If you read last year's Vertigo graphic novel INCOGNEGRO (and if you didn't, it's out in paperback now, so what's your excuse?) you know Mat Johnson. I've known Mat since 2004. I met him just a month or so after I'd settled into my then-new position here at Vertigo. An award-winning novelist, Mat had a gift for page-turning suspense, macabre humor and shattering social commentary. But could he bring those qualities to comics? He gave his first answer with PAPA MIDNITE, a Hellblazer spinoff reimagining the eponymous Constantine nemesis as the instigator of a New York slave rebellion circa 1740. Next, Mat produced INCOGNEGRO, a twisty-turny noir mystery that explores race and identity in a way that, though the story's set in the 1930s, could not be more timely today. Now Mat's written his third, and most challenging, Vertigo book. DARK RAIN: A GRAPHIC NOVEL OF KATRINA reaches stores one year from now, the fifth "anniversary" of the disaster that almost wiped out a great city. DARK RAIN is a race-against-time thriller about two desperate-for-a-break ex-cons who get the bright idea, as New Orleans lies underwater, that now would be a pretty good time to rob a bank. Unfortunately, the bank is in central New Orleans and they're on parole in a Houston halfway house. So while every sane person is racing to get out, our guys Emmit and Dabny set off on a mission to get in. Or die trying. DARK RAIN is not only a nail-biting adventure driven by the hilarious and tragic friendship of Emmit and Dabny. It's a story of American survival and the meaning of personal commitment, a document of a terrible tipping point in recent history. In short, it's exactly the type of book I want to work on. New Orleans is a character in DARK RAIN as much as Emmit and Dabny. We needed an artist who could bring the city to life. We found Simon Gane, whose work on Vertigo's THE VINYL UNDERGROUND took you straight to London better than Virgin Atlantic. I don't need to tell you what Simon's doing for New Orleans. Just take a look. Together, Mat and Simon are crafting what, in the opinion of your humble typist, will be received as one of 2010's most important and exciting works of graphic fiction--a journey deep into the American heart of darkness. --- Jonathan Vankin