Is There a Need for Vertigo These Days?

Vertigo logo

Rumors were circulating over the past week that DC will be shutting down Vertigo. The imprint, which launched in 1993, was created for more mature content, and over the years, it’s been the home of some revolutionary titles (mostly horror and fantasy related), including Sandman, Swamp Thing, and Preacher. However, these days, the Comic Code Authority no longer exists, so there’s less need for a strong wall between types of comics; the visionary editors who gave Vertigo its unique feel are long gone with the move to the West Coast; and DC has created Black Label for mature content. (Although with the whole see-Batman’s-parts controversy in Batman: Damned #1, that imprint has also been on shaky ground.)

Heidi MacDonald has lots of history and speculation at the link above, worth reading. With new Warner owner AT&T, it shouldn’t be surprising that a lot of things are in a state of flux, as people figure out the new relationships and goals and politics. New owners may have large expectations, and DC’s regular comics line has nothing much outstanding these days, even with a big-name catch.

Comics for young readers are the future, with huge sales dominated by Scholastic as a publisher. DC’s working hard to crack this market, but with mixed efforts so far.

As more options have arisen for different types of comics aimed at different ages of readers, with too many publishers these days, what does DC’s random lot of horror comics for adults have to offer? Particularly if creators aren’t convinced of their commitment to the lot? What makes Vertigo unique or needed, even if the punny name is great? (Vertigo = dizzy = DC, get it?)

Retailer Brian Hibbs has an insightful first comment at the post, too.

I think that Vertigo is THE ONLY TIME IN COMICS HISTORY that “creating” an imprint has actually EVER genuinely worked. And that’s largely because it took a number of already existing titles, gathered them together like a bundle of sticks, making them all stronger together, rather than trying to manufacture something out of whole cloth from scratch.

He goes on to say that contracts that demand more ability to “exploit the properties” drove away creators, as more options for publishing arose that took less of the rights.



3 comments

  • Vertigo also became DC’s home for mature, non-super-hero, creator-owned comics, but Image is fulfilling that role with far more success these days.

  • James Schee

    There just really isn’t a need for Vertigo these days, as the need for a way to tell more mature stories with superhero (or related) characters is already being done in most of their regular series now. Unless its just to put nudity in them, which isn’t that mature usually, and with reaction Batman The Damned got (gasp who’d of thought higher ups might not want a character that appears on lunchboxes and kids toys being nude in an official comic) might not be a need for it either.

    Plus creators can get better deals elsewhere for their own stuff.

  • Jim Perreault

    Ironically, I think that a few too many media successes is what killed Vertigo. When that happened, DC proper took over and drove away the editors that were the heart and soul of the imprint.

    These days, I get my Vertigo style material from either Image or from Berger Books, which has been very solid.

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