DC Comics recently announced that it will be retiring its critically acclaimed Vertigo imprint in 2020. This will end 26 years of the ground-breaking mature reader stories coming from the multi-awarded imprint. All of DC’s future mature reader titles will be under a different imprint in 2020.
Established in 1993 under the stewardship of Editor Karen Berger, Vertigo featured comics with the ‘suggested for mature readers’ advisory on their covers. The stories provided by the imprint inspired a different take on traditional comic book publications. Though they would cover superhero comic themes at times, Vertigo would include themes and language that would set the standard for adult-oriented comics.The original six titles from 1993 include Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, Shade the Changing Man, and Neil Gaiman‘s seminal Sandman series.
In order to create awareness among these six initial Vertigo books, with each having their own following, Vertigo decided to come up with a line-wide crossover to consolidate the reach of the imprint. This allowed the readers to have a taste of what the other books had to offer. This resulted in the Children Crusade crossover event, which gathered all six titles into one overarching story.
As such, these stories widened the influence of Vertigo comic books and caused the medium to blossom further to reach greater heights. Aside from Gaiman, Vertigo has drawn to its stables such comic book luminaries like Alan Moore,Brian K. Vaughan, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis and Bill Willingham. The artistic style of Vertigo was top-notch and continued to gain praise throughout the years. The imprint has provided award winning comic books from its initial salvo of titles in 1993. Preacher, Y: The Last Man Standing, and Fables are just a few title that followed in the footsteps of Sandman.
Vertigo has continued to provide the type of stories that inspire creativity well beyond the bounds of superhero comic books. Recent books such as Clean Room and Unfollow showed just how much more further stories like these can go.
Current series like Goddess Mode and High Level have also continued to carry the imprint forward with the same type of out-of-the box storytelling.
Though Vertigo will be closing its doors this year, it is hoped that there will be room for mature-themed titles at DC in the form of its Black Label imprint. That being said, the importance of Vertigo in expanding mature reader content in comics cannot be denied nor depreciated. These stories will continue to inspire the millions of readers that have imbibed them, and the various other media that have grown from them.
I, for one, will miss DC’s Vertigo (as I’m sure many of its loyal readers will). It has been an important part of my life from its inception right down to its coming end. However, if there’s anything I’ve learned from my beloved Sandman (thank you, Neil), it’s that dreams may die, but they end up rising again in a different form. This might be the end for Vertigo for now. Who’s to say it won’t rise again? Here’s hoping that it’s rebirth will come in the form of another dream that will continue to expand the bounds of imagination.