DC Comics may shut down its Vertigo imprint
There are now multiple reports suggesting that DC Comics may be shutting down its Vertigo Comics imprint. These rumors should come as no surprise to those following Vertigo’s abysmal sales numbers and the controversies surrounding some of the imprint’s creators.
Created in 1993, Vertigo was designed as a place for top-tier creators to produce content directed at mature audiences in genres outside of the typical superhero mold. Those creators included legendary talents such as Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison, and some standout Vertigo series include Preacher, Fables, Hellblazer, iZombie, and Y: The Last Man – all of which saw both critical and sales success. However, you may also note that none of these books are current or recent releases.
In 2018, DC Comics and Vertigo Senior Editor Mark Doyle chose to relaunch the imprint. According to a 2018 interview with Doyle, Vertigo Editor Andy Khouri was an instrumental architect of the relaunch, including bringing in several of the creators who would eventually populate the by-lines of the doomed imprint.
No longer aiming to attract elite, veteran comic creators, Doyle and Khouri instead made several controversial hires, including creators who had little (or literally zero) experience in the comic book industry.
It’s safe to say that the result has been an unmitigated disaster. Several books were already shipping fewer than ten thousand copies by their second issue. Richard Pace’s book Second Coming was pre-cancelled two days after the cutoff date for initial orders. One can only imagine how abysmally low those order numbers must have been.
The creator’s themselves didn’t do much to make things better, either. In addition to more typical social media drama, artist Robbi Rodriguez publicly sent unsolicited photos of his anus to a comic-creating competitor, while writer Eric Esquivel’s was accused of sexual misconduct and his book was subsequently canceled (Esquivel denies the allegations).
It’s unfortunate that these low sales and public relations nightmares could be pushing DC Comics away from mature content, because there’s certainly still an audience for it. Earlier today, we at The Splintering reported that Dynamite Comics’ mature, horror-themed Vampirella reboot is already one of the company’s most successful launches in decades. What could possibly be the difference between Dynamite’s successful strategy and the Doyle/Khouri failed experiment at Vertigo? Perhaps it’s due in part to Vampirella being helmed by Christopher Priest, a celebrated veteran writer who behaves like a professional…
Nah, it has to be something else…