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Saturday, February 11, 2006

WONDERCON: VERTIGO PANEL

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fables, Fables and more Fables.

Vertigo's presentation at WonderCon Friday featured a new Fables hardcover, a spin-off series and a milestone issue in the monthly book.

Bill Willingham delivers the original hardcover graphic novel Fables: 1,001 Nights of Snowfall in October. The book features such painters as James Jean, Charles Vess, Brian Bolland, John Bolton and Mark Buckingham and 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's captured by the sultan, Snow finds herself playing Scheherezade, forced to entertain him with her own stories in return for her life.

Jack of Fables launches in July, written by Willingham and Matthew Sturges, with art by Tony Akins and covers by James Jean. Following the Fables tale in which Jack went Hollywood, the trickster -- who's no longer allowed in Fabletown -- is on the road and in deep trouble.

In Fables #49, coming in May, after more than a year of searching, Mowgli has lost Bigby's trail. So what does a great hunter do when he's run out of leads, clues and anything resembling rational evidence? He makes a wild guess, of course.

That leads to June's #50, which will be 48 pages. Bigby Wolf is back, as an event takes place that will forever change the landscape of Fables.

Following is a rundown of other highlights from the Vertigo panel, which featured editor Karen Berger, writers Howard Chaykin, David Tischman and Josh Dysart, and artist Steve Leialoha.

* Pride of Baghdad, the original graphic novel by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon, is now scheduled for September. The story: 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.

"He was good on Barnum," Berger said of Henrichon, "and he's evolved 10 times since then."

* Can't Get No is an original graphic novel from Rick Veitch scheduled for June. The story: Up-and-coming businessman Chad Roe's world becomes a ball of confusion when he awakens to find himself a marked man -- marked from head to toe with super-indelible, permanent ink of his own invention.

After the night of drunken debauchery, he also watches the two planes fly into the World Trade Center.

"It's the absurdity of reality," Berger said. "He then goes on a quest. It's a story that deals with American values and American symbols."

* Sloth is an original graphic novel from Gilbert Hernandez scheduled for July. The story: Teenaged Miguel Torres escapes his miserable life by willing himself into a yearlong coma. When he awakens, he can move only at a snail's pace and becomes a walking urban legend As his life turns more and more surreal, Miguel must face the horrifying truth about his family while struggling with his own somnambulant existence.

"It's a surreal romantic story," Berger said.

Novelist Denise Mina continues her seven-part tale "Empathy is the Enemy" in Hellblazer #220 in May. The story: Constantine heads for Glasgow in search of a forgotten acquaintance from his troubled youth. But has the trip been set up by a shadowy sect of Scottish mystics?

"I think it's great Constantine is being written by a woman," Berger said.

Leonardo Manco provides the cover and the interior art.

* Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit, a sequel to Big Club, ships the focus from the vampires to the police. Detective Michael Fortine, head of the elite Vampire Crime Unit, deals exclusively with homicide and sex crimes by and against vampires -- and the prime suspect in this week's hemocide is the crime familyıs sexy, ruthless leader, Risa Del Toro.

Howard Chaykin and David Tischman return as writers, with David Hahn back as artist and Frank Quitely as cover artist.

Chaykin said the series brings out the "reprehensible side of me." He praised Hahn's art for having "enviable simplicity."

Tischman said he hoped to do more Bite Club after Vampire Crime Unit.

The five-issue series launches in April.

* Loveless gets a trade paperback in May, followed by DMZ in June and Exterminators in July.

* The story for Loveless #8: Since arriving in the town of Blackwater, Wes Cutter has been the embodiment of fear to the townsfolk and a thorn in the side of the U.S. government. But was Wes born bad, or simply a product of the brutal times?

* DMZ #7 in May kicks off the story "Body of a Journalist."

* The "Bug Brothers" arc concludes in the Exterminators #5 in May. As the Bug-Bee boys declare a "Code 4" at the building where roaches rule, Henry and Stretch must battle for their lives, using every poison in their arsenal.

"It's funny and gross," Berger said.

* Quitely is also providing covers for American Virgin, the ongoing series by Steve T. Seagle and Becky Cloonan. Above is the cover to #3.

* Bruce Jones is bringing a new take to Deadman, which starts in August. The story: Airline pilot Brandon Cayce thought he was having a bad day when his plane went down in a fiery wreck at Heathrow Airport. But it was all downhill from here.

Berger called Deadman artist John Watkiss "one of the most unsung artists working in comics today."

* Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason is a five-issue mini-series by John Ney Rieber and Eric Nguyen, with covers by Tim Bradstreet. Berger said the series doesn't feature Wesley Dodds, although this new Golden Age Sandman is connected to him.

* Above is the cover to 100 Bullets #72. The story: There's dirty work going down in Cleveland, as Agent Graves delivers the infamous attaché case to a butcher turned small-time crook. But since the butcher has no obvious thirst for revenge, why did he receive the briefcase?

Berger said she's heard a new Minuteman will be revealed soon.

* The "Kimono Dragons" arc continues in Y: The Last Man #45. The story: Yorick and Agent 355 risk everything to save Ampersand from a bizarre new enemy in a Tokyo skyscraper -- who happens to be another member of the Last Man's crew desperately trying to come to terms with the blood on her hands.

* Swamp Thing writer Josh Dysart said the book is getting a pair of guest-artists: Dean Ormstom in #25 and Jock in #26.

Swamp Thing #27 brings back Enrique Breccia to kick off "Every Reunion is a Resurrection." The story: Jason Woodrue returns, and the Floronic Man will make certain that nothing of Swamp Thing's life will remain the same after their meeting.

"The current continuity of the Floronic Man is convolted and crazy and that allows me to get away with a lot," Dysart said.

* Glenn Fabry is supplying the first cover to Harvey Pekar's new American Splendor series.

* Mike Carey and Jock are working on a project called Faker.

* Berger said there are no current plans for the Tim Hunter character.

* Berger said the first volume of Aboslute Sandman editions will be published at the end of next year. Plans are to collect all 75 issues.



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