Wednesday Comments – Vertigo Worry

I’m genuinely worried about the future of Vertigo. I’m worried for a couple of reasons. One reason I’m worried is because a few of the titles I enjoy are ending. Another reason I’m worried is because it doesn’t really have a critical darling title in the running right now. And finally I’m worried because of the climate in comics currently.

But let me go back first.

I didn’t always care about Vertigo. In fact, back in the day I sort of resented the pre-Vertigo books. Back in the late 80s I was fan of Erik Larsen and I really enjoyed his brief run on Doom Patrol. But then Grant Morrison took over and the book got all weird. It was one of those early “weird” books that laid the foundation for the Vertigo imprint.

I can recall going to Fantasy Comics and looking at the comic racks and noticing the covers of those early Vertigo books. The featured photo covers, collages, mosaics and haunting paintings. The covers looked exquisite, but definitely said “too mature” for me. I liked (and still like) bright costumes and capes, secret identities and super villains. I wasn’t ready for Vertigo back then.

But in fairness, it also wasn’t trying to appeal to me. The books were dark and mature. They were going for a specific fanbase, a more literate fanbase. That was not me.

While I’d heard a ton of good things about Preacher, I never picked it up (and still haven’t, it’s one of my “one day” books.) The exact same thing could be said about The Sandman, they are books that got raves, but I’ve just never had the desire to get into them. And since they’re going to be in print forever, it’s not really that urgent for me to get into them either.

It wasn’t until I saw the awesome cover for Gangland #1 that I tried out Vertigo. It was the bathroom stall Tim Bradstreet cover that truly lured me in. I loved the anthology and promptly found back issues of all of the previous Vertigo anthologies as well as picked up subsequent ones. It was a perfect way to get me into the Vertigo sensibilities.

From there I found 100 Bullets. I fell in love. It was a comic book that felt like it was more than a comic. It was one of those books that made the wait between issues excruciatingly long. 100 Bullets allowed me to invest in Vertigo.

I tried out the V2K books (Brave Old World, The Four Horsemen, I Die at Midnight, Pulp Fantastic and Totems) and I enjoyed them to varying degrees. When Y the Last Man launched I jumped on that immediately. At that point, I was willing to try out Vertigo books as they launched.

I never really got into Fables, I’m not much of a supernatural guy. But I’ve got complete runs of many of Vertigo’s shorter series, including; Greek Street, Air, The Vinyl Underground. Deadman, The Losers, American Century The Exterminators and House of Mystery.

Crossing Midnight, American Virgin, The Unknown Soldier, Human Target and Loveless and Trigger all hold special places in my heart.

Vertigo is where I first encountered Cliff Chiang, initially as an editor (100 Bullets) and later as an artist (Beware The Creeper.) It’s also where I got my first taste of Ed Brubaker, Brian Azzarello and Peter Milligan.

And obviously my love for Vertigo goes beyond just the ongoing series. I’ve picked up and tracked down various minis over the years, certainly too many to list. Graphic novels as well.

Speaking of tracking down, over the past few Baltimore Comic Cons, I’ve managed to cobble together complete runs of both Sandman Mystery Theatre and DMZ. I’ve become a fan and supporter of Vertigo.

But now I’m scared for Vertigo. Scalped, Sweet Tooth and iZombie will all end before the year is out, leaving just American Vampire, The Unwritten and Hellblazer as established Vertigo books on my pull list. And of the new launches that I’m picking up, Saucer Country, The New Deadwardians, and Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child, the most promising is the one that’s a limited series.

Vertigo is struggling, just like the comic industry and just like the American economy. But I don’t know if they can right the ship. Especially with former Vertigo mainstays Animal Man and Swamp Thing making huge splashes in the DCU.

Rumor has it that Vertigo isn’t as creator-owned friendly as they used to be, which means that potential creators are probably shopping their best ideas elsewhere. And without that influx of new blood, creativity and ideas, I’m really afraid that Vertigo will go the way of other DC imprints such as Paradox Press, Minx, DC Focus, Piranha Press and Wildstorm.

Sorry to end on a down note. However I’ve decided that I’m going to really think about how Vertigo can turn things around and write a future column about it.

But of course, it’s Wednesday, so you really should be heading to your local comic shop and buying some fresh new comics. Seriously.

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