The Secret Origin of John Constantine's First Appearance

John Constantine was introduced in Saga of the Swamp Thing because the art team wanted to keep [...]

John Constantine was introduced in Saga of the Swamp Thing because the art team wanted to keep drawing Sting.

It is pretty well-known that the look of John Constantine was based on Sting as he appeared in the film Quadrophenia, but artist Stephen Bissette took to Facebook recently to clear up some misconceptions and share some details about the genesis of one of the most popular Vertigo characters ever created.

After author and critic Rich Handley asked whether there was any truth to a John Constantine appearance that prefigured his unnamed, silent cameo appearance in Saga of the Swamp Thing #25, Bissette joined the comments thread to answer.

"Nope, it all started in the first story in the Jason Blood/Demon run," he wrote. "There was no appearance prior to his standing behind Abby after the salesman and the, met."

Commenters offered a number of possible alternate "first appearances" for the character, including an issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Bissette was having none of it.

"Alan hadn't even concieved of Constantine before we drew Sting in that background panel of Saga of the Swamp Thing #25," Bissette wrote. "We alerted Alan at the time, via snail-mail exchanges of letters, 'You better do something with him, because we're not going to stop drawing him.' Nobody at DC knew anything about it at the time — not even Karen Berger, our editor."

A year later, Constantine would appear for his first named, speaking role, and a star wars born.

After playing a supporting role in Swamp Thing for a while, Constantine would get his own title, Hellblazer, which would go on for 300 issues before Vertigo cancelled the series so that the character could join the DC Universe proper in 2011. A Constantine book has been in almost constant publication since then under the main-line DC banner.

The character has also been a success in other media: a 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves got a lukewarm critical and box office reception, but has a dedicated base of fans who claim it was underrated. In 2014, John Constantine debuted on TV, in a series for NBC starring Matt Ryan. The show only lasted one season, but Ryan has continued to play the character ever since, appearing in the Justice League Dark animated movie as well as a Constantine animated series for CW Seed. He had an appearance as Constantine on Arrow, which ultimately led to his first being a guest, and now a series regular, on DC's Legends of Tomorrow. He is rumored to be the main character in a planned Justice League Dark live-action movie which has been in development hell for years.