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.