Karen Berger has left Vertigo. If you don’t know who that is you should probably learn. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Vertigo since its inception in 1993. She’s not just leaving the company, she’s apparently leaving the industry in general, desiring a “professional change.” Karen Berger has been a legend in her field for the past twenty years, helping to usher in titles like Sandman, Hellblazer, V for Vendetta, Fables, Preacher, The Invisibles, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, American Vampire and many many others. It’s hard to think how the comic book imprint will function without her guiding it.
Perhaps that’s just what DC Comics wants, though. Recently, Vertigo has been on shaky grounds. A few years back DC changed their contract language, essentially taking away royalties if a creator’s comic doesn’t sell well. That sounds fair, but the company now holds their standards as high as 50,000 units sold, which Vertigo books never reach. Meaning all creators, even if their title is successful will miss out on royalties that they once were entitled to. This seems to be stemming from an idea that Vertigo isn’t really the moneymaker it used to be and DC has been left footing the bill for underperforming titles more than they prefer.
While Vertigo still pays their writers the most in the creator-owned community, their previous contract changes have caused popular Vertigo creators to move their work to other comic book publishers. DC now owns 50% of the media property rights for all their Vertigo titles and, understandably, people don’t like that.