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NYCC 2018: DC Vertigo Panel Recap

Written by James Ferguson

The panelists took the stage and jumped right into discussions about the new books coming from Vertigo. Mark Doyle, executive editor at DC / Vertigo served as a moderator and opened things up with Sandman Universe, specifically Lucifer. The cover for the first issue, illustrated by Jock, was revealed.

Doyle asked writer Dan Watters what you could do with the character of Lucifer in comics that you can't do in anything else. Watters said that it mainly comes down to visuals. Plus, as a writer, he can think up anything. For example, he can write “Page one: Hell.” and go from there.

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Watters was then asked how he creates Hell for the Devil. Watters joked that you pull from personal experience. Lucifer has always been portrayed as this gorgeous blonde pinnacle of existence, but he's still really mad all the time. He's never had to deal with aging or his body breaking down, so that's what he'll go through in the comic.

He continued, talking about Deckard, a detective in the book who is also full of anger. A preview page was shown where he's speaking to a large mutated tumor, so you know this book is a little on the weird side. He's a regular guy that's suddenly thrown into a Lovecraftian nightmare. Lucifer #1 is due out on 10/17.

Next up was Books of Magic with writer Kat Howard. It follows Tim Hunter, a young man who will either be the world's greatest magician or its greatest villain. It serves as the next evolution of the original mini-series written by Neil Gaiman.

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Kat said the fun for her when writing for comics is thinking about it visually instead of just with words and descriptions. At its heart, it's a high school story as Tim is a kid. It's just that it's steeped in magic. There's a lot on Tim's shoulders between algebra exams and finding out you might destroy the universe. No pressure. Books of Magic #1 is due out on 10/24.

The Sandman Universe also includes the previously released The Dreaming and House of Whispers. It's a big way to start the 25th anniversary of Vertigo. Doyle said they went out to find new and interesting people who were brand new to comics. Border Town was one of the new books and the first issue sold out, which is the first Vertigo title to do that in six years.

The discussion continued with Hex Wives. Writer Ben Blacker spoke about the pressure of coming up just after books like Sandman and Border Town. It's a little different from what he's done before in that it's more of a drama instead of a comedy, because there's just too much to say. Hex Wives is fueled by anger that's built up over the past few years. Blacker joked that he was fed up with a lot in the world and he's a white guy.

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Blacker said that the witches in Hex Wives are based on some real-life people, like the singer Lizzo and others from pop culture, like Samantha from Bewitched and Wendy from Casper. Hex Wives #1 is due out on 10/31.

On the subject of badass women, the discussion turned to Goddess Mode. Writer Zoe Quinn spoke about the quick turnaround of comics compared to her experience with games. It doesn't take five years to make a comic. Cassandra, the main character of Goddess Mode, is described as “a trash goblin protagonist.” Quinn said her favorite DC character is Harley Quinn because she's a disaster. All of her girls are disasters. Doyle added that they're lovable disasters. Goddess Mode debuts on December 12th, 2018.

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Next up was High Level, described as a post-post-apocalyptic world. Writer Rob Sheridan spoke about world building as an abstract narrative that makes you feel something. His background as an art director was focused on creating a visual journey. Doyle pointed out that High Level pulls from a fair amount of anger too and there are parallels we can draw from our own world.

There's an element of hope within High Level, as it shows what happens after humanity has lost everything. There is limited technology and no internet, but the people are carrying on, rebuilding civilization. High Level #1 is due out in February 2019.

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Finally, we talked about Safe Sex. No, not that kind. It's a comic from writer Tina Horn set in a dystopian society where pleasure is monitored. Horn said she was always drawn to comics and was given the opportunity to professionalize this interest like she's been able to do with others and jumped at it.

Safe Sex follows a ragtag group of sex workers collectively known as the Dirty Mind. Horn said no one in the comic is strictly based on any particular person, but they're based on a community. This is one of her first forays into fiction. She initially approached it as a critical essay with different characters debating about the topics in the book and right and wrong. With the help of her editors, she received a crash course in fiction writing.

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Horn cited Alan Moore, who said that if you want to write horror, you need to look at what scares you. That was pulled into Safe Sex as what she fears is doing the work for the oppressors. Safe Sex debuts in early 2019.

Doyle summed it up by saying that the creators on the panel were here because they had a story they had to tell. That's the essence of Vertigo as it heads into its 25th year. The panelists talked about how comics is not just about something, but it can speak in metaphor as well. Star Wars is not just about a space battle.

Quinn said that there's a community at Vertigo among the creators. There are similar elements in some of the books, like dystopia or horror. Blacker jokingly asked Doyle if they could all do a crossover. I would totally read that.

About The Author
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Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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