R.I.P. DC’S Vertigo Imprint (1993-2019)
It’s no secret that despite the name, Birth.Movies.Death. loves comic books as much as movies, and we’d be remiss not to acknowledge DC’s announcement that they are closing several of their imprints, including the influential DC Vertigo line. The closures are a result of DC’s new consolidation initiative, so the company can publish everything under DC Comics proper. Several of Vertigo’s current series will continue under the DC Black label, so it isn’t a total ending for the brand. Plus, thanks to the company’s creator-owned policies, awesome new series like Goddess Mode and High Level may still have a future elsewhere if they don’t already fold into the DC Black label.
Still, with the loss of the Vertigo name and presumably much of its independence from DC, it’s hard not to admit that this seems like the end of an era. Vertigo started back in 1993, when the Comics Code Authority still had an iron grip on what could be published in mainstream comics. Under the safety and freedom that Vertigo provided, comics like Shade, The Sandman, Hellblazer, and Swamp Thing revitalized the horror genre and introduced mature themes to a new generation of comics readers.
It’s been a while since the Comics Code Authority has had any pull in the industry, and the average comic book reader these days is an adult. Graphic and mature stories are everywhere now, so the need for an “uncut” imprint like Vertigo has severely diminished, but that doesn’t mean the publisher’s presence in the industry isn’t felt. The plethora of diverse, philosophical, and gritty comic books today owe as much to Vertigo Comics as it does to Watchmen.
So while we mourn the imprint’s sunset, let’s remember to be grateful for all the memories it gave us, like Neil Gaiman wrote in Sandman: The Wake: “That which is dreamed can never be lost, can never be undreamed.” I’ll never forget the first time I read Y: The Last Man, or met the complex enigmas that are Dream and his siblings in the pages of Sandman.
Thanks for the dreams, Vertigo Comics!