Congratulations, Karen

DC Comics has promoted Karen Berger, longtime head of Vertigo, to the position of Senior Vice President — Executive Editor, Vertigo, where she continues to report directly to Paul Levitz.

Excerpt from the press release:

In recent years, Vertigo has solidified its already prestigious reputation with the publication of a number of critically acclaimed original graphic novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman and some of the finest international artists, The Quitter by Harvey Pekar and Dean Haspiel, and The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky and Kent Williams. This fall, Vertigo will be publishing two much anticipated original graphic novels: Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon and Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham and an array of stellar artists. If Vertigo was measured as a separate publisher, it would have been the fourth largest American comic book publisher in 2005, with market share exceeded only by Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse.

Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t hear very many people talking about Quitter or Fountain, and the comments I did hear didn’t fit the criteria of “critically acclaimed”. But they’re probably talking about book press, since that’s the focus now.

My tastes have never matched Berger’s very closely, though, once she went to Vertigo. (Before that, in the DCU, I loved Wonder Woman, The Legion of Super-Heroes, and Amethyst.) I am looking forward to Pride, just based on the gorgeous preview art I’ve seen. The last few Vertigo titles I remember really liking were things like Midnight, Mass. that, if rumor is to be believed, she tried to kill.

That fact about Vertigo being so big if counted separately says as much about the expectations of the comic industry as about Vertigo, I think. Next PR paragraph:

In addition, Vertigo has entered a new phase of growth with the success of two major motion pictures based on its properties. In 2005, Warner Bros. Pictures released Constantine, directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, and Tilda Swinton. Based on the comic book Hellblazer, the film was the first to be based on a property from DC’s Vertigo imprint and has grossed more than $200 million worldwide since its release. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. Pictures released V for Vendetta, a theatrical release starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving and directed by James McTeigue. Produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski Brothers from a script by the Wachowski Brothers, the film was adapted from the critically acclaimed graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Both projects are based on material originally acquired and edited by Berger.

And that’s what makes you powerful these days — a movie slate, especially if you can take credit for its development. Notice that they don’t list grosses for Vendetta (and I had no idea Constantine was so successful — I’m going to have to try and see it). Levitz drives the point home:

Levitz commented, “Karen has built Vertigo into an imprint which is simultaneously one of comics’ leading creative and commercial successes, and an important resource for the creation of projects we can move from comics to entertain audiences in other media. She remains the field’s strongest editor and it’s my personal pleasure to recognize her achievements with this promotion.”

I have to wonder, though — why now? Could it have anything to do with Bob Shreck moving over to Vertigo, perhaps clarifying who’s still running the show? Anyway, Berger has had a long and significant career in comics, so I congratulate her.

2 Responses to “Congratulations, Karen”

  1. Hyel Says:

    Constantine was successful, but then it has very little to do with the Hellblazer comic. (The only reason to see it is Tilda Swinton’s Gabriel, in my opinion.) Low gross or not, V for Vendetta, which was true to the comic it was bases on, was also a much better film – but too complicated and even controversial in its message to be a big hit.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I’m supposed to be getting a copy of the V DVD soon — I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m looking forward to it for just those reasons.




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