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Saturday, July 16, 2005


SAN DIEGO -- Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky said that The Fountain graphic novel will be a very different experience from his upcoming movie of the same name.

The 180-page, oversized book is painted by Kent Williams from Aronofsky's original screen play.

"They're totally separate," said Aronofsky, joining DC Comics' Vertigo panel on Saturday after a presenation of the film -- starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz -- from Warner Bros.

"Normally when there's a graphic novel with a movie, you'd see the likenesses of Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz running around in a comic book. But this is totally Kent's interpration of the screenplay."

Williams said the assignment was daunting, "but I'm so taken by it."

Crisscrossing through three time eras, The Fountain follows a passionate young man's attempts to beat death and prolong the life of the woman he loves. The film is due this winter.

The Vertigo panel had nearly two dozen guests, with an expansive slide show. Following is a rundown of highlights.

* Fables: 1,001 Nights of Snowfall is targeted for next year. Written by Bill Willingham, the original graphic novel has a framing sequence illustrated by Charles Vess and art by Mark Wheatley, John Bolton, Mark Buckingham and James Jean. The story is set in the early days of Fabletown, when Snow White was sent to the lands of the Arabian Fables. But when she catches the eye of the sultan, Snow finds herself playing Scheherezade, forced to entertain him with her own stories of the Fables.

* Following the recent Fables tale in which Jack went Hollywood, the trickster returns next year in the new monthly series Jack of Fables. Written by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturgis, with art by Tony Akins and covers by James Jean, the series finds Jack on the road and, before long, in deep trouble.

* Y: The Last Man writer Brian K. Vaughan teams with artist Niko Henrichon for the original graphic novel Pride of Baghdad, coming next year. In war-torn Iraq, many casualties have gone unreported -- among them, an escaped pride of lions. This struggling family of four great cats must find a way to stay together and avoid the deadly conflict thatıs exploding around them in a world they can never hope to comprehend.

* Rick Veitch comes to Vertigo in 2006 with the original graphic novel Can't Get No. Up-and-coming businessman Chad Roeıs world becomes a ball of confusion when he awakens to find himself a marked man -- marked from head to toe that is, with super-indelible, permanent ink of his own invention. Now a freakish outsider, Chad ventures out on a cross-country odyssey into a world where the rules of "civilization" no longer apply.

* In Sloth, an original hardcover black-and-white graphic novel written and illustrated by Love & Rocketsı Gilbert Hernandez, teenaged Miguel Torres escapes his miserable life by willing himself into a yearlong coma. When he awakens, he can move only at a snailıs pace. As his life turns more and more surreal, Miguel must face the horrifying truth about his family while struggling with his own somnambulant existence.

* DMZ, a new monthly series, begins in December. Written by Brian Wood, with art by him and Riccardo Burchielli, DMZ takes place in the near future, following a blood civil war begun by state militia groups. In the midst of this, veteran reporter Matty Roth finds himself stranded in Manhattan -- and armed only with his camera and his wits.

* Novelist Douglas Rushkoff brings his unique viewpoint to Vertigo with Testament, a new monthly series that asks "What if the Bible were happening right now?" Illustrated by Liam Sharp, Testament retells stories from the Bible in a gritty, visceral new way while also telling the surprisingly parallel tale of Jake Stern. With the military draft reinstated, Jake is forced to take refuge with a modern clan of cyber-alchemists.

* Steven T. Seagle takes a look at sex, violence and morality in American Virgin, a new monthly series premiering next spring. Illustrated by Becky Cloonan, American Virgin stars Adam Chamberlain, a successful young man whose religious beliefs have led him to remain a virgin until heıs married... until his fiance is brutally murdered, throwing Adamıs every belief into question.

* At the boundary between orderly society and chaotic nature stand The Exterminators. In this new ongoing monthly series written by Simon Oliver with art by Tony Moore, Henry, a new member of a Los Angeles-based pest-control firm, begins to see the world from a bugıs eye view, as he comes to understand that insects are truly Earthıs dominant life force. The Exterminators is set to begin in January.

* Next spring, Miami's sexiest vampires return in Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit, a new 5-issue mini-series written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman with art by David Hahn and covers by Frank Quitely. Detective Michael Fortine, head of the elite Vampire Crime Unit, deals exclusively with homicide and sex crimes by and against vampires -- especially those committed by the Del Toro crime family.

"There's lot of sex and really curious of new uses for teeth," Tischman said.

* In Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan, artists Pia Guerra and José Marzan Jr. in October launch the three-part "Paper Dolls," in which Yorick Brown and company discovers how the media has changed since the plague.

* Swamp Thingıs 4-part story "Healing the Breach² concludes in Augustıs issue #18, written by Joshua Dysart and illustrated by Enrique Breccia. Imprisoned by the eco-sorcerers, Swamp Thing confronts the Seed Gatherer, a deranged transdimensional businessman.

In Swamp Thing #20 in October, artist Richard Corben returns as the Swamp Thing attempts to escape reality by creating smaller and smaller versions of himself, until he reaches a subatomic universe, where he encounters, of all people, John Constantine.

"I pored over Corben's work to see what he does best," Dysart said. "It's the most beautiful comic I've ever been involved with."

* "Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go" comes to a conclusion in September's Hellblazer #212, written by Mike Carey with art by Leonardo Manco. Constantine once again finds himself making deals in Hell, but when one of his trademark schemes backfires, John may inadvertently doom one of his closest friends.

Crime novelist Denise Mina takes over Hellblazer with #216 in January.

* Loop, Lono and Victor return this October in 100 Bullets #65. But when this felonious trio hits the road in search of vengeance, the only question is: which member of the Trust will be stupid enough to cross their path?

We're just getting into third act, and it's becoming increasingly violent," writer Brian Azzarello said. "You can't trust anybody in this book."

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