Vertigo Comics, rest in peace. Long live Vertigo Comics!
The evolution of DC Comics’ sophisticated-story publishing imprint continues this month with the release of another creator-owned work. And “evolution” is an apt word, as you’ll discover shortly.
Vertigo has, for the most part, abandoned itself of all DC character properties, bringing them into the larger fold that is the DC universe in order to share tales alongside world-recognized superheroes and super villains. That means that the imprint, current publisher of acclaimed titles such as Fables, The Unwritten and American Vampire, is more in line with Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics now, publishers of comic books that are owned by their writers and artists.
The latest addition to that publishing stable? Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s The Wake.
After making the game-changer move of ending all of their monthly series in August 2011 and, calling it the “New 52”, re-starting them with brand new first issues, DC Comics continues to evolve. This year, the publishing company has definitely been shining a light on the darker corners of its universe. The mature, sophisticated publishing arm of Vertigo Comics is still undergoing changes as well, with flagship title Hellblazer recently ending it 300-issue run. The main protagonist of that series, the beloved chain-smoking English occultist, John Constantine, has been folded up into the DC universe proper, continuing his supernatural adventures in a new ongoing monthly series called, appropriately enough, Constantine.
Ray Fawkes has worked for both DC Comics and Vertigo Comics along with a host of other publishers including Oni Press, Image Comics, Top Shelf Comics and Marvel Comics. The Eisner, Harvey and Shuster Award nominee is now writing some of his most high-profile work to date at DC Comics, namely Justice League Dark and Constantine as well as having a hand in DC’s upcoming Trinity War summer blockbuster storyline.
JP Fallavollita met with the Toronto-based writer and artist at the 2013 edition of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) and had a chance to speak with him over the phone about his recent writing responsibilities. In the first part of this interview, Fawkes talks about his experiences with fan-favourite character, John Constantine, the history and responsibility of writing him in both a solo series and a group series, and his story plans for the near future.
Tuesday, February 26. A dog day in the month of love.
Cupid’s come and gone, sweet first blush has turned to red-faced anger, text messages have gone unanswered, and all that’s left of chocolate gifts are their shredded wrappers.
Have no worries, pet. As alone as you may feel, someone’s always got it worse than you. Why, we here at Biff Bam Pop! have been celebrating the swoon of tainted love all month long! We’ve covered the subject in film (here, here and here), prose (here) and comic books (here, here and here).
But if you’re somehow still under the thrall of adoration’s venomous poison, let me introduce you to comicdoms most famously tainted love affair, that of the unbeknownst three-way between the hauntingly beautiful Abigail Arcane, the crusty con-man John Constantine, and the muck-encrusted monster known as Swamp Thing.
Love, I’m afraid, never ceases to surprise. Or sicken.
It’s another edition of the Biff Bam Popcast, featuring JP Fallavollita, Emily McGuiness and Glenn Walker. Off the top, we discuss the new book American Comic Book Chronicles, from TwoMorrows Publishing. We rave about it, so be sure to check it out after the popcast. From there, we talk renumbering in comics and 80′s action heroes.
If you’re a regular to Biff Bam Pop!, John Constantine, everyone’s favourite mystical hellblazer, needs no introduction. We’ve written about the character a number of times here, most recently with the news of the cancellation of his long-running Vertigo Comics series called, appropriately enough, John Constantine: Hellblazer. You can read that article here.
I don’t need to reiterate my disappointment, which actually verges on anger, over that particular decision. The monthly Hellblazer title is the longest standing comic book that I have continuously read. I was there when Constantine first appeared within the pages of Saga of the Swamp Thing (issue #37) in June 1985 under the pen of writer Alan Moore. And I was there when the popular character received his own series in 1988, written by the great Jamie Delano and foundationally illustrated by John Ridgeway.
That was twenty-five years ago, the series continuing each month, uninterrupted. Until now.
Hell has finally frozen over for our trench coat-wearing, silk-cut smoking, demon-slaying hellblazer.
What do you do if you know you’re dying and that when you die, you know that you’re going to hell?
If you’re the conniving yet charismatic rogue mage John Constantine, you do the only thing that can be done: you hasten the inevitable.
That’s sort of the premise behind the famous comic book character’s story arc in the 2005 film called, appropriately enough, Constantine. Directed by Francis Lawrence, his big screen debut after making a name for himself in music videos, and starring Keanu Reeves as the titular anti-hero, Constantine wasn’t all that well received by either critics or fans upon it’s debut. But in the seven years since it’s release, a near-cult audience has embraced the film and hope, an emotion not necessarily synonymous with the character himself, abounds in terms of a sequel being made.
That time may soon be upon us. Until then, there’s still the original to affectionately watch and discuss.
Hellblazed Reading – An Era Comes To An End With DC/Vertigo’s Cancellation Of John Constantine: Hellblazer
A week ago, DC Comics announced the cancellation of Hellblazer.
Bullshit was my first thought.
There are certain instances where, in comics, because you’ve read a particular title for so long, because you’ve enjoyed the stories so much, you grow an affinity for a character as if they were, well, a friend. That’s how I felt about John Constantine, the English protagonist of the series. And there are many other Hellblazer comic book readers out there that feel the same way.
Hellblazer – nay, John Constantine: Hellblazer, the publication’s true, long-form title – is currently the longest running, uninterrupted, monthly series from either of the big two comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Indeed, it’s the longest running title from Vertigo Comics, DC’s mature imprint, in the history of that offshoot. That’s something the company, the editors, and the various writers and artists on the series, should be quite proud about. And in many ways, it’s not damn well surprising.
Dating John Constantine is a hazard. Hell, knowing John Constantine is a hazard. You’re likely to end up dead, imprisoned in Hell or some other demonic dimension, or both. This applies to his love life, his “friends”, and his family.
Yet he still manages to mack the ladies. Guess they like the bad-boy thing: mysterious coat, magic, cigarettes, clandestine meetings with truly shady and bizarre characters. I’m not sure; I’m just flabbergasted at the way, and ease, with which he manages to pull in some of the most gorgeous and head-strong women in the Vertigo universe (though I’ve never seen him try to pull Death – well, there was that one time with the banana).