Starting January, 2020 DC Comics will retire the Vertigo brand and absorb existing titles under that brand into its newest labels, DC Kids, DC, or DC Black. This comes after rumors spread that DC would be shutting down the Vertigo Comics brand, which circulated back in early June, as reported by Bleeding Cool.
The latest news about the retirement was reported by CBR, who noted that DC isn’t calling it a shut down per se, but rather a re-labeling of their content. The reason given is that the kind of content that Vertigo was known for back in the 1990s – being edgy, philosophically ethereal, and overtly violent and sexual – are now more “mainstream”.
DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio explained…
“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.”
I don’t believe that kind of material is mainstream at all, and if it is DiDio really needs to point it out.
What is apparent is that after Vertigo began moving away from producing newer comics that were in line with their more award-winning works like Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man, or Garth Ennis’ Preacher, they began to fade into obscurity and dwindle from the conversations that entailed “quality” and “groundbreaking”.
Things devolved for the brand further with titles like Border Town, which ended up being cancelled after the author was caught up in a sexual misconduct controversy; Second Coming was also cancelled before it launched; and Goddess Mode, a comic book from Zoe Quinn, speaks for itself. Vertigo attempted to chase after Left-wing “Progressives” with their newest titles, and they fell flat.
In short: Vertigo got woke, and is now broke.
This is what was basically told to Bounding Into Comics, who explained in their piece…
“[The rumor] notes that DC Comics are revoking some contracts, returning creator-owned titles to creators, and some are being moved within the publisher. We spoke to our own source and they indicated there are rumblings inside DC Comics that Vertigo might be in trouble. They specifically told us Vertigo might be in trouble because none of the recent titles have taken off.”
DC attempts to play it off that it’s all just a re-branding to keep with the times, moving their kids stuff under the DC Kids label, while the more mature content will be shuffled under the DC Black Label.
So what happens to the woke comics that Vertigo was working on? Well, according to CBR some of them may be absorbed under the new labels, but they won’t display the Vertigo logo on the front…
“Current and future creator-owned titles will simply be absorbed into the new labels, their placement determined by the particular project’s targeted reader age range. Vertigo’s Sandman Universe line, for example, will continue, but will no longer display the Vertigo label on their cover.”
They don’t make any mention of the woke comics in particular, or what will become of their fate. Usually when there’s a re-branding any property that isn’t specifically named in the absorption is oftentimes left on the cutting room floor.
In any case, if the Vertigo brand commanded the kind of marketplace recognition it once held back in the 1990s and early aughts, there would be no need to dissolve the brand. In fact, the brand would be expanding. But regardless, this is just another instance of a brand chasing the chronically elusive phantom audience and paying the price for it, making it yet another tasty victim of the ever-growing Get Woke; Go Broke – Master List.
(Thanks for the news tip Allen)