NYCC 2018 first look: The post-post-apocalyptic world of Vertigo’s ‘High Level’



A striking dystopia where technology has started over from scratch.

DC’s Vertigo panel at New York Comic Con spotlighted five new series, and a few of them had similar themes, most notably the futuristic dystopias that are home to Zöe Quinn’s Goddess Mode and Rob Sheridan’s High Level. However, while Goddess Mode takes place in a highly technological world, in High Level, technology has all but started from scratch. It isn’t even post-apocalyptic — in Sheridan’s words, High Level is “post-post-apocalyptic.”

The idea for High Level‘s was conceived when Sheridan was with his wife in an RV in the forest, “burning our lives down and starting from scratch, with the world collapsing around us, it seemed.” If it sounds like Rob is frustrated and apprehensive about the current state of the world, that’s because he is. When asked if he shared some of Hex Wives writer Ben Blacker’s anger, Sheridan’s response was simply a nod and “little bit, yeah.”

It’s in from that frustration that High Level was born. “It’s great to have an outlet where you can take all these things you’re frustrated about and not just scream it into the void, but turn it into a story people will read.” Still, Sheridan noted that the story will be distanced from current events (it’s post-post-apocalyptic, after all — here in reality, we are probably still a couple years from the apocalypse), but it will still have plenty to say about the current state of affairs. “It’s a lot more about people who’ve lost their past, and the story gradually unveils what happened — which will tie into where we’re at right now.”

This is Sheridan’s first foray into the world of comic books, a recurring theme in DC Vertigo’s relaunch, which has given comics outsiders a platform to tell a new brand of story. However, Sheridan is far from a new artist. He’s a photographer, graphic and video artist, best known for his work with Nine Inch Nails on their 2005 video for “The Hand That Feeds.”

In the panel, he was asked what intrigued him about the comic book medium. Since much of his work in other mediums has been abstract (Sheridan is known for his “glitch art”), he said “as an art director, it’s storytelling in abstract ways — it makes you feel something without defined narrative elements. This was an opportunity to take that feel and put it in something story and character driven.”

That’s a big part of what draws Rob Sheridan to pop art in general. “That’s what I like so much about pop art — it’s a fantastic way to tell a story that’s personal and emotional,” he explained. “Everything you’ve seen, from Star Wars to Harry Potter — it’s about a thing, but it’s also about something much bigger.”

High Level will be released in February 2019. Check out newly released artwork from the first issue below.