DC Closes Vertigo

I don’t buy the quantity of comics I used to in the 1990s — age partly, but the time I spent shifting continents* broke my comic habit because I just didn’t have a regular comic shop. Even so, I’m sad to hear that DC is closing down the Vertigo imprint.

“DC has announced that, starting in January 2020, it will close the DC Vertigo, DC Zoom and DC Ink imprints in favor of a new publishing strategy to release all published content under the DC brand. At the same time, a new age-specific labeling system will be introduced for DC content, identifying content aimed at pre-teen readers, general audiences and material aimed at readers 17 and older.”


‘Age’ really misses the point. It’s true that Vertigo books were pitched at the ‘mature’ audience but distinction wasn’t that Vertigo comics might have sex or violence in them but that they would attempt smarter and more thoughtful stories.

The headlines focus on the famous titles, Gaiman’s Sandman obviously (which technically predated Vertigo) but also later series like Fables and Y-The Last Man. What I’m nostalgic about though was the numerous shorter run comics Vertigo published in the 1990s, most of which I can’t even remember but which were just there. You could pick up something weird with an odd story line that would go off into strange place for a few months and then be done.

I remember being unwell one weekend decades ago now and my friends heading off into the city and when they came back they had popped into a comic shop and just bought the first Vertigo comic they didn’t recognise for me. That’s top notch friendship.

I guess rationalising your range of imprints makes sense but I’m glad Vertigo existed when it did. I didn’t really buy or read any other kind of DC comics at that time, I got my superhero fix for Marvel, but Vertigo was different. Under Karen Berger’s guidance, it was a cultural phenomenon that had an influence far beyond the scope of its sales.

*[I mean I shifted between continents. I wasn’t manually moving continents around like I’m the person who was in charge of continental drift for a few years.]


9 responses to “DC Closes Vertigo”

  1. Yeah, the maturity wasn’t only in sex and violence, but sometimes also by being weird or even by just adding realism to an old fantastic concept. Or just by daring to be slower and take some time with a story. It came at a great time in my life.

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  2. Aw, Vertigo comics were some of the first I read. The original Stardust by Gaiman and Vess was Vertigo. (I pretty much pretend that there isn’t a text only version or a movie anyway.)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Vertigo was the only DC stuff I read. DC’s superheroes didn’t much interest me. I mean, you grow up with them, but the writing just wasn’t as good as Marvel’s for a long time and my husband wasn’t into the DC heroes either. Vertigo had vampires and essentially graphic novel series. As a fiction reader who liked weird stuff, that interested me.

    Vertigo helped the graphic novel model take off in the late 1980s and 1990s. It brought attention to those doing non-superhero stories, which eventually did help companies like Image (though Image started as basically just another he-man company at first — and still has a poor corporate culture.) I don’t think other companies have replaced them in that market in terms of wares, but I think DC has decided that Vertigo’s labeling was a problem and a lot of the titles were too hit and miss to adapt for tv/film/games and didn’t have the cartoon market. It didn’t work as a brand for them anymore.

    Whether they’ll put stuff out that’s weird and off to the side is anyone’s guess. But they still have the Vertigo backlist to exploit for adaptation if they want.

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  4. I also read far more Vertigo (and Wildstorm, once DC bought them out) comics than mainstream DC Comics. For superheroes, Marvel had better writing, but for something a little off the beaten path, Vertigo it was.

    I’m also surprised that DC/Warner isn’t doing more to adapt the existing Vertigo properties. The only ones they ever adapted were a pretty good version of Lucifer, which is still ongoing, a pretty good version of Preacher, which somehow flew completely under everybody’s radar, plus a not very good Hellblazer adaptation, which only lasted one season, and the latest Swamp Thing adpatation, which was cancelled after a single issue. But there is so much more. Sandman, Transmetropolitan, 100 Bullets, etc…


      • Transmetropolitan would also fit really well into our current age of fake news and demogogical politicians. Yes, the Smiler was inspired by Tony Blair, but we’ve got so much worse than him now. Of course, Patrick Stewart and Robin Williams, who supposedly wanted to play Spider Jerusalem and hsi editor respectively, cannot play the parts anymore, since Patrick Stewart is too old and Robin Williams too dead. Still, done right, Transmetropolitan could be the next Handmaid’s Tale, an adaptation of an older property that nonetheless hits the mood of the moment.

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  5. Well this is some sad news. I don’t read a whole lot of comics but most of them, especially early on, were Vertigo titles. It was at least an indication of intent, if not quality, for a title to be published through the Vertigo imprint. I get that drive to consolidate their imprints under one banner but I think replacing them with an age rating system is massively missing the point of what attracted people to imprints like Vertigo in the first place.

    Anyway, kind of irrelevant to me now – the only comic I’m actively definitely still reading is Monstress and I can only read that in the summer when I’m home because I absolutely insist on reading the paper version for the amazing artwork.

    Liked by 1 person

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