The news of Karen Berger leaving Vertigo spread quickly. It wasn’t so much that it was a surprise, but that it finally happened. DC
Comics Entertainment has been going through significant changes over the past couple of years, including grabbing characters long associated with Vertigo and returning them to the DC Universe, and rumored changes to creator contracts. Despite the unfortunate end, Berger leaves behind an amazing legacy no matter what becomes of the nearly 20-year-old imprint.
I have a very clear memory of high school in the 1990s where kids much cooler than me were reading The Sandman. These were kids who otherwise didn’t read comics, and certainly not the superhero stuff from Marvel and DC. This was not an isolated incident. Vertigo in the ’90s brought a new audience to comics, a maturing audience with interests in horror, fantasy, suspense and mythology. These readers didn’t have access to, and probably weren’t ready for, the underground or alternative comix scene. As superhero comics turned into garish collector items, Vertigo provided the alternative: stories.
In May 2011, Ryan Ballard began a quest to create the perfect birthday gift for his father, a comics fan with whom he shares a love of Preacher, the acclaimed Vertigo series by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon and Glenn Fabry. So Ryan bought a copper album embossed with Fabry’s cover art for Issue #56 and set off to fill the book filled with sketches of Preacher characters from a range of artists. More than a year later, Ryan finally presented his father with the finished album, complete with art from the likes of Dillon, Fabry, Jim Mahfood, Rufus Dayglo, Ryan Kelly, Leigh Gallagher and Duncan Fegredo.
Ryan’s appreciative father thanked all of the artists who contributed, passing along this message: “This is a heads up to all the fantastic faces who invested their time, effort and skill in Ryan’s quest. My sincere and deepest thank you, it would be true to say that I learned to read from comics but your visuals opened my eyes and imagination.”
For his part, Ryan merely reminds his father he has a herculean task ahead of him: My birthday is in August, no pressure Dad …” See some of the sketches below, and visit the Preacher Project to see many more.
(hat tip to Leigh Gallagher)
Despite the considerable critical backlash, DC Comics’ Before Watchmen line of titles has become one of this summer’s top sellers, and the publisher announced at Comic-Con International that it’s revisiting the classic Sandman in a prequel written by Neil Gaiman. With that in mind, I’ve come up with six other wells the company could return to for new projects. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t, but given recent events this might be where fans, and DC, could look next.