vertigo comics shut down

DC Vertigo is dead. The esteemed adult-oriented imprint that for 26 years has housed award-winning comic book series like The Sandman, Preacher, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, and Fables, and beloved classics like Hellblazer and Swamp Thing, has been killed by DC Entertainment. This is part of a restructuring of the company’s DC Comics’ imprint divisions in an effort to release all published content under the DC brand.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that DC Entertainment has shut down its Vertigo imprint just one year after a company-wide shake-up attempted to rebrand the adult-oriented imprint as DC Vertigo. As of January 2020, Vertigo will wrap up operations alongside the DC Zoom and DC Ink YA brands, with its current books either finishing up or transitioning over to the newly updated DC Black Label line. This includes the line of Sandman Universe spin-offs and other ongoing series like Lucifer and Hex Wives.

DC Entertainment will replace Vertigo, Zoom, and Ink with three new age-specific labels for all DC Comics’ content, separating the brands by pre-teen readers, general audiences, readers 17 and older. The first is DC Kids, for readers aged 8-12, DC for readers 13 and above, and the DC Black Label for 17 and older. THR notes that this is the end of DC’s permanent imprints, with only temporary creator-driven “pop-up” imprints like Gerard Way’s Young Animal or Warren Ellis’ The Wild Storm.

DC Editor in Chief Dan DiDio acknowledged Vertigo’s rich legacy in a statement, but assured that the imprint’s core values would be retained elsewhere at DC:

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. That kind of material is now mainstream across all genres, so we thought it was the right time to bring greater clarity to the DC brand and reinforce our commitment to storytelling for all of our fans in every age group. This new system will replace the age ratings we currently use on our material.

Launched in 1993 by Karen Berger, Vertigo made a name for itself as a hub for bold, audacious, envelope-pushing creator-driven titles. Though at first envisioned as a horror and fantasy-focused imprint — and indeed, its longest-running titles like Hellblazer and Swamp Thing fit that mold — Vertigo championed experimental, subversive storytelling that drew the likes of comic book industry icons like Neil Gaiman, Brian K. Vaughan, Warren Ellis, and Grant Morrison. Under the leadership of Berger, the imprint’s titles like FablesTransmetropolitanSandmanPreacher, and Y: The Last Man, won numerous comic industry awards, including the coveted Eisner Award, and more have further success on the small and big screen, with adaptations of titles like iZombieLucifer, and Constantine.

However it was after Berger, who helmed the ship as Executive Editor and Senior Vice President for two decades, stepped down in March 2013 and was replaced by Shelly Bond that Vertigo’s standing began to fall. Bond herself was restructured out of DC in 2016, and DC Comics struggled to recapture the glory days under Berger. Vertigo’s death is a huge loss to the comic book industry and will be widely felt even as DC promises to keep the imprint’s spirit alive through its rebranding process.

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