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December 4, 2012 10:39 AM   Subscribe


 
:(
Sad news. Vertigo is the only reason I even read comics at all. My comic reading has slowed way down, but it was an entirely accidental meeting with the Sandman trade paperbacks in high school that dispelled me of the notion that comics = superheroes (and therefore, not interesting to me).

From what I'm aware of, Berger was the primary reason Vertigo turned out to be Vertigo and not the DC Bargain Bin of Old & Busted Heroes. I haven't really kept up with Vertigo, but this and the reworking of Hellblazer seem to indicate that someone wants a DCBBoOnBH, after all.
posted by byanyothername at 10:47 AM on December 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


.

(for the end of the most influential comics career of our generation)
((Don't believe me? Recall that Sandman, pre-Vertigo, had a Martian Manhunter appearance.))
posted by Etrigan at 10:48 AM on December 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, I suspect it's not the end for Berger. I wouldn't give Vertigo six months though.
posted by Artw at 10:50 AM on December 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


"I wouldn't give Vertigo six months though."

That's basically the view at Bleeding Cool.
posted by Auz at 10:56 AM on December 4, 2012


twitter has more reactions - larry marder, kurk busiek, neil gaiman included.
posted by nadawi at 10:57 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Karen Berger ranks with Stan Lee and William Gaines as one of the most influential editors in the history of American comics.- Chris Roberson

Yup.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on December 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


I thought it was already accepted that Vertigo was being folded into the mainstream DCU?
posted by PenDevil at 11:01 AM on December 4, 2012


I'm glad all you people who follow comics more closely than me are reacting this way -- because this did seem like a 'whoa shit' moment to me -- if only because I recognize her name, which I can't say about very many (read: almost any) editors.

(though now I'm worried that it may be hanging out in Metafilter comics threads that makes this true, so that might not be proof of much after all)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:05 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought it was already accepted that Vertigo was being folded into the mainstream DCU?

They yanked back anything that had started in the DCU bar Hellblazer, then they yanked back that. That leaves a number of titled, I believe all some degree of creator owned. Fables is the longest running and most established of them now.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on December 4, 2012


And Fables is one HBO development deal or Warner Bros animated film away from leaving Vertigo as well.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:10 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Berger deeply respects creators. DC Comics does not, has not for a while, and likely never will again. This was basically inevitable.
posted by mightygodking at 11:11 AM on December 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Well, fuck.
posted by evilDoug at 11:12 AM on December 4, 2012


So that leaves Image, and maybe Oni, Dark Horse and IDW, as the main non-superhero publishing houses. Any chance that one of them needs a new executive editor?
posted by rtimmel at 11:15 AM on December 4, 2012


Any chance that one of them needs a new executive editor?

Bleeding Cool postulates:
It is likely that any such departure will have involved a very large payoff indeed. Some have speculated that if Karen Berger did leave DC Comics, she has so much warmth owed to her by so many that she could with very little effort, set up a New York based publishing boutique of her very own, filled with very bankable writers and artists.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:22 AM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


So that leaves Image, and maybe Oni, Dark Horse and IDW, as the main non-superhero publishing houses. Any chance that one of them needs a new executive editor?

TBH they are all kicking ass and taking names right now, and don't really need to change up. Image in particular is doing a fine job of being AMC to Vertigo's HBO.
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on December 4, 2012


I want to try Image Comics but there's always this stench of McFarlane and Liefeld and Larsen hanging around...
posted by kmz at 11:36 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I want to try Image Comics but there's always this stench of MacFarlane and Liefeld and Larsen hanging around...

Liefeld hasn't had anything to do with Image for over fifteen years now, McFarlane is only tangentially involved with it and Larsen - well, what's wrong with Erik Larsen, really? There are many, many assholes in comics who are much, much worse than Larsen.
posted by mightygodking at 11:39 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sad news. Vertigo is the only reason I even read comics at all.

It's not the only reason that I read comics - there are too many really good titles from independent American publishers and from around the world (especially from Japan*). But Vertigo is the reason that I started reading comics. We need these kind of intelligent, original and frankly female-friendly (sadly, almost as hard to find in 2012 as it was in 1993) comics in the North American mainstream.

*For anyone missing Y: The Last Man, try Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, and (of course), 20th Century Boys is just about the best comic I've ever read in my life.
posted by jb at 11:57 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


it seems patently unfair that Neil could claim ownership of "Spawn on a horse" much less that an all woman jury, charmed by his English accent and sad story would award him that.

The McFarlane/Gaiman thing still burns me up in the basic unfairness of it all. As you said, "Had the judge asked them, I'm sure the all-female jury would have been happy to give Neil the rights to Spawn, Todd's house and cars, Madonna's uniform from A League of Their Own and the Mark McGuire baseball and anything else Neil expressed an interest in" and that's not right.


Ho Ho that Larson... dem wimmen are to blame, can't possibly resist an English accent...
posted by edgeways at 12:00 PM on December 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


It would be amazing if Berger started her own publishing house.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


What does this mean for Fables?
What does this mean for Fables, oh god, Metafilter, hold me.
posted by Mizu at 12:20 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ho Ho that Larson... dem wimmen are to blame, can't possibly resist an English accent...

Larson wrote that in a letter to Dave Sim. That's like one back-breaking psuedo-sexy catwoman cover pose away from a sexist trifecta.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:31 PM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I want to try Image Comics but there's always this stench of McFarlane and Liefeld and Larsen hanging around…

It's gone, trust me. Image is publishing some of the best stuff on the racks these days.

Oddly enough one of those books is actually a retread of one of Liefeld's characters; the new "Prophet" is crackling with a raw energy and insanity that I haven't seen since I devoured the omnibuses of Kirby's Fourth World.
posted by egypturnash at 12:42 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, someone correct me, because DC has just boggled my brain recently with, what appears to me, to be a series of nonsense moves on just a business level.

It seems to me that in today's market you use the comic to shop around stories and build a base of fans. With that in mind it seems that DC has had far more luck marketing its Vertigo properties (A History of Violence, Road to Perdition, V for Vendetta) into other mediums than they have with their superhero movies (which really seems to just be Nolan's flicks and Green Lantern). While these films may not make the Batman money that WB is looking for, I don't understand why they have a desire to kill the imprint that seems to be having any success in today's "make it then make a movie out of it" market.

Am I totally misreading the industry or what?

Also, what's the pulse of reader's tendencies these days? I know, personally, I don't read Batman so much as I peruse the works of Morrison. Wouldn't getting rid of an imprint like Vertigo not just alienate fans but also alienate the writers who are becoming known as names themselves?

Sorry so much of this comment is interrogative, I just don't see the logic behind what DC has been doing.
posted by sendai sleep master at 12:44 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to try Image Comics but there's always this stench of McFarlane and Liefeld and Larsen hanging around…

You should give Prophet a chance, which is about as far removed from Liefeld as you can get.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


wow - after a little googling and reading, larsen really seems to hate women. i didn't realize he was so ideologically close with dave sim.
posted by nadawi at 12:54 PM on December 4, 2012


(for the end of the most influential comics career of our generation)
((Don't believe me? Recall that Sandman, pre-Vertigo, had a Martian Manhunter appearance.))
posted by Etrigan


Eponysteri-daemoniacal? I didn't mind the occasional visits to the superhero side of the DCU in Sandman, although I can see how it might try the patience of somebody not as invested in those sorts of things.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:56 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Judging by Nu52 I'd say DCs target market these days is more in line with videogames - with an emphasis on teen males and males who never really stopped being teenagers. There are a number of problems with this, but between that and pushing digital it seems to have been a big success for them, for now at least.
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2012


Also a lot of that is driven by Jim Lee, so it would be weird as hell if Berger took a job opposite him at Image.
posted by Artw at 1:02 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


more in line with videogames - with an emphasis on teen males and males who never really stopped being teenagers

i think that's somewhat disingenuous. even if i can see the point you're trying to make, you're not helping the state of things with this kind of reductionism.
posted by radiosilents at 1:22 PM on December 4, 2012


/Shrug.

To the extent that they are chasing a market that seems to be the market they are chasing, with any crossover to other demographics being serendipitous.
posted by Artw at 1:30 PM on December 4, 2012


Help us Robert Kirkman, you're our only hope.
posted by Argyle at 1:42 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


From before the Nu52 launch:

To reassure comic shop retailers concerned about the recent relaunch news, DC is holding a series of meetings around the country. Word has begun to spread that the news includes mention of the new readers they hope to attract to comics, which has been characterized as 18-34-year-old males.

Which is where a lot of things are focused, I suppose, and a lot if them manage to have appeal outside of that, but current DC thinking just seems very grounded in appealing to that niche exclusively.
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on December 4, 2012


I can't read more than a few pages of Kirkman's dialog before stopping. Every character sounds exactly the same.

"Judging by Nu52 I'd say DCs target market these days is more in line with videogames - with an emphasis on teen males and males who never really stopped being teenagers. There are a number of problems with this, but between that and pushing digital it seems to have been a big success for them, for now at least."

You might be right about that, Artw. I'm still reading a number of Nu52 series, but when Morrison and Cornell leave there's... Well, right now there's nobody to replace them. Maybe that will change and I'll be a big DC fan again a year from now, but at present the whole line just feels so... pointless. Title after title I have no interest in at all, and crossovers between characters who are for the most part ciphers with bad costumes.

It's pretty clear (imo) that the departure of Paul Levitz as publisher set off a long chain of dominoes that have now reached Karen Berger, and her departure will set off another chain that will lead to who knows what. Vertigo is the reason that DC has been dominant in the bookstores for so long. A whole generation of trade readers were trained to look for stories that had the Vertigo feel. Without Berger those readers may move on to something else.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:00 PM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Paul Cornell has been doing some good stuff. Morrison's had post Nu52 moments, but so much ofhis stuff seems chopped around or mangled and I don't know whether to put that down to him or editorial but I have a strong suspicion it's the later and he'll be better off out.
posted by Artw at 2:06 PM on December 4, 2012


I don't knwo, I think Morrison can be pretty bad all by himself *cough*The Mystery Play*cough*.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2012


There's still hope!

Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson are doing a new Image miniseries right now called Happy! (With the exclamation point at the end.) It's very dark and intentionally offensive, and has already been optioned for a movie. Then Morrison's got Multiversity for the DCU (Which should be awesome!) and a new Seaguy series for Vertigo. And something called Annihilator for Legendary Comics, which sounds interesting and will probably have a super low print run and be hard to find.

Paul Cornell seems to only write two comics a month, because he's balancing them with other work on novels and stuff. He's going back to Marvel to write Wolverine (which I have no interest in, sadly) and is continuing to write Saucer Country, which I love more and more each month. I love it because it looks like Cornell is telling a real ambititous long form story, but it's so weird and surprising I can't predict what will happen from issue to issue. And that's pretty rare.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:24 PM on December 4, 2012


To reassure comic shop retailers concerned about the recent relaunch news, DC is holding a series of meetings around the country. Word has begun to spread that the news includes mention of the new readers they hope to attract to comics, which has been characterized as 18-34-year-old males.

Which is where a lot of things are focused, I suppose, and a lot if them manage to have appeal outside of that, but current DC thinking just seems very grounded in appealing to that niche exclusively.


They should appeal to their moms instead since they are the ones who actually have the disposable income and are the ones who are footing the bill for all those trinkets.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing whatever new venture she takes on -- loved Vertigo...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 2:27 PM on December 4, 2012


I don't collect much anymore (though Comixology has started to pull me back into the habit in the last few months), but if you were to ask me to make a list of all the titles I collected in the 90s, Berger had a hand in at least 60% of them. The Vertigo imprint was a stamp of quality storytelling from a major publisher in a nightmarish Liefield world. Artw's tweets about her departure yesterday caught me by surprise because I hadn't run across the name in years and still felt a bit of a shock.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2012


Re: Image, here's a list of all the titles they've published. For a publisher founded by the people that did so, there are quite a few titles there that have nothing to do with the worst 90s excesses of thigh pouches and lordotic women.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:21 PM on December 4, 2012


Oh man. What does this mean for The Unwritten?!
posted by limeonaire at 4:41 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the bottom line for DC now is that as a subsidiary of a media company, they really don't have to put effort into their comics, just keep the names of their characters out there so the trademarks don't lapse, just in case they want to use them in a movie or video game. Hence cheap stuff like losing Vertigo and tossing the New 52 to incompetent and immature writers. It's probably downhill from here.
posted by happyroach at 5:23 PM on December 4, 2012


You should give Prophet a chance, which is about as far removed from Liefeld as you can get.

Seconded. There's actually a pretty good lineup on Image right now. Fatale is extremely cool, and Saga scratches my science-fantasy itch like few things can.

But yeah, total bummer. Sweet Tooth is wrapping up, and god knows where The Unwritten is going (although I expect it might be in for some Fables-style mindless ambling). Brian Wood has gone to Dark Horse, where he's killing it on Conan and The Massive. Curious to see where Vertigo goes.
posted by georg_cantor at 5:31 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Image introduced me to the superlative Kabuki Agents series by David Mack, for those who haven't read them I highly recommend giving them a look.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:36 PM on December 4, 2012


there are too many really good titles from independent American publishers and from around the world (especially from Japan*).

I agree! None of which I would have read without Vertigo. Well--maybe I would have read some manga, but Sandman and the Vertigo stamp in general were the first and only things that seemed to say, "Hey! Comics aren't just for teenage boys! There's all this other stuff, too!" Vertigo made me comfortable with browsing graphic novel aisles in bookstores and exploring comic shops, and I'm grateful for that (although I'm sort of uncomfortable with both, again; Vertigo seemed to spark the whole trade paperback trend and now these places are flooded with more mainstream comics with zero appeal for me).

the best comic I've ever read in my life.

Mine's a three way tie:

Yukinobu Hoshino's 2001 Nights--beautiful Bradbury-ish sci-fi told in several interlocking short stories and graphic novels about, "world peace, about mankind's need to find other life in the cosmos, about the love between parent and child even in the face of cold and lonely mortality. Better still, imagine a comic about colonizing the stars, about the connection between souls, about our place in the universe, about life beyond death...." Clearly inspired by The Martian Chronicles, but where Bradbury's vision was pessimistic about humanity and ambivalent-to-optimistic about individual people, Hoshino is an optimist through and through--characters are written with affection and the stories are crafted for surprising emotional impact. Everything is connected to everything else; no one is ever forgotten. A big, epic utopian tearjerker.

J.M. DeMatteis' Moonshadow--this is, bar none, the most beautifully written comic I have read. Where 2001 Nights is story driven sci-fi, Moonshadow is biography filtered through fantasy. We follow the title character from birth; as he grows up, figures out his identity, discovers sex, falls in love with books, resolves his complicated relationship with his parents, goes to war, earns the genuine love of his best friend and constant companion, settles down and marries and, finally, dies. Visually gorgeous, the "soft" sci-fi fairty tale setting oozes charm and is reminiscent of Vonnegut's best, Douglas Adams and Ghibli films. I adore this book completely. It's something everyone should read. Here's my favorite passage:
"When he was a young man (but old enough to know better), a wanderer returned to a town he'd once lived in: a town built of Memory, Innocence and a Joy infrequently glimpsed in his long years of wandering.

It was foolish to return, he was certain of that. What was to be gained from such a visit? Disillusionment? Sorrow? Disappointment, certainly. He fully expected to gaze upon a place so changed that it bore no relation to what he'd known before. And, as he stood on a hill, looking down at the little houses and green lawns and the children rushing, breathless (trailing kites, tossing balls, climbing fences), toward destinations both real and imaginary, he noted changes; but, to his great surprise, none were major enough to greatly alter the face of the town, and most were so minor that he almost believed no time had passed since his departure.

But time had passed: the house he'd lived in was long gone; how many of his old acquaintances, he wondered, were gone as well--food for the worms as we'll all be one day? He suddenly recalled the many seas sailed in the years between Then and Now: the foreign lands roamed, the strange sights beheld;

The misery, the ecstasy, the infinite restlessness and the infinite calm."
God, what a beautiful book.

Sandman, well... I don't think I even need to gush about that; it's still criminally underread, but lots of people know it and Gaiman's turned out pretty famous.

Junji Ito's Uzumaki is worth mentioning, too.
posted by byanyothername at 5:36 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rumours, rumours, rumours...

Graeme McMillan says that Berger's departure is part of some larger shakeup:
Following the news of Berger’s departure, the question of Vertigo’s place in the “new” DC Entertainment remains an open question, and one worth asking. That there was no successor announced as head of the imprint in yesterday’s press was worrying, as is Heidi (MacDonald's) off-handed comment that “Berger was making plans for new projects as recently as last week, according to one freelancer I spoke with.” It’s seeming, increasingly, as if this was a rushed announcement for some reason, perhaps connected with the mysterious meetings going on at DC right now, if Rich Johnston is to be believed. It’s possible that there is no longterm plan for Vertigo right now, due to things being in flux with DC in general. If that’s true, that just makes things all the more worrying…
posted by Kevin Street at 6:16 PM on December 4, 2012


Seconded. There's actually a pretty good lineup on Image right now. Fatale is extremely cool, and Saga scratches my science-fantasy itch like few things can.

Saga is just plain great, on both a writing and art level.
posted by Artw at 6:34 PM on December 4, 2012


Karen Berger: Super-Editor
posted by Artw at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2012


And... DC just let Gail Simone go from BatGirl. Like, emailed her out of the blue and fucking fired her. Seriously, WTF DC?
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on December 9, 2012


whoa! this doesn't bode well.
themikecnelson ‏: @GailSimone did you not put enough women in refrigerators or something?
GailSimone : @themikecnelson Funny you should say that.
posted by nadawi at 1:48 PM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Crisis on Inbetween Earths
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on December 10, 2012


Gail Simone Tossed Off Batgirl Via Email

Sounds like editorial and "direction" is the issue, which doesn't bide well coupled with the above tweet.
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on December 10, 2012


Bot of a thing happening with Image Comics right now: Image Comics and Second Printings
posted by Artw at 11:47 PM on December 18, 2012




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