Tagged: Vertigo

Karen Berger leaving Vertigo

Karen BergerThe longest running employee at DC Comics is going away– Karen Berger is leaving Vertigo, a move that is not surprising (given the recent cancellation of Hellblazer, the longest running Vertigo title) but still astonishing. She’ll be staying on until 2013, making it an even 20 years at the imprint made for her. Here’s the press release:

Karen Berger, Executive Editor & Senior Vice President of DC Entertainment’s Vertigo brand, has announced she is stepping down from her post after nearly 20 years at the helm of the award-winning literary imprint. She will remain on through March 2013 where she will be assisting in the transition to a new leadership team which includes veteran staffers whom she has mentored over the years.

Karen is responsible for shepherding critically-acclaimed and best-selling publishing titles including perennial favorites: [[[THE SANDMAN]]], HELLBLAZER, V FOR VENDETTA, [[[FABLES]]], [[[PREACHER]]], THE INVISIBLES, 100 BULLETS, [[[Y – THE LAST MAN]]] and [[[AMERICAN VAMPIRE]]]. Vertigo has published nearly 300 new literary properties during the last 20 years. Berger notes she is ready for a professional change and is looking forward to pursuing exciting new opportunities.

“I’ve been incredibly proud to have provided a home where writers and artists could create progressive and provocative stories that broadened the scope of comics, attracting a new and diverse readership to graphic storytelling,” said Berger. “I’d like to thank all the many immensely talented creators who have helped make Vertigo into a daring and distinctive imprint and I’m grateful to everyone at DC Entertainment and the retail community for their support and commitment to Vertigo all these years. It’s been quite an honor.”

DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson stated, “We are extremely grateful for Karen’s commitment and dedication to Vertigo, its books and its incredibly talented team of staff and creators. In Vertigo she leaves a legacy to which we remain committed and on which we intend to build for the future. She will always be a deeply valued and respected member of the DC family.”

DC Entertainment is planning a celebration next year – to help salute Karen, her 33 years with the company and her many accomplishments, befitting her legendary status within DCE and across the publishing and comics industries.

Expect to hear a lot more about this in the next few days.

Mindy Newell: The Geek And Her Daughter

Yesterday I stopped by Vector Comics, my local dispenser of all things comics related, to pick up my readings, which included Vertigo’s Saucer Country by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly, ComicMix columnist John Ostrander’s Dawn Of The Jedi: Force Storm from Dark Horse, and the latest issue of Dark Horse’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer by Andrew Chambliss, Scott Allie, Cliff Richards, Andy Ownes – executive produced by Joss Whedon, of course. Does that man ever sleep?

Before I left I got into a discussion with Alex, one of the guys behind the counter, about summer movies. Well, specifically, about The Avengers. Alex told me that he had already seen it, having gone into Manhattan to get in line for the first showing at midnight. Which made me very jealous and pissy, ‘cause these days my life is about work, school, work, school, work, school, work, school… and oh, yeah, writing this column. I will probably be the last person in America to see it on the big screen. No, make that the world. Thanks to Denny’s column last week, I know that the movie has been open in the international market for nine days already.

So then Alex and I got to talking about other summer movies, and the first season blockbuster that made an impression on us. For me it was in 1975, the summer I saw Jaws.

I was at Camp Monroe in Monroe, NY – going to sleep away camp is a time-honored ritual for Jewish kids in the New York metropolitan area – and working as a nurse’s aide in the camp infirmary. I knew the camp was planning an outing to the movies, and with some wheedling I got to go on the possibility of some kid getting carsick. I didn’t know what it was about. I don’t think there were that many who did, except for some of the counselors and adult staff who had read Peter Benchley’s book, but I had a hankering to get “off-campus.”

That night the infirmary was busy with kids having nightmares and unable to sleep. The next night the pool was full of “great white sharks.” And me? I’m still way more comfortable in a pool than in the ocean.

Anyway, the conversation got me to thinking last night about summers and movies and how sometimes the movies and the summers become entwined in your life and make great memories.

For me that movie was Star Wars. I remember coming home from working that 1977 Memorial Day holiday and being incredibly pissed off at my then-boyfriend because he had gone to see it that afternoon with some friends instead of waiting for me. I immediately said, “Well, we’re going tonight,” Incredibly, instead of him complaining, he said, “okay.” Curious, I said, “You mean it? You just saw it a few hours ago.” All he said was, “You’ll see.”

Boy, did I ever! I can’t even describe the experience, even after all these years. I was so blown away by what was happening on the screen – the rolling introduction fading into a sea of stars, the endless Imperial battleship coming in seemingly over our heads, the Falcon jumping into hyperspace, Luke and Leia swinging across the chasm – that I didn’t really get the actual story until the second time I saw it. Which was the following Wednesday, ‘cause I was off from work and I went by myself to a matinee showing while then-husband was working.

I remember coming home and sending off for a subscription to Starlog. No more waiting for the next issue to appear on the newsstand. I wanted more. Lots more. I devoured everything Star Wars. When I found out there was going to be a sequel, I drooled and yeaned and read and reread every article I could find on it. I discovered NPR by accident one night and they were playing a “radio theatre” of Star Wars. (I’ve been a devotee of NPR ever since.) I sent away for the cassette (yeah, remember those?) so I could play it whenever I wanted to. I even saved the issue of Time magazine with Empire as the cover story – it’s still somewhere in the house.

Oh, I was a geek, and it was a great time to be a geek. I didn’t have to hide it anymore. Except around my family.

Which is why I had my daughter Alix. She was a great excuse to indulge myself.

By the time Empire came out my daughter Alix was nearing her first birthday. I remember buying her a full-scale model of the Millennium Falcon. For Hanukah, Christmas, and her birthday, I told my family. “Yeah, right,” they said. I remember that when she was two I brought her to the rerelease of Empire, buying a shitload of candy and soda so she wouldn’t be bored ‘cause I couldn’t find a babysitter. I remember seeing, in the back of Starlog, an ad for Luke’s Rebel jacket. Adult sizes. And kid’s sizes. I remember chickening out of buying one for myself. But I bought one for her. She looked so cool in it, even if it was kinda big. My family said, “what a great motorcycle jacket.” I said, “It’s Luke’s jacket from Empire.” Suddenly it wasn’t so great. (But she had that jacket for years, as she grew into it. And even kept trying to squeeze into it as she got older.)

And what was the effect on Alix? She’s 32 now, married, with a Master’s degree and a corner office with a window and responsibilities. She’s a serious adult.

Isn’t she?

Well, I just got off the phone with her. We’re going to see The Avengers at 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday Morning: Michael Davis


Which is the Real DC Earth?

Characters of the Multiverse duel in an issue ...

Image via Wikipedia


Recently, DC Comics has made a big deal over the fact that the Earth where the New 52 comics have been telling stories is the Main Earth. This is to clearly separate it from the Earth-One seen in the hardcover graphic novels – the first of which, [[[Superman: Earth One]]] came out to great acclaim last year and the next, [[[Batman: Earth One]]] is due out later this year. It also paves the way for people to understand that the Main Earth is not the same homeworld as the events seen in two second wave releases in May: Earth-2 (featuring the Justice Society of America) and World’s Finest, which features Power Girl and the Huntress of that world trapped on Main Earth.  And while we were initially told this Earth-2 would be the home of World War II’s mystery men the reality seems far from it.


So what, you wonder, became of New Earth which resulted from the events of Infinite Crisis? We were told that it was altered through the events depicted in the Flashpoint event last summer, which in turn revised reality which gave us Main Earth.





MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Justice League Light Vs. Justice League Dark

This past week, I read both Justice League #5 and Justice League Dark #5. To say they are worlds apart is a bit on-the-nose, but suffice to say… it’s the truth. Justice League proper is loud, dumb, and thin. Dark is the polar opposite.

With an issue left to finish its first arc, Justice League needs a near miracle to turn my opinion around. In issue #5, Dark completed its first arc and I’m amazingly sold on it. Funny then that I didn’t bring that book home. My wife, and mother to our newborn son, bought it cause she loves Zatanna. Trust me, I have a millions reasons to thank her everyday. Now? I have a million and one. But I digress. This here column is meant to compare and contrast just why JL: Prime is poop, and Dark is dynamite. I hope Geoff Johns is taking notes.

Let’s start with the good. Both Leagues assemble a pretty stellar line-up. I know there are those out there that have a soft spot for the less-than-great Leagues of the past (like when they were in Detroit, or the amazingly crappy team from right-before-the-flashpoint), but let’s be honest: The present day roster takes its Magnificent Seven approach ala Grant Morrison’s run, and it was damned smart to do so. On the Dark side, we get a team-up that’s a veritable who’s who of the mystic arts.

With the Vertigo imprint now a part of the DCnU proper, we get to see stalwart mystic go-to characters like Deadman team up with John Constantine, amongst others. All in all, the teams work on paper, quite well. And John’s use of Cyborg as the would-be-everyman makes me forget all about the obvious affirmative action. The only character I wish they’d put on the Dark team would be Detective Chimp. Face it, monkeys equal sales.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s dive into the bad, shall we? Justice League takes too many cues from the worst part of comics from the 1990s. Jim Lee is delivering amazing work, but at the cost of quality narrative. Splash after splash, action panel after action panel, and everyone always screaming, wincing, and punching. Also, all of it is on fire. Now, is Jim to blame for this? I don’t know. Geoff Johns is the man behind the script, so one might ask him if he intended the first arc to be so… typical.

For a guy who built a career on amazing origins, here he delivers his first disappointing one. Think of all the stereotypical team-forming storylines you can think of. Heroes meet, and think each other is the villain? Check. Egotistical in-fighting for control? Check. The evil-villain-from-out-of-nowhere who can only be defeated by having the team form? Check. That basic premise has been done to death in just about every team book, and funny enough? JL: Dark uses it too! But somehow, they pull it off. I’ll get to that later.

As I recall comics of my youth (those pesky ‘90s), it was always about the pop and sizzle, never about the words. It was all about who could beat up who and how, never why. Then I grabbed Watchmen, Sin City, books by Scott McCloud, and Kingdom Come and learned that comics can be stellar cape and cowl adventures… and use nuance and subtlety to end a story. Justice League throws all of that out the window, so we can make way for everyone taking time to ask what Batman’s powers are. Snicker.

Justice League Dark takes that same convoluted plot and smartly dampens it for characterization. The first arc is the antithesis to the uniting of individuals for the greater good. Instead we have severely independent agents being routed to stop something against their will. Over the course of the book, characters do fight one another, but it’s done with nuance. When Deadman threatens John Constantine, it’s because he cares for June Moon, who Constantine is obviously hurting in order to save the greater good. No puffed up chests and snarky dialogue.

And the big bad of the book? Well it turns out to be the misguided Enchantress, who lost control due to Madame Xanadu’s misguided tinkering. And at the climactic battle, when the score is blasting, and characters shout… it’s not the uniting of the mystical mavens of the greater DCnU that saves the day. It’s just Constantine doing his job. When the dust settles, the team, as it were, stand as independent as they were at the books’ beginning. It’s a bold move by Peter Milligan, who opts to dose his Justice League with a bit of realism. Realism, is a comic featuring a guy who has a super secret all-powerful vest? Yup. And it’s pretty darned cool.

I’ve merely scratched the surface here. Now, before you fire up the engines of hate, let me act as my own Devil’s Advocate. Justice League has had some great moments. As I mentioned before, I think Cyborg has been a real highlight of the book, and Johns’ Hal Jordon is a cock-sure treat, especially when he gets his ass whooped. And truth be told, the sales figures put me in my place pretty quickly. And Justice League: Dark isn’t exactly narrative fiction perfected. Over five issues Milligan utilized the “two characters show up somewhere, and spend their time questioning why they’re there scene” about 27 times. And as ComicBookResources’ Chad Nevett noted in his review of issue #5. Milligan may need to do a ton of back-peddling to assemble his team for the next arc.

Overall though, I think it’s clear: Justice League thus far has been far too busy trying to bring the “oohs and ahhs” while Dark spent its time trying to develop its characters beyond witty retorts, and punching. The books are clearly targeting different audiences, but even those who prefer eye laser blasts and Batarangs to backwards spells and Photoshop glow effects…clearly see where the flagship of the DCnU is aiming only at the lowest common denominator. If the DCnU is to make those who don’t read comics pay attention, modeling their mainstay book off of Michael Bay mentality isn’t the way to do it.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Review: “Spaceman” #1

Review: “Spaceman” #1

We all know Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso work well together. Uttering the duo’s name automatically triggers thoughts of quality. I know for me, the pair rests near the top of creative teams of the last decade. Sometimes, though, I believe we forget how truly great these guys are together. We acknowledge their high esteem in the medium, but after a while we get into the habit of just accepting without truly seeing. We lack the sort of realization you can only experience when you’re sitting down with one of their comics–the sensation that as you turn the page, you know you’re reading something special because your mind is being blown.

Azzarello and Risso do comics how they should be done. These men, along with colorist Patricia Mulvihill, construct sophisticated worlds and atmospheres and then tell you all about in just as sophisticated a fashion. The approach is reserved and cool. The necessary hints are subtly placed, and the reader’s own effort tells the tale. Azzarello/Risso books are, simply said, confident, independent and sexy.

And Spaceman #1 held the crown as the single best comic book of October. Easily.

With Spaceman, we’re told the story of a genetically engineered man who’s life-long purpose was to go to Mars. In reality, his goal was never reached, and when we meet him he’s simply a junkie trapped in a world of decay.


MARTHA THOMASES: Dragon Tattoo – Why A Graphic Novel?

Vertigo is slated to publish the graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s [[[The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo]]]. The Swedish series has sold tens of millions of copies in dozens of languages. There are already Swedish movies based on the books, and the first of the American films is to be released later this year.

Why do we need a graphic novel?

The books are terrific. They take you inside the lives of computer hackers, crusading journalists and evil authority figures, with a glimpse of Swedish social mores and political intrigue. Larsson is an ardent feminist, a refreshing perspective on the bestseller lists.

I haven’t seen the movies, but people whose opinions I respect like them a lot. The American version is directed by David Fincher, of Fight Club and The Social Network.

Why do we need a graphic novel? What will it show us that we didn’t see in these other media?

There are stories I would like to see adapted. Bunches.

  • Angels in America, by Tony Kushner, with its leaps across times and across realities, is a natural. I have always imagined Phil Jimenez and Howard Cruse doing the art.
  • Norman Mailer’s Ancient Evenings, for the battle scene where the Pharaoh walks across the field, accompanied by lions who snatch gory snacks from the dead and wounded.
  • The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen, as a series of inter-connected short stories, each with a different artist.

There are writers I would like to see work in comics because their prose suggests they know how to work with visual artists: Will Self, Patti Smith, Don Dellilo. They may not actually be any good at the form – they may need their words – but I would like to see them try.

But a book that has already been a great movie? That I don’t so much need. Gone With the Wind? The Maltese Falcon? What are they going to show me that I haven’t already seen?

That’s the challenge Vertigo has ahead of themselves. I hope they prove me wrong.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

MINDY NEWELL: Comics Are For Kids?

There’s a great interview with Grant Morrison on the website of Rolling Stone magazine.  The reason I bring it up is that I’ve been thinking about last week’s column.  The more I thought about Action Comics #1, written by Morrison, the more I really liked it.

But I’m an adult.

I’ve been a fan of Grant’s since his debut on this side of the pond as the writer of Animal Man back in the 80s. It was a book that I adored. But Animal Man was under the Vertigo imprint, whose aim was to bring a sophisticated, i.e. adult, audience and slant into the comics industry – at which it incredibly succeeded, of course. In fact, if I remember right, the “hook” for the entire line of Vertigo books was sophisticated horror.

But I’m an adult.

And the Vertigo books aren’t for kids.

I grew up during the Silver Age of comics. When Lois was constantly getting into jams thanks to her penchant of trying to discover Superman’s secret identity. When Jimmy was constantly being exposed to some weird amulet that turned him into Elasti-Lad or a giant turtle or a bearded man. When Perry smoked cigars and yelled “Great Caesar’s Ghost” all the time. When Supergirl was alive and acted as her cousin’s secret weapon. When Superboy was a teenage Clark Kent living in Smallville and had a secret passageway and robots to cover his “tuchas” when he was away on a mission and his parents were alive and Lana Lang was his sweetheart. When Kandor was in a bottle.  When the Legion of Super-Heroes travelled through time in a bubble. When the “editor’s note” would inform me that the sun was 93,000,000 miles away from Earth.

Okay, it was a more innocent age. Well, not really. There was the Cold War and the U-2 incident and the Korean War and the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Barry Goldwater and the John Birch Society and “advisory troops” in a country named Vietnam. The Suez Canal crisis.

It was the Mad Men age.

And then we all grew up to be Mad Men.

The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The assassination of Martin Luthor King. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Women’s rights. The Black Panthers. Newark, New Jersey in flames. The Weatherman. The Vietnam War. Tricky Dick. The Chicago Democratic Convention. Dan Rather being manhandled and dragged off the floor of the convention center. Cops in riot gear beating up college students. The Pentagon Papers. Pot. Hash. Timothy Leary. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Tune in. Turn on. Drop out.

The thing is, I think all those people marching and rioting and fighting and reacting to what was wrong in the world, what they did, what we did, was because we were raised on the ideals of what America was supposed to be about, what we really did believe, growing up, America was about.

I look around now, and I wonder, why aren’t people out on the street marching in the hundreds of thousands protesting? Angry people march. Angry people riot. Angry people force change.

Six out of 10 children are living in poverty in this country. In fucking America, man! Why aren’t their parents out there marching? We were lied into Iraq more blatantly than we were ever lied to about Vietnam. Why the fuck aren’t we out there marching? We’re building infrastructures and schools in Afghanistan while our own bridges and roads are collapsing and our school buildings are rotting. Why the fuck are we not out there marching? Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, the Koch brothers and about 10 other Wall Street operators are speculating in oil prices. Why the fuck aren’t we out there marching? The President lets the Republicans walk all over him and the Republicans can’t stand that the black guy in the White House isn’t the valet. Why the fuck are we not out there marching?

What has changed?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t.

But I’m sad, and I’m scared. Really scared.

Superman used to be written for kids. As was Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, and Supergirl, and Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Grant is a great writer. Grant is a brilliant writer.

Grant is not a writer for kids.

And Action Comics #1 isn’t for kids.

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

Sharon Osbourne – Superwoman

She is considered the “Godmother Of Reality Television” and now Sharon Osbourne has reinvented herself again with her part in AMERICA’S GOT TALENT and a daytime talk show. She tells us how to live the 24 hour day, plus we get some disturbing news from DC on Vertigo.


Is the DC Relaunch a mistake or comics’ “last chance”??  Drop us a comment below!

ComicMix Six: Who You Want On Your Side When Zombies Attack

ComicMix Six: Who You Want On Your Side When Zombies Attack

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching and reading
enough stuff about zombies, it’s that you need a good bunch of guys with you
when the crap hits the fan. Guys who will last. Guys who know how to handle

So in light of The Walking Dead marathon on AMC today leading up to the season finale, these are the guys I want with me when Hell is full up, and
the dead walk the earth.

    Zombies love munching on flesh, but what if you put them up
    against a guy who’s made of sand? What the Hell are they gonna bite into? While
    sensitive to moisture, he can turn his body into glass. That’s gotta come in
    handy in close quarters. Flint is super strong and can take on crowds and send
    them reeling with a giant sledgehammer fist.

A veteran of many armed conflicts, this iconic video game
character has proven himself to be a top covert operations and infiltration
operator. He is a master with melee weapons, hand-to-hand combat, firearms, and
high explosives. Snake is one of the best guys to go to when you have to take
out a zombie quietly.

Everyone’s favorite anarchist may not be the first guy you’d
want to get mail from, but he’s proven that he can live off the grid. When
electricity and running water are unavailable, knowing how to live and survive
become the same thing. He’s also pretty good at making dandy booby traps, so
that can come in handy with setting up a camp perimeter better than empty cans
on string.


National Film Registry Recognizes SF, Fantasy

National Film Registry Recognizes SF, Fantasy

Every year, the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry names 25 films for historic preservation.  This year’s list was announced yesterday and we applaud the inclusion of several genre offerings including The Invisible Man and the first Terminator film.  The Perils of Pauline, the first movie serial, makes the list and is seminal for the way it influenced moviemakers and storytellers, notably comic book writers, ever since.

Here’s a look at this year’s list:

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
John Huston’s brilliant crime drama contains the recipe for a meticulously planned robbery, but the cast of criminal characters features one too many bad apples. Sam Jaffe, as the twisted mastermind, uses cash from corrupt attorney Emmerich (Louis Calhern) to assemble a group of skilled thugs to pull off a jewel heist. All goes as planned — until an alert night watchman and a corrupt cop enter the picture. Marilyn Monroe has a memorable bit part as Emmerich’s "niece."

Deliverance (1972)
Four Atlanta professionals (Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronnie Cox and Jon Voight) head for a weekend canoe trip — and instead meet up with two of the more memorable villains in film history (Billy McKinney and Herbert Coward) in this gripping Appalachian "Heart of Darkness." With dazzling visual flair, director John Boorman and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond infuse James Dickey’s novel with scenes of genuine terror and frantic struggles for survival battling river rapids — and in the process create a work rich with fascinating ambiguities about "civilized" values, urban-versus-backwoods culture, nature, and man’s supposed taming of the environment.