end of spoilers
a guy who created a livingn breathhing fictional character to stop a conspiracy set up to dominate humanity through the power of narative.
How's that for a high concept?
Northlanders was basically vikings noir. Pretty high concept too.
'The marquis. Well, you know, to be honest, he seems a little bit dodgy to me.'
'Mm,' she agreed. 'He's a little bit dodgy in the same way that rats are a little bit covered in fur."
What is there to be worried about? There is a lot of quality books from Vertigo right now, all covering various genres to boot. Just covering the books I read there is a post apocalyptic journey, a hard boiled crime story, a fantasy infused look at literature, vampires with a true American take on them with no Twilight references, historical fiction focused on Viking culture, a noir sci-fi story, and hipster monsters in a character driven piece. And that isn't covering the new books out this month which again feature different genres and talents.
Is Image releasing more books per month? Well yeah, and a lot of them are fantastic and well worth your time. But what they do doesn't impact Vertigo one bit. We NEED more quality books from a variety of publishers, it only helps the industry. Vertigo has new stories from talented people, just like Image, Oni, and many other independent publishers.
If anything I'm more excited about Vertigo since the whole DC 52 thing happened then in a while, we don't get stuck with books like Swamp Thing and Animal Man taking up the slots in what I'm sure is a small number of titles Vertigo can publish in a given month. Plus, we still get the great books of DC owned characters with a Vertigo spin while still being set in a pure DC universe.
Anyone not worried isn't looking at the whole picture. What's on the docket for Vertigo, 4 titles? And one is another Fables spinoff. It's not an impressive outlay by any means, especially contrasted to the surprisingly talent-laden upcoming Image titles.
Here's what is most worrying about Vertigo-Vertigo survives on the sales of trades. Monthlies sell less but they make up the money in trades. Year end trends the past 2 years show declining trade sales each year. If trade sales continue to decline, it hurts the long term viability of Vertigo's business model. The reworked contracts may have been a step towards trying to modify the business model to reflect the current economic reality. Other companies have different business models that may make monthly sales more viable and more of a priority, which may attract the talent there, as may be the case with Image (I have no inside information on the nature or details of the contracts so am purely speculating). Vertigo looks to create titles that are perennial trade sellers, but if that market is eroding, it spells trouble for Vertigo.
As for the quality of the titles, I have been reading Vertigo since before it was Vertigo. I remember seeing some of my favorite titles I was reading in the early 90's switch form the DC logo to the Vertigo line. There has always been an ebb and flow with Vertigo as long term titles end and new ones start and plenty of short term projects in between. I do not remember some of the early Vertigo efforts that some have pointed to as exemplars of the Vertigo line very fondly, I felt they were mediocre efforts as the line was trying to find its identity by creators who were more concerned with being edgy than with telling good stories, and the strongest titles were those that transitioned from DC to Vertigo in those early years. Vertigo found their voice and newer titles began to emerge that were strong, but there were weak periods from time to time as the line transitioned and redefined itself with new works, new creators, and new voices. I think the line is in one of those transition times right now. Several strong works are ending. Some of the titles remaining are strong as well. Some of the new books look like they have potential, but some look iffy. However, it usually takes an arc or two for Vertigo titles to really hit their stride, so it is way too early to pass judgment on the new titles.
As for creators moving to Image for new titles, I think its all about networking. If you read the comments the creators going to Image are making, its about wanting to work with people there or going there because other creators they pal around with are there. Vertigo used to have that networking; people wanted to work with Karen Berger, Axel Alonso, Stuart Moore, et. al. but most have moved on. Karen is still there, but the current crop of creators moving to Image are from the generation after Berger's crop of creators and have different contacts. A new genration is emerging now with Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder, et. al. and we will see what their networking does and what bridges the new editors at Vertigo can build with those contacts.
To quote Alfred E.Neuman-what me worry?
But the eroding trade market does concern me. Maybe a blossoming digital market can make up for it, but it's too soon to tell.
Follow Your Bliss!
The sky is not falling, Vertigo is an imprint of DC, not a big company like Image. They will always only publish a small number of titles and it will remain around the same amount. The number of Vertigo books has not fluctuated too greatly since its inception and I don't see it changing any time soon. 4 new books is the average for a new wave of Vertigo books, the only thing that is a little odd is all of them coming out in the same month, that hasn't really been done before, but they are trying to emulate DC's 52 thing which worked so well for them.
Image is a company that, like DC, can afford to produce more books at once. Also, Image being full of talented creators producing great books is NOTHING new, they have been producing great stuff on caliber of Vertigo books consistently for about 10 years now give or take, and Vertigo still produced great stuff in that time and will continue to.
It just feels very lackluster, given the relatively-recent upheaval with the DCU. Hopefully there are more varied minis and one-shots coming out of the assembly line that haven't been mentioned yet.
This isn't competing with the DCU, and even just the four books coming out in March have more diversity than all of the DCU, note not a single super hero in this line up. Every single DCU book besides All Star Western starred or featured or dealt with super heroes, with or without abilities, but they were involved. You may be able to argue Blackhawks as a non super hero book but everything else has some aspect of the super hero genre. Even the brilliantly done Animal Man and Swamp Thing include it.
I'm not saying Vertigo is anywhere near as varied as Image, but it is strong and quite diverse. Besides Fairest being a spin off of Fables, there isn't really a book that is the same as another. If I were to compare the two I would say Image is the home of short stories and movies (mostly mini series) while Vertigo is the home of novels and tv series (mostly ongoing). There are exceptions from both but they each fit a different niche and compliment each other.
I see more and more creators taking their work to Image, Avatar or Icon, to be honest.
If The Walking Dead was at Vertigo, Kirkman would never have had the control he has in other media.
Man, too bad I didn't jump on earlier, I'll have to check that out.