put out excellent work. Working relationships go both ways, it takes two. His attitude is crap and I lost motivation to read his black and white book, way to back up your work, peace.

Matt Halteman

May 29, 2013 at 11:33 am

You bet, GM. Because that isn’t misrepresenting my point in the least.

Brandon Graham’s work on Prophet and multiple warheads is awesome.

Matt you seem to have completely misunderstood his quote. He is saying he does not like “the story” and the decisions of “the story” because he had no hand in its creation.

He is not disparaging the artwork of those pages anywhere.

Having been a friend/fan of Brandon for years and years, I’ve always looked up to him for being a solid dude, plus he has this amazing ability to speak candidly and honestly about subjects that most people would dodge, and give more diplomatic answers to try to keep everybody happy. Cheers to him for speaking his mind.

I know from experience, choosing a publisher is like a matchmaking process- not every creator will work well at a publisher like DC/Vertigo, and likewise, artists who shine on monthly superhero books might not enjoy the process of working on a graphic novel for Oni or Fantagraphics. And with regards to reading material, everyone has publishers they like more than others. I fail to see how finding out a creator’s opinion of a particular publisher would make me stop enjoying their work.

Anyway, more power to Brandon for voicing an honest opinion that I don’t think was meant to hurt anybody’s feelings. We should all be happy he’s embraced social media- not just for the discourse that his posts create, but also for all the Dirty Pair art he posts on his tumblr.

And it is nice.


May 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm

“His attitude is crap and I lost motivation to read his black and white book, way to back up your work, peace.”

SMFH. Your attitude sucks, and with one like that, you don’t even deserve to read King City. Best book of the last decade, yo.

To some, Brandon comes off as an abrasive naysayer dismissing the work of talented cartoonists, writers and artists, but we know him as a tireless proponent of our modernized style of Bahamian music called Junkadoo. So, with that, we will stand by our dawg (who let him out anyway? bahahaha) until the end of time.

We may not always agree with what he says, but will die for his right to say it.

The Baha Men

If anyone complaining bothered to actually read the twitter posts, they’d see that Graham is quite measured in his complaints (if your even want to call them that). He even suggests that the edits probably had to do with his favoring a storytelling technique more in line with manga than with Vertigo. In fact, over the duration of the back-and-forth he consistently puts his lack of enthusiasm for Vertigo’s output down to personal taste, so anyone getting worked up about his statements ought to calm down.
And what follows is total speculation, but I’m pretty sure the guy had a serious cancer a few years back. It’s easy to imagine that having a brush with death would make a person want to be picky about where they invest their creative energies.

You guys should be pissed at robot 6, not BG. He was just being honest, in his own forum. Robot 6 reported it.

Anyone saying his attitude sucks, then gets pissy at BG is a hypocrite.

Get over these corporate publishers. It’s common knowledge they aren’t great to creators. So get used to hearing about it or get over it. They may be your FAVE but they have flaws that effect real people, you know, creators. Not the fictional characters that are your only concern. Some ppl care more about the talent than the corporate mascot.

Great posts by Becy Cloonan and Joe Casey a.k.a. The Baha Men, they totally got the point as everyone else who knows how Brandon is, the kind of work he does and the views he’s shared for years about the industry and the love he has for comics.

btw, he wasn’t dissing Vertigo he was explaining how it all went down and how it all worked and developed along the project which he felt didn’t favoure him in the least, people work in different ways and Vertigo was not up Brandon’s alley for whatever reasons and creative differences.


You “fans” are so used to being lied to and condescended to that you take offense on behalf of a corporation when somebody opens up about their actual experiences.

Shame on all of you.

Ayo wins the thread!

Matt Halteman

May 30, 2013 at 9:46 am

Great discussion, folks (except for the people who can’t seem to avoid namecalling and rudeness – shame on you).

Here’s the bottom line and what it all boils down to: Opinions vary.


“Here’s the bottom line and what it all boils down to: Opinions vary. ”

Yeah but you’re posts are basically arguing that because opinions vary creators are not allowed to give theirs.

You say they should shut up because it is “he said/she said” which is just another way of saying opinions vary.

You say that a creator can’t speak candidly about their work because someone might really like that work. In other words, opinions vary. You’re pushing an absurd standard of professional conduct where creators have to muzzle themselves on the rationale someone out there is so unreasonable oversensitive that they can’t handle the fact that “opinions vary.”

Oops, one matter that opinions don’t vary: “Your” and not “you’re.”

Matt Halteman

May 30, 2013 at 11:53 am

GM, you continue to draw the wrong conclusions from what I say, despite the fact that I’m speaking quite plainly.

I’ve actually never said that creators shouldn’t speak out about whatever they choose. I’ve simply given my opinion regarding whether or not it’s something I appreciate. You’re giving me far more power than I have by suggesting that I’m stopping anyone from doing anything. Or even trying to do so.

But you certainly seem to be enjoying yourself, either way. :)

I really like Brandon’s work and have absolutely no problem with how he feels about his work. he can love it or hate as long as I get to see it.

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