Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Karen Berger on Vertigo, shifting comics landscape

Karen Berger

Karen Berger

Publishing | Dave Itzkoff profiles Karen Berger, who stepped down in March after 20 years as executive editor of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint (she still consults on a few projects). The story has a wistful tone, with Berger suggesting that DC is more interested in its company-owned characters and Co-Publisher Dan DiDio basically agreeing, but noting it’s an industry-wide trend. He said it would be “myopic” to believe “that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead,” adding, “That’s not what we’re in the business for. We have to shoot for the stars with whatever we’re doing. Because what we’re trying to do is reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible.” [The New York Times]

Passings | Belgian artist Fred Funcken, a contributor to Tintin and Spirou magazines and creator, with his wife Lillian, of many historical comics, has died at the age of 92. [Forbidden Planet]

Noah Van Sciver

Noah Van Sciver

Creators | Noah Van Sciver, who will be one of the featured artists at this weekend’s Denver Comic Con, talks about how he got the idea for The Hypo, his historical comic about the twentysomething Abraham Lincoln, and how he has honed his craft simply by working at it for years and years. [The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle]

Creators | Max Freeman interviews Gengoroh Tagame, a Japanese creator of gay erotic manga, about his work and The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, a collection of his manga that debuted at Toronto Comic Arts Festival. [The Huffington Post]

Digital comics | Dynamite Entertainment is publishing Amanda Hocking’s The Hollows: A Hollowland Graphic Novel as a digital-first series of chapters before collecting them in a print graphic novel. Hocking was one of the first authors to build a substantial audience via the Kindle; she sold more than 2 million of her self-published graphic novels as e-books. [Publishers Weekly]

El Muerto, by Javier Hernandez

El Muerto, by Javier Hernandez

Conventions | Javier Hernandez, co-founder of the third annual Latino Comics Expo, which takes place this weekend at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, talks about his love of comics and his plans for more and bigger events in other locations. [NBC Latino]

Comics | As part of his paper’s coverage of geek culture in Alabama, Greg Phillips talks to comics fans young and old, including someone who actually did start reading comics because of DC’s New 52. [The Dothan Eagle]

Retailing | Phoenix Comics opened its doors on Seattle’s Capitol Hill recently, bringing comics and gaming nights to a neighborhood that has lacked a comics shop for some time. [The Capitol Hill Times]



It’ll be interesting to see how Vertigo adapts after Berger’s departure–or if it’s even allowed to. My guess is that DC will want more oversight than they’ve had historically, and that the content will likely suffer.

Didio says following the classic Vertigo mold is “myopic,” yet DC has been consistently losing market share to Image as their own creator-owned imprint, which in a different era would probably be publishing several of Image’s bigger hits, slowly withers away. Now *that* is myopic.

John M. Sena Jr.

May 30, 2013 at 8:03 am

Sadden by the direction which Vertigo has taken, the only way to express my unhappiness is to stop reading the imprint. Developing readers is one way of increasing readership. Inventiveness is another way. Home runs aren’t the only way to wins games, singles and doubles do also. Does being unique count for something? Remember Sandman, 100 Bullets, Hellblazer, etc.

Comics will survive Dan Didio. Whether DC will survive I don’t know . . . its a pity that they think the Vertigo model is myopic. Its also telling how ridiculous his words are, since he is doing just that, focusing solely on Batman and the Justice League brand to try and sell comic books because of name recognition instead of trying to throw books in every direction and every genre to try to grow an audience . . . success takes time, but the new DC seems to be about mega hits out the gate and that simply isn’t happening in this comic landscape. It isn’t 1992 Mr. Didio . . .

“Because what we’re trying to do is reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible.”

Well then why bother with comics at all? Even the best selling comic reaches a fraction of what DC Movies and TV do.

“myopic” to believe “that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead”

Welll in that case can’t get more Myopic than publishing comics for that small slice of DC entertainment fans who prefer to get their DC in comic form.

Berger could run the company a thousand times better than Didio, who has proven over and over again that he has no idea what he’s doing. DC is a complete mess these days, both creatively and business-wise, and the only thing myopic is Didio’s skewed view of how DC should be operating.

Simon DelMonte

May 30, 2013 at 10:05 am

I really feel like the only person who likes DC now.

And while it’s a shame that Karen Berger feels like it’s time to move on, I can count the number of Vertigo titles I liked on the fingers of one hand. I appreciate all that Vertigo has done for the industry, but I just never got the appeal of most of them, and would rather read a good superhero title most days anyway.

Most fans have been afraid Vertigo has been abandoned and left to die. From the introduction of the Astro City title to it, I assume that it will become a mix of existing Vertio-style titles and creator-owned titles.

Weird how DC is eschewing what made Vertigo great and basically letting it fall to Image and others.

Part of the reason I’ve preferred, and respected, DC more than Marvel is precisely for things like Vertigo.

DC Comics is controled today by a bunch of mediocre and outdated “professionals” (DiDio, Lee, Harras and Johns).

I feel sorry for DC Comics’ characters and their fans.

My sense of this is that:
a. DC re-branded, subsuming Wildstorm, integrating its continuity, and reviving the Watchmen continuity. This seems ot be part of a decision to be more like Marvel, relying upon a portfolio of IP assets that can be exploited either in comics or in other media. Vertigo, with its broad absence of exploitable iconic assets, does not readily fit into that vision.
b. Vertigo has been resting on its laurels for a long time. The spin-offs from Fables suggest a hole in its creative strategy. There have been no new Sandman-type breakthroughs with their subsequent commercial benefits for the business.

I think that if this is the thinking, then it is short-sighted. Vertigo was like the R&D workshop for DC: high risk but high return. It enabled a spread of risk, not just putting all of the business’ investment into established assets. To me losing Berger means that the business is taking the comfortable “Smallville”/”Arrow” route – returns on established assets thorugh a tweaked mass-marketing, a readying for a medium conversion, turning away form the “old-fashioned” medium of comics and the risk of establishing a new asset base.

Mark Millar must fundamentally disagree with the conservative approach. For relatively small risk, he has turned Wanted and Kick-Ass into movies, and I gather has generated revenue from options on other new assets.

“…Co-Publisher Dan DiDio basically agreeing, but noting it’s an industry-wide trend. He said it would be “myopic” to believe “that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead,…”

What a full idiot this man is!!!!

It’s with tiny things that something can progress and then being put into a bigger scheme. The tries had been done and the results are already present and can be analyzed. And could be used with precautions.

All the “old” DC characters which have been developed into the Vertigo Verse and that have “survived” to the writing and artistic experimentations are now re-deployed into the DCnU with lesser interests. The DC Head’s Office has thought that Vertigo readers will go to the DCnU titles “en masse”. What an error.

And why??? Because the DCnU has not respected the Vertigo “standards” to catch the attention of the Vertigo readers. The DCnU has down leveled years of high qualities from the best imprint ever.

DC Comics is a branch of WB?? Well, the qualities are no more the objectives of DC Comics. Only numbers are “respectable” for the Head’s Office.

So be it. And do not cry if your sales are plunging to anew low.

I hope that Karen Berger will find ASAP an intelligent publisher which will give her the freedom that will be the base of high quality comic books.

It’s funny how the “myopic” Vertigo has produced a lot of the medium’s classics throughout the years, while the “reaching for the stars” branch is trying not to drwon in horrid stories all the while. Yeah DiDio, reach for the stars, with a bunch of generic story-telling, and trying to suck classic stories (eg Watchmen) dry. Because that is the way to go. Nice job. And then people are wondering why DC titles seem to suffer…

DiDio the wiser.

Try reaching for the stars in the company of “legends” like Harras, Lee and Lobdell.
But don’t forget your parachutes.

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