This week sees the debut of The Suiciders, a new ongoing Vertigo series from writer/artist Lee Bermejo set in a post-apocalyptic near future Southern California where enhanced gladiators fight to the death for the public's entertainment. It's Bermejo's first major comics work in a few years, and his first ever original ongoing series, so we took some time to talk to him about how he conceived of the project, and the disparate elements that he's blending together to create this story.
Patrick A. Reed
Two weeks ago, First Second Books released The Sculptor, Scott McCloud's long-awaited, five-years-in-the-making, latest graphic novel. It's a complex and nuanced work that functions as both an emotionally rich personal statement, and a masterclass in graphic storytelling (not surprising, given McCloud's authorship of the seminal Understanding Comics, and its two sequels, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics), and it's become an immediate commercial and critical success, shooting to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and garnering a wealth of rave reviews.
The book tells the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes… Which seems like a great deal, until he meets a mysterious woman named Meg, and falls desperately in love with her.
In the closing days of January, Vertigo released The Unwritten: Apocalypse #12, the final installment in Mike Carey and Peter Gross' fan-favorite meta-fictional fantasy saga. The series told the story of Tom Taylor, a man trying to live down the fact that his father used his name and likeness for the Harry Potter-esque hero of his best-selling fantasy novels. As the series begins, Tom is quickly pulled into a world where the lines between fiction and reality are not so clearly drawn.
To mark the conclusion of Carey and Gross's long-running narrative, we talked to both creators to learn about the entire history of the series from initial conception to final curtain.
Since Scott McCloud first shot onto the cultural radar in the mid-80s, with his "reconstructionist" superhero series Zot!, he's been known as one of the modern masters of the comics form – his seminal 1993 volume Understanding Comics set a benchmark for intelligent analysis of graphic narrative language and technique (and became a go-to reference for college courses worldwide), his sequels, Reinventing Comics (2000) and Making Comics (2006) met with critical and commercial success, and his 1998 graphic novel The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln remains a fascinating and underrated attempt at melding the worlds of traditional and computer-generated cartooning. He's written a heaping handful of Superman stories, spoken and lectured around the world, and established himself as a comic creator, commentator, scholar and theorist without peer.
And this week, First Second Books is releasing his latest work, the five-years-in-the-making opus The Sculptor, the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes…
We at ComicsAlliance are suckers for a good mystery, and over the past six issues Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez's The Names has proven to be exactly our cup of tea – this high-suspense psychological financial thriller follows Katya Walker, a woman seeking information about her husband’s sudden death, who comes into conflict with a world-dominating techno-financial cabal called The Names, and finds herself in an uneasy partnership with her stepson Phillip, fighting for her life while searching for answers.
It's a story full of brutal action, advanced technology, hairpin plot twists, and carefully layered concepts, populated by psychopathic murderers, mind-controlling financiers, corrupt cops, and mysterious digital beings known only as "The Dark Loops" – and, courtesy of DC/Vertigo, we're excited to bring you this exclusive first look at pages from issue #6, which hits comic shops next week!
This week sees the debut of Effigy, a new Vertigo title from Grayson/Revival scribe Tim Seeley and Madame Xanadu artist Marley Zarcone. The series follows Chondra Jackson, a woman who, as a child, starred in a beloved kids' sci-fi/mystery TV show, and now lives a quiet life as a police officer in small-town Ohio – until she gets pulled into a mystery involving ritual sacrifices, a shadowy celebrity-worshipping cult, and pieces of her past coming back to haunt her.
To mark the launch of the book, we spoke with Seeley about his work process, his inspirations, and how the world of celebrities and comics intersect.
When Mike Carey and Peter Gross launched The Unwritten in 2009, it seemed like a concept tailor-made for a Vertigo series. It's the story of Tom Taylor, whose name and likeness were used by his father as the foundation for a wildly popular series of Harry Potter-esque fantasy novels, who grows up to find himself embroiled in increasingly bizarre situations, fighting for his life against supposedly-fictional adversaries.
Now, seventy-odd issues, an original graphic novel, and a widely acclaimed crossover with Bill Willingham's Fables later, Carey and Gross are bringing their tale to a close with tomorrow's release of The Unwritten: Apocalypse #12, a special oversized finale that sees Tom come face-to-face with his father, and battling for the fate of the world. Vertigo have provided us with an exclusive seven-page preview, so read on for your first look at the final act...
This past September, Vertigo launched Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez's nine-issue limited series The Names. It's the story of Katya Walker, a woman who finds herself searching for answers after her husband's apparent suicide and fighting for her life against a world-dominating techno-financial cabal known only as the Names. We last spoke with Milligan six months ago, just before The Names #1 was released, and now that the story has reached its halfway point, we're excited to follow up with another in-depth conversation about the series.
Emerald City Comicon is now part of ReedPOP. ComicsAlliance has confirmed that as part of the acquisition of ECCC, director Jim Demonakos and his staff will remain not just with ECCC, but actually join ReedPOP in expanded roles that will see them involved with organizing and executing other conventions as well, both in the United States and internationally. Indeed, in this exclusive interview with Demonakos and ReedPOP vice present Lance Fensterman, the new union's stated goal is to find ways for " what makes Emerald City so much fun for creators to be infused into New York and C2E2."
Earlier this year, First Second released Box Brown's Andre The Giant: Life And Legend – a graphic novel biography of the wrestling legend that immediately jumped onto the New York Times bestseller list, and has been met with great acclaim from wrestling fans and comics critics alike. Our own Chris Sims described the book thusly:
"It shows Andre as a person. Not the giant with a dubious fifteen-year undefeated streak, not as the monster who was bodyslammed by Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, not as the absent father that was put on blast by A Current Affair shortly before his death, and not even as the drinker and prankster behind the scenes in the world of wrestling. It shows him as all of those, as a person whose life was larger than everyone’s, but whose flaws were no bigger or smaller than anyone else’s. It makes the Giant relatable without ever undermining him. There’s a love in this book, but there’s an honesty, too, and it comes through in every scene..."
Recently, we got the chance to sit down and speak with Brown about the culture of professional wrestling, his artistic approach to comics, and how he went about adapting Andre's outsized life for a graphic novel.