Time was, Karen Berger was a name synonymous with Vertigo and DC’s game-changing slate of creator owned projects released via the imprint within the major publisher. After all, she founded the imprint in 1993 and she is the editor that made the likes of Sandman, Y: The Last Man, Preacher, Fables, Lucifer and iZombie a possibility. And notably, nearly all those names, and many others at Vertigo, found great success in other media, such as film and TV too.
After leaving DC in 2013, many wondered just what Berger would do next. And aside from editing Surgeon X, we were kept wondering for a time. Then we learned that there would be a new line of books, again an imprint at a major publisher, this time indie publisher Dark Horse. But what would it be called and what would these books be, some wondered.
Well, wonder no more. Karen Berger will head up the freshly announced Berger Books, with an initial lineup of titles announced now. The line-up will initially consist of four titles: Hungry Ghosts by Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose; Incognegro: Renaissance by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece; Mata Hari by Emma Beeby and Ariela Kristantina; and The Seeds by Ann Nocenti and David Aja.
Plus, the imprint will also host a re-release of out of print Dave Gibbons title The Originals, which will also be an expanded edition.
So what pushed Berger back into the comics fold in such a big capacity again? Well, in an interview with Vulture, she states,
“I’d been dabbling in a bunch of different things, but it was really, honestly, the election and the state of the world that made me really want to get back and create, and to do great stories, and work with great people. I felt like I needed to be more actively useful and productive.”
And what of any perceived similarity to Vertigo, or any remits for the books under Berger Books?
“There’s no set guidepost. There’s no set bible. There never was at Vertigo. People say, ‘Well, if it’s weird, it must be a Vertigo book.’ Well, not really. Weird is a component, but it’s not the driving force.”
Hungry Ghosts will be an anthology format series, four issues long, with isolated stories inspired by the Japanese Edo-period game of 100 Candles, where samurai would one up each other with freaky stories. Except instead of samurai, it will feature chefs from around the world. Art will be provided by the likes of Vanesa Del Rey, Leo Manco, Alberto Ponticelli, Paul Pope, and Mateus Santolouco and will be released January 31st, 2018.
Incognegro: Renaissance is a prequel to 2008’s Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery, a tenth anniversary edition of which will be released February 6, 2018. Renaissance follows protagonist Zane Pinchback, a black reporter who can pass for white, as he dives into the nightlife of the Harlem Renaissance.
Mata Hari will focus on the titular spy-dancer and the many myths that have grown about her, and will see release on February 21, 2018.
March 28th, 2018 will see the release of The Seeds, with a story set in “an imminent America where fact-based reporting is gasping its last breath” and “flora and fauna have begun to mutate.” A reporter comes across a huge story that, for reasons kept secret, she cannot report on, so instead pitches the greatest myth of her career.
And Berger is not done with this initial line up, promising more to come.
“I plan to have another wave of books later in the year as well. It’s not going to be a huge line, because it’s only me editing, which is another reason why I’m excited about doing this: It’s me back to my roots editing comics all the time, which I didn’t get a chance to do hands-on as much as Vertigo grew and grew.”