Vertigo Cancel Hellblazer; DC Announce Constantine

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Hellblazer, one of the longest-running books in mainstream comics history and one of Vertigo’s launch titles, will be cancelled in February 2013, with issue #300.

Although… cancelled may be the wrong word,  as DC say this will be the finale for the book, which has been overseen by an incredible range of writers and artists over the year. Current creative team Peter Milligan, Giuseppi Camuncoli and Stefano Landini will usher in the end for John Constantine this February, with a landmark issue #300.

John constantine Vertigo Cancel Hellblazer; DC Announce Constantine

Strangely enough though, DC have at the same time announced that Constantine will be getting his own eponymous series as a result, this time set inside the main DC universe. Taking the Constantine from Jeff Lemire and Mikel Janin’s Justice League Dark as the basis for the character, this new series will be be Robert Venditti and Renato Guedes.

This is a very interesting move, essentially taking a well-known property away from the mature imprint and into the mainstream universe. People have been recently wondering about the future of Vertigo, now the publisher seems to be becoming more and more invested in revisiting old successes than in building new ones. Well, now their core title is ending, to be reborn outside their jurisdiction.

Will Constantine be the same now he can’t swear or use magical orgasms to stop demons? We’ll have to see. I’m sad to see Hellblazer go – but if anyone is going to finish the series, I’m glad that it’ll be Peter Milligan.

Comments

  1. Jerry Smith says:

    Incredibly disappointing, but I suppose nothing lasts forever. I’ve been with Hellblazer since issue #1, and can honestly say it has consistently been good for the entire run. What other run of 300 issues in comics can you say that about? Cerebus? Any others? The present creative team is one of the best. I’ll miss the book and character, as I have no interest in a watered-down “New 52″ version. Bye Bye, Johnny!

  2. I’m objective in the post above, but anything goes in the comment sections – and I agree wholly with Josh Flanagan’s post on iFanboy: http://ifanboy.com/articles/hellblazer-flames-out-replaced-by-all-new-constantine/

  3. This makes me so unhappy. I worry about the future of vertigo.

  4. After they already reintegrated Swamp Thing to much success in the New 52, people have been predicting this.

  5. Vertigo is certainly coming to an end, but if people will keep reading the stories about the characters they love, just in the DC universe, than I don’t really see a problem. Sure, preacher and Transmetropolitan were works of genius, but they were limited runs and once finished, only exist as commodities in collected form. DC doesn’t need a separate imports for this, so why not amalgamate it all together?

  6. *sigh* If there’s one thing the Didio-Lee-Johns regime has been making abundantly clear, it’s that they just absolutely do not get what the appeal is of their own characters, to the point where when they get it right, it seems almost on accident. I mean, I don’t even read Hellblazer and it’s still obvious to me that casting that character–a character who just starred in an R-rated movie a few years ago, fer crissakes!–in an all-ages superhero universe is going to result in watered-down mush that will appeal to no one.

  7. Earth-2 Chad says:

    Like Jerry, I’ve been with this title since the first issue, and I’m very sorry to see it go. It’s maintained a pretty consistent level of quality over the years while churning through an amazing roster of writers — Peter Milligan, Jason Aaron, Garth Ennis, Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey, Paul Jenkins, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Jamie Delano (I’m sure I’m forgetting someone). I’m somewhat dubious about a New 52 Constantine title, but I may give it a try. But that guy seemed a lot different from my guy in the one issue of Justice League dark that I read.

  8. Having seen the New 52 version of John Constantine in Justice League Dark, he ISN’T the character I love even though he was being written by the same writer). Once Hellblazer ends, the character i love won’t be being published any more.

  9. This is kind of a shame…but considering Constantine was originally introduced into the shared universe of DC in Swamp Thing (during that strange time when that title and even Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was somewhat apart of the DC Universe) I don’t see this as a huge change. I’ll even say I enjoyed Constantine the most in Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic, especially when he was interacting with The Phantom Stranger. “The Trench Coat Brigade”.

    But…
    I just don’t want Vertigo to go…

  10. Oh DC, why is it so hard to understand that you can do Constantine in the DCU and STILL DO Hellblazer at Vertigo?

    After all, you do Superman and Action Comics in the DCU, and Superman Family Adventures for kids. Ditto Green Lantern and Green Lantern the Animated Series comics.

    Fans DO NOT have any trouble telling them apart.

  11. Any chance we can get Frank Tieri and Dan Jurgens to work on the book?

  12. Does he smoke in Justice League Dark?

  13. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone

    Didn’t that Moore chap have something to do with this, as well?

  14. jonboy says:

    I just stop and think. If everyone that is complaining about Hellblazer getting cancelled, actually BOUGHT Hellblazer, then it probably wouldn’t have been cancelled.

  15. Earth-2 Chad says:

    Of course. BUT he never wrote the Hellblazer comic.

  16. Earth-2 Chad says:

    Really? It’s not like there are 50,000 comments on here. For all you know we are all buying the comic. (I am.)

  17. The only thing keeping Vertigo on life support is the Sandman backlist.

  18. I don’t think it is being cancelled for sales since those have been fairly steady for years along with the trade market editions. I think they are getting rid of it so in their minds there won’t be any confusion between Hellblazer and Constintine but agree that they could have both. Wonder which of the 52 current titles is being cancelled so this one can be brought in to the Dark line-up.

  19. Earth-2 Chad says:

    This is kind of a shame…but considering Constantine was originally introduced into the shared universe of DC in Swamp Thing (during that strange time when that title and even Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was somewhat apart of the DC Universe) I don’t see this as a huge change.

    Trust me, it’s a huge change. For one thing, I seriously doubt that we’ll ever see the New 52 Constantine trading angel semen for a Bible made of foreskins.

  20. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Hellblazer’s sales (while at vanity publishing levels) have been low, but steadily low, for years and DC obviously didn’t have a problem with this or it would have been cancelled years ago.

    This means it’s being axed to further consolidate the DC Universe under the New 52 banner. Also doesn’t hurt that DC has been working since the relaunch to finally put Vertigo up against the wall.

    I know a lot of you have good memories of 90’s Brit-indie Vertigo titles, but it’s kind of hard for Warner Bros to make a billion dollars off a comic movie about a property they don’t own/didn’t steal.

  21. Earth-2 Chad says:

    Others who did write for the Hellblazer comic: Warren Ellis, Andy Diggle …

  22. blacaucasian says:

    “Hellblazer’s sales (while at vanity publishing levels) have been low, but steadily low, for years and DC obviously didn’t have a problem with this or it would have been cancelled years ago.”

    Actually, this isn’t necessarily true. Numbers for this book are currently hovering just above 9,000 copies a month, at the lowest point they likely have ever been for this book. Considering DC has been cancelling books with twice these sales, and likely reason being they aren’t profitable to publish as monthlies, and couple that with the fact that I can’t recall a time when I’ve seen a recent or older Hellblazer trade show up on something like the NYT bestseller list (although I could be wrong if some can find it – but even then if it goes on it doesn’t seem to stay long), the trades likely are not selling enough to equal the dismal monthly numbers.

    My guess is the only this book was allowed to stay on as long as it did was because it was the only “legacy” book still around at Vertigo and so that they could get to that milestone 300 number. With the Sandman book coming out and Fables pretty much established as the “franchise” book for Vertigo at this point, it’s likely that there was just no justification to keep publishing this book monthly anymore. Given the moderate success they’ve shown with a lot of the Vertigo concepts in JLDark and great success they have had with moving Swamp Thing over to the DCU, it’s likely that having a Constantine book based in the DCU selling between 25k and 40k a month (and later trade sales boosting profitability) vs a book selling 9k a month and being published on essentially keeping the trademark visible to some sort of audience seems kind of a no-brainer. Seems an example of “this thing isn’t working this way anymore so lets try to make it work like these things over here that we’ve seemed to have some success with.”

    People saying one book replacing the other is the answer aren’t looking at the numbers. I can pretty much guarantee you if they had a chance to publish 2 Constantine books that were both consistently selling between 25k and 40K, they would absolutely publish both. IT would be foolish of them no to.

  23. blacaucasian says:

    I doubt it. I absolutely believe in this case people complaining about it being cancelled are people reading it. and at 9,000 people a month, that’s just simply not enough people to justify DC keeping publishing this book.

  24. Alistair Robb says:

    Aaaand that’s me finished with DC. Ah well, it was OK while it lasted, excellent there around the late 80s through the early 90s and the OK again, certainly better than most of the Marvel pap. But my last holdout over at DC was Hellblazer now there putting in the John Constantine-lite I’m out of here.

  25. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Actually, this isn’t necessarily true. Numbers for this book are currently hovering just above 9,000 copies a month, at the lowest point they likely have ever been for this book.

    Hellblazer’s sales have been in the 9000-10,000 range for the past few years. Therefore I must ask what part of my statement “isn’t necessarily true?”

  26. Alistair Robb says:

    see my comment down below. I moved to Brazil 20 years ago and cut back my comnics buying seriously, the only comic I never cut was Hellblazer.

  27. Sigh, it begins indeed. Sales have been steady for the last few years, and trades – as with all Vertigo tbps – sell solidly enough.

    The bottom line is that Warner Bros won’t want multiple versions of characters running about, as in simple comic book terms alone, there is no harm in having JLDark, Hellblazer, AND Constantine all printing. With that desire to strictly control IP, I worry for Vertigo as poor single sales could be used to justify shutting any of the books down – or transferring them to the DCU – regardless of trade paperback sales or the greater potential creative output when you step outside the superhero universe.

    Vertigo is where my heart will always be, and I wonder whether 2012 will have been it’s last full year of fantastic titles. I really feel for Karen Berger.

  28. blacaucasian says:

    It isn’t necessarily true that they didn’t have a problem with it. Yes they’ve been that low for a few years, but they also, for the last few years, didn’t have any alternative to trying to keep the character visible while also having and alternative to publish the character and sell more books, until the new 52 launched, they had success with Swamp Thing and with JL Dark. It’s not totally beyond reason that they may have likely kept the Vertigo book going to see if his DCU appearance caused any consistent spike in readership which it has not seemed to. It’s also very possible this decision was made a very long time ago (to cancel the book at 300, maybe regardless and barring a sales jump back up to a profitable print run) and we are only hearing about it now because the solicits are about to come out.

    Even with the book having low numbers the last few years, it was still close to 10,000 2 years ago and has shed almost 1,000 of those readers in the last year and close to 500 readers in the last year and the book again as at an all time low in sales. At some point you have to say quit. It appears that selling issue #300 at close to half of what any of their other books still in print is that point for them.

    I’m not saying it doesn’t suck or that I wish it wasn’t still going to be published. But I think saying that because sales have been low on the book for the last couple of years they clearly didn’t care about sales simply isn’t true. You’d have an argument if sales had fell to 9,000 copies a month and stayed there for the last 2 years, but if you look at the numbers, that just simply isn’t the case for this book.

  29. blacaucasian says:

    “Sigh, it begins indeed. Sales have been steady for the last few years, and trades – as with all Vertigo tbps – sell solidly enough.”

    I haven’t seen any evidence for Hellblazer where this is true. I’ve seen it with Fables, Sandman and other books, but not with Hellblazer.

    “The bottom line is that Warner Bros won’t want multiple versions of characters running about, as in simple comic book terms alone, there is no harm in having JLDark, Hellblazer, AND Constantine all printing.”

    I still contend that if Hellblazer was doing JL Dark sales numbers, they wouldn’t be cancelling it and would have no problem introducing his own solo book. They have two completely different names.

    And the harm comes to their bottom line if they are publishing a book that just isn’t profitable enough to continue printing a monthly. It is a business decision, pure and simple. It’s just based on sales, not their interpretation of people’s ability to be sophisticated enough readers to handle to versions of the character.

  30. I can only speak for the book chain I work for, but Hellblazer certainly sells enough to justify its shelf space. Not as much as Sandman of course, but in line with other Vertigo titles for sure.

    If Hellblazer was doing those sort of numbers, then sure, but Vertigo is about far more than hard sales figures. If that was the case then all titles would be getting cancelled, and few would have made it this long or been started in the first place.

    This is part of a bigger picture sadly.

  31. jonboy says:

    When you look at the sales numbers on Comichron, the monthly sales haven’t been >20k for over 10 years. Mostly it was hovering around 13k (+/- 2k). And for the past 3-4 years it’s been <10k. That's low. How low is that?
    At a rough estimate of a total of 2500 comic stores, that's an average of 4 copies per store. That low.

    Also at Comichron, the trades are one-time sales of 3k (+/- 500). They're not evergreen titles. They don't sell month in, month out, unlike most of Vertigo's "successful" titles. Once again, at 2500 comic stores, that's an average of 1 copy per store. And no-reorders.

    Vertigo IS about more than just the sales numbers – for the monthly. But if the trades don't sell either? Ain't no company in the world gonna manufacture stuff at a loss and stay in business for long.

  32. Because Vertigo Hellblazer doesn’t fit very well in the regular DC Universe?

    Also a lot of Vertigo readers only pick up the trades and are more interested in self-contained storylines rather than anything that jumps around into different series.

    Also I imagine Hellblazer might have gotten a bit of a jump with issue 300, where Vertigo & DC could have promoted it, perhaps picked up some more readers.

    Also Vertigo could have done more with the trade dress, as it’s hard to tell which trades follow which without a master list of the titles.

  33. I’d also settle for Micah Ian Wright and Tom Raney.

  34. Rich H says:

    Funny way to celebrate Vertigo’s 20th. Couldn’t they have said “cancelling this but releasing this” or PR’d it in a way that was positive for Vertigo?

  35. So sad to see Hellblazer go and this watered DC version taking over. JLA Dark 0 proved that this constantine has nothing to do with Hellblazer. I’ll not pick up the Dc version. It’s so sad, I really fear for Vertigo….
    I had been buying the book since Mike Carey jumped on (minus the the Denise Mina issues). Giuseppe Camuncoli was the perfect artist for this! his hellblazer was so sexy and wicked at the same time

  36. Dasbender says:

    I mildly surprised at how upset everyone seems over this. I’ll have over 300 issues of Hellblazer (including many specials and minis) in my basement, and another series starting up. Sure, it won’t have swearing. But otherwise it’s just another take on the character. I liked Ultimate Spidey even though it was a rebooted Spider-Man. I liked All-Star Superman even though it wasn’t the Superman I had been reading previously. I’m enjoying the current Animal Man and Swamp Thing series even though they’re not the Vertigo books I used to buy. So in theory, another book about John could still have something interesting to say.

    *If* the writer has something interesting to say.

    I’m willing to wait and see. I could care less what number is on the cover. And if the new book sucks, It’ll take me 25 years to reread the Hellblazer books I already have at the rate of one per month — for free :)

  37. Margaret says:

    Denise Mina.

  38. eduardo hc says:

    Hi,

    I can see why people are so upset and why everybody thinks that Vertigo is going to end. (I’d say that they’re going to “celebrate” the 20th anniversary calling it a day…). But I’m not sure that there’s still to much Vertigo to be saved beyond the name.

    Checking what’s out in the coming months, and not counting TPBs of recently ended/axed series and the nth repacking of classic stories (now with added Wildstorm: Global Frequency, Sleeper), Vertigo is publishing 8 series. Punk Rock Jesus (the only one I buy in singles) is a mini, Sweettooth (I buy this in trades) is ending and American Vampire is going on hiatus. That leaves us with two “Fables” series, “Saucer Country”, “The Unwritten” and the now cancelled “Hellblazer”. I buy the last two in trades, and lost my interest in the “Fables” franchise years ago. So, although in some way I think myself to be a kind of Vertigo guy (although I’ve always hated the milking of their franchises, which is no different than what DC does with their own) I no longer care for most of what they publish.

    I really dislike DC’s business model (mostly because of what it means content-wise), but I’d say that Vertigo is no longer the place where things are happening now. They’re not strangling creators here as the did with Wildstorm (which was a shame to watch), burning them (although Brian Wood, with good reasons, might have something to say about this, and I might be missing things that are only known for those signing the contracts). It’s just that there’s nothing happening there. This is, of course, how I feel about it. Which brings me to a question? Who’s buying Vertigo monthly nowadays? I now I’m not, although I’m the kind of person that once did.

  39. Filip Goudeseune says:

    That last argument is so true. Now you have to check wikipidia to at least have an idea of the order of the trades…

  40. Filip Goudeseune says:

    Isn’t the success of creator-owned series slowly suffocating Vertigo? Why would the really creative bother to sign under the Vertigo flag if they can successfully do it alone?

  41. I stopped reading Hellblazer around issue #127 so I know I’ve missed a whole bunch of good stuff.
    Personally, I’ve always felt that the perfect artist for Hellblazer was Richard Pier Rayners ( but what do I know- I dropped the title a long time ago) for his incredible talent for rendering facial emotions. (especially Constantines’….)

    Both John Ridgway and John (?)Tolteben are close seconds although I assume Tolteben never drew an issue of Hellblazer…) but if Giuseppe Camuncoli is as good as you say, I’m going to be hunting down those issues he’d worked on.
    Hellblazer has had a long and prosperous run… one of the longest running series in the history of comic books ever and I’d have to agree with the comments here about DC’s decision to drop the title because of low sales and what not. I really don’t think it’s about 2 characters with the same or different name running around and confusing the readers. If that were true, we wouldn’t have so many Bat titles around…

    DC is a business, and that businesses will do whatever they need to do to stay profitable.. damn the creators, and damn the fans…for all they care.. just my two cents worth…cheers

  42. blacaucasian says:

    I think the bottom line with Vertigo right now is that clearly they need something to be able to re-invent themselves. Many of the books they used to be the only house willing to publish are now being published by Image, mostly it seems because of the way the creator-owned agreement was changed a few years back. While it’s true they still have the name of DC (and their own branding for that matter) behind them and thus placement in book and comics stores as well as the Vertigo word of mouth that always happens, it still seems whatever job the PR, marketing, and sales departments are doing there aren’t enough. I remember sitting in a Vertigo panel a few years ago at NYCC and Karen Berger asking the crowd what they could do to get the word about Vertigo books out to a wider readership. And it struck me, why is it being left for her to ask us that question? What are the marketing and sales people at DC doing beyond the bare minimum.

    I’ve bought most every OGN that Vertigo has put out in the last 4 to 5 years since they started publishing them, and yet there’s many I;ve missed because the release of them hasn’t come with any sort of campaign beyond a singular interview here or there or a announcement on the Vertigo blog of “hey this is out now.” It seems that at a certain point DC allowed Vertigo to kind of sit back and rely on it’s Sandman trade sales instead of working to help to push the brand forward. Next years Sandman book will be a golden opportunity to refocus the brand. Maybe Vertigo is now a place where monthlies no longer make sense. Maybe a major refocus will help discard the malaise that’s seemed to follow the brand in the last 2 to 3 years.

    Karen Berger is one of the biggest reasons for not only building sophisticated more literal comics but also a main reason I still read comics today. I just hope that this difficult time they seem to be goign through right now can lead to a reinvention of the brand instead of a burial.

  43. Torsten Adair says:

    Yes. In the recent zero issue, he smokes, and beds Zatanna.

    I like having him in the DCU, being the mage who enjoys messing things up (as seen in the first Amethyst story). There’s room for nastiness, just not the language or extreme gore.

  44. Earth-2 Chad says:

    And if the new book sucks, It’ll take me 25 years to reread the Hellblazer books I already have at the rate of one per month — for free :)

    Great point!

  45. I think it’s pretty well known that the support DC has extended to Vertigo has been thinning drastically over the last few years (and if not, nothing to see here!).

    The outcry isn’t just about Hellblazer, or pointing to its sales figures, it’s about a beginning of a potential end as the number of series continues to decline while still getting rave reviews for what is being put out (eg Punk Rock Jesus). The Hellblazer trades were a mess while other, completed, Vertigo series got pretty reissues.

    On the plus side, just think how unstoppable Image would be if Berger stepped aboard that ship. I’m all tingley.

  46. Synsidar says:

    Has DC done any research on Vertigo’s significance as an imprint? How many comics readers recognize the name, what it signifies, how it affects purchasing decisions vs. DC Universe titles, etc.?

    SRS

  47. I kinda doubt it – comics publishers don’t seem too keen on market research of late, other than that Nielson survey which nobody was happy with! And market research almost always ignores the book stores as well, and Amazon customers, that make up a rather large percentage of overall sales.

    I guess really it has got to come down to Warner Bros, and the fact that the majority of the money DC bring them must be from merchandise, merchandise deals, and movies. And all of that, for maximum dollars, ties into making it less adult and more mainstream (faceless Joker not withstanding). And more completely owned IP rather than part-creator owned, and so on and so forth.

    There’s certainly a market out there for Vertigo and its more adult and original titles – the success of Image proves that. But Image have also been much better at courting the trades market. I help advise one of the big book chains in the UK, and when I said “put Sandman, Transmet and Preacher in every store and it will sell”, they tried it and hey, it worked! But DC (and Marvel) have never gone out of their way to really work that market.

    I can only speak for the books market of course, but the trades market is really where Vertigo shone for a long time.

  48. Yes, I have to agree. For a while, the Vertigo TPBs virtually *were* the market. How many people will have bought and read full sets of Preacher, Sandman, Y, Lucifer, and lots of other titles, for whom all the guarantee they needed was the name Vertigo on the spine? In a world where people speak incessantly of building a brand, perhaps the most trusted brand in adult-oriented comics was Vertigo, and cancelling Hellblazer from that imprint is essentially DC shooting themselves very publicly in the foot.

  49. waylon says:

    Yeah, the series stopped being good after Peter Milligan took over as writer. I miss Hellblazer’s heyday with Ennis, Ellis, Carey, etc…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Beat – Vertigo Cancel Hellblazer; DC Announce Constantine – [...]

  2. [...] #300 of Hellblazer, due in February, will be its final. It’s just not trendy these days to have those triple-digit numbers, and John Constantine, [...]

  3. [...] and the subsequent migration of the character John Constantine to the DC universe proper with a new series entitled CONSTANTINE, negative reactions dominated discussion of the news. Though no doubt this had plenty to do with [...]

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