Robot 6

Three Vertigo editors laid off amid DC Entertainment restructuring

Vertigo

Three editors from DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint have been laid off as part of the company’s restructuring, The Beat reports: Joan Hilty, Pornsak Pichetshote and Jonathan Vankin.

Announced last Tuesday, the reorganization leaves DC’s comics-publishing division in New York City while moving the company’s administrative and digital and multimedia operations — including, presumably, the WildStorm offices now based in La Jolla, Calif. — to a Warner Bros.-managed property in Burbank, Calif. As many as 80 of DC’s estimated 250 employees are expected to be fired or relocated.

A cartoonist and veteran editor, Hilty began working for DC in 1995 in the Trading Cards department before moving to the DC Universe and Vertigo imprints, where she gave writer Brian K. Vaughan his break on Swamp Thing. During her tenure Hilty oversaw a variety of books, from Blue Beetle to Manhunter to the animation-based titles. In 2008 she and Vankin began focusing on Vertigo’s graphic-novel acquisitions, which included G. Willow Wilson’s Cairo and Matt Kindt’s Revolver.

Pichetshote, frequently cited as a rising star at the company, edited such titles as The Unwritten, Sweet Tooth and Joe the Barbarian. He’s rumored to be targeted for recruitment by Marvel.

A journalist turned author and comics writer, Vankin penned titles like The Witching, Vertigo Pop! Tokyo and Vertigo Pop! Bangkok before becoming an editor for the imprint in 2004. He oversaw such books as Hellblazer and The Quitter, as well as some of the Vertigo Crime line.

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52 Comments

The Truth Speaker

September 28, 2010 at 5:11 pm

And so it begins… (See my comment in yesterday’s Robot 6 column.)

Damn. This is not good for the industry.

I guess they have to lay off some people so they can pay Bob Harras to wreck DC like he did Marvel.

this industry is hemorrhaging.

Wow!
September 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I guess they have to lay off some people so they can pay Bob Harras to wreck DC like he did Marvel.

If you call making Marvel profitable and making the X-men the #1 franchise in comics wrecking Marvel.

This is terrible news. I hope they all land somewhere excellent.

I’m especially disappointed to hear about Mr. Pichetshote…who i was secretly hoping to work for/with at Vertigo someday. Another dream…down the drain.

What the fuck where they thinking dropping Pichetshote?

Hopefully things don’t get much worse, but it’s really hard to believe that…

Consider the typo an expression of my shock and outrage.

Guy Furnetti: I think your just plain wrong dude. Harras did not make Marvel profitable, it was losing money before and during his tenure. Also he destroyed the X-Men and made them lose more than half the lead it had over the other franchises. If anything he helped usher in the X-Men no longer being the dominant Marvel franchise that it is today.

How is DC laying off people bad for the industry? Marvel and DC are not the industry. This is hardly a hemmorrhage.

Were they laid off or where they offered other positions and turned it down? Two different things.

I feel as if DC is deliberately trying to piss me off and then when I’m good and mad stabbing me in the stomach and pissing in the wound.

Look out DC writers, Harras will listen more to the artists and force out people that have kept the books popular for 17 years.

@ Kelly and Julian – Ditto.

That really pisses me off. Why hire Harras (whom everyone hates, it seems) and layoff the up and coming talent?

Pichetshote was the best part of Vertigo (not all his books were the best – but he showed the best ability to recruit new and interesting ideas).

Damn shame. Go Marvel! Pick him up and use him well.

Jon M: Harras had nothing to do with Marvel’s business outside of publishing, and it was in those various other areas of business that the company faultered.

Also, under Harras’ run as group editor and EIC X-Men was more popular that at any other time before or since.

For all that we who have not worked with him know he could have been the best editor ever, or the worst of all time, or both on different days. But acting as though any of us have any idea is silly. We only have second and third hand accounts which vary greatly by person and over time.

@GreenBastard

please…how is this in any way about you. have some respect…

I really wish folks would bemoan or defend the Bob Harras hire in a Harras-focused post. I think it’d be more constructive to keep this focused on three talented editors who got canned. Trying to drag Harras into the discussion is as nonsensical as trying to connect DiDio, Lee and Johns’ promotions in the past year to these layoffs–sure there’s a connection but it ain’t as simple cause and effect as some would like to paint it.

I think the real worrisome issue here is that it appears that Vertigo is in the beginning stages of being marginalized and eventually shuttered like WS and other imprints.

I think comics fans should wait and see what the result of this news is rather than pass absolute judgement with no nuance to the information available.

No! The dude with the best name in comics…!

Sad news

I realize DC needs to term some people but those 3 where not it.

But DC poor choice I am sure will be another companies gain.

While its nice to see Superhero movies every now and then… these firings are a direct result of the move from comics publishers as book-makers to comics publishers as content generators for the next popular movies. Just like Hollywood has usurped comic-con to make it a star studded ad-gasm, Warner Bros is dismantling these companies so they can replace Vertigo with content generators for more hero movies.

In years past, being an editor meant you got to find new talent, an untested artist, a fanboy writer who had something important to say spending his free time writing plots on a receipt between pizza deliveries. Now DC only hires accomplished writers from television, fiction, and England. Why do they need acquisition-Editors when they have Steven King’s or Joss Whedon’s Agent on speed dial?

Both companies in this recession have turned to a philosophy of high-paid established writers with modestly paid established art. Marvel still has work-for-hire practices which requires someone to give up their creativity in exchange for a future firing… The only way to save this industry is for brave women and men to start their own publishing companies to compete and overtake these monstrosities. The comics code is dead and congress has yet to severely regulate publishing so there is still hope.

It’s a shame, but not entirely surprising.

It seems Vertigo has scaled back recently. Plus, the influx of “Vertigo” characters back into the “mainstream” DCU.

I hate to see anyone lose a job during this time.

Why would you cut people from VERTIGO? Especially Pichetshote?

dc is restructuring so jobs are going for just because wild storm and zuna are gone does not mean Vertigo proalby was not going to wind up with some of their workers also being part of the lay offs its part of the business. and surely those let go will find some new work like even at Marvel

Pornsak Pichetshote’s 2010 at Vertigo ALONE should have solidified his position at the company. Daytripper; Joe the Barbarian; John Constantine, Hellblazer: Pandemonium; The Losers Book One; The Unwritten; Unknown Soldier; Sweet Tooth; Neil Young’s Greendale; The Losers Book Two. I just don’t know the reasoning behind this layoff and it take SOME reason to make me understand it.

This is not a good sign for the most progressive imprint in the comics industry, and, in effect, for the industry as a whole.

I absolutely adore Vertigo so it sad to see changes made to it, but this firing could mean anything.

Perhaps DC is going to slowly shut down Vertigo, maybe those were bad editors, maybe they were opposed to some interesting new direction for the imprint, maybe they’re going to hire some new editors. It could be anything

Kicking out Pornsak Pichetshote does not make any sense at all when he is the editor of Vertigo’s hottest series right now [The Unwritten].

I suppose in the end, it didn’t matter that these 3 were the best editors in the world, it’s just that their books didn’t bring in blockbuster sales. Hellblazer’s sales are now under the 10K mark. Hilty edited awesome but low-selling books like Blue Beetle and Manhunter (which was cancelled twice). It’s just business, which is unfortunate.

If they had to let people go, they should’ve sacked their marketing department for doing such awful jobs of promoting non-Green Lantern or Bat-books.

How long will that superhero movie hype last? I don’t know. But it’ll be a damn blast to all the commpanies that focused on it when the hype hits the ground.
Maybe DC prepares to prevent itself from being a financial damage to Warners once the hype has gone (and most of us remember when Warners tried to sell DC because of that not a long time ago).

Though, for now there are three talented editors that probably seek a new home and Image, just once, should take one. Maybe then Image will become a bit more mature.

I think DC is just trying to cut down the excess of Vertigo. I see them doing fewer books on a monthly basis with a greater focus on stuff that can be spun-off successfully into other media.

I feel like some one showed me a glass of extra chilly cherry coke, then showed me the desert I would have to cross to drink it.

WB are brain dead panic merchants with no clue to what makes a good comic. Tragically they do know what sells (endless variations of sodding Batman) and therefore they feel they can sacrifice the offering of quality over Batman.

They could be building up Batman on the off chance they lose the rights to Superman. It’s not so far fetched that they could.

Kicking out Pornsak Pichetshote does not make any sense at all when he is the editor of Vertigo’s hottest series right now [The Unwritten].

I believe they canned Heidi MacDonald while she was editing Y: The Last Man. Still seems stupid, but not unprecedented.

Its because the people doing the layoffs do not know shit about comics. They are looking at it from a standard restructuring/profit margin.
All 3 of these people will end up at Marvel or one of the other companies.

I think Time Warner brought Harras on to speed up the destruction of the print publishing model. Tht way Time/Warner can close down the money sucking publishing wing and move to digital distribution or worse, license the characters out to other publishers to make money with no investment.

3 years, tops.
Oh and while Harras discovered some great talent, and Made the X-Men big, he also made them confusing. Restricted a lot of creativity, especially with writers. Fired people who disagreed with him and helped lead MARVEL to financial ruin with all of the varient, holofoil di-cut covers and other drek that almost destroyed the Industry.
But this has all been reported elsewhere. For years.

This is what I worried about when Disney bought Marvel. Not so much for Marvel, but that Warner Bros. would now remember they had a comics company and decide they needed to get more involved. I don’t think any industry anywhere has ever been helped by AOL Time Warner taking a bigger hand in it and this is no exception. If Vertigo, the only real mainstream imprint that doesn’t revolve around superheroes, gets ruined by a bunch of suits that didn’t learn about creativity in their business classes, it’ll be a tragedy.

I feel for those editors that have worked on the best comics out there today. Hopefully they’ll find some work and hopefully Marvel will start taking some more chances with ICON and other non-Marvel lines.

Crash, burn and go away DC.

That is pure bullshit from the company. Those three rocked for Vertigo. Now the remaining editors are going to have more of a workload and that doesn’t effect the books.

Vertigo is the only reason why I am still interested in comic book. And I get them MONTHLY.

I have been reading for 30 years. Vertigo is by far and away the bext line out there at the moment. Veyr disappointed by this news.

Marvel made the same mistake back in the 90′s where they consolidated the company into a marketing arm and therby alienating it’s readership. Wildstorm produced some great stuff and even if the sales no longer justified it’s existence, the burbank facility isn’t necessarily going to bring in the revenue DC hopes for…

Man, so sorry about this. Best of luck to Joan, Pornsak and Jonathan in whatever they do next.

Brian from Canada

September 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Harras wasn’t responsible for Marvel’s profitability in the 90s. Marvel was bought to be a loss generator to cut the tax bill for the larger company, and that’s why many movie deals weren’t followed through upon: movie makes money and they needed to lose it. Fleer, Panini, etc. were barely breaking even and by 1996 had sunk the company even lower. Toy Biz changed that when it took over, and it used their own model (which made them the most profitable division) to run the company.

Harras WAS responsible for the content of the comics. He had years of experience as an editor already, and helped drive storylines that excited a market that was still reeling from the collapse of the speculator bubble. It wasn’t until the end that the knives came out, but even Jim Shooter said that it happens without warning and that’s the end of your tenure when it does.

If you’re blaming Harras for the state of the X-books: DON’T. He wasn’t editor for the end of the 90s, that was Mark Powers. And yet, Claremont’s Neo storyline aside, the books were far more exciting and faster paced than what he have now. More importantly, for all the complaints, the X-books had a cast that was easily identified with the odd leftover unlike today’s myriad of “who’s that” questions.

Harras may prove his skills at DC. You never know. He certainly does have experience dealing with properties that need to franchise out and still maintain movement — which is where DC is stuck at the moment because most of its properties are already franchised out too far.

But this isn’t about Harras. It’s about three editors at a division that’s not franchise-based. Vertigo, for all its critical success, is a money-losing proposition. Trade sales make up the losses. And that’s only assuming it’s a hit. Vertigo’s had its share of duds too, and the most successful adaptations of Vertigo material is based on minis, not ongoings.

If you’re restructuring DC, you need to look at Vertigo to see where it is. And, quite frankly, I look at Vertigo and see a handful of great books swamped by material that’s just not striking hot. Were these the right editors to drop? I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that DC will probably cull Vertigo’s output into something more market-friendly, and that closing WildStorm (which, to be frank, only had Gen13 and Authority really going for it) would leave editors needing work.

The best thing to come out of this may be Marvel picking up those editors for their CrossGen material. We’ll have to wait and see.

Well said, Brian from Canada.

If Marvel is, indeed, going to hire Mr. Pornsak Pichetshote I hope they put him in charge of the Crossgen titles.

Guy Fumetti & Mr Pants

MARVEL & DC comics weather we like it or not ARE the cominc industry.
If iether of those two companies blinked out of existence…the industry wouldnt survive it. PERIOD

VERTIGO layoffs is bad. anytime a comic company basically folds up– its bad for creators and fans alike.

BOB HARRIS becoming EIC is so mind numingly bad for DC i dont know where to begin.

1990s was probably the WORST time creativly for MARVEL COMICS in its entire history.
Everything was in disarray.
the MU line was not cohesive AT ALL.
The X-MEN line got wildy out of control and incoherent.
Spiderman wasnt even spiderman.
ART & WRITING was pretty much horrible across the board.
Oh and they went bankrupt.

So i dont see how hiring BOB HARRIS at a time when DC is in its WORST SHAPE in 30 yrs is a good idea?
Its like the FINAL NAIL in the coffin.

Chad : I believe they canned Heidi MacDonald while she was editing Y: The Last Man. Still seems stupid, but not unprecedented.
————————————

What? I had no idea that the guys behind Vertigo were so crazy. Neither of these decisions make any sense. I can understand firing someone who isnt contributing, but firing a star performer? That makes no sense at all.

This is so exciting.
Who’s going to hire Pichetshote? Will it be Boom Studios? Dark Horse? Top Cow could seriously use an editor.
Or will it be one of the less mainstream companies like Amaze Ink or Top Shelf?
Hey, how about Marvel? With titles like Incognito, Cassanova and Scarlett he would feel right at home.

Has this news been officially confirmed by DC or Vertigo as yet???

Wow. DC is heinous. Vertigo produces the best mainstream comics out there–Pichetshote is an EDITOR with a following and Hilty helmed some of DC’s best work. This is just astoundingly stupid.

Very sad news, but all the best to Joan, Jonathan and Pornsak, hope they find new work soon.

(PS : Why does everyone assume that Marvel will pick them up, or that they even want to go to Marvel? There are so many other publishing companies out there. Let’s think BIGGER, people)

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