Karen Berger Talks About Leaving Vertigo – “It’s Time To Ply My Storytelling Skills Elsewhere”

karenI first heard after San Diego Comic Con that DC Vertigo’s Executive Editor Karen Berger was planning to leave DC Comics, though it was heavily denied at the time. And then the denials became a confirmation.

The reaction of many seem to be that this is a culmination in a death of a thousand cuts at DC Vertigo, as it transforms into something closer to Marvel’s Icon, an imprint to reward high profile DC creators with creator semi-owned work, without having to leave DC’s doors, or mature readers content with mainstream appeal, such as the adaptation of books, whatever is left of Wildstorm’s creator owned line and Sandman Zero. The role Vertigo played in the market has now been taken by Image and, to a lesser extent, aspects of Avatar, Boom, Dynamite, Oni and IDW. According to Douglas Rushkoff, Karen Berger told him not to do his graphic novel at Vertigo, and he took it to Dark Horse.

Karen Berger has talked to the New York Times about her move, telling them  “It’s time to ply my storytelling skills elsewhere.” Her payout from DC Comics will be sizable, and we had speculated that she could set up her own New York publishing boutique if she fancied, though it is more likely that with her relationship with comic creators who have become big publishing names, that she could get snapped up by one of the many book publishing houses.

She tells the paper regarding her current publisher, “I’ve found that they’re really more focused on the company-owned characters” and that it, and rivals Marvel, “are superhero companies owned by movie studios.”

The paper also quotes her peers;

“She was our generation, and not only that, she was offering us what we wanted… It was a perfect storm for a bunch of creative punks from Britain who were suddenly being taken very seriously…. Everybody learned from Vertigo… Everybody copied the tricks that worked, took the cool stuff, left behind what they didn’t like, and turned it into a sellable product.” – Grant Morrison.

“That was DC Comics, now we have DC Entertainment. It is a different beast, being run by different people.” – Neil Gaiman.

“As a young female writer in a very male-dominated industry, Karen was a such a wonderful role model, because she’d done it all…. it was understood that not all of the titles would make money. This was just a place to experiment. Is there going to be pressure to cull the interesting, innovative titles” in favour of “more popular but maybe less-innovative titles?” - G Willow Wilson.

“There’s not a challenge to be more profitable out of the gate. But there is a challenge to be more accepted out of the gate….” and that it would be “myopic” to believe that “servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead. That’s not what we’re in the business for. We have to shoot for the stars with whatever we’re doing. Because what we’re trying to do is reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible.” – Dan DiDio.