Karen Berger steps down at Vertigo

201212031620 Karen Berger steps down at Vertigo
After a 20+ year career that changed comics and gave it some of its most iconic stories, Karen Berger is stepping down at Vertigo. Official PR just went out. Veteran staffers taking over the imprint could probably include Shelly Bond, Will Dennis, and Mark Doyle, all of whom have introduced lasting books at the imprint.

Rumors of the end of the Vertigo imprint have been rife for the last year, and it was clear that the New 52 was where the action was.

Developing.

Karen Berger, Executive Editor & Senior Vice President of DC Entertainment’s Vertigo brand, has announced she is stepping down from her post after nearly 20 years at the helm of the award-winning literary imprint. She will remain on through March 2013 where she will be assisting in the transition to a new leadership team which includes veteran staffers whom she has mentored over the years.

Karen is responsible for shepherding critically-acclaimed and best-selling publishing titles including perennial favorites: THE SANDMAN, HELLBLAZER, V FOR VENDETTA. FABLES, PREACHER, THE INVISIBLES, 100 BULLETS, Y – THE LAST MAN and AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Vertigo has published nearly 300 new literary properties during the last 20 years. Berger notes she is ready for a professional change and is looking forward to pursuing exciting new opportunities.

“I’ve been incredibly proud to have provided a home where writers and artists could create progressive and provocative stories that broadened the scope of comics, attracting a new and diverse readership to graphic storytelling,” said Berger. “I’d like to thank all the many immensely talented creators who have helped make Vertigo into a daring and distinctive imprint and I’m grateful to everyone at DC Entertainment and the retail community for their support and commitment to Vertigo all these years. It’s been quite an honor.”

DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson stated, “We are extremely grateful for Karen’s commitment and dedication to Vertigo, its books and its incredibly talented team of staff and creators. In Vertigo she leaves a legacy to which we remain committed and on which we intend to build for the future. She will always be a deeply valued and respected member of the DC family.”

DC Entertainment is planning a celebration next year – to help salute Karen, her 33 years with the company and her many accomplishments, befitting her legendary status within DCE and across the publishing and comics industries.

 

Comments

  1. Shame, though the writing’s been on the wall for a while. Soon Vertigo will be nothing but American Vampire and Fables spinoffs.

  2. SniktSnakt says:

    There’s been rumblings the past few months over the changes happening @Vertigo, and NONE of them have been good (stricter creator contracts, higher quota number to remain a monthly etc.).

    The writing was on the wall, that Berger would soon exit, IMO. What’s the use of helming a sinking ship?!?

    Put a fork in the Vertigo imprint, they’re done…

  3. David Gallaher says:

    Breaks my heart to see Karen leave. She was the heart and soul of Vertigo.

  4. Can’t say I’m surprised, as DC has basically been slowly stripping Vertigo apart over the last year or so. But DC’s loss will be a HUGE gain for some other publisher. I can only imagine what an asset she’d be companies with a strong creator-owned bent like Dark Horse.

  5. Laurie S. Sutton says:

    Congratulations to Karen on a job extremely well done. She and I came up in the biz together and I’m so proud to see all that she has accomplished.

  6. Thanks for the great comics.

  7. Karen, thanks for your involvement in all of the Vertigo comics I’ve read and sold over these past many years.

  8. Karen Berger gave me the space to draw stories other publishers wouldn’t consider and she gave my comix career a nice big kick in the butt when it really needed it. Viva La Vertigo!

  9. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Guess this was inevitable given how Vertigo has been slowly phased out for some time now.

    I’m sure the higher ups at Warners were pretty pissed when they found out she started a line for critically acclaimed properties but did not cheat the creators out of a controlling interest in them.

  10. I’d also like to thank Berger for all the great work over the years, and for all the talents she’s helped mentor.

    I wouldn’t really blame this on recent changes Warners and Didio, etc. The imprint has been stymied commercially and creatively for some time.

  11. Martin Pasko says:

    Look for Vertigo to be totally gone within a year. This has been coming ever since WB realized almost a decade ago that McDonald’s doesn’t want Constantine Happy Meals. That’s all any of it is about, folks.

  12. I think that this represents a great opportunity… for Karen Berger, for whatever publisher she might work with, and for any creators who have the good fortune to be involved.

  13. It’s the end of an era. Karen Berger was there at the beginning of a great flowering of American comics, starting with Alan Moore taking over Saga of the Swamp Thing in 1984, and that time now seems to be coming to an end, certainly at the Big Two companies – although it’s still blooming elsewhere. I hope she finds a safe harbour, and that her next venture is at least as important as her last one.

  14. I’m very sorry to hear this, Karen is a rare person, and her influence at DC will be strongly missed by the retail community.

    -B

  15. jonboy says:

    darn.
    Karen – Thank you for all the years you put in at Vertigo and DC. It was the Vertigo imprint that kept me reading comics up until the present day. That imprint helped usher in a more literary form that is just now being emulated by other companies (Icon, Image). Vertigo helped “save” the comics industry from the moribund crappola that was the 90′s excess.
    So once again, thank you for that.

  16. Chadlee says:

    Let’s celebrate this as the start of a new chapter in an already celebrated career. My hope:
    Karen Berger + IDW = exciting possibilities

  17. Douglas says:

    Loved her work from LOSH to the present. Thank you! Good luck in the future! Maybe Legendary?

  18. I hope her the best and repeats the same success in her future endeavors. I think Vertigo is in capable hands and we will continue to see more compelling projects in the future.

  19. Torsten Adair says:

    If Ms. Berger stays in comics, I suspect it will be as an editor of original graphic novels, not comic books.

    Penguin would be the most likely candidate… they are just starting a graphic novel list (previously scattered around the catalog), and could use Ms. Berger’s expertise to create an adult graphic novel list as interesting as Penguin’s prose catalog.

    Or she could retire from editing (she will be 55 in February) and follow other DC editors (O’Neil, Levitz) into the freelance world.

  20. The final death knell of a company that has embraced shoddy short-term fireworks over advanced rocketry.
    Ms. Berger should seriously consider calling in a lot of well-deserved favors to set up shop elsewhere.

  21. Xenos says:

    Well.. this is awful. As if Vertigo already didn’t seem doomed. Karen Berger’s little gem of a publishing department was the only decent thing left at DC… and now they lost their champion.

    Well… then… I can now maybe ignore everything at DC AOLTimeWarner Comics now if Vertigo goes.

    It’s all down to Dan DiDio and his little fanboy clubhouse and their silly little games.

    I guess publishing damn good comics with a good relationship with wonderful creators is a redundancy to the idiots who run the failed movie IP farm known as DC Entertainment.

    And.. Yeah. I would love to see her set up her own damn indie publisher. Hopefully she doesn’t have a bullshit Conan O’Brian contract with Warners that keeps her out of the game.

  22. I love Vertigo but I’m not sure what to say, if people won’t support the books in significant numbers it’s destined to go by the wayside.

  23. George Bush (not that one) says:

    The party really is over.

  24. Thanks to Karen Berger, as a young teenager Vertigo (specifically Sandman #50) introduced me to a world of comics outside of superheroes. From Vertigo I got introduced to independent comics.

    As for anyone expecting Vertigo to shut down their doors shortly, don’t forget that a new Sandman mini-series is coming out at the end of 2013. Those issues will easily be in the top 10 comics. The question is whoever replaces Karen, will they do anything with that publicity to try to get any of those readers to try out any of the other Vertigo series, or do they really want phase out Vertigo?

  25. Karen Berger’s work helped create a market for a store like ours to thrive in. Without her efforts, our customer base might not be as high as 40% female.
    We at Green Brain Comics hope that our industry is benefited by more of Karen Berger’s quality work in the near future and for many years to come.

  26. @Matthew: no doubt Sandman will sell well as a GN, but will it crack the top 10 in periodicals? I wasn’t reading comics when the Sandman ongoing was coming out, did it sell that well?

  27. Thomas Wayne says:

    This is the saddest news….Vertigo…In my opinion…produced arguably the best comics of the last 20 years (corresponding with Berger’s arrival, obviously)….My personal favs are 100 Bullets, Preacher, Scalped and Y The Last Man..but clearly there are so many more that have changed the face of comics..its hard to really assess their…and HER impact on the medium…she will be missed.

  28. Skyhawk says:

    Damn, Karen is one of the finest editors in the business.
    @Chadlee Yes with IDW, if not then Image.

  29. @Zach, Sandman started out really small but kept growing in sales until the very end. By the time the comic ended in January 1996, Sandman was DC’s top selling comic. If you look up sales for Sandman #75 (Diamond ranking via Comics Chronicles website), it was #5 in the top 10 beating out Batman, Superman, Action Comics, Detective Comics, etc.

    That said looking up Sandman issue #74 that came out in November 1995 it was at #11 in the top 10. DC comics that beat it that month include Batman, Action Comics, Superman: The Man of Steel, Adventures of Superman and a Green Latnern/Silver Surfer cross over.

    Still Sandman’s audience has grown a lot in those years and I imagine individual issues will top selling issue again.

  30. Eva Hopkins says:

    Ms. Berger was just a tremendous influence on comics as a whole. Vertigo was a huge boost to comics/graphic novels being taken more seriously as literature. Whatever she decides to do next I hope she sleeps well at night. She did a lot to usher tons of great art & writing into the world & has a happy legacy on that basis, already.

  31. Thanks to Karen for providing hours and hours of reading pleasures to me and thousands others readers. I hope Vertigo is not gone yet, there are still good books to be made,e ven if the imprint future doesn’t look bright seeing the poor traitement Dc is giving to Tim Hunter or Hellblazer. I have faith in the Sci-Fi books they plan to release in 2013.
    I wouldn’t mind paying a little more than 2.99$ for Verttigo titles. Making them come back to 22p would be a great move, I feel the 2p cut has been especially hurtfull to some series (not that much in the super hero titles were they only had probably to cut 1 or 2 boring splash pages)

  32. blacaucasian says:

    Vertigo is the thing that got me excited about comics, left me with a toe in the water when I was all but burnt out with reading anything else, and in Y the Last Man and Fables, re-introduced me to how great comics could be as a whole and re-kindled my love for them overall. While all evidence points too this being a possible death knell for Vertigo, (although I have to say if Will Dennis or Shelley Bond or Mark Doyle take over the reigns, there may be more then one card up any of their sleeves), I think this is the best possible thing that could happen for Karen Berger, who at this point is one of my favorite editors at DC of all time. I’ve never heard a bad word said about her and I truly believe that good will she holds with creators in the world could absolutely lead her to an amazing new career wherever she decides to go. People who name things like Dark Horse and IDW aren’t thinking big enough. Despite what sales numbers may show, the OGN’s Vertigo has been producing the last five years are among the best being put out today, and would like fit in great anywhere, for any major publisher that is willing to put real marketing money behind them. Hell, she’s one of the very few editors that could probably carry readers on her name alone. While it’s sad she’s leaving Vertigo, I’m happy that with a few less corporate restraints, and a little more independence she will continue to help to bring us all books we should be reading. I’m very excited to hear what she’ll be doing next.

  33. The thread that connects that unbelievable pedigree of books isn’t Vertigo, it’s Karen Berger. I met her at a reception once and she seemed astonished that me, some reader, even knew who she was, especially in a room full of big-time creators and egos. Glad that Editorial gets its due from fans. She is up there with Schwartz.

  34. Calvin Reid says:

    Obviously she will be missed at Vertigo but I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of karen Berger, who helped to usher in the era of original graphic novel publishing that we enjoy today. She deserves all the praise she’s getting on this comment file and it will be interesting to see where she lands. She’s a real icon in this business.

  35. While I certainly enjoyed some Vertigo titles more than others, one thing they had in common was the sense that there was a curator’s hand in the choices made for the imprint. None of the other “mature readers” comics quite have that. So I’m afraid for the loss of the imprint. DC has clearly been pulling away from it, and now it has lost its champion. But I am excited to see what Berger does next.

  36. A sad day.

    But what hurts that she has to find and teach her replacement about the Job.

    Obviously someone who will be pain less will chosen by DC as replacement.
    This happened at my father’s job at which himself and his friends who had worked in the same for over 40yrs were told to teach 16+ year olds the job which these older guys had learnt over that 40yrs. I must add that a food processing plant and a dingle misshap would catastrophic.
    I think Karen should leave before March 2013. Its a nail in the coffin for her from DC to stay on.
    -Aru

  37. Matthew A says:

    For comics readers who are roughly my age (early 40s), Karen Berger is arguably as important to our experience as the actual writers and artists who made the books. She helped open up the American “mainstream” at just the time many of us were moving away from superheroes but still loved the medium. She got us hooked on Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison and many, many others, which in turn encouraged us to seek out other mature comics work at other companies. Thanks for the all hard work, Karen!

  38. Chris A. says:

    It’s no surprise. Publishing as a whole is going the way of the Titanic. Even the NY Times announced it would soon be halting its print version. Unfortunately, digital media does not generate enough revenue to pay the rent or taxes for expensive office space, especially prime real estate in NYC.

    I remember Vertigo paying only $50 per page (plus royalties, if any were to be had) to artists 15 years ago. Karen is a great lady, but it’s all no surprise.

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