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Shelly Bond and Will Dennis Talk Vertigo, Part 3

Shelly Bond and Will Dennis Talk Vertigo, Part 3

By Tim Beedle Thursday, October 10th, 2013

This is the third part of my three-part interview with Vertigo Executive Editor Shelly Bond and Vertigo Group Editor Will Dennis. Click here to read Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

The conversation began by talking about the earlier days of Vertigo, before moving on to just released titles like Hinterkind and Coffin Hill. In today’s final segment, Shelly and Will shared details about two upcoming projects—The Dead Boy Detectives and Suiciders.


Tim Beedle: One series you haven’t yet mentioned is The Dead Boy Detectives. Is that one you’d like to discuss?

Shelly Bond: Actually, both Will and I have experience with The Dead Boy Detectives. Will edited the miniseries that we did years ago.

Will Dennis: That’s right, all those years ago, with Ed Brubaker and Sir Bryan Talbot. *laughs* I don’t think he’s really a “sir,” is he?

SB: He might be at this point!

WD: He ought to be!

SB: It wouldn’t surprise me!

I’m really excited about The Dead Boy Detectives. I’ve always felt that The Dead Boy Detectives needed more of the limelight, and fortunately Neil Gaiman agreed. He’s always loved the characters, and while we did the Brubaker/Talbot miniseries, The Dead Boy Detectives never had their own monthly series. So, we decided it was high time.

But it had to be a really special combination, not only of talent, but of stories.

As fans know, the Dead Boy Detectives were British schoolboys who were introduced in The Sandman #25. One of the boys, Edwin, died in 1916, and the other, Charles, died in 1990. So what you have are two boys who went to the same boarding school, but are of different generations. And what’s interesting in the new series is that they will be going back to try to solve the mystery of their own murders. In addition to that, there’s a female detective, who comes onboard. I’m not going to reveal whether she’s dead or alive, but she’s a 21st Century girl, she’s very into tech, and she’s part of the new class at St. Hilarion’s School for Boys and Girls. She becomes the third part of the trio, and together, they’ll start not only uncovering some of the deep dark secrets about what happened in the halls of St. Hilarion’s, but they’ll also find out about the other family members in Charles’s life, and learn some other things that Neil Gaiman only hinted about when he first created the characters.

The cover to Dead Boy Detectives #1, available this December.

SB: A very important part of this team is Mark Buckingham. As everyone knows, Mark is the regular penciller on Fables, and it would be hard to believe that he has the time to work on another book, but we made it so. We may or may not have cloned him. I can’t answer that question unless I’m under oath! *laughs* But Bucky wanted to be a part of this because he’s always loved the Dead Boys. So we agreed that he would do layouts and painted covers.

The writer of the series is a novelist named Toby Litt. This is his first comic book, but he’s an absolute natural. He and Bucky have been natural collaborators. I actually discovered Toby’s work back in the late nineties. I used to go to London a few times a year, and I’d always go to Tower Records and pick up some of the latest novels by British fiction writers, and I happened to pick up Toby’s book Corpsing. I spent the entire night reading it, and I never forgot it. So I’ve been wanting to work with him for many years. I heard he liked comics and I just cold called him, and sure enough, we got it to work out for The Dead Boy Detectives.

TB: Now he’s written a couple of Dead Boy Detective shorts, right?

SB: That’s another part of the Bondian strategy! I brought Toby in to see if he could write comics by writing a short story for our anthologies. We had him pitch a short story, and when Neil read it, he thought it was too rich for eight pages, so he suggested that we do three parts, and it grew from there.

The Witching Hour #1 is Vertigo's most recent anthology. It includes Toby Litt's most recent Dead Boy Detectives short story.

TB: On the subject of upcoming titles, you also have Suiciders, don’t you?

WD: Yeah, that’s the series that Lee Bermejo is writing and drawing. I don’t know if you’d call Suiciders “dystopian,” but it’s set in LA and the Big One has finally struck. The United States decides that they’re tired of supporting this city and this world within it because after the earthquake, it gets too expensive. So rather than rebuilding it, they cut it off. So it’s not necessarily a future where the entire world or country is dystopian, but this one city is. Of course, this being Los Angeles the one thing they still have is the ability to create entertainment, and over time this sort of MMA-style fighting movement develops. It takes place in these arenas, and the fighters have all had their bodies modified with cybernetics and they take all of these crazy drugs to make themselves huge or fast.

The story first brings you in with this almost boxer-like tale, but then over time it starts to build out and look at this city and everything that’s developed because of it. It’s an LA that’s somewhat recognizable, but really kind of warped.

Previously unseen Suiciders art by Lee Bermejo. Look for more art to be unveiled this weekend at New York Comic-Con.

The art that he’s already done for it… I mean, if you know Lee’s art and how visceral and kinetic it can be—it almost makes you uncomfortable at times. I remember working on Joker and thinking how edgy and disturbing the art was. There’s just something about it that has this sort of energy to it. So I think Suiciders is going to be crazy. He’s written it with lots of spreads and splash pages, so it’s just going to read as this very big story, very widescreen. We’re really going to let this story breathe.

SB: Are these matches fights to the death?

WD: Essentially. There’s a real Roman Coliseum feel to it. It has elements of Gladiator in it.

TB: Before we wrap up, I just wanted to remind you that this conversation started with Shelly asking Will about his favorite of her books.

WD: That’s right! So Shelly… What’s your favorite book that I’ve edited?

SB: Wait… You edit comics? That’s what we’re calling it?!

WD: *laughs* Despite my best efforts…

SB: That’s a tough one. Probably the first three volumes of DMZ. Those are favorites. And I love Demo. I love 100 Bullets.

There were so many issues of Scalped that just blew my mind. I would write notes to the writer or artists about how much I loved it. Oh, and my favorite of your crime books… Filthy Rich. Hands down. I loved Filthy Rich.

TB: You know, I have that at home and I haven’t read it yet.


SB: Well, shame on you! You need to go home right now and read it!