It has been announced thru various sites that DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint will be shutting down by year’s end. It appears that DC is reformatting their brands for readers and all Mature readers books will be all moved to the “DC Black Label” brand.
Why is this such a big deal to a lot of people? Well, you have to look at where Vertigo started. In 1993, DC announced that it was forming the Vertigo imprint, under editor Karen Berger, with it’s focus being on mature readers & stories that didn’t fit under the typical superhero universe. For a company like DC to take a shot doing this was a risky gamble. Was there a market for these adult stories? How would the books be accepted? Only in small instances have comic audiences seen this type of storytelling from DC. Think “The Killing joke” or “Watchmen”. Those stories were Vertigo before there was an imprint.
That being said, Vertigo kicked off with Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, & Doom Patrol (among a few others) being moved to the imprint with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman being the flagship book for Vertigo. Shortly after, Death: the High Cost of Living, a Sandman Spinoff limited series, kicked off new stories under the imprint. Other books would come and go under the Vertigo banner.
Other noteworthy books under the imprint: Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn & Pia Guerra, 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso, Fables by Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham, Scalped by Jason Aaron & R. M. Guéra, iZombie by Chris Roberson & Michael Allred along with arguably the other cornerstone of Vertigo: Preacher by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillion. All vastly different stories, All vastly creative and well done.
Vertigo had a great run out the gate, but experienced some shakeups after Berger left the imprint in 2013. The line continued but seemed to have never recovered that initial spark. Fast forward to this past week and news broke about it’s demise.
It’s lasting impact can be easily summed up: Vertigo allowed creators to tell great stories for a major publisher without having to fall in line to normal hero storytelling. Independent comics have been doing this for years, but when DC took a shot on Vertigo, it brought a lot of new readers to this type of stories that may never have taken a shot beforehand.
It also showed TV and Film companies there is a place for these stories as well. There would be no Happy on SyFy, No Izombie on CW, No Lucifer on Fox/Netflix, No Y the Last Man for FX and no Preacher on AMC if not for the Vertigo line.
Karen Berger and all the creators involved with DC Vertigo deserves a lot of thanks and credit for establishing that this type of comic line can work and make an impact that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.