Vertical Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: N/A

Written by: Steven T. Seagle
Penciled by: Mike Allred
Inked by: Philip Bond
Colored by: Laura Allred
Lettered by: Ken Lopez
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: DC Comics > Vertigo

Falling in love

“It’s half the width of a normal comic, but double the excitement in VERTICAL, the final special format book in VERTIGO’s tenth anniversary.”

This quote comes directly from DC’s solicitation copy for Vertical. Just reading it makes you think lousy gimmick book. That feeling can’t be further from the truth though. Is it a gimmick? Sure. The thing is, the story and art are of sound quality and this combination works very well to tell a captivating story in an original way.

The format, in case you haven’t seen it, needs a bit of description. Vertical is literally a comic cut in half, and bound at the top. The story unfolds panel-to-panel from top-to-bottom. The format works wonders by pulling you through from page-to-page, and serves to amplify the reader’s involvement in the story. At $4.95 it’s a little pricey, but with 64 pages (albeit half size), and no ads it’s really not a bad deal at all.

Vertical is a tale of love set in the psychedelic world of Soho (New York) circa 1965. To those, like myself, that missed out on the “Decade of Love,” you’ve certainly heard stories, read books, or seen movies about the time. Steven T. Seagle’s story and Mike Allred’s art seem to capture the feeling, and the flavor of the mid-60s perfectly. The characters are also great examples of some of the interesting people that populated the world at that time.

Brando and Zilly falling off a building

Set in and around the Warhol Factory (where world famous artist Andy Warhol worked and housed many young artists), the story is about two people falling for each other, literally. Brando Bale is a troubled young man that can’t help but propel himself from the top of high places. I’m not talking about ladders or staircases. Brando most likes to take a leap off of apartment buildings, the Statue of Liberty, or the Golden Gate Bridge. He lands on cardboard boxes, dumpsters, or wherever, but invariably he always survives. He’s extremely troubled, a man searching for answers and a purpose in life. Worst of all, Brando’s ready to give up completely.

Zilly Kane is the typical girl searching for stardom. She comes to the Warhol Factory, where Brando works, to answer an audition call. Much like Brando, Zilly has to face her own inner problems. Zilly hears voices, which lead her on her pathway. She’s shocked by Brando’s actions and hopes to save him. Once these two meet the fireworks begin, and a truly odd courtship unfolds.

The love story between these two is in no way epic. Yet, Seagle explores the idea of love at first site with deft flair. Using this amazing backdrop and such an unorthodox pair to tremendous effect. The idea of falling in love and the concept of Brando and Zilly literally falling for one another isn’t exactly subtle. But who wants subtlety? This is an outstanding story in a really cool “package.”

The package is completed by the stellar pencils of Mike Allred, and inked by Philip Bond. Allred’s layouts pull you through the story, and the artwork literally looks like it’s out of a 60s comic book. The coloring by Laura Allred captures the “vibe” of the psychedelic 60s with utter perfection.

One hell of a Tenth!

This book concludes Vertigo’s tenth anniversary with a bang. In an industry that offers a minimal amount of books beyond spandex clad heroes, Vertigo has been at the forefront of edgy comic entertainment for ten years. Books that step away from the normal stereotypical comic are what Vertigo is about. Vertical is yet another success story from an imprint that is, in my mind, the single greatest this industry has ever seen. I can only hope that the next ten years for Vertigo will be as good as the previous ten.