Saturday, February 8, 2020

REVIEW: Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics (nonfiction book) by Alisa Kwitney

Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics is an artbook.


This slim volume features a selection of cover, trading card, and gallery art from DC Comics' now discontinued Vertigo imprint. A few of the series featured are ones I've read, albeit a very long time ago: Sandman, The Books of Magic, Black Orchid, Swamp Thing, Sandman Mystery Theatre. Most are series I've never heard of before, or heard of but never looked into enough to find out what they were about. I've been meaning to try Animal Man for ages, for example, but it still hasn't happened.

When I was in high school, I'd occasionally use my lunch period to go to a nearby comics shop and buy a few things. The store was arranged by publisher, with imprints getting their own subsections, and an odd "miscellaneous" section to catch anything by smaller publishers. I spent most of my time in the Marvel and "miscellaneous" sections (yay, Elfquest!), but my love of Neil Gaiman's Sandman prompted me to spend time in the Vertigo section as well. Although I never bought many Vertigo titles - I didn't have much money and didn't know which series I might like, and the store owner was so unwelcoming that I didn't dare ask him for recommendations - I loved the covers. They looked so different from the Marvel and other DC stuff.

I spotted this book during a shopping trip years ago and bought it with the intention of using it as artistic inspiration. Nothing ever came of that, but it was still nice looking at all the artwork and huge variety of styles. Each section has a little bit of text, normally something about the history of a particular series. Most of the artwork just has captions with the title and issue number if applicable, date, and artist, but a few include tidbits of info about the artists' style and, very occasionally, something about their technique or the medium used.

All in all, this is a nice collection of artwork. I wish there had been more text focused on particular pieces, though, and interviews with some of the artists would have been great.

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