The comics world has suffered a very sad loss today, as DC Comics announced it is officially shuttering its Vertigo imprint, bringing about the end of an era. The imprint had been rebranded as DC Vertigo in recent years, but spent 26 years as one of the most genre-expanding, experimental homes of critically acclaimed comics in the industry. Now, DC will roll surviving Vertigo titles into a new structure that will see them all under the main DC banner, with Vertigo officially wrapping up in January of 2020. The DC Zoom and DC Ink YA brands will also be shuttered. Current Vertigo projects, such as the Sandman spin-offs, will “either finish up or transition over to the newly updated version of DC’s current Black Label line,” according to Gizmodo.
In a statement about the closure, DC Editor in Chief Dan DiDio stressed that this doesn’t mean DC will stop pursuing the types of titles and stories that were told through Vertigo; simply that these titles would now fall under the DC Black Label. The statement reads as follows:
We’re returning to a singular presentation of the DC brand that was present throughout most of our history until 1993 when we launched Vertigo to provide an outlet for edgier material. That kind of material is now mainstream across all genres, so we thought it was the right time to bring greater clarity to the DC brand and reinforce our commitment to storytelling for all of our fans in every age group. This new system will replace the age ratings we currently use on our material.
Still, it’s impossible for any comics fan not to be upset at seeing the Vertigo name fall by the wayside, iconic as it was. The imprint was launched in 1993 by Karen Berger, its longtime Executive Editor, who oversaw the organization until she stepped down in 2013, to be replaced by editor Shelly Bond. Around the same time, our own passion for Vertigo was captured in a Paste cover story on the conclusion of Bill Willingham’s Fables, but Bond was eventually forced out of the company in 2016. Berger now has her own imprint, Berger Books, at Dark Horse, while Bond created the IDW imprint Black Crown.
Over the years, Vertigo was the home of a truly mind-boggling array of classic titles, including Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, along with Fables, Transmetropolitan, Preacher, Y: The Last Man, Constantine, iZombie, 100 Bullets and many more. It was beloved for its focus on adult-oriented stories that veered away from traditional superhero dynamics, or examined them from unique angles.
At DC, meanwhile, all titles will be condensed into three “age-banded labels.” DC Kids will be aimed at readers 8-12, while the standard DC label is 13 and above, and DC Black Label is 17 and above.