Shelly Bond and Will Dennis Talk Vertigo, Part 2
This is the second part of my three-part interview with Vertigo Executive Editor Shelly Bond and Vertigo Group Editor Will Dennis. Click here to read Part 1.
After speaking about Vertigo’s past, and the early stages of such groundbreaking comics as 100 Bullets and Fables, the conversation shifted to Vertigo’s present, touching on recently released titles like Hinterkind, The Wake and Coffin Hill (the first issue of which is in stores today).
Will Dennis: Ian Edginton had pitched what ultimately became Hinterkind to me years ago at the time when Y: The Last Man was ending, and we revisited it recently and realized that it was still a really strong idea and there’s a big audience for this sort of book.
It’s this sort of road adventure, but there are these elements to it that won’t be revealed at the start. There’s a lot going on in the background with a lot of these different characters. There’s elves, orcs, all these sorts of things, and they all have their own kingdoms. But you don’t really see any of that in the first issue.
Interior page from Hinterkind #1
Shelly Bond: I think what you brought up is such a great thing about Vertigo. When we find properties that really click for us, we want to see them through to the end. We want them to be monthlies. We want them to have a broad scope and appeal, so that they can work on multiple platforms. You could see a Hinterkind game or episodic TV show.
Coffin Hill also has a really great story about it. I met Caitlin Kittredge in 2009 in San Diego, and we had a great chat. I thought she was really cool and bright, and when I was promoted to Executive Editor last December, she was my first phone call because I felt like she was someone who really needed to write comics. She had vision, and a really great grasp of not only female characters, but also of topical issues. And she wasn’t afraid to go deep into dark horror.
I was really anxious to bring back a dark horror book. We haven’t had anything really scary in a very long time. So when she pitched me Coffin Hill, it was one of those moments. It just said home run to me.
Coffin Hill is about a girl named Eve Coffin, and she is from a very privileged family, but I refer to her a very high society lowlife. She’s into black magic, she comes from a long line of witches, and she’s actually part of a curse that dates back to the Salem Witch Trials. So one night in 2003, she and her friends go into the Coffin Hill Woods, and they unearth this horrible creature. The next day she wakes up covered in blood. One of her friends is missing. One of her friends is freaked out and later goes to a mental ward. And one of her other friends knows the truth about what happened.
Cut to ten years later. Eve goes to Boston and becomes a cop. First month on the job, she’s shot and has nothing left but to go home to Coffin Hill. When she does, she finds that there’s been a string of horrible things that have happened since that night in the woods. She comes home to a crumbling family mansion, weird things are happening all over the town and more kids are missing in the Coffin Hill Woods. So she helps the police force. She’s determined to right a wrong, turn back the clock, and help fix everything that’s happened to the town.
"The next day she wakes up covered in blood..."
SB: It’s got the dark horror of so many of the great Japanese horror films, which I think is evident in Inaki Miranda’s artwork. I know that Inaki feels like he’s been working his whole life to get to the point where he can bring an idea like Coffin Hill to life, and when an artist that good says something like that, you know that the collaboration is going to be tremendous.
I tell writers to not just give me their good ideas. I want the ideas that keep them up at night. That come at night and they’re so good that they need to get up and out of bed to start writing. Those are the ideas that they really believe in 100%, and that’s what we want.
Tim Beedle: It’s really cool, and I think says a lot that someone like Scott Snyder, who’s so involved with DC, also has his Vertigo books.
SB: Well, he did his Vertigo book first. So we like to think that we’re a good breeding ground for talent as well. And cross-pollination is a really good thing. We encourage it.
WD: Scott is a great example of cross-pollination.
SB: Jeff Lemire as well.
WD: Yeah, often these creators look at the Vertigo stuff as something of a break. The DC Comics work can be tough. It’s tough to manage all of the continuity and the different things that need to line up, and the pressure these writers can put on themselves when all of a sudden they’re writing something like Superman or Batman… I was working with Brian Azzarello when he was writing Superman, and of course now he’s writing Wonder Woman, and I know that when he gets to work on his Brother Lono script, it’s like coming back home.
SB: The DC Universe is like an orchestra. You really have to have every part of it moving at once. It’s a symphony. In comparison, when you work with Vertigo, it’s a lot more one-on-one.
WD: It’s the difference between playing a really big venue compared to playing a more intimate room.
SB: Or maybe a club on the lower east side? How about that instead of a room? Can we go for that?!
SB: You don’t mind?
WD: You can have whatever vision in your mind you want.
SB: I want to be sure. Are you okay with that?
WD: *laughs* Yes, I’m totally okay with that.
SB: Just checking.