This is the first Vertigo graphic novel I ever read – having heard about the legendary mature comics line through word of mouth, I thought Hellblazer would be the first series from it I’d try, given the sheer morbid tone that underpinned the cover artwork of every trade. It looked engaging, so I picked up the opening set of stories in the Hellblazer ongoing, Original Sins.
While I didn’t think Original Sins was the most coherent of collected editions, it nevertheless does a tremendous job of portraying broken, Thatcher-governed Britain of the time through the eyes of the always overwrought John Constantine character. John Ridgway’s art is a perfect match for the type of downbeat-yet-defiant Constantine that Delano shaped in these opening stories, creating a template for the character that would be followed by other writers for years to come.
Original Sins gave me the taste for mature comic books, leading me to try Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Swamp Thing and Dave Gibbons’ The Originals within the same year. In general, I believe the line has been creatively buoyant since its inception, and much of that credible groundwork came from the early Hellblazer stories.