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Comics A.M. | Boston Comic Con expected to draw 15,000

Boston Comic Con art by Tim Sale

Boston Comic Con art by Tim Sale

Conventions | Boston Comic Con is coming this weekend, and founder Nick Kanieff talks about how it has grown from 900 attendees at the first con, in 2007, to an expected 15,000 for this year’s event, which was rescheduled because of the Boston Marathon bombings. [MetroWest Daily News]

Publishing | Denis Kitchen discusses the return of Kitchen Sink Press to publishing as an imprint of Dark Horse. It kicks off in December with an anthology, The Best of Comix Book. [Publishers Weekly]

Creators | Peter Steiner’s cartoon, captioned “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” is the most-reproduced cartoon in the history of The New Yorker. On the 20th anniversary of its publication, Steiner looks back on its creation, which came about almost by chance, and the ways the world has changed in the interim. One interesting nugget: The most-reproduced cartoon in The New Yorker has brought its creator a total of $50,000 in royalties over the past 20 years. [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | Singapore cartoonist’s arrest part of crackdown

Leslie Chew cartoon

Leslie Chew cartoon

Legal | Kevin Lim and Evaline Danubrata add some context to the story of Singaporean cartoonist Leslie Chew, who was charged Thursday with contempt of court for several cartoons critical of the Singapore courts that appeared on his Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore. This isn’t the first time Chew has run afoul of authorities; he was charged with sedition earlier this year for alleging official discrimination against the Malay population. Singapore recently enacted a law requiring licenses for news sites that report regularly on the country, a move that critics of the ruling People’s Action Party see as an attempt to silence dissent. [Reuters]

Retailing | Comic-store owners in the Tampa Bay area agree that sales are up, but they differ on the reasons why. [The Tampa Tribune]

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Dave Johnson reveals the ’100 Bullets’ omnibus cover montage

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Even before Vertigo was Vertigo, it had a distinct policy of signing great cover artists for the long haul for ongoing titles. I fondly remember Dave McKean on The Sandman and Hellblazer, Simon Bisley on Doom Patrol, Brian Bolland on Animal Man and Brendan McCarthy on Shade, the Changing Man. This is a policy that has continued on to the present day: Yuko Shimizu has produced amazing covers for The Unwritten since its debut; king of the good girl artists Adam Hughes has been providing Fairest with the best work of his career so far; and Fables had a long outstanding run by James Jean, before he ceded the job to Joao Ruas. As much as I love the work of J.H. Williams III, it was seeing McKean’s cover for The Sandman: Overture #1 that made the project feel real.

In terms of total commitment to a book, however, no one can match Dave Johnson on 100 Bullets. He drew covers to all 100 issues, shifting styles for each story arc. He drew the covers to all 13 trade paperbacks, and now he’s providing the ones for the eight-issue sequel-of-sorts Brother Lono. On Tuesday he posted this image to his assorted social media feeds: the covers to the five omnibus editions, which together create an extended frieze.

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SDCC ’13 | There’s got to be a morning after

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.

• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.

At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.

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SDCC ’13 | DC’s Diane Nelson on movies, Vertigo & Harry Potter

Diane Nelson

Diane Nelson

As the finishing touches are put on Comic-Con International ahead of Preview Night, The Hollywood Reporter releases an interview with DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson that’s a blend of polite sidestepping of delicate or unannounced subjects — the departure from Warner Bros. of her boss Jeff Robinov, Man of Steel 2, the long-developing Justice League movie — and insight into how the media giant views the DC properties.

Naturally, given the outlet, much of the discussion involves film and television, with Nelson addressing why she thinks Man of Steel succeeded while Green Lantern didn’t, and why DC’s movie plans have been developing so slowly, the conversation veers a little closer to comic books when she’s asked what five characters she’d like to seen on the screen.

Sandman is right on top,” Nelson responds. “I think it could be as rich as the Harry Potter universe. Fables. Metal Men. Justice League. And yes, I’m going to say it: Aquaman.”

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Report Card | From Image Expo to ‘Batman ’66′ to ‘Red She-Hulk’

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Welcome to “Report Card,” our new week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read. And what a busy week it was, as, despite there being a major U.S. holiday, we saw a lot of publishing news coming out of Image Comics and Vertigo, and quite a few great comics.

So read on to find out what we thought of the first issues of Batman ’66, Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Deadpool Kills Deadpool and more.

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SDCC ’13 | Thursday programming schedule released

comic-conWhile many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.

As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.

However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:

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J.H. Williams III reveals ‘Sandman: Overture’ cover in all its glory

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The New York Times premiered a small image of the cover for The Sandman: Overture #1 in its article about concentrated efforts to rebuild Vertigo, but artist J.H. Williams III wasn’t happy with how dull it appeared on the newspaper’s website. And so, lucky for us, he’s revealed super-sized versions on his own blog, both with text and without.

Debuting Oct. 30, the bimonthly six-issue miniseries details the events that led Morpheus to be exhausted and so easily captured in 1989′s The Sandman #1. Boasting covers by Williams and original series cover artist Dave McKean, the title will alternate with The Sandman: Overture Special Edition, which includes Gaiman’s original scripts, Williams’ concept art and sketches, interviews with the creative team and more.

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Vertigo poised to ‘redefine the industry standards’ of genre fiction

Vertigo ComicsIf the recent New York Times profile of former Vertigo Executive Editor Karen Berger — to say nothing of industry sentiment — made it appear as if the position and prestige of the 20-year-old imprint have been greatly diminished under the restructured DC Entertainment, the company would like to assure you otherwise.

A new Associated Press article, which seems tailored in response to that May 29 piece, turns the spotlight away from Berger and on to her successor Shelly Bond, who has worked at the imprint since its launch in 1993.

The Times contends that Berger’s departure in March “raises questions about the future of Vertigo and where its renegade spirit fits into an industry and a company that seem increasingly focused on superhero characters who can be spun off into movies and TV shows.” However, Bond speaks in rosier terms about the direction of the imprint, which lost its last founding title — and longtime flagship — in February with the end of Hellblazer (which was resurrected in the DC Universe as Constantine).

“I am so ready to bring in some new blood and new bravado and just continue to show the masses that comics are the most essential part of pop culture,” she tells The AP.

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6 Vertigo characters that could follow Constantine to the New 52

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In March, DC Comics debuted Constantine, a new series focusing on the hard-living occult detective John Constantine. No big deal, right? Not so. For more more than two decades, the character was one of the pillars of the the publisher’s “mature readers” Vertigo imprint, starring in the long-running Hellblazer.

Following brief minor dalliances in some event titles in 2010 and 2011, Constantine was made a key figure in the New 52 title Justice League Dark. The aforementioned Hellblazer ended earlier this year with its 300th issue, paving the way for a full-fledged transition of the Liverpudlian warlock into the realm of superheroes. Readers greeted the new Constantine series with both hope and trepidation, and although the first issues are out — so is the jury.

With that in mind, it’s interesting to look at other characters that have called Vertigo home, and how they might fare in the DC Universe of the New 52. Some, like Constantine, crossed over with a bang, while others like Lucifer Morningstar and Kid Eternity, not so much. For this installment of “Six by 6,” I pinpoint six characters or teams that could possibly make the transition well. Please note than many of Vertigo’s best-remembered series aren’t wholly owned by DC but rather in creator-participation deals like Preacher, Transmetropolitan and 100 Bullets; so while the idea of Spider Jerusalem reporting on the state of things in Gotham City might be amusing, I’ve left those off the table for reality’s sake.

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Is it myopic to support Vertigo?

blindmiceIn the recent New York Times profile of former Vertigo Executive Editor Karen Berger, Dave Itzkoff writes that DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio “said it would be ‘myopic’ to believe ‘that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead.’” It’s a weird way to structure the quote, but assuming Itzkoff is accurately capturing what DiDio meant, that’s a controversial stance for DC to take.

But he kind of has a point. Heidi MacDonald rightly notes that Vertigo books make up roughly one-third of DC’s list of essential graphic novels, but if we’re just going by sales, Vertigo’s slice of DC’s pie does look pretty small. According to Diamond Comic Distributors, just 6 percent of DC’s graphic novels in April’s Top 100 were Vertigo titles. The percentage was a lot higher in March (15 percent), but only 7 percent in February. The number of Vertigo titles in the Top 100 has been pretty consistent in the past three months: two or three. What made the difference in March was that DC had less Top 100 titles overall. Of course, that only covers a short amount of time and only includes direct market sales, but if we look at a list of what DC considered its top-selling graphic novels as of last autumn, only about 13 percent of those are from Vertigo. None of that is super-scientific, but it paints a pretty good picture of how much Vertigo contributes to DC in terms of sales.

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Gerard Way shares art from his unused Batman pitch

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Musician and comics writer Gerard Way once pitched a Batman miniseries to DC Comics titled Kingdom of the Mad, and this weekend on Twitter the former lead singer of My Chemical Romance started sharing some of the concept art.

The designs are “from a comic I pitched to DC the year Gab[riel Bá] and I won the Eisner” in 2008 for The Umbrella Academy, Way said on Twitter. He notes that it was approved and would have been released through Vertigo; however, he tweeted, he “Never got to write it. Sadface.”

Check out the cover and designs for Batman and Mr. Freeze below.

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Comics A.M. | Karen Berger on Vertigo, shifting comics landscape

Karen Berger

Karen Berger

Publishing | Dave Itzkoff profiles Karen Berger, who stepped down in March after 20 years as executive editor of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint (she still consults on a few projects). The story has a wistful tone, with Berger suggesting that DC is more interested in its company-owned characters and Co-Publisher Dan DiDio basically agreeing, but noting it’s an industry-wide trend. He said it would be “myopic” to believe “that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead,” adding, “That’s not what we’re in the business for. We have to shoot for the stars with whatever we’re doing. Because what we’re trying to do is reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible.” [The New York Times]

Passings | Belgian artist Fred Funcken, a contributor to Tintin and Spirou magazines and creator, with his wife Lillian, of many historical comics, has died at the age of 92. [Forbidden Planet]

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Brandon Graham suggests you skip that Vertigo short he drew

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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.”

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Sneak peek at ‘American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell’

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Vertigo has unveiled a preview of American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell #1, a one-shot co-written by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, with art (naturally) by Albuquerque. It sports a variant cover by Tony Moore.

Arriving June 12, the special features the return of fan-favorite vampire hunter Travis Kidd (introduced in the series’ “Death Race” arc) as he tracks a pair of newly turned young lovers — the “Heartbreak Killers” — across the American heartland.

“This is my first time writing for Vertigo and it’s a big honor,” Albuquerque said in March. “Once it was decided we would go on hiatus, I approached Mark (our editor) with the idea of doing this special, so the fans could have a ‘taste of blood’ while waiting for the book’s return. He liked the idea and we (Scott Snyder, Mark and I) began talking about it.”

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