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Acute Vertigo

DC's Vertigo imprint is collapsing.  Big time.

The label Neil Gaiman made great, where he redefined comics, has been hit hard lately, with flagging sales and grumbling across the board.  Vertigo started housecleaning.  First, Air was deflated.  Then, Unknown Soldier got discharged.  Next, Greek Street got dead ended.  Swamp Thing got pruned and replanted in the proper DCU.  Now, Madame Xanadu is losing her verses.  (Damn, I'm enjoying writing this patter.)  I've also heard that Death from Sandman is going to make an appearance in the DCU proper.  This is decades after it happened, Gaiman said he didn't like it, and DC capitulated.

Vertigo used to be the 500 lb. gorilla of DC editorial.  They were part of a stylistic revolution in the comics medium, creating deep artistic stories.  Now, they are seeing their titles pulled into the section with the capes again, and there's nothing they can do.

I wonder if the talk of further Watchmen installments, recently confirmed by Alan Moore and practically admitted to by Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, might be to help shore up the division and give it a massive hit.  Given there have been two Vertigo big screen adaptations that bombed at the box office (Watchmen and V For Vendetta), Vertigo seems to have lost the fashionable cache it used to have.

It's scary.  Comic sales for the month of April were down 20% from April the previous year.  That means that the margin is getting smaller.  Readers are falling away.  Companies that want to stay in business will get rid of things that don't bring either readership or validation (spin off media deals).  DCU will always have an advantage over Vertigo.  Just look at all the animated movies for Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and stuff.  They can experience a drop but still go on, since they have all kinds of things that can be done and the numbers are high enough anyway.  But Vertigo?  Their numbers are small enough that a 20% drop can be fatal, and appears to be.  Combine this letting high profile hits like Chew slip through their fingers (it's official, AMC is devving a TV series based on it, and since Vertigo returned the rights to the creators, that means they won't see anything from it), and things do not look good.

This is scary for everyone, actually, Vertigo, self-publisher, whatever.  What this basically means is the pie is getting smaller, so the pieces are smaller, and EVERYBODY wants a slice.

Vertigo is a fear of high places.  Heights are not what they are concerned with now.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 23rd, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
I think the idea of trying to make comics be more than disposable entertainment is part of the problem...then again, I could be talking out of my arse...

All good things come to an end, my friend. That's why DC proper won't allow Bruce to die "for real" and Marvel brought back Bucky...
Jul. 23rd, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
I don't think you're talking out of your ass, you are completely right. Comics are disposable. In ten years, no one is really going to care about Civil War/Secret Invasion/etc., but they'll still be talking about Watchmen or Kraven's Last Hunt or....

I would like to point out that despite a lot of high profile comic book movies like Iron Man and everyone buzzing about Thor and Captain America, comic sales are still falling. No one is trying to bring in new readers, no one is making things accessible, and the books that are out, people read, bag, board, and put away. They are paying to keep up with plot points.

One of my points of pride about Sound Waves is how the readers keep the books handy (I hear this quite a bit) because they love the characters so much. I mean, I'm a writer. The whole point of art is to communicate with the audience. People open my books and, for however long it takes to read, the characters are alive to them. It's like they are friends or guests or visitors. How is it that modern companies don't understand this? That the personality or identification or wonder was what had people reading books, not how whacked out they could make things?

All good things come to an end. Hopefully, the bad things are cyclical, too.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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