J.H. Williams III


Vertigo fans may want to mark their calendars. According to The New York Times DC Comics' mature readers imprint has announced several new series set to debut this fall, including the finally-titled Sandman prequel announced last summer at San Diego Comic-Con International. On October 30 (the day before Halloween if you're nasty), Gaiman and artist J.H. Williams' The Sandman: Overture #1 will arrive in stores, bringing an end to fans' some 17 year wait for new material.

Overture will be published bi-monthly over the course of 2013-2014, with alternating special edition issues that include translucent word balloons developed by letterer Todd Klein, additional artwork, behind-the-scenes commentary and bonus character sketches by Williams. Gaiman told The Times that Williams' pages in Overture are "the most beautiful pages I have ever seen in periodical comics," adding “I ask him to do the impossible, and he gives me back more than I asked for."

Overture will be followed by yet another Sandman universe release in November. The creative team and official title isn't named in The Times article, but fans will be able to pick up a new The Dead Boy Detectives story that introduces early 1900s English boarding students-turned-ghost crime solvers Edwin and Charles to a mysterious new kind of Dead Girl Detective.

Two original and possibly ongoing titles will also launch this fall including Hinterkind by Ian Edginton and an unnamed artist, along with The Discipline by Peter Milligan and an unnamed artist. Hinterkind will take place in a post-apocalyptic world populated by creatures previously believed to be mythical while The Discipline is described as "an erotic thriller about a woman at the center of an shadow war that spans eons."

Two additional titles are also expected according to The Times article headline, although the article itself only mentions four.

Vertigo's been framed as a kind of rudderless ship -- and even a sinking ship -- by The Times since the departure of Karen Berger, synonymous with the imprint and with mature and meaningful sequential art in general since bringing it to life in 1993. Rather than focusing on Berger's numerous achievements cultivating talent and acclaimed and profitable comics over a 20 year career, The New York Times essentially wrote something of a Vertigo obituary back in May, which included some discouraging quotes from DC co-publisher Dan DiDio. DiDio talked about the state of the comic book industry in terms of money rather than content or talent -- two Vertigo hallmarks -- stating “There’s not a challenge to be more profitable out of the gate. But there is a challenge to be more accepted out of the gate.” The Co-Publisher also characterized the Vertigo target demo as a "very small slice of our audience" and said it would be "myopic" to service them. DiDio capped his comments on Vertigo as a DC priority saying, “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.”

Berger's departure and DiDio's comments, coupled with the transition of characters such as Swamp Thing and John Constantine back to DC's superhero universe after decades of ongoing stories at Vertigo and the conclusion and/or cancelation of many of Vertigo's more popular series over the past year have given fans cause for concern, although the recent success of Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy's The Wake #1 has helped to take the edge off. Vertigo's slew of fall releases would seem to diffuse any notions of the imprint's impending doom, at least until well into 2014.

For her part, new Executive Editor Shelly Bond seems unfazed by the "Vertigo is doomed" narrative telling The Times, “It’s so liberating to know that I can talk about all these wonderful books."

UPDATE 7/1/2013 @ 12:45 p.m. PST: The Source has provided new information about the two remaining Vertigo fall releases, plus full creative team rosters, promotional art and full descriptions of each comic:

  • HINTERKIND – Decades after “The Blight” all but wiped out the human race, Mother Nature is taking back what’s hers and she’s not alone … all the creatures of myth and legend have returned and they're not happy. After her grandfather disappears, Prosper Monday must leave the security and seclusion of her Central Park village to venture into the wilds to find him, unaware of how much the world has changed. An epic fantasy adventure set in a post-apocalyptic world, HINTERKIND is written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Francesco Trifogli, and debuts this October.
  • THE DISCIPLINE – Launching this December, THE DISCIPLINE is a dark, erotic thriller about a privileged young woman named Melissa who is thrust into a centuries old battle between good and evil. She begins an affair with a mysterious man named Orlando who opens her eyes to a sexually sinister world she never knew existed. Through this ritualistic seduction (“The Discipline”), Orlando unlocks Melissa’s inner power and then enlists her into a shadowy war that has been fought for centuries. THE DISCIPLE comes to you from writer Peter Milligan and artist Leo Fernandez.
  • DEAD BOY DETECTIVES - Spinning out of the pages of Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN, two dead British school boys star in their own monthly series and solve crimes in the 21st century with the help of a new female accomplice. Premiering in November, DEAD BOY DETECTIVES is written by noted British novelist Toby Litt with layouts and painted covers by Mark Buckingham (FABLES).
  • SUICIDERS – Hitting the spinner rack this December, this new series marks the incomparable Lee Bermejo’s (JOKER; BATMAN: NOEL; BEFORE WATCHMEN: RORSCHACH) debut as an ongoing series comic book writer and artist. SUICIDERS follows the lies of two futuristic boxers – one on top of the world, the other trying to fight (and kill) his way there. Set in Los Angeles after “The Big One,” “Suiciders” is the wildly popular reality sport that contestants are literally dying to be a part of … and to be the best, you have to murder the best.
  • COFFIN HILL – When she was 15, Eve Coffin summoned a darkness that had been buried since the Salem Witch Trials. Now Eve’s back to harness the evil that destroyed her friends and is slowly taking over the sleepy town of Coffin Hill. This is a series full of magic, madness and murder via a twisted family of New Englanders. Arriving in stores this October, COFFIN HILL combines the talents of artist Inaki Miranda (FAIREST: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM) with writer Caitlin Kittredge, a young, dark fantasy author whose writing includes the Nocturne City, the Black London, and the Iron Codex series of novels – which include the recently published titles Dark Days and The Mirrored Shard.
  • THE WITCHING HOUR – Just in time for Halloween, this anthology-style one-shot collects short stories exploring witchcraft written and drawn by some of the most talented veterans and newcomers in the business – including Kelly Sue DeConnick, Cliff Chiang, Lauren Beukes, Emily Carroll, Matthew Sturges, Shawn McManus, Tula Lotay and many more.

Robot 6 has also posted unlettered J.H. Williams Overture artwork. You can see all of the artwork below.