When entering this past weekend comic book fans were hit with the news that DC Comics announcement that they would be closing down their long-running Vertigo imprint at the end of 2019. This was sad news given the impact that the Vertigo Comics imprint had on the entire industry since launching back in 1993. Rather than focusing on the sad news I want to instead look back at the lasting impact that Vertigo has on the industry.
When it was first founded back in 1993 by Karen Berger, Vertigo became the imprint DC could create comic books geared towards a mature audience. The first thing that came to mind when people think of targeting a mature audience it meant that the comics under the Vertigo imprint could use swear words, sex, gang violence, drugs and nudity. But that was just one part of the puzzle that became the Vertigo imprint.
The reality of Vertigo was that it was a place were creators had larger creative freedom to explore different types of storytelling options. Karen Berger summarized what Vertigo was all about in her Twitter post when she gave her thoughts on DC’s announcement.
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
Everyone that worked on the comic books under the Vertigo were able to take creative risks that weren’t necessarily seen from DC Comics or Marvel. It was a place that felt as though just about any type of story can happen. The only limit were the rules creators working on Vertigo comic books crafted for their respective worlds.
That creativity is something that we are seeing now as DC has launched several lines that all take the spirit of what Vertigo did. DC Ink, Zoom and Black Label all take on the vibe where they each aim to have creators work with the creative freedom that fits with the target markets those imprints were created for. Black Label in particular is taking over the spot Vertigo served as the place for all of DC’s mature content. So even in the midst of being closed down the spirit of Vertigo will continue to live on in all the imprints that DC Comics has recently created.
On a personal-level I came to read all of comic books in Vertigo Comics line only in the last few years. Growing up reading comics I never had the chance to read Vertigo Comics during its golden age. I had a very limited comic book budget to work with until well after graduating college and starting down my career path. Still, Vertigo Comics was a line that I always heard about when going to my local comic book shop as something I should check out.
Now as I still catch up on all the comic books in the Vertigo Comics line I continue to be amazed at the storytelling. Every single comic book that I have been lucky enough to read thus far has shown a type of creativity I don’t normally see in superhero comics. Creators like Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, Brian K. Vaughn, Neil Gaiman, Bill Willingham and Brian Azzarello who created some fantastic worlds.
Reading all of their work under the Vertigo imprint now gives me a greater appreciation of how much it inspired some of my favorite superhero DC Comics. Most recently we have seen Snyder using characters from Gaiman’s Sandman to play key roles in his current DC Comics run. The most obvious one was Dream of the Endless being part of the Dark Nights: Metal event, where he interacted with Batman.
So as sad as Vertigo’s closure is this is a great time to remember how incredibly thankful we must be for all the editors, writers and artists put into making Vertigo Comics a special imprint. Long after its official cancelation Vertigo Comics will live on in all the comic books that fans will continue to discover that they produced. I’m personally excited to get around to reading the comics Gail Simone, Brian Wood, Tom King, G. Willow Wilson and Jason Aaron created at Vertigo. For all that endless amount of content I must thank everyone who worked at Vertigo for producing for all of us.
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