The Increasingly Blurred Line Between DC and Vertigo

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By Todd Allen

DIALH Cv6 195x300 The Increasingly Blurred Line Between DC and VertigoWhen the new 52 was launched, there was a little eyebrow-raising at the extent to which DC was raiding the Vertigo creator roster.  The Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were all staffed by writers of a Vertigo pedigree with Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder and Brian Azzarello.  I’ll grant you Morrison does a little more superhero work (pun intended), but it was noticeable and a lot of people thought that Animal Man and Swamp Thing were really Vertigo books that just happened to play in the superhero world.

Have you taken a look at Vertigo’s blog lately?

Just glancing at the first page of it:

DAVID LAPHAM JOINS DIAL H AS GUEST ARTIST (also posted on the DC blog)

OK, Karen Berger is editing that one and it surely reads like a Vertigo book.  I’d heartily recommend it for anyone who liked Morrison’s Doom Patrol run.  It’s supposed to be a “normal” DC book, though.

PREVIEW MONDAYS: BATGIRL #12, BATMAN #12, BATMAN AND ROBIN #12 AND FAIREST #6
PREVIEW MONDAYS: BATWING #12, DETECTIVE COMICS #12, JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #12 AND SWEET TOOTH #36

Again, cross-posted with the DC blog.  Nothing wrong with promoting all the books at the same time, even thought it’s weird seeing the Bat-family on the Vertigo page.

CELEBRATE “THE DARK KNIGHT RISES” DAY DIGITALLY TOMORROW!
CELEBRATE “THE DARK KNIGHT RISES” DAY IN COMIC BOOK SHOPS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA TOMORROW

Those two are promoting the Batman: Earth One graphic novel.  Yes, that seems a strange thing for the Vertigo blog to me, too.

DC ENTERTAINMENT ATTENDS THE DARK KNIGHT RISES PREMIERE IN NYC

Neil Gaiman was there and in the picture.  Neil = Vertigo, even if it’s a Batman post.

PREVIEW MONDAYS: WONDER WOMAN #11 AND FABLES #119

Another where they’re just putting all the previews in one post, but I chuckle a little more at this one, since Wonder Woman could easily be a Vertigo book right now.  I also think that’s my favorite ongoing book from DC, so no slight intended.

Was this supposed to be a Vertigo comic?  I don’t recall having heard Vertigo’s name attached to it, but perhaps I missed that announcement.

Now, you might be asking yourself “are there no just plain Vertigo announcement on the Vertigo blog?”  Yes, there are.  Of the 10 stories on the first page of the Vertigo blog, there are two stories that are strictly Vertigo in nature:

DOWNLOAD A FREE COPY OF HELLBLAZER #1
SDCC 2012: VERTIGO: FABLES

Has it just been a slow month for Vertigo news, coming after Comicon?  Possibly.  There’s no denying the Vertigo’s blog has a LOT of DC content on it, just like there are a lot of DCU books that feel like Vertigo titles.  If they’re going to post Dial H For Hero news, they really ought to post the Animal Man / Swamp Thing crossover announcements, too.

I have no special insights into how or why it is.  I just think it’s interesting to see how DC’s communications people are routing news through the Vertigo channel.

Comments

  1. who cares?

  2. Thomas Wayne says:

    What Vertigo needs is one of two things: 1 -the next 100 Bullets or Y the Last Man or Preacher or Scalped to come along and give Vertigo its next great series. Vertigo is at its strongest when there are multiple series that blow people away, not just one or two.
    2 – They need to pull a page (albeit a short sighted page for the most part, but a page nonetheless) from Marvel and take Batman, Lobo, The Demon, Green Arrow or whomever over to the Vertigo line and do a mature audiences series just like Marvel did with the Punisher and is starting to do again with Wolverine.
    A serious, all detective truly gritty crime series from Vertigo starring Batman would be awesome. You could set it in the 40’s(Batman NOIR) or 70’s The Streets of Gotham) or present day and make it cool as hell. Or perhaps even a Superman series, one in which Superman has to deal with real life and death and politics and religion and so on. Whatever character or characters they use just make it a top notch book that is not part of the NEW 52 universe and follows the Vertigo tradition of solid (usually adult themed) story telling and entertainment.

  3. Johnny Memeonic says:

    I thought imprints like Vertigo were being done away with at every major publisher except for Image (no offense, but Vanity Press Inc.) due to the companies wanting to own the next Walking Dead completely.

    So in other words they don’t want to share the money with creators just like in the old days, but at least now they are being upfront about it instead of putting contracts on the back of a paycheck.

  4. DC has stated the Django Unchained book will be published with the Vertigo label.

  5. Apollo9000 says:

    Vertigo released 4 new books back in March. 2 of them are still going but that’s the most that is being said about them. 1 was an ongoing that turned into a miniseries once the reviews and sales of the 1st issue came in. 1 is a mini series that is critical darling with low sales.

    Sweet Tooth moves towards it’s conclusion. American Vampire continues on. Unwritten moves with quiet praise. Fairest increases the Fables brand (the closest thing Vertigo has to The Walking Dead). Hellblazer represents as the flagship Vertigo title. Punk Rock Jesus is the truth.

    Much like with their film division, I think DC simply doesn’t know what to do with Vertigo.

    No one will bring their creator owned properties to them because of the weak contracts in contrast to working with Image or doing a Kickstarter drive.

    Most of the creators with Vertigo books are working on DCU 52 books as well.

    Perhaps I’m wrong and DC does know what to do with Vertigo and that is nothing. Let it falter til they can justify ending the imprint.

  6. Mike L. says:

    Rockabilly Porno Superman will save Vertigo.

  7. Swamp Thing and Animal Man were DC books long before Vertigo was formed. The new 52 has been kinda focused on bringing back the characters to their roots and then adding something. so it’s no surprise they are taking Vertigo Characters who would fit well into the superhero mold if ya ask me. Love the article too btw Todd great work as usual.

  8. jacob goddard says:

    Vertigo served its very important purpose back when the fans and the industry needed. That time has passed. Time to let it go.
    It was a great time, but the British invasion is over and comic tastes have changed.

  9. The Vertigo universe is cheapened but the regular DC universe. For instance if you are playing in the same sandbox as that stupid looking “H’el on Earth” Superman storyline then you by default look stupid too. Keep them as far apart as possible.

  10. I get the feeling DC possibly didn’t quite know what to do with the Vertigo imprint immediately following the migration of Swamp thing and the others into the DCU, but I think they might have an idea of how to go forward. I think it was in a recent Newsarama interview where asked Bob Wayne or another DC exec was asked about the future of Vertigo, and they talked about the previously mentioned Django Unchained book, and a couple of other upcoming releases to show how the imprint isn’t going anywhere. What struck me about that answer was that most of the projects mentioned were of the Graphic Novel variety. Maybe they’re keeping their other upcoming series close to the vest for now, but I wonder if Vertigo might be shifting their focus to more OGN type projects, as opposed to monthlies. Aside from the American Vampire and Fables franchises, they don’t have much going in the way of high selling ongoings. They’ve found success with the Batman and Superman Earth One OGN’s, maybe they want to give it a go with Vertigo series.

  11. Vertigo is doing that with their Fables series as December will see an original (not reprinted from the monthly series) hardcover graphic novel: Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland.

  12. Saber Tooth Tiger Mike says:

    “It was a great time, but the British invasion is over and comic tastes have changed.” Magical realism, like grunge, is so 1990s. I get it. At the same time there seems to be plenty of people who want to see modern writers do pastiches of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man.

    Besides its obviously dated name/brand, what Vertigo’s problem is, is that nothing has replaced the British Invasion. It’s like there’s a dearth of creators who can do sophisticated adult fiction or non-fiction well, and if there isn’t , maybe Vertigo is finding it impossible attract them.

    The problem is self-reinforcing but comes down to two things:

    1. a lack of readers
    2. a lack of talent

  13. There is nothing dated about smart comics.

  14. “It was a great time, but the British invasion is over and comic tastes have changed.”

    “Besides its obviously dated name/brand, what Vertigo’s problem is, is that nothing has replaced the British Invasion”

    Great & popular Vertigo titles like Fables, Y: The Last Man, 100 Bullets and DMZ have nothing to do with the British Invasion. I definitely think there still is a place for Vertigo Comics, but the question in new recruiting talent, as someone else pointed out if Image or Kick Starter might be a better place for creator owned comics.

    I’ve enjoyed both Northlanders & iZombie, which are both coming to a close.

    American Vampire & the Unwritten are both great comics, either which I think have the potential to be real stand out Vertigo comics.

    The danger with promoting too much regular DC Comics material in the Vertigo blog, is from my experience a lot of Vertigo readers aren’t as interested in superheroes.

    As someone who generally reads trades, I tend to avoid the Vertigo blog as it’s too much information about current individual issues. They should really look a separate feed just for readers who read tradepaperbacks, which make up a large chunk of Vertigo readers.

  15. jonboy says:

    DC needs the Vertigo imprint so that they can continue to publish niche books that don’t fall into the DCU.

    Also, there are plenty of people that will turn up their noses at something with a DC logo on it, but will fully embrace it if it has a Vertigo label.

    And for those who thing Vertigo comics don’t sell? They do. Rather well. But primarily as tpbs. They have a different market, and they succeed there.

  16. Vertigo is still very relevant, Fables, Hellblazer, The Unwritten, Punk Rock Jesus, and Saucer Country are all books that are very, very good. It doesn’t need to be a publisher with tons of books, it just needs to keep sticking to it’s guns and try these non-superhero comics that are bringing the Comic Fan more than they are used to. It has always been clear to me the line between Vertigo and DC and I’m sure we will continue to get great series from this publisher. Just because Scalped and Sweet Tooth are ending doesn’t mean the brand is going anywhere.

  17. Caged Wisdom says:

    Anyone who isn’t reading Unwritten is missing out.

  18. James says:

    Vertigo may not set the charts on fire with their monthlies – but their trades (some of them!) sell great guns – and continue to sell month after month and year after year!!
    I would love to see trade sales for American Vampire, Fables, Scalped, Y, transmet, sandman. Some of these have to have sold 20-100k in trades alone! And when the ‘best sellers’ are seliing 100-200k – then these are AMAZING sales for a niche market. Do a Vertigo trade sales chart Beat!! :)

    As long as there is great content coming out of it – Vertigo shouldn’t go anywhere! Hell, Image are on fire at the moment by taking a leaf out of Vertigos book!

  19. I don’t understand how Vertigo can flounder when publishers like Image publish hit after hit after hit. The material is out there, people want it, why aren’t they publishing it?

  20. Am I the only one that just doesn’t “get” Dial H? I love that DC is trying out more “dark” titles, but this book has been a mess for me. It barely makes any sense. I was a HUGE Grant Morrison Doom Patrol fan, but this book feels like he’s trying to rip off the same ideas (not provide the same “feel”.) It not only doesn’t work as well, but I leave every issue going “what just happened here?!” Maybe it’s just me…

  21. Vertigo has always gone through cycles, whether they be principals of what an actual Vertigo reader wants…or what any set group of creators are exploring. Yes, there was the “British Invasion” era of Vertigo and that ended about 10 years ago. There’s also been the wild influx of talent that came along as Alex Alonso was there, producing 100 Bullets, Unknown Solider, War and Western anthologies and so many interesting side-winding paths.

    Then there was the mythology of Fables, and Books of Magic crowd and the gritty realism of books like DMZ, Scalped, and Northlanders. All of which had their own set of super-star creators that emerged.

    So I think we’re just on the cusp of another wave.
    Karen Berger has been an exceptional editorial director. She knows when a proposal has the right stuff, and knows enough to let her team explore the silver in the creative vein. I’ve seen her in action, and she’s just awesome…so put some trust in her vision. Of the new titles making the grade these days, American Vampire is a continuing hit, and I’d give odds that Saucer County starts building that body count to being a grass-roots hit (especially through the election…).

    Vertigo goes through evolutions, this is just the beginning of the next phase!
    (Oh, did anyone say Gaiman?!?)

  22. I agree with the observation about Vertigo’s cycles. It seems like every few years a few best-selling series come to an end and people start predicting the death of the imprint. But so far they have always found something new, while the big hits keep selling in the backlist. I do think the problem with new monthlies not getting much traction is serious, though, because their publishing model still relies on that as part of the mix. And I say that as someone who trade waits almost exclusively these days.

  23. I would say that Vertigo’s overall quality has declined steadily since Berger and Young pulled it together back when though. Vertigo lost the last of their great editors many years ago, and they played as large (if not moreso) a role in Vertigo’s definition as did the creators. The current crop are scared shitless of what to do with the imprint and its increasingly shoddy contracts.

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