DC will shut down Vertigo, its pioneering non-superhero comics imprint, at the end of the year, a move that has been rumored for weeks. Shuttering the imprint is part of a restructuring that will also eliminate DC’s recently launched Zoom and Ink publishing imprints, which published children's and YA comics, respectively.
All DC titles will now be published via three age-specific publishing lines: DC Kids, which will serve middle-grade readers or readers ages 8-12; DC, for ages 13 plus, which will primarily include the DC universe of characters; and DC Black Label, for readers 17 and older. The newly announced publishing lines will launch in January 2020. DC emphasized that no books announced under the former imprint structure will be cancelled. All DC titles previously announced under the Zoom, Ink, and Vertigo imprints (including Vertigo pop-up lines, such as Young Animal) will be rebranded and released via the new age-specific publishing lines.
Michele Wells, v-p, executive editor of DC Books for Young Readers, who oversaw the Zoom and Ink young reader imprints, will remain with the company. A DC spokesperson emphasized that “there are no changes to staffing.”
Explaining the changes, DC publisher Dan DiDio said, “We’re returning to a singular presentation of the DC brand that was present throughout most of our history until 1993, when we launched Vertigo to provide an outlet for edgier material.” DiDio said that Vertigo’s brand of comics publishing “is now mainstream across all genres, so we thought it was the right time to bring greater clarity to the DC brand.” DC publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee, who is also one of the DC’s most popular artists, said DC will continue to publish “creator-owned projects, and will evaluate and assign to the appropriate label to help our fans find the best books for their interests.”
Launched in 1993 under the direction of editor Karen Berger, Vertigo published a long list of acclaimed creator-owned titles that are now credited with ushering in the multi-genre North American comics market we see today. The publication of such artists as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, and Brian K. Vaughan laid the groundwork for graphic novels in the book trade and an expanding comics marketplace aimed at readers interested in more than superhero comics.
However, after the departure of Berger in 2012, a subsequent change in the terms of Vertigo contracts that allowed DC/Warner Bros. to retain film/TV rights spurred the departure of most of the imprint’s celebrated authors. Berger’s successor, Shelly Bond, left Vertigo in 2016, and efforts to relaunch the imprint have been met mostly, though not completely, with disappointing results. Both Berger (Berger Books at Dark Horse) and Bond (Black Crown Comics at IDW) have since set up new imprints at rival comics houses.
Berger, who was elected to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame at last year’s Comic-Con International, issued a statement on the closing of Vertigo via her Twitter account:
Corporate thinking & creative risk-taking don’t mix.DC nixing Vertigo was a longtime coming. But hey, we changed the game & we had a blast doing it!Honored to have worked with so many incredibly talented creators & editors & thx to all our fab readers! #VivaVertigo #Bergerbooks— Karen Berger (@karenpberger) June 21, 2019