Vertigo (DC Comics)
Vertigo Industry Publishing Founded 1993 (launch) Key people Karen Berger Products Adult comic books (see List of Vertigo publications) Parent DC Comics Website Official website
Vertigo is an imprint of the American comic-book publisher DC Comics. Its books are marketed to a late-teen and adult audience, and may contain graphic violence, substance abuse, frank (but not explicit) depictions of sexuality, profanity, and controversial subjects. Although many of its releases are in the horror and fantasy genres, it also publishes works dealing with crime, social satire, speculative fiction, and biography. Each issue's cover carries the advisory label "Suggested for mature readers" (regardless of a specific issue's content). As of 2010[update], Karen Berger is the executive editor of the imprint, and has overseen it since its inception in 1993.
Vertigo comics series have won the comics industry's Eisner Award, including the Best Continuing Series of various years (The Sandman, Preacher, 100 Bullets and Fables). Several of its publications have been adapted to film, including Hellblazer, A History of Violence, Stardust, and V for Vendetta.
In 2010, it was announced that Vertigo would become a strictly creator-owned imprint, with all titles that originated in the DC Universe, with the exception of flagship title Hellblazer, returning to the DC imprint. This includes characters related to Swamp Thing, The Sandman, Madame Xanadu, Black Orchid, The Books of Magic, House of Mystery, Sandman Mystery Theatre, The Haunted Tank, The Unknown Soldier, and Shade, the Changing Man. This had already been done with Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and The Human Target.
Vertigo originated in 1993 under the stewardship of Karen Berger, a Brooklyn College graduate with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Art History, who had joined DC Comics in 1979 as an assistant to editor Paul Levitz, debuting with House of Mystery #292 after a Sgt. Rock reprint collection. In the final issue of House of Mystey, #323, she was depicted in the comics as personally evicting Cain from the House. Ironically, as condescending as she was portrayed treating him, she was instrumental in the character's continued development at DC. By the mid-1980s, Berger, then editor of such DC titles as Wonder Woman and Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, began assigning writers from the U.K. These included Neil Gaiman, whom she met in 1987 on a talent-scouting trip, as well as Peter Milligan and Grant Morrison. She "found their sensibility and point of view to be refreshingly different, edgier and smarter" than those of most American comics writers, and worked with them and others on the superhero/science fiction series Animal Man, Doom Patrol vol. 2, and Shade, the Changing Man vol. 2; the Black Orchid miniseries (Neil Gaiman's first work for DC), the fantasy series The Sandman vol. 2, and the horror titles Hellblazer and The Saga of the Swamp Thing, that last written by Alan Moore, a British writer inherited from previous editor Len Wein.
These seven titles, all of which carried a "Suggested for Mature Readers" label on their covers, and shared a literature-like sensibility the fan press dubbed "the Bergerverse, would form the initial basis of Vertigo. In a 1993 editorial meeting with Berger, Levitz, DC publisher Jenette Kahn and managing editor Dick Giordano, Berger was given the mandate to place these titles under an imprint that, as Berger described, would "do something different in comics and help the medium 'grow up'". Several DC titles bearing the label, such as Green Arrow, which had it from vol. 2, #1 (February 1988)-#63 (Late June 1992), were not allowed to make the leap to the new imprint. The Question had borne the label from issue #8 (September 1987) to its cancellation in Spring 1992, and also never became a Vertigo title. Other "suggested for mature readers" titles to pre-date Vertigo include Vigilante, Haywire, and Skreemer, and miniseries and one-shots such as Gilgamesh II, Tailgunner Jo, World Without End, Mister E, and Batman: The Killing Joke. These mature readers comics, both those that became Vertigo and those that did not, often had the DC bullet printed in a smaller than usual size.
Several of the earliest new Vertigo series derived from Disney Comics' aborted Touchmark Comics imprint, a line announced before the so-called "Disney Implosion" of 1991, and subsequently abandoned. Touchmark was to be helmed at Disney by ex-DC editor Art Young, but when it was jettisoned, both Young and the properties were acquired by DC forming part of the debut Vertigo line. Berger notes that "when Art Young became available with the Touchmark properties... that helped facilitate the line," and the influx of projects allowed Berger to "double [her] proposed publishing plan." Quite how much of a part Disney's decision to scrap Touchmark played in the creation of Vertigo is open for debate. Touchmark titles included Enigma, Sebastian O, Mercy, and Shadows Fall.
Having spear-headed the "British invasion," by head-hunting such writers as Moore, Gaiman, Delano, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis and Peter Milligan, Berger was well suited to head up the new line, as she was already editing many of the series which would form the core of the early Vertigo output. Debuting alongside ongoing former-DC series Swamp Thing #129, Hellblazer #63, Sandman #47, Doom Patrol #64, Animal Man #57, and Shade, the Changing Man #33, the first new comic book printed under the "Vertigo" imprint was Death: The High Cost of Living #1, debuting a scant couple of weeks before Enigma #1 in January (March) 1993. Of these ongoing titles, only Hellblazer continues to be published.
Although regularly cited as one of the major forces behind the creation of Vertigo comics, none of the launch titles were written by Alan Moore (he having long-left Swamp Thing, and only created the character of - but never written the spin-off solo title - Hellblazer). but neither were any of the initial launch titles written by Grant Morrison, who had similarly finished his seminal runs on both Animal Man and Doom Patrol under the DC logo.
Instead, the key launch Vertigo writers were part of the "second wave" of British talent, focused in large part around Gaiman, whose Sandman was so critical to the decision to create Vertigo, and whose Death miniseries launched it. Peter Milligan penned the other new series, Enigma, and continued Shade, the Changing Man, while Ennis continued Hellblazer, Delano wrote Animal Man, Fantasy author Rachel Pollack took over Doom Patrol and Horror author Nancy Collins wrote Swamp Thing. The ninth comic launched at Vertigo's 1993 debut was the Vertigo Preview, showcasing the concurrently released titles, as well as J. M. DeMatteis' Mercy, Ann Nocenti's Kid Eternity (an ongoing series spun off from the earlier Morrison-penned miniseries), Dick Foreman's Black Orchid (an on-going series spun off from the Gaiman/McKean miniseries) and Matt Wagner's Sandman Mystery Theatre.
Other early titles
Having inherited some projects from Disney's aborted Touchmark project, Vertigo was able to plan a first year in which they were to publish "two new series [per] month in a variety of formats, either one-shots or miniseries or ongoing monthlies." The initial two series were both miniseries, the aforementioned Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman and Chris Bachalo and Enigma by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo. Enigma was initially "going to be the launch book of [Disney's] Touchmark," but became the second new Vertigo title, written by the author Shade, the Changing Man, and drawn by the artist from Grant Morrison's earlier Kid Eternity miniseries.
The major launch of the second month was Sandman: Mystery Theatre, described by Berger as in the same format as Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, "with different storylines every four issues." Written by Matt Wagner, it was described as "playing the '30s with a '90s feel... haunting, film noir-ish...," and starring original Sandman Wesley Dodds in a title whose "sensibilities echo crime genre fiction." Joining Mystery Theatre in February (cover-dated April, 1993) was J. Marc DeMatteis (and Paul Johnson)'s 64-page one-shot Mercy, while other initially talked about Vertigo projects included Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell's 3-issue steampunk miniseries Sebastian O - another ex-Touchmark project. In addition, Steve Gerber, an influential force on many of the Vertigo writers, provided the miniseries Nevada, which was written based on Neil Gaiman's reiteration of a frequent request to write something more about the characters in "the obligatory comic book fight scene" in Howard the Duck #16.
Vertigo style & promotion
Although the books did not have a consistent visual style, the cover designs of early Vertigo series featured a uniform trade dress with a vertical bar along the left side, which included the imprint logo, pricing, date, and issue numbers. The initial Vertigo 'look' "was created so people who see the books will automatically know it's [a Vertigo title]." The design layout continued with very little variation until issues cover-dated July 2002 (including Fables #1) which introduced an across-the-top layout ahead of 2003's "Vertigo X" 10th anniversary celebration. The "distinctive design" was designed to be used on "all Vertigo books except the hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and graphic novels." Berger noted that DC was "very" committed to line, having put a "lot of muscle behind" promoting it, including a promotional launch kit made available to "[r]etailers who order[ed] at least 25 copies of the February issue of Sandman [#47]," a "Platinum edition" variant cover for Death: The High Cost of Living #1 and a 75c Vertigo Preview comic featuring a specially written seven-page Sandman story by Gaiman and Kent Williams. In addition, a 16-page Vertigo Sampler was also produced and bundled with copies of Capital City Distribution's Advance Comics solicitation index.
In addition to the initially announced projects, Berger noted that, due to the then fluctuating state of the comics market, the Vertigo line was erring on the side of "blue line art or flat colors" rather than fully painted works, because "the market seems to be really price-sensitive." Although Vertigo released several "new format" and "Prestige format" titles, Berger noted that they had "to be really selective" with choosing to present stories in those formats solely "if the story can only be done that way," rather than as a default.
Formerly non-Vertigo titles
The Vertigo imprint, devoted specifically to titles for mature readers, has also been retroactively applied to later reprints of material previously published under other DC imprints. In addition to the earlier issues of the such initially DC ongoing series as Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing, other "mature readers" works such as V for Vendetta have later been subsumed into the Vertigo line. Books from discontinued imprints which have individual staying-power also been rebranded, most notably Transmetropolitan, which initially launched under DC's short-lived sci-fi Helix imprint, but switched to Vertigo with issue #13 (September 1998) and ran for a further 47 issues and four years; and A History of Violence which was originally published as part of DC's Paradox Press line, but reprinted under the Vertigo imprint when it was adapted into a motion picture. Other quirky, "mature" or "horror" series have seen collections sold under the Vertigo banner, including a "best of" collection of the Silver Age Comics Code-approved House of Mystery (as July 1998's Welcome Back to the House of Mystery) – a forerunner of Vertigo's founding horror/fantasy series – and a reprint of its pre-code first issue from 1951.
Relationship to DC Universe
Although many of the initial Vertigo publications were set in the DC Universe (Shade, Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Animal Man, Black Orchid, The Books of Magic and The Sandman all fit into the broader DC Universe, and have interacted with DC heroes including Superman and Batman), even pre-Vertigo the "mature reader" titles occupied a particular "dark corner" of the mainstream DCU, and the establishment of the imprint continued to distance the in-Universe series from full DC-branded continuity. Appearances in DC series by characters appearing in Vertigo series were very uncommon (notable exceptions include Sandman's Daniel appearing in two issues of Grant Morrison's 1997 relaunch of core-DCU title JLA), while events which had a "global" impact in the books of one imprint were not seen in the books of the other, (e.g. Vertigo's "The Children's Crusade" crossover or DC's "Bloodlines" crossover (except for Swamp Thing, who appeared in The New Titans issue of the latter), both in 1993). However, several characters used in Gaiman's Sandman, The Books of Magic, John Constantine and Black Orchid have all appeared briefly in mainstream DC comics, while other characters (primarily in the magical and supernatural grey area between mainstream and mature lines) have spanned the universes - the 2003 Zatanna special "Everyday Magic" was published as a Vertigo title, while Zatanna herself remains rooted in the DC Universe, and the current 2008 Madame Xanadu series is also being released under the Vertigo imprint. Characters from the DC Universe have slightly more commonly made guest appearances in Vertigo comics, and Vertigo miniseries featuring DC Universe characters appear from time to time, including the above-mentioned Zatanna one-shot, and characters such as Doctor Occult and The Phantom Stranger.
Borderline DC/Vertigo titles Animal Man and Doom Patrol sit uneasily between the Universes, both having begun as merely quirky titles in the mainstream universe, but becoming part of the Vertigo launch line-up in 1993 by dint of their increasingly separate and "mature" storylines. Both eventually returned to regular appearances under the main DC imprint after their Vertigo series were cancelled, and Doom Patrol has seen subsequent volumes released under the DC banner, while Animal Man played an integral role in recent DC year-long events 52 and Countdown.
Due to the change in DC's editorial policy, it has been announced that many of these titles' characters will return to the DC Universe proper. For example, Death of the Endless from The Sandman appeared in a 2010 storyline of Action Comics, where she encountered Lex Luthor. In addition, 2011 saw the return of John Constantine to the mainstream DC Universe in the aftermath of the Brightest Day storyline. It has also been revealed, as part of the reboot of the DC Universe, many of these characters will appear in DC's "the Dark" line of supernatural and horror comics. For example, Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, and other prominent magic-users in the DC Universe will appear in Justice League Dark, and Swamp Thing and Animal Man will have their self-titled series.
Much of Vertigo's output, however, inhabits its own "universe," and is set completely apart from the DC universe (and from other Vertigo titles--there is no "Vertigo Universe" per se), automatically putting to rest to any continuity quibbles between the two. Vertigo was the first successful imprint of DC Comics to routinely publish creator-owned series, right from its launch, with Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo's Enigma. From the start, Berger was committed to creator-owned projects, working on several "[her]self with new writers and artists" as well as established names, with the express intention of "trying to bring new people into the industry, as well as use some of the best creators in comics."
Only one of the series which existed before the formation of Vertigo is still ongoing (Hellblazer), the other launch titles having been cancelled or - as in the case of Gaiman's Sandman - brought to a definitive close.
However, Vertigo has published a number of series since its start with runs of 50 or more issues. They include:
- Hellblazer (283 issues to date, plus many spin-offs and tie-ins. Ongoing)
- Swamp Thing Vol. #2 (171 issues, including the one-shot Swamp Thing: Roots and two subsequent volumes of 20 and 29 issues, respectively)
- Fables (109 issues to date, plus various mini-series, OGN's, the Jack of Fables spin-off title and the Fables novel "Peter & Max")
- 100 Bullets (100 issues)
- Animal Man (89 issues)
- Doom Patrol Vol.2 (87 issues)
- The Sandman (75 issues, plus the spin-off titles, The Dreaming and Lucifer)
- The Books of Magic (75 issues plus sequel series)
- Lucifer (75 issues)
- Sandman Mystery Theatre (70 issues)
- Shade, the Changing Man (70 issues)
- DMZ (69 issues to date)
- Preacher (66 issues plus tie-ins)
- Transmetropolitan (60 issues and two specials, although the first twelve "main" issues were released under the Helix imprint)
- The Dreaming (60 issues)
- Y: The Last Man (60 issues)
- The Invisibles (59 issues over three volumes)
- Scalped (52 issues to date)
- Jack of Fables (50 issues)
Most of these series have further been kept in perpetual print as paperback collected editions, which typically sell as well - or better - than the monthly series did.
Other Ongoing Titles
- Northlanders (45 issues to date, concluding with issue 50, March 2012)
- The Unwritten (30 issues to date)
- Sweet Tooth (26 issues to date)
- American Vampire (20 issues to date)
- iZombie (18 issues to date)
Past series include:
- House of Mystery (Vertigo) (42 issues, concluded October 2011)
- Air (comics) (24 issues, October 2008-August 2010)
- The Exterminators (comics) (30 issues, March 2006-August 2008)
- Testament (comics) (22 issues, February 2006-March 2008)
- Loveless (comics) (24 issues, December 2005-May 2008)
- The Unknown Soldier (25 issues, October 2008-December 2010)
- Young Liars (comics) (18 issues, May 2008-October 2009)
- American Century (comics) (27 issues, May 2001-October 2003)
- Madame Xanadu (29 issues, August 2008-January 2011)
- Greek Street (comics) (16 issues, September 2009-December 2010)
- Crossing Midnight (19 issues, January 2007-July 2008)
- Codename: Knockout (24 issues, June 2001-June 2003)
- Deadenders (16 issues, March 2000-June 2001)
The (financial) success of many Vertigo titles relies not on monthly issue sales, but on the subsequent "trade paperback" editions which reprint the monthly comics in volumes which are sold not merely in comic shops, but in all bookshops. Vertigo's success in popularizing the trade paperback collection led to a wider take-up in the American comics industry of routinely reprinting monthly series in this format. Limited series (ideal for later collection) and original graphic novels make up the majority of the imprint's output, with TPB sales accounting for a substantial segment of the imprint's sales.
Sub-imprints and brandings
Over its fifteen-year history, the Vertigo imprint has experimented with a number of different branding, sub-imprint and business practices - some more popular and successful than others. The first - and only - "crossover" between Vertigo titles, 1993-4's The Children's Crusade event, despite comparable preorder numbers of the higher-(double-)priced Annuals, "did not yield smashing results" or garner many positive reviews, in large part due to its "gimmicky" nature, which ran counter to Vertigo's quirky, non-mainstream appeal and customer-base. The event was defended as "no marketing ploy" by one of the event's editors, Lou Stathis, who wrote of his dislike of the often "crass manipulation" of crossover events, defending The Children's Crusade as having come not from marketing, but the writers' minds, and therefore being "story-driven" rather than manipulative. The crossover did not become an annual event, however - indeed, annuals linked to Vertigo series rarely reappeared since this event.
Marked on the right-hand side of the cover by the Vertigo Visions "eye" logo, the six (to date) one-shots released under this sub-imprint have little in common other than introducing formerly (and, indeed, still) DC-Universe characters into the Vertigo line. All six characters span the gap between the universes, and have appeared in comics from both imprints. Prez Rickard for example, debuted in Prez a short-lived early-1970s series by Joe Simon, (who also co-created Brother Power the Geek and Captain America) and artist Jerry Grandenetti, but then drifted in obscurity before being spotlighted in Gaiman's Sandman #54. Ed Brubaker's one-shot dealt with Prez's supposed son seeking out his supposed father.
- Vertigo Visions: The Geek (June 1993) by Rachel Pollack and Mike Allred
- Vertigo Visions: The Phantom Stranger (Oct 1993) by Alisa Kwitney and Guy Davis
- Vertigo Visions: Doctor Occult (July 1994) by Dave Louapre and Dan Sweetman
- Vertigo Visions: Prez (Sep 1995) by Ed Brubaker and Eric Shanower
- Vertigo Visions: Tomahawk (July 1998) by Rachel Pollack and Tom Yeates
- Vertigo Visions: Doctor Thirteen (Sep 1998) by Matt Howarth and Michael Avon Oeming
Vertigo Visions was also the title of a 2000 collection of artwork from various Vertigo titles. Scripted by Alisa Kwitney, Vertigo Visions: Artwork From the Cutting Edge of Comics (ISBN 0-8230-5603-1) featured sections on:
- The founding Vertigo "Cornerstones" (Swamp Thing, Sandman, The Dreaming and Books of Magic),
- "Metafiction" in Vertigo titles (Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Shade, the Changing Man, The Invisibles),
- The (other) "Cult Favorite" titles (Sandman Mystery Theatre, House of Secrets, Transmetropolitan, Jonah Hex, Moonshadow, etc.)
- The "Skewed Reality" of such titles as Chiaroscuro & Preacher et al., and
- The "Alternate Realities" of such titles as Goddess, Terminal City & Stardust et al.
The Vertigo Voices sub-imprint was an early attempt by Vertigo to allow its creators freedom in producing creator-owned "distinctive one-shot stories." Under a specially designed issue-header (along the top, rather than the normal Vertigo side-banner), the Vertigo Voices specials were owned by their creators, and released as an initial three (or four: see below), with The Eaters following separately. (Tainted was to be "the third of the three original... specials," but became the second after Kill Your Boyfriend was delayed.) The published four were:
- Face (Jan 1995) by Peter Milligan & Duncan Fegredo
- Tainted (Feb 1995) by Jamie Delano and Al Davison
- Kill Your Boyfriend (June 1995) by Grant Morrison and Philip Bond (with D'Israeli)
- The Eaters (?Nov 1995) by Milligan and Dean Ormston
Milligan and Fegredo's Face was a horror story involving plastic surgery, while Delano and Davison's Tainted - described by one fan/critic as a "psychological masterpiece" - was a Kafkaesque tale set in England about a straight-laced gentlemen turned peeping tom, caught up in a tale involving repressed memories, blackmail and murder. Grant Morrison and Philip Bond's Kill Your Boyfriend deals with themes of repression, excess and corruptive influences, and purports to transform a "real" character into a mythical one by having the main female take on the persona projected by her new, murderous, bad-boy boyfriend - a transformation she uses within the confines of the story to justify, excuse and explain her excessive behaviour. Peter Milligan and Dean Ormston's The Eaters was a black comedy dealing with a family of cannibals caught up in a tale of revenge and American "family values" on a deeply satirical road trip.
Four titles were initially solicited in the Vertigo Voices range, the three which formed the initial release and a fourth title: Bizarre Boys. Announced as part of the initial line-up, but subsequently not released (and then replaced by The Eaters), Bizarre Boys was to have been a collaboration between Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan and Jamie Hewlett. This title would have seen metafictional authors "Morrigan" and "Millison" on a quest to find their titular creations, and "[e]choing James Joyce's Bloomsday, whatever events happen on Bizarre Boys Day [would] also [have] happen[ed] in the comic."
In 1996, several comics titles (two one-shots and three miniseries) were collectively released under the sub-imprint Vertigo Vérité. The short-lived "Vérité" line, evoking the realism of Cinéma vérité from the French for 'truth,' "was a 1996-98 attempt to promote new Vertigo projects devoid of the supernatural qualities that had gotten to define the publisher."
The five titles released under the "Vérité" baner were:
- Seven Miles a Second (May 1996) by David Wojnarowicz and James Romberger
- The System #1-3 (May-July 1996) by Peter Kuper
- Girl #1-3 (July-Sep 1996) by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo
- The Unseen Hand #1-4 (Sep-Dec 1996) by Terry LaBan & Ilya
- Hell Eternal (April 1998) by Jamie Delano and Sean Phillips
Seven Miles a Second (the title comes from "the speed which an object needs to achieve to break free of the Earth’s gravity") was published after Wojnarowicz' death from AIDS, and covered his experiences of living with that disease. Peter Kuper's The System dealt wordlessly with "class warfare in the big city," while Milligan & Fegredo's Girl is a hyper-realistic tale of a disaffected teenage girl prone to "all-consuming daydreams... needed to cope with life itself" caught up in a tale of murder and mundanity. The Unseen Hand features a college student caught up in an Illuminati-like conspiracy, with 1998's Hell Eternal.
The System was subsequently collected in a TPB.
On the eve of the year 2000, Vertigo released several titles under the "Fifth-week event" brand V2K (Vertigo 2000), to "celebrate... the (faux) millennium". Fifth-week events, which infrequently take advantage of a month having five comics-shipping-days (usually Wednesday/Thursday) are typically designed to fill-in the extra day in the normal four weekly schedule. The "events" tend to see the released of stand alone one-shot titles, usually with a cogent theme. V2K, by contrast was a "much hyped concept" whose titles were designed to "usher... in the new millennium," and as such several of them were miniseries rather than one-shots.
Under the slogan "Future's Here... Start Screaming", the five V2K titles were:
- Brave Old World #1-4 (Feb-May 2000) by William Messner-Loebs and Phil Hester
- The Four Horsemen #1-4 (Feb-May 2000) by Robert Rodi and Esad Ribic
- I Die at Midnight by Kyle Baker
- Pulp Fantastic #1-3 (Feb-Apr 2000) by Howard Chaykin & David Tischman and Rick Burchett
- Totems (Feb 2000) by Tom Peyer with Richard Case, Duncan Fegredo and Dean Ormston
Pulp Fantastic was initially solicited (and the first issue labelled) as a 4-issue miniseries, but it was swiftly revised as a 3-issue mini.
The Vertigo Pop miniseries were designed "to be about pop culture around the globe in some vaguely defined way." Indeed, along with middling sales-figures, one critic noted that "[a]side from vague notions of foreign cities and pop culture, it was never entirely clear what they were supposed to have in common in the first place."
- Vertigo Pop: Tokyo #1-4 (Sep-Dec 2002) by Jonathan Vankin and Seth Fisher
- Vertigo Pop: London #1-4 (Jan-Apr 2003) by Peter Milligan and Philip Bond
- Vertigo Pop: Bangkok #1-4 (Jul-Oct 2003) by Vankin and Giuseppe Camuncoli
The first (four-issue) miniseries, Vertigo Pop: Tokyo was in the words of one reviewer "a broad comedy about cosplay fans and the mafia (yakuza)," revolving around an American who moves to Tokyo's famous Akihabara district and attempts to deal with the differences between the two cultures before getting caught up in a "wild adventure involving kidnapping, extortion, gangsters, and rock stars." The second miniseries, Vertigo Pop: London, told the tale of "Rocky Lamont, lead singer in 1960s rock band" who "[r]ather than burning out the way he'd hoped... [went] into a slow and dull decline with a trophy wife and a series of dreary albums." Given the chance to relive his life by switching bodies with "a talentless 20 year-old wannabe rock star with all the looks and charm Rocky used to have," the series deals with the subsequent soul-searching and reflection over such a decision.
The third (and final) miniseries, Vertigo Pop: Bangkok was an altogether "darker affair," dealing in part with the sleazy underbelly of Bangkok from the perspective of a number of different Western tourists. Featuring several unlikable and unsympathetic protagonists, the miniseries "capture[d] the city in a dirty and unflattering — yet realistic — light" serving as a backdrop to a tale of the Thai sex trade and sex tourism.
In 2003, the Vertigo imprint celebrated "Ten years on the edge" by branding their books cover-dated April 2003 to February 2004 (i.e. released between February and December 2003) - Vertigo's Tenth Anniversary - with the legend Vertigo X. This special subtitle was debuted on the Vertigo X Anniversary Preview (Apr 2003), a 48-page special previewing Vertigo's up-coming projects and featuring a short Shade, the Changing Man story by the "Ecstatic" team of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred (a pun on their then-current Marvel project together: X-Statix). Projects highlighted included Death: At Death's Door, Jill Thompson's first manga-ized version of the "Season of Mists" storyline, retold from the point of view of the Sandman's elder-sister Death and Gaiman's own return to the mythos with the hardcover Sandman: Endless Nights all-star collection of short stories spotlighting the seven members of the Endless. (An 8-page Endless Nights Preview issue was also released before the hardcover). Also highlighted and previewed were two original graphic novels: Lovecraft (based on a screenplay by Hans Rodionoff and adapted by Keith Giffen with art by Enrique Breccia) took the conceit that H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos creatures were real, to paint a highly fictionalized biographic portrait of the titular author, while Howard Chaykin & David Tischman's Barnum! (with art by Niko Henrichon) similarly drifted in the realms of fictionalized biography, but did not stray into the horror/supernatural world. The tale of P. T. Barnum: secret agent saw the celebrated showman saving the life of President Grover Cleveland and (with his circus charges, including original siamese twins Chang and Eng) and matching wits against the "evil" Nikola Tesla. Also previewed as a 2003 release from Vertigo was Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon's The Winter Men, which ultimately saw its first issue released in September 2005 through WildStorm's "Signature Series" imprint.
- Beware the Creeper #1-5 (June-Oct) by Jason Hall and Cliff Chiang
- Blood + Water #1-5 (May-Sept) by Judd Winick and Tomm Coker
- Human Target #1-5 (Oct-Feb 2004) by Peter Milligan and Javier Pulido (Series continued until issue #21 June 2005)
- Losers #1-7 (Aug-Feb 2004) by Diggle and Jock (with Shawn Martinbrough) (Series continued until issue #32, March 2006)
- Barnum!: In Secret Service to the USA (June/Aug) by Howard Chaykin, David Tischman and Niko Henrichon
- Death: At Death's Door (July/Sep) by Jill Thompson
- Sandman: Endless Nights (Oct/Dec) by Neil Gaiman with P. Craig Russell, Milo Manara, Miguelanxo Prado, Barron Storey & Dave McKean, Bill Sienkiewicz and Frank Quitely
The final Vertigo Pop! miniseries, and the eighth-and-final issue of Garth Ennis' War Story series of one-shots were released in their entirety during the year and featured the logo:
- Vertigo Pop: Bangkok #1-4 (Jul-Oct 2003) by Vankin and Giuseppe Camuncoli
- War Story: Archangel (Apr) by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine
Similarly, two other OGNs were released during the year, but not specifically highlighted in the preview as Anniversary titles:
- Orbiter (June/Aug) by Warren Ellis and Colleen Doran
- Sgt. Rock: Between Hell & A Hard Place (July/Sep) by Joe Kubert
The following on-going series had issues released during Vertigo's anniversary year and those issues carried the "Vertigo X" branding:
- 100 Bullets #42-48 (Apr - Feb 2004) by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
- Fables #10-20 (Apr-Feb 2004) by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham; with Lan Medina, Linda Medley & Bryan Talbot
- Lucifer #35-45 (Apr-Feb 2004) by Mike Carey, Peter Gross and Dean Ormston; with David Hahn & Ted Naifeh
- Y: The Last Man #8-17 (Apr-Feb 2004) by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra; with Paul Chadwick.
The following series and miniseries finished during the year, with the final issues featuring the "Vertigo X" logo:
- American Century #23-27 (Apr-Oct) by Howard Chaykin, David Tischman and Lan Medina; with Luke Ross & John Severin
- Codename: Knockout #21-23 (Apr-June) by Robert Rodi and John Lucas
- Fight for Tomorrow #6 (Apr) by Brian Wood and Denys Cowan
- The Filth #9-13 (Apr-Oct) by Grant Morrison and Chris Weston
- Hellblazer Special: Lady Constantine #3-4 (Apr-May) by Andy Diggle and Goran Sudzuka
- Hunter: The Age of Magic #20-25 (Apr-Sep) by Dylan Horrocks and Richard Case
- Sandman Presents: Bast #2-3 (Apr-May) by Caitlin R. Kiernan and Joe Bennett
- Vertigo Pop: London #4 (Apr) by Peter Milligan and Philip Bond
Paul Pope's 100% #5 was cover-dated July 2003, but was not branded a "Vertigo X" title.
Originally previewed as a "Vertigo X" title, Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon's The Winter Men was ultimately put back to September 2005, when it was released - under the WildStorm Signature Series label.
At the 2008 Comic-Con International Karen Berger outlined plans for a new "sub-imprint" called Vertigo Crime: "it's a line of graphic novels, in black and white, hardcover". It was launched in 2009 with two titles: Brian Azzarello's Filthy Rich and Ian Rankin's Dark Entries, the latter featuring John Constantine. Each volume features a cover illustration by Lee Bermejo.
The following original graphic novels have been published under the Vertigo Crime imprint (in order of publication):
- Dark Entries by Ian Rankin and Werther Dell'Edera
- Filthy Rich by Brian Azzarello and Victor Santos
- The Chill by Jason Starr and Mick Bertilorenzi
- The Bronx Kill by Peter Milligan and James Romberger
- Area 10 by Christos N. Gage and Chris Samnee
- The Executor by Jon Evans and Andrea Mutti
- Fogtown by Andersen Gabrych and Brad Rader
- A Sickness in the Family by Denise Mina and Antonio Fuso
- Rat Catcher by Andy Diggle and Victor Ibanez
- Noche Roja by Simon Oliver and Jason Latour
- 99 Days by Matteo Casali and Kristian Donaldson
- Cowboys by Gary Philips and Brian Hurtt
- Aaron and Ahmed by Jay Cantor and James Romberger
The following original graphic novels are planned for publication under the Vertigo Crime imprint:
- Return to Perdition by Max Allan Collins
In addition to the various sub-imprints and formats, Vertigo was also an early adopter of hardcover collections of monthly comics, as well as hardcover OGNs (original graphic novels). In addition, the 2003 one-shot Vertical featured dimensions unique in the comics field. Half the width of a "normal" comic, Vertical was also stapled at the top making it "twice as tall." The dimensions were, while gimmicky, chosen delibertely to complement Steven T. Seagle's story, which revolved around tall buildings and, of course, feelings of "Vertigo." (N.B. Vertical was not the first comics title to hinge on the "wrong" side. A tried-and-tested method for presenting newspaper comic strips, the 2003 DC Elseworlds story Batman: Nine Lives also used this method - although unlike those titles, Vertical is designed to be read vertically, and not horizontally.)
Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust was released by Vertigo as a heavily illustrated novel, rather than a regular comic, and Vertigo has also experimented with the dimensions of their OGNs, releasing several that are of a non-comic-book-standard size, including Dave Gibbons' The Originals and Mat Johnson's Incognegro (which also featured somewhat experimental artwork, namely art - by Warren Pleece - that was fully black and white, with no "halftones or grays").
In addition to founding editor (and the driving force behind Vertigo) Karen Berger, several other editors have become intrinsically linked to the imprint. Berger herself was editing proto-Vertigo titles from the start of her time with DC, beginning in 1981 with House of Mystery. She took over editorship of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run from Swamp Thing co-creator Len Wein in 1984, and in 1986 "became DC's British liaison," bringing to DC's pre-Vertigo titles the individuals who would be instrumental in the creation and evolution of Vertigo seven years later. From 1988, her Swamp Thing and other DC titles were joined by Gaiman and McKean's Black Orchid miniseries and Hellblazer as well as the odd miniseries The Weird. Editing Doug Moench's The Wanderers, Berger was joined on issue #5 (Oct 1988) by co-editor Art Young, who would also later be instrumental in the formation of Vertigo. Grant Morrison's Animal Man and the ultra-dark Arkham Asylum OGN were swiftly joined on Berger's slate by The Sandman, Skreemer, The Books of Magic, The Nazz and Shade, the Changing Man. Berger continued with The Sandman and Shade during 1992, and saw the pre-Vertigo titles as "all [having] some basis in reality."
By the early 1990s, "[t]he core Vertigo titles had already become their own little enclave," so when Berger returned from maternity leave, she spoke with DC President Jenette Kahn and Executive Editor Dick Giordano, the outcome being a separate imprint to "actively expand [the] sensibility" of the titles she had been editing. Berger included in the initial Vertigo line-up the five titles she had had some hand in creating or editing (Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Animal Man, Sandman and Shade) as well as Doom Patrol which she "decided to include... because Grant Morrison was working on it and the sensibility was very much like the other series." Berger has since overseen the entire Vertigo line, and was promoted to the position of "Senior Vice President — Executive Editor, Vertigo" in July 2006. Berger's promotion came as Vertigo was said to be equivalent to "the fourth largest American comic book publisher" in 2005, with Paul Levitz praising her personally as having "built Vertigo into an imprint which is simultaneously one of comics' leading creative and commercial successes." In addition, Berger won Eisner Awards for her editing in 1992, 1994 and 1995 for her work on the proto- and early Vertigo titles Sandman, Shade, Kid Eternity, Books of Magic, Death: The High Cost of Living and Sandman Mystery Theatre.
Art Young joined Karen Berger to edit pre-Vertigo issues of Animal Man (from issue #3), Hellblazer and Swamp Thing on issues cover-dated November 1988. Two months later, Young also took on the initial issues of The Sandman, before in mid-1990 moving to Doom Patrol, which with Animal Man he edited until early 1991 (also over-seeing the original Books of Magic miniseries along the way). He then left DC to work for Disney in setting up Touchmark, before returning with those projects to Vertigo in early 1993, when he edited debut title Enigma, and later miniseries and one-shots such as Sebastian O, The Extremist, Mercy, Rogan Gosh, The Mystery Play, and Tank Girl: The Moovy. He edited all four of the "Vertigo Voices" titles in 1995, as well as Shadows Fall, Ghostdancing, Egypt, Millennium Fever and both Tank Girl miniseries. Young's last editorial credit for Vertigo was Flex Mentallo #1 (June 1996).
Shelly Bond (née Roeberg) is probably the most prolific and wide-ranging (as well as the second-best known after Berger) Vertigo editor, long since installed as a Group Editor. Like Young, she has overseen a large number of notable projects during her (almost-)exclusive time working with Vertigo since April 1993. Roeberg took over editorial duties on the second Vertigo issues of both The Sandman and Shade, the Changing Man from Lisa Guastella - then Lisa Aufenanger - editing those two titles until their respective final issues; she also edited the first 36 issues of the "ahead of its time" crime/noir series Sandman Mystery Theatre. Between 1993 and 2000, she edited titles exclusively for Vertigo (with one exception - the nine issues of Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez's Yeah! (1999–2000) for DC's imprint Homage), including relatively little known titles and one-shots such as Skin Graft, The Last One, The Heart of the Beast (1994), Mobfire, Terminal City, Menz Insana, The Girl Who Would Be Death, Heavy Liquid, Pulp Fantastic and Accelerate. She also edited the first Vertigo works of Bill Willingham and Ed Brubaker in Proposition Player and Scene of the Crime, and the higher-profile series Moonshadow, Girl, Seekers into the Mystery, The Minx and all issues of House of Secrets (with Jennifer Lee from issue #11).
She (co-)edited the final 25 issues of The Dreaming between 1999 and 2001, initially as Shelly Roeberg, and latterly as Shelly Bond (after marrying artist Philip Bond), and most of the Sandman Presents... miniseries and one-shots. From 2000, she has continued to edit most of the highest-profile Vertigo titles, including almost all of Mike Carey's Lucifer (with Mariah Huehner) and the entirety of Ed Brubaker's Deadenders, Howard Chaykin & David Tischman's American Century, Jonathan Vankin's The Witching, Si Spencer's Books of Magick: Life During Wartime, Steven T. Seagle and Kelley Jones' The Crusades and Bill Willingham's Fables (to date). She oversaw the first fourteen issues of American Virgin, the first eleven of Jack of Fables, the first two Vertigo Pop! miniseries, Paul Dini's Zatanna: Everyday Magic and the innovative Vertical one-shot. She helped shepherd the OGNs Barnum!, Confessions of a Blabbermouth, 1001 Nights of Snowfall, God Save the Queen, The Little Endless Storybook, Re-Gifters, Sandman: Endless Nights and Silverfish as well as both Bite Club miniseries, Faker, Grip: The Strange World of Men, My Faith in Frankie and House of Secrets: Facade. From 2007, she has also been heavily involved in the new DC imprint "Minx", but is still editing titles for Vertigo, including the new 2007/8 series House of Mystery, Vinyl Underground and Young Liars.
Tom Peyer was, by 1990 editing (with Karen Berger) what would become the pillars of Vertigo - Hellblazer, Sandman (taking over from Art Young), Swamp Thing and Shade, the Changing Man. He soon left Swamp Thing to Stuart Moore, however with issue #100, and Moore would edit and co-edit the remaining 71 issues of that title, including the switch from DC to Vertigo. Peyer moved to Doom Patrol and Animal Man, which he edited during the transition from DC to Vertigo, before moving to edit the initial issues of Kid Eternity and Black Orchid as well as two "Vertigo Visions" one-shots. Peyer left editing behind in 1994, returning to DC as a writer. Moore edited a wide range of Vertigo titles between 1993 and 2000, including the transitional issues of Hellblazer as well as Swamp Thing, the first fifteen issues of The Invisibles, the first seventeen issues of Preacher and the first thirty issues of Transmetropolitan. In 1996, Moore won the Eisner Award for best editor, for his work on Swamp Thing, Invisibles and Preacher. He edited the first issues of Books of Magic, and both Books of Faerie miniseries (with Cliff Chiang), and returned to the main Books of Magic title for a further 20+ issues with Chiang in 1998. He also edited several miniseries for both Vertigo and Vertigo's sister imprint Helix.
Axel Alonso (who would later move to Marvel Comics) began his editorial career at Vertigo on Animal Man, Black Orchid, Doom Patrol and Hellblazer, and also edited the opening issues of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's 100 Bullets and the final issues of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Preacher.
Will Dennis was promoted from assistant editor to editor upon Alonso's departure. He took over the editing of 100 Bullets and later assumed the reins of Vertigo's biggest hit series since Preacher, Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra's Y: The Last Man. Dennis has been responsible for bringing writers Brian Wood (DMZ) and Jason Aaron (Scalped) to Vertigo. He teamed writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock on their breakout series The Losers. Dennis edited Vaughan's commercially successful graphic novel "Pride of Baghdad". He is the editor presiding over the ongoing Vertigo Crime line of graphic novels.
Jonathan Vankin was hired as an editor at Vertigo in 2004 after previously writing two of the line's Vertigo Pop miniseries and several entries in the Paradox Press "Big Book" series as well as several other non-comics works . His contributions to the line as an editor have included the series, The Exterminators and Testament. For the latter, he brought media theorist Douglas Rushkoff to Vertigo. Taking over editing of Hellblazer from Will Dennis, he hired acclaimed Scottish crime novelist Denise Mina to write the title for 13 issues. He brought Harvey Pekar to Vertigo, where Pekar published the graphic novel The Quitter as well as eight issues of Pekar's long-running American Splendor autobiographical series. Vankin also edited the graphic novels Incognegro by Mat Johnson and The Alcoholic by novelist and essayist Jonathan Ames.
Although the "mature reader" works of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison (with Jamie Delano and Neil Gaiman) under the DC imprint paved the way for Vertigo's launch, neither author was part of the initial line-up. Indeed, Moore never produced work for the Vertigo imprint - having refused to work for parent company DC in the late 1980s - although his DC-published Swamp Thing work and V for Vendetta reprint-maxiseries were subsequently collected as Vertigo-issued TPBs, while the Hellblazer solo title dealt with the character co-created by Moore, but never written by him.
Grant Morrison, whose pre-Vertigo work on Animal Man and Doom Patrol was similarly retroactively branded as "Vertigo" when collected, also wrote two issues of Hellblazer pre-Vertigo, which are collected in a 2005 trade paperback. Wrote three volumes of The Invisibles between 1994 and 2000. In addition, he has produced a number of miniseries including Sebastian O (1993), the Doom Patrol spin-off Flex Mentallo (1996), Seaguy (2004), Vimanarama (2005), We3 (2004–2005) and "Joe The Barbarian" (2010) as well as the longer miniseries The Filth (2002–2003). He collaborated with writer Mark Millar on five issues of Swamp Thing in 1994, produced two one-shots — The Mystery Play (1994) and Kill Your Boyfriend (1995) — and contributed to several anthologies.
Of the eight debut Vertigo titles, half of them were the work of two authors. Neil Gaiman, who went on to become a New York Times best-selling novelist, came to prominence four years pre-Vertigo with the launch of The Sandman for DC Comics, a title that became the backbone of the initial Vertigo line-up. Gaiman's work on the first The Books of Magic miniseries (also released as a DC title, 1990–91) lay the groundwork for that long-running Vertigo Universe series, which features young wizard Timothy Hunter.
Peter Milligan, who began his career at 2000 AD, before working briefly for both Pacific Comics and Eclipse Comics, contributed two titles (one quarter of the initial line-up; the same as Gaiman) to the Vertigo launch. His Shade, the Changing Man was launched by DC and ran 70 issues (July 1990 - #70 (April 1996, by which time it was under the Vertigo imprint. He also wrote the creator-owned eight-issue miniseries Enigma (1993). Milligan and Brett Ewins's Skreemer, written for DC pre-Vertigo (1989) was subsequently collected by Vertigo, while his work on the DC character Human Target was released entirely by Vertigo as a four-issue miniseries (1999), an original graphic novel (2002), and an ongoing series (2003–2005). Milligan also produced the one-shots The Eaters and Face in 1995 for the "Vertigo Voices" sub-imprint, and a number of other miniseries, including The Extremist (1993), Tank Girl: The Odyssey (1995), Egypt (1995–1996), Girl (1996), The Minx (1998–1999), and Vertigo Pop!: London (2003).
Garth Ennis (Hellblazer) and Jamie Delano (Animal Man) were two other launch authors who went on to great success with Vertigo and elsewhere. Ennis' best-known Vertigo work was his and artist Steve Dillon's creator-owned Preacher, which ran for 66 issues and six spin-off specials between 1995 and 2000, while Ennis' prolific work on Hellblazer rivals initial-series author Delano. Ennis has also written several miniseries for Vertigo, including Goddess (1995–1996), Pride & Joy (1997), Unknown Soldier (1997), and Adventures in the Rifle Brigade (2001–2002), as well as eight one-shot War Stories between 2001 and 2003. Two of his pre-Vertigo works — True Faith (serialized in Crisis) and the four-issue DC/Helix miniseries Bloody Mary (1996-1197) — have had collections released under the Vertigo label. Alan Moore, co-creator of the jaded, chain-smoking, modern-day British wizard John Constantine in Swamp Thing, hand-picked Jamie Delano to continue Constantine's adventures as star of the DC title Hellblazer (1988–present), but Delano left that series in 1991 before the launch of Vertigo. Delano did write Vertigo's Animal Man#51-79 (1992–1995), and produced 19 issues of Outlaw Nation (2000–02) and the 12-issue miniseries 2020 Visions (1997–1998), plus two Hellblazer miniseries — The Horrorist (1995–1996) and Hellblazer Special: Bad Blood (2000). He also wrote the one-shot titles Tainted (1995) and Hell Eternal (1998), the miniseries Ghostdancing (1995) and Cruel and Unusual (1999), contributed to anthology titles, and with Gaiman and Kwitney wrote The Children's Crusade #2.
Rachel Pollack, who was writing Doom Patrol when Vertigo launched, continued on that title until #87 (Feb. 1995), the final issues. She also penned two "Vertigo Visions" specials — 1993's The Geek and 1998's Tomahawk. Nancy A. Collins, who wrote Swamp Thing #110-138 (Aug. 1991 - Dec. 1993), also wrote the 1996 one-shot Dhampire: Stillborn.
John Ney Reiber has produced most of his output for Vertigo, working exclusively for the company between 1994 and 2000. Reiber wrote the first fifty issues of the first ongoing The Books of Magic series (May 94 - July 98), as well as a number of miniseries, mostly set in the wider Vertigo universe (and particularly the Sandman/Books of Magic sections) - Mythos: The Final Tour (1996-7), Hellblazer/The Books of Magic (1997-8), The Trenchcoat Brigade (1999), The Books of Faerie: Molly's Story (1999). Reiber's Shadows Fall (with artist John Van Fleet) was a self-created horror story grounded in a reality which made the tale "all the more creepy than if the story was played out in the realm and scope of superheroes." Reiber's Tell Me Dark, produced for DC, was collected in softcover by Vertigo, and he also contributed to various anthologies.
J. M. DeMatteis began his comics career on DC's House of Mystery title over a decade before the formation of Vertigo, and later became one of the earliest Vertigo creators thanks in large part to his proposed Touchmark projects. DeMatteis' Mercy (1993) one-shot and miniseries The Last One both debuted in 1993, with reprints of two creator-owned Epic Comics projects following in subsequent years: his 1985-7 creator-owned maxiseries Moonshadow was reprinted between 1994-5, with the miniseries Blood: A Tale seeing print again in 1996-7. DeMatteis also wrote fifteen issues of Seekers into the Mystery (1996-7) for Vertigo.
Mike Carey, having started his American comics career with Caliber Comics in the mid-1990s catapulted to prominence in March 1999 with the first issue of his Sandman spin-off miniseries Sandman Presents: Lucifer, which would lead to an on-going series a year later and considerable praise and projects for Carey. A second Sandman miniseries - Sandman Presents: Petrefax (2000) - soon followed, before the June 2000 debut of Lucifer. Neil Gaiman's preferred Sandman spin-off had not had an easy time being published, due to its title and main character, but Carey was able to helm it for a Sandman-equalling 75 issues (and a 2002 one-shot - Nirvana) for 6 years. During this time, Carey also wrote the hardcover OGN Sandman Presents: The Furies (2002), over 40 issues of Hellblazer between 2002 and 2006 and a 2005 Hellblazer original graphic novel, All His Engines. He also wrote a non-Sandman miniseries, My Faith in Frankie (2004), the comicbook adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (2005-6) and the OGN God Save the Queen (2007). In 2007 he launched the ongoing series Crossing Midnight (2007-8) and the miniseries Faker (2007-8).
Brian K. Vaughan's first Vertigo work was a short story in 2000's Winter's Edge #3 anthology, which led to him relaunching Swamp Thing (Vol. 3) (2000–01) which lasted for 20 issues. In September 2002, his (and Pia Guerra's) Y: The Last Man launched. It would ultimately run for 60 issues until March 2008. Vaughan also wrote the 2006 OGN Pride of Baghdad for Vertigo.
Ed Brubaker's first Vertigo work was on the "Vertigo Visions" Prez one-shot (1995), and intermittent contributions to a couple of anthology titles preceded his Scene of the Crime (1999), effectively laying the groundwork for his later crime comics. His next Vertigo project - the post-apocalyptic series Deadenders (2000–01) - ran for 16 issues while Brubaker wrote for both Batman and Detective Comics for parent-company DC. His 2001 miniseries Sandman Presents: The Dead Boy Detectives told the story of some incidental Sandman characters, and was later retold by Jill Thompson in manga form (2005). Brubaker subsequently took his Vertigo/crime sensibility to work from WildStorm, Icon and the mainstream DC and Marvel universes.
Bill Willingham came to Vertigo after a plethora of small press work in 1999 to launch his poker miniseries Proposition Player (1999–2000), and contribute to the Sandman universe with a one-shot spy-spoof - Sandman Presents: Merv Pumpkinhead, Agent of D.R.E.A.M. (2000) - and a single issue contribution to The Dreaming on-going series. A second Sandman one-shot - The Sandman Presents: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dreams... (2001) - also led to a 4-issue miniseries, Sandman Presents: The Thessaliad (2002). Willingham's best-known work soon followed, with the July 2001 debut of Fables (with artist Lan Medina). In 2004, he returned to the world of the Sandman with Sandman Presents: Thessaly: Witch for Hire, and 2006 saw the debut of the Vertigo-esque magical - but mainstream DCU title - Shadowpact and Fables companion series Jack of Fables. In July 2008, with Fables nearing a major turning point in its run, Willingham relaunched House of Mystery as a Vertigo title with Matthew Sturges.
Several artists have also produced a large amount of notable work for Vertigo, several (Steve Dillon, Pia Guerra, Eduardo Risso and Darick Robertson) mainly producing lengthy runs on individual creator-owned titles (in Guerra's case, Y: The Last Man makes up around 80% of her output to date), but others on a number of titles. Vertigo's main Universe titles - The Sandman, Hellblazer and Swamp Thing - have been particularly artistically diverse, and home to many talents, while the large number of creator-owned miniseries has seen large numbers of individuals producing work for Vertigo.
Peter Gross worked on a pre-Vertigo issue of Swamp Thing and an early Vertigo issue of Shade the Changing Man (#36, June 1993) before penciling & inking a story featuring Timothy Hunter in the "Children's Crusade" crossover Arcana Annual (Jan. 1994). This led to a regular inking role on the newly launched Books of Magic series, taking over as regular penciler and inker with #6; he would stay with the title for most of its run, writing as well as drawing its final 25 issues (1998–2000). Gross also inked Reiber's Mythos one-shot, and provided full artwork on the first Books of Faerie miniseries (1997) and pencils on the following year's The Books of Faerie: Auberon's Tale (1998). After Books of Magic, Gross moved to Lucifer (beginning with #5, Oct. 2000) and penciled 56 of the remaining issues, as well as inking a handful. He also co-penciled 2005's Constantine: The Official Movie Adaptation and several issues of Douglas Rushkoff's Testament from 2006 to 2007.
Dean Ormston has similarly produced a disproportionate amount of his artwork for Vertigo titles, including the lion's share of the alternate reality Books of Magick: Life During Wartime series (2004-5). His first Vertigo work was as one of several pencilers in the pages of Sandman #62 (Aug 1994), and in 1995 he penciled and inked Peter Milligan's The Eaters one-shot. His artwork appears in most (14) of the non-Peter Gross issues of Mike Carey's Lucifer, and he also handled art duties for Caitlin R. Kiernan's 4-issue The Girl who would be Death (1998-9). In addition, he has worked on a number of single (and jam) issues of other Vertigo titles, including The Crusades, House of Mystery, The Invisibles, Mythos, Sandman Mystery Theatre, Swamp Thing and Testament between 1994 and 2007.
Duncan Fegredo's first major American work was on the 1991 Kid Eternity miniseries with Grant Morrison. A 1992 cover for Doom Patrol similarly fell in Vertigo territory pre-Vertigo, while Fegredo's first "true" Vertigo work was also on the joint-first new series released by the imprint: Peter Milligan's Enigma. Immediately after the end of the 8-issue series, Fegredo took over as cover artist on Milligan's long-running Shade, the Changing Man (issues #42-50), collaborated with Milligan on 1995's one-shot Face (Jan) and then returned to cover duties on Shade, producing all but one of the remaining pieces of art. He produced pencils and inks for the miniseries Millennium Fever (1995) and (with Milligan) for Girl (1996). Between 1997 and 2002, he contributed artwork on fill-in issues (or to jam issues) of Crusades, The Dreaming, Flinch, House of Secrets, The Sandman Presents: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dreams..., Totems, Weird War Tales and Weird Western Tales. In addition, his cover work graced the 1999 miniseries Sandman Presents: Love Street, six issues of The Books of Magick: Life During Wartime and the first fifteen issues of Mike Carey's Lucifer.
Jill Thompson, although primarily known as an artist, has also produced scripts for Vertigo, producing as writer-artist three Sandman tie-ins: The Little Endless Storybook (2001) and two manga retellings of storylines - Death: At Death's Door (2003) and The Dead Boy Detectives (2005). Between 1993 and 1994, she penciled the first six issues of the on-going Black Orchid series and the 4-issue miniseries Finals (1999). She has contributed ten issues each to the high-profile Vertigo series Sandman (penciling the complete "Brief Lives" storyline, part 7 of which was the first Vertigo issue) and The Invisibles, and penciled four of the last five issues of Seekers into the Mystery. She has produced fill-in issues of Books of Magic, The Dreaming and Swamp Thing and contributed artwork to the anthology comics Fables #59 (in addition to a story in the hardcover OGN 1001 Nights of Snowfall) and Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City.
Jon J Muth, a painter, has produced several lavish volumes for Vertigo, including writing, penciling, inking and coloring the 1998 one-shot Swamp Thing: Roots. Primarily, his Vertigo output has been in collaboration with JM DeMatteis, an issue of Blood: A Tale, the maxiseries Moonshadow (and its coda, Farewell, Moonshadow (1997)) and three issues of Seekers into the Mystery. Muth painted Grant Morrison's The Mystery Play (1994) and the 2002 Lucifer: Nirvana special for Mike Carey. His work also effectively ended Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, Muth painting issue #74, the final issue of The Wake storyline, and second-to-last main issue.
The artwork of Charles Vess has infrequently but notably accompanied the words of Neil Gaiman on Vertigo projects, including the 4-issue Stardust (1997-8) miniseries, later reprinted as an illustrated hardcover book. Vess' work can also be seen in the two Shakespeare adaptations in the pages of The Sandman, the first of which (pre-Vertigo) won the comic and duo the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and the last of which was also the final - 75th - issue of the series. Vess also contributed a story to the Fables OGN 1001 Nights of Snowfall, illustrated a Books of Magic cover and produced an issue of The Dreaming (2000).
Sean Phillips earliest American comics work was in the pages of pre-Vertigo Hellblazer, and in May 1993 he became one of the early Vertigo artists by illustrating (with assists from Paul Peart and Sean Harrison Scoffield) the entire 16-issue run of Kid Eternity (1993-4). He drew the covers for twenty-three of the twenty-five issues of the first The Invisibles series and also returned to Hellblazer (switching from artwork and covers to just covers after around 20 issues) between 1995 and 1998. He drew three issues of Shade, the Changing Man (1994), the one-shot Hell Eternal (1995) and the miniseries The Minx as well as inking most of Michael Lark's work on Scene of the Crime. He penciled four issues of the final Invisibles series between 1999 and 2000, produced covers for the Hellblazer Special: Bad Blood miniseries, and shared art chores with John Bolton on the 2001 miniseries User.
John Bolton, another frequent Gaiman collaborator has rarely worked with that author directly for Vertigo, but has utilised his characters, including in the OGN Sandman Presents: The Furies and the Books of Magic lead-in Arcana Annual. He also contributed to the Sandman Mystery Theatre annual, and the Fables OGN 1001 Nights of Snowfall. With Sean Phillips, he produced the artwork for Devin Grayson's 2001 miniseries User, and individually fully illustrated the OGN's Menz Insana (1997) and God Save the Queen (2007).
Inarguably the name most associated with Vertigo's cover output is the artist who provided all of the covers to the Vertigo's highest profile series - The Sandman series (1989–96): Dave McKean. The first 46 of these covers were created for the DC imprint, but McKean's work also includes a number of Sandman-spin-off issues, miniseries and galleries. These include the two Death miniseries and all 60 issues of The Dreaming (1996–2001). He provided the first 24 - DC published - covers to Hellblazer, and all 22 covers to the 1993-5 Black Orchid Vertigo series (which spun off from his - and Gaiman's - 1988 DC miniseries). He produced the first cover for Sandman Mystery Theatre and his work was featured in a 1997 artbook incorporating his Sandman covers - "Dust Covers: The Collected Sandman Covers, 1989-1997." In addition, McKean's artwork also graced the inside pages of the public service comic Death Talks about Life (1994), an issue of The Dreaming (#8), two issues of the DC-published Hellblazer (#27 with Gaiman and #40 with Delano) and his and Neil Gaiman's OGN Mr Punch (1994). The duo's Black Orchid was similarly produced for DC, but retroactively deemed a Vertigo title.
Brian Bolland and Glenn Fabry have also produced a large number of iconic covers for the Vertigo line, Fabry probably being best known for his work on one title: Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Preacher (and the spin-off miniseries). Bolland, one of the very earliest British creators whose work was brought to America, drew the first 63 covers for Animal Man, mostly for DC, but also the first 6 Vertigo issues before handing over to a succession of other artists. Bolland also drew the cover for Vertigo's first Doom Patrol issue and for the entire second and third volumes of Morrison's Invisibles (1997–2000) (and in addition provided artwork for the TPB collections of Morrison's Doom Patrol run, and all volumes of The Invisibles). Bolland provided covers for three issues of Mark Millar's Swamp Thing run (1995), and miniseries including Vamps (1994-5), both Vertigo Tank Girl (1995-6) miniseries and BLod + Water (2003) as well as the one-shot Zatanna: Everyday Magic (2003). Bolland also wrote and illustrated stories for the anthology titles Heartthrobs and Strange Adventures (1999) and OGN 1001 Nights of Snowfall, as well as providing a cover each for the Gangland and Winter's Edge anthologies. With issue #12, Bolland took over cover duties (from Fables cover artist James Jean) on Fables spin-off Jack of Fables, which he continues to produce as of June 2008[update].
Fabry, in addition to his Preacher covers, provided covers for Ennis' miniseries Adventures in the Rifle Brigade: Operation Bollock (2001-2) and most of that authors first run on Hellblazer (1992-4) - which included the first Vertigo issue - as well as his return to the title in 1998-9. In addition, Fabry has also penciled a couple of short Hellblazer stories for various specials, and drew the covers for the Hellblazer: The Trenchcoat Brigade miniseries. He contributed to the multi-artist Transmetropolitan special "I Hate It Here" and provided three covers each to the on-going Transmetropolitan (2002) and Swamp Thing (Vol. 3) (2001); covered the complete Scarab (1993-4) miniseries, all 19 issues of Outlaw Nation and one issue each of the anthology titles Gangland, Heartthrobs and Weird War Tales. Between 2005 and 2006, Fabry fully illustrated Mike Carey's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, having previously collaborated with the man himself on a story in the 2003 OGN Sandman: Endless Nights. At the start of 2008, he provided a cover for an issue of Exterminators, before taking over from Lee Bermejo as on-going (as of June 2008[update]) cover artist on, again, Hellblazer.
Adaptations in other media
- Swamp Thing (1982), based the long running comic that started in DC comics and had ended its run in Vertigo Comics created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. The film was produced Benjamin Melniker, and Michael E. Uslan. The director was Wes Craven. It was followed by the 1989 sequel The Return of Swamp Thing.
- Constantine (2005), based on the (John Constantine): Hellblazer series of comics.
- A History of Violence (2005), based on the graphic novel A History of Violence written by John Wagner and illustrated by Vince Locke. The film was directed by David Cronenberg and starred Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris.
- V for Vendetta (2006) based on the comics series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, and produced by the Wachowski Brothers.
- The Fountain (2006), developed alongside the graphic novel by writer/director Darren Aronofsky (the OGN was illustrated by Kent Williams).
- The Losers (2010), based on the Vertigo Monthly series of the same name, which was created Andy Diggle and Jock.
Future film projects
- In July 2007 that New Line Cinema was developing Y: The Last Man with director D. J. Caruso and screenwriter Carl Ellsworth.
- New Line Cinema announced in June 2005 that it had optioned We3, with that comic's writer, Grant Morrison, then in negotiations to write the screenplay. As of November 2010[update], the status of the film is that Morrison has written the script, but the project appears to have stalled, partially due to concerns over the level of violence. Morrison said in an interview that "Relativity Pictures keeps saying they're doing it, and they still haven't done it", and that he can't say anything more as it stands.
- HBO announced in November 2006 it was adapting Preacher as a one-hour television series, with a pilot episode written by Mark Steven Johnson and directed by Howard Deutch. However, in August 2008, series executive producer Mark Steven Johnson announced that the "Preacher" project was "dead at HBO."
- In July 2008, Showtime announced that it would develop the Vertigo series The Exterminators as a one-hour drama. The comic was created by writer Simon Oliver and artist Tony Moore. Executive producer Sara Colleton's credits include the Showtime hit drama Dexter. However, in February 2011, Oliver revealed in an interview that the project is currently in limbo.
- On December 8, 2008 it was announced that ABC had picked up the rights to develop a pilot of Fables for the 2009-2010 Television Season. Six Degrees creators and executive producers Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner are writing the script for the hourlong drama, again set up at Warner Brothers Television, while David Semel has come on board to direct. However, in December 2010, Willingham said, in an interview with Io9, that the ABC show is "probably dead", though he also admits to being "out of the loop".
- 100 Bullets was optioned and partly developed as a game, but canceled. The license has been bought and an unconnected game is in development As of 2007[update].
- Constantine, a spin-off based on the film of the same name.
- ^ Although finding a wider readership under the Vertigo imprint, Hellblazer began publication under the DC Comics imprint, spinning off from The Saga of the Swamp Thing, another proto-Vertigo title. Swamp Thing was also adapted into several films and television series, the first of which was released in 1982, ten years before the creation of the Vertigo imprint.
- ^ A History of Violence was originally published by Paradox Press, but was reprinted by Vertigo after that imprint's demise
- ^ Originally part-serialized in UK anthology magazine Warrior (Quality), V for Vendetta was completed for Vertigo and published as single issues and a trade paperback collection under the Vertigo name
- ^ "Karen Berger Confirms DC Characters To Leave Vertigo". Bleedingcool.com. 2010-07-23. http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/07/23/karen-berger-confirms-dc-characters-to-leave-vertigo. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- ^ a b c d "MEDIA; At House of Comics, a Writer's Champion" (p. 2), by Dana Jennings, The New York Times, September 15, 2003
- ^ a b c "Contino, Jen. "Vertigo at Ten: Karen Berger" Comicon.com ''Pulse'', March 23, 2003". Comicon.com. http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=36&t=000836. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- ^ Irvine, Alex (2008). "Black Orchid". In Dougall, Alastair. The Vertigo Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 32–34. ISBN 0-7566-4122-5. OCLC 213309015.
- ^ retitled Swamp Thing vol. 2 from issue #39-on
- ^ Hellblazer from issue #1 (Jan. 1988), Doom Patrol from vol. 2, #37 (Oct. 1990), Shade, the Changing Man from vol. 2, #1 (July 1990), The Sandman vol. 2, #1 (Jan. 1989), Animal Man from #51 (Sept. 1992), and Swamp Thing, initially reading simply "For Mature Readers", from vol. 2, #57 (Feb. 1987)
- ^ Green Arrow (vol. 2) ran for 137 issues, concluding in October 1998. Mike Grell's final issue on the series was #80, so the loss of the label did *not*, contrary to some sources, coincide with Grell's departure.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Interview with Karen Berger" in Advance Comics #49 (Capital City Distribution, January 1993)
- ^ Although Morrison revolutionized former-DC/debut-Vertigo titles Animal Man and Doom Patrol, by March 1993, the former had been taken over by Jamie Delano, while Rachel Pollack took over Doom Patrol with issue #64, the first Vertigo issue.
- ^ Irvine, Alex (2008). "John Constantine Hellblazer". In Dougall, Alastair. The Vertigo Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 102–111. ISBN 0-7566-4122-5. OCLC 213309015.
- ^ See, for example: Killian, Joe, "Comics come of age: Comic books have gotten smarter and Hollywood is taking notice" in The Carolinian Online, April 1, 2004. Accessed May 28, 2008
- ^ Jai Nitz, Pulse News "The Hustler 20: The Good Old Days of Vertigo" at Comicon.com, February 8, 2005. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Advance Comics #49 (Capital City Distribution, January 1993), pp 29-30
- ^ as explained on the text page of Nevada #1
- ^ Comic Book Database: Welcome Back to the House of Mystery #1 (July 1998). Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Anatomy of the Crossover #5: "DC/Vertigo's The Children's Crusade: Child Culture and Reflexivity, Suggested For Mature Readers" by Robert A. Emmons, Jr., November 1, 2005. Accessed May 29, 2008[dead link]
- ^ Lou Stathis, writing in the Vertigo column On the Ledge. Quoted in Anatomy of the Crossover #5: "DC/Vertigo's The Children's Crusade: Child Culture and Reflexivity, Suggested For Mature Readers" by Robert A. Emmons, Jr., November 1, 2005. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Details from the Grand Comics Database. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ The Grand Comics Database: Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Kill Your Boyfriend at the Comic Book DB. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ a b c The Savage Critic: "My Life is Choked with Comics #9 - Kill Your Boyfriend & Girl #1-3," September 14, 2007. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Atomic Avenue: The Eaters. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Comic Book Database: Kill Your Boyfriend (1998). Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Julian Darius' "Sequart": Grant Morrison - Kill Your Boyfriend. Accessed May 29, 2008 Archived December 9, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ a b The House of Vertigo: The Bizarre Boys archived at the Internet Archive. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ a b Gay League: Seven Miles a Second by Joe Palmer. Accessed May 29, 2008 Archived March 9, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Mark Frauenfelder, Wired Magazine quoted on Kuper's website:http://www.peterkuper.com/comix/C-n-B16.html Comics and Books by Peter Kuper - The System]. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Atomic Avenue - The Unseen Hand. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Julian Darius' "Vertigo Chronology at Sequart. Accessed June 2, 2008 Archived April 30, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Roots of the Swamp Thing: "NEW SEEDS TAKE ROOT". Retrieved June 2, 2008.
- ^ a b c "The X-Axis" Review: Vertigo Pop: London #1, 10 November 2002. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ a b "The X-Axis" Review: Vertigo Pop: Bangkok #1, 11 May 2003. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Atomic Avenue: Vertigo Pop!: Tokyo. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Atomic Avenue: Vertigo Pop!: London. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ Atomic Avenue: Vertigo Pop!: Bangkok; plot summary by Brett Weiss. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ The Official Vertigo X slogan
- ^ a b Arrant, Chris (August 15, 2008). "Karen Berger on the Vertigo Crime Line". Newsarama. http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080815-VertigoCrime.html. Retrieved August 18, 2008.
- ^ a b Callahan, Timothy (July 27, 2008). "CCI: Vertigo: View of the Future". Comic Book Resources. http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=17461. Retrieved August 18, 200.
- ^ Smith, Zack (March 25, 2009). "Starting Vertigo's Crime Line: Ian Rankin on Dark Entries". Newsarama. http://www.newsarama.com/comics/030925-Vertigo-Rankin.html. Retrieved April 13, 2009.
- ^ Duin, Steve (April 7, 2009). "Ian Rankin vs. Brian Azzarello". The Oregonian. http://www.oregonlive.com/books/index.ssf/2009/04/ian_rankin_vs_brian_azzarello.html. Retrieved April 13, 2009.
- ^ Read about Comics: Vertigo, January 5, 2004. Accessed May 29, 2008
- ^ "Warren Pleece on "Life Sucks" and "Incognegro" " by Van Jensen, March 7, 2008. Accessed May 27, 2008
- ^ a b c Sequential Tart: "A Touch of Vertigo - Karen Berger" by Jennifer M. Contino. Retrieved June 5, 2008.
- ^ a b "Vertigo at Ten": Karen Berger interviews by Jen Contino, March 25, 2003. Retrieved June 5, 2008.
- ^ a b TimeWarner Newsroom, July 17, 2006. Retrieved June 5, 2008.
- ^ Review of Shadows Fall by Rena Tom. Retrieved June 1, 2008.
- ^ Pia Guerra at the Comic Book Database. Retrieved June 2, 2008.
- ^ Issues #52-83. Ennis' first run on the title was Hellblazer #41-83.
- ^ McNary, Dave (July 23, 2007). ""Caruso, Ellsworth take on 'Man'; Bender, Spink, Novick, Goyer to produce"". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117969058.html?categoryid=13&cs=1. Retrieved 2007-07-24.
- ^ New Line takes on We3 killer cuties" by Ben Fritz, Claude Brodesser, Variety, June 7, 2005
- ^ Marshall, Rick. Grant Morrison Talks 'We3' And 'Joe the Barbarian' Movies, Updates TV Series Status. MTV Splash Page, 16 November, 2010
- ^ Kit, Borys. "HBO hears word, brings 'Preacher' to small screen". The Hollywood Reporter, November 29, 2006
- ^ Melrose, Kevin. "Preacher series ‘dead at HBO’". Blog@Newsarama, August 26, 2008
- ^ Trechak, Brad. "Showtime is calling The Exterminators". TV Squad, July 9, 2008
- ^ Rogers, Vaneta. "Vertigo's NOCHE ROJA Takes Crime Noir South of the Border". Newsarama, February 4, 2011
- ^ Lamar, Cyriaque. "We talk to Bill Willingham about 100 issues of Fables". Io9, December 5, 2010
- ^ Press release (May 3, 2006): "D3Publisher of America, Inc. and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Ink Licensing Agreement for Dc Comics/Vertigo 100 Bullets"[dead link]
- ^ Sinclair, Brendan (2006-05-03). "GameSpot News (May 3, 2006): "E3 06: ''100 Bullets'' gets another shot at gaming", by Brendan Sinclair". Gamespot.com. http://www.gamespot.com/news/6148880.html. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- Vertigo on Comic Book Realm
- DC Comics' Vertigo official page
- Everything2.com: "The Complete Vertigo Comics Bibliography
- "Digging Deeper - Vertigo X" mini interview with Grant Morrison, Bryan Talbot and Chris Weston on their Vertigo memories
DC Comics imprints Imprints Former imprints Wildstorm imprints Acquired companies*Owned jointly with other companies.
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