This was one of the stranger panels I went to, and all the credit/blame goes to Brian Azzarello. Shawn McManus, Andrew Pepoy, and Will Dennis were also present for this flabbergasting clusterfuck. Azzarello had something scathing to say about everybody and everything. He was so surly, I wondered if maybe he’d had a few too many before taking to the stage.
No, he hadn’t been drinking, but he is a smart man. He’s aware that Vertigo is on the very brink of shutting down. Let’s face it, they got
out of there because they didn’t want to lose him. The only strong title they have are the
FABLES related ones (I don’t count AMERICAN VAMPIRE because it’s on
hiatus). Azzarello earned a name for
himself doing things like JONNY DOUBLE and 100 BULLETS, in addition to a bunch
of short work for FLINCH and STRANGE ADVENTURES. So . . . he doesn’t want Vertigo to go away.
Everyone on this panel was being wishy-washy about their own work, but Azzarello tried pumping them up. In fact, it seemed like he was channeling Bull Murray from SCROOGED. He wanted you to be deathly afraid of missing any of these issues.
Anyway, on to the announcements. BROTHER LONO is not necessarily a sequel to 100 BULLETS, but it is a spin-off. Someone, I forget who, said that this was their Laverne and Shirley. Apparently, Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso hashed this mini-series out in a taxi in
Spain. It looks like Lono is a religious man now,
trying to atone for his life of crime.
Of course, it can’t work out very well for him. It is an Azzarello book, after all.
Dennis mentioned that Azzarello and he were supposed to go over the final corrections the previous night in the bar, but they’d gotten drunk instead. As a result, they started going over the corrections then and there. Like, right in front of us. At the fucking panel.
While they did that, the announcements continued. They showed us the cover to FAIREST #17, but they said the cover of #15 was top secret. They mentioned that they were starting an arc about a new character soon, but that’s all they had to say. [NOTE: We now know that the reason they couldn’t show the cover to 15 was because they were bringing Prince Charming back.]
FABLES #131 was next, but they talked more about Pepoy than the book. Apparently, Pepoy had known writer Bill Willingham since the respective ages of 14 and early 20’s. Pepoy brought his own table and set up next to Willingham at a previous
con, and this led to his first Vertigo work.
Willingham brought him up to the big leagues. Also, Pepoy has a weird fixation with the
band, Men Without Hats. He took a lot of
shit for it.
THE WAKE is a book from Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy that will be released sometime in May. It’s a horror book, but they didn’t say much else. [NOTE: I have since read the first issue, and I still can’t tell you what it’s about. I think we’ll finally get let in on the plot in issue 2.]
Around this point, someone mentioned a book that was on the New York Times bestseller list, and Azzarello lost his shit yet again. “Listen, everyone is on the fucking New York Times bestseller list. It’s overrated. Do you people actually care about the New York Times bestseller list?” He has a point. Just because something is a bestseller doesn’t mean it’s good.
Anyway, speaking of Scott Snyder, AMERICAN VAMPIRE is a long way off from resuming. In the meantime, he has a mini-series about Travis, the vampire hunter with the wooden fangs, called THE LONG ROAD TO HELL. Fuck yeah! He’s one of my favorite characters, aside from Skinner Sweet, of course.
Jeff Lemire has TRILLIUM coming soon. It’s touted as the Last Love Story Ever Told. It takes place in two different eras with two people, one from each, who fall in love with each other. They called it THE NOTEBOOK with ray guns. That sounds pretty cool. Azzarello, tired of the wishy-washy marketing job done by the others, broke in yet again with, “Has Lemire written anything that sucks? No? Then it’s going to be a great book!”
The last announcement was COLLIDER, a new book from Simon Oliver, who did THE EXTERMINATORS (which I might feature on Forgotten Comic Books someday, even though it wasn’t that long ago).
They opened up for questions, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stick around or not, because I wanted to make the John Scalzi signing. Eh, fuck it. What the hell? I got in line to ask a question.
You all probably have an idea of what I asked. It’s the question I always ask when I have Vertigo people around. Or when I have Garth Ennis around. I’d ask if Steve Dillon were around, but I’ve never met the guy. But while I was waiting in line, someone in front of me asked what work the panelists were really enjoying these days. Pepoy said that he liked a lot of stuff coming out of Artists Alley, and he mentioned Kevin Bandt in particular. Holy shit! I know Kevin Bandt! When I got home, I couldn’t rush to Facebook fast enough to tell him about Pepoy’s shout-out.
Then, it was my turn. Yes, I asked about the final, unpublished PREACHER story, the one about the Sex Investigators. Vertigo refused to do it because of the content. I demanded answers. Dennis said that it probably wasn’t going to happen, but then Azzarello blasted my balls off. “NO! The book’s not going to happen! Why would you ask that stupid question?”
Dennis said that he was trying to let me down easy. I slinked off, notifying everyone that I was going to weep myself to sleep that night. I guess I will never get a better response to that question, so I’m going to have to retire it. When Azzarello, who looks—coincidentally, I’m sure—a lot like the God of War in WONDER WOMAN, says something like that, I’m pretty sure it’s the truth.
So there you have it. The biggest scoop I will ever get at one of these panels. The last PREACHER story is never going to happen. What a grim and sad ending to a strange and savage panel.