Vertigo Bleed (Comics Need Karen Berger)

Monday December 03rd 2012, 3:53 pm

Well, now the news has broke about legendary Karen Berger leaving DC and Vertigo. Karen has been absolutely inspirational for a very long time with DC, bringing to all of us some of the finest comics ever to come out of that company, and helping to spearhead an industry changing defying imprint with Vertigo. Comics have always been diverse but Karen really helped in that definition during a time when pretty much the dominant genre involved spandex, much like the trend is now. But Vertigo became the industry leader in presenting comics for people who wanted more than shiny costumes with superpowers. Karen’s efforts became a beacon for creators to look toward a different comics future landscape, paving a way for acceptance of new bolder ideas.

I find the timing of her departure from DC to be sadly ironic, in that next year when Karen says her final goodbyes to the company it will also be the 25 year anniversary of Sandman, one the titles that sort of started the whole thing (to which there is a brand new Sandman project on the way for this anniversary that I’m to start illustrating very soon). Sandman issue 1 was published in October of 1988 but dated January 1989, which helped lead to the formation of Vertigo under Karen’s direction, next year will bring the 20th anniversary of the legendary imprint. Having known Karen for many years and doing a few things for vertigo here or there, I had long been looking forward to working with her at a much closer level on this new Sandman project. So while excited over Sandman, its become bittersweet as her involvement will be going away. I’m a bit uncomfortable over it, actually. But it is what it is. I know I will not help but think of her that first day I put pen to paper, on that very first page Karen will be there in spirit.

I was also seriously disappointed when I’d heard about the demise of Vertigo’s Hellblazer recently announced, in favor of transitioning the lead character into the DCU entirely, not an idea I’m overly fond of. As a longtime reader of Hellblazer it was disheartening. I felt as if Vertigo was beginning to slowly be sucked dry, it’s life’s blood drained away. And with the departure of Karen Berger I have to admit that I’m feeling even more disheartened. And speaking as bit of a fan here, not an industry professional, I’m feeling torn between a struggle of anger about some things and rather optimistic for what the future may hold for Karen, and in turn for us as readers. As a creative editor Karen has something to say, always has, and I’m certain her voice will rise up out of the din and resonate with something new. And when that voice does sound, in whatever form that may take, I know I’m there to listen.

Comics needs Karen Berger!

I should add: Vertigo should be a legacy and continue, showing that Karen’s contributions remain valued.

13 Comments so far
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Pretty depressing over all. As someone who got into comics in their mid 20’s, I’m not a huge fan of super hero comics.

Vertigo has given me so many of my favorite series–Y: The Last Man, Sandman, Scalped, Preacher, Fables…the list goes on and on. I hope smaller companies such as Image Comics, IDW, and Dynamite continue to grow and provide new, original titles.

Comment by Logan 12.03.12 @ 4:12 pm

It’s sad to see both Berger and Hellblazer go but if I’m honest I like the direction that Vertigo is going now, how (aside from your and Neil’s Sandman 0 book, that I’m REALLY looking forward to) the majority of the imprint’s output seems to be creator-owned stuff, which is of course a good thing and I hope that indie books are Vertigo’s future. Or I could be horribly wrong and Vertigo is screwed, either one’s good.

Comment by Tomontherun99 12.03.12 @ 4:19 pm

Hey there Logan
Lets hope so.

Comment by jhw3 12.03.12 @ 7:32 pm

Hey there Tomontherun99
Vertigo has been doing creator owned comics for a very very long time. And I agree the new things coming do look promising as usual from Vertigo. But we’ll have to wait and see if this creator owned avenue stays viable once Karen leaves, as most of these projects were developed under her leadership. She does have a really good eye for great stories.

Comment by jhw3 12.03.12 @ 7:37 pm

Very sad day for me, like when Hellblazer finished. When I was a lad working in a comic shop, it was the golden age of Vertigo. Looking at my collection I see the Invisibles, Sandman, Transmet, Swamp Thing, Preacher, all proudly displayed showing the best the medium has to offer. It kinda reminds me of what happened to the computer games industry, as everything got ever more predictable, but now with Kickstarter creator can show what they are capable off again. It does seem like a good time to finally quit comics.

Comment by Jason Gallagher 12.04.12 @ 7:15 am

Hey there Jason
Some good reading taste you have there. But please don’t quit comics, we need readers who are interested in quality comics now more than ever, and there are plenty of great comics around today.

Comment by jhw3 12.04.12 @ 12:01 pm

When I heard about Karen’s departure I was so sad I wish her luck in her new endeavors also, I thought Batwoman should have been a Vertigo book.

Comment by jaymes 12.04.12 @ 1:07 pm

[…] J.H. Williams III, responding to Monday’s announcement that Karen Berger, executive editor and senior vice […]

Pingback by Quote of the Day | ‘Comics needs Karen Berger!’ | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment 12.04.12 @ 3:00 pm

Hey there Jaymes
Yes it is sad. It would’ve been interesting for Batwoman to have been a Vertigo title, certainly. But I do feel it serves the idea and meaning of the character to be considered a part of the Gotham city mythos proper.

Comment by jhw3 12.05.12 @ 2:20 am

I was bummed when I heard about Karen Berger’s impending departure. I think she brought an “edge” to Vertigo that really reached out to an under-appreciated community of comic readers. Y, V for Vendetta, Sandman, Preacher … all sort of subversive and “darker-themed” than most other comics, but to me – really necessary with their breadth of storytelling and characters.

Of course, there’s the fact that she was a woman leading an industry that is typically run by men, and that had to have brought a certain sensibility – intentional or not, to the impritnt. That, too, is a loss.

I think it’s pretty interesting to see that so many Batwoman fans also share quite a few Vertigo favorites. I think it says a lot about Kate and how she reaches people.

I can only hope Ms Berger somehow stays connected to an industry she helped define. I wish her all the best.

~ Pam

Comment by Pam 12.05.12 @ 6:18 am

Hello Pam
Yeah, the whole thing is so maddening. But I’m sure Karen will be back in action before we know it.

Comment by jhw3 12.06.12 @ 2:18 am

Man, that really doesn’t sit well. In our few interactions she was always great to talk to. Very supportive of creators. Bummer. The Vertigo Hellblazer situation was depressing enough…

Keep up the brilliant work J.H.!

Comment by Jason McNamara 03.02.13 @ 6:26 pm

Hey there Jason

Comment by jhw3 03.14.13 @ 1:21 pm

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