Tag Archives: Karen Berger

Next on the New 52 Chopping Block

DC Comics’ cancellation zone seems to be somewhere under 20,000 units sold. Of the titles not already cancelled, these are the titles that fell under that mark in the month of October: Ravagers, DC Universe Presents, Dial H, Batwing, Firestorm, Savage Hawkman, Legion of Super-Heroes, Demon Knights, Deathstroke. That doesn’t mean that these are the titles that will be cancelled next. Some of them most certainly will be cancelled, but others will probably be given extra time to regain lost readers with a change in focus or creative team. These are usually the signs of a book before cancellation. Sometimes you can even tell a book is going south before the sales figures can even be posted.

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Hatpalm

1. Phantom Stranger doesn’t sound like a title that will make it very long. It was kind of a surprise that it even existed in the first place. I figured the Stranger would be walking around somewhere, but definitely not in his own title. It’s kind of hard to see this book even making it through its first year. While the title has seen better sales than probably expected (people love Phantom Stranger), the book has already seen a 35 spot drop in its second month of publication. Many other New 52 books have been cut short after issue #8 and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of them.

The problem with the book stems from the Phantom Stranger character himself. He’s been traditionally depicted as a mystery. Where did he come from? Why is he doomed to wander the Earth alone forever? Was he a fallen angel? Was he the biblical Judas? No one ever knew and it was really fun to be able to guess about it. But in the New 52? No. He’s definitely Judas Iscariot, he was punished to wander the world looking like he’s a crime noir coachman and he wears a necklace made out of the thirty pieces of silver he sold Jesus for. Now he has a secret identity and he has a mission and a motive. This is not the Phantom Stranger. Elimination of all the mysteries surrounding him does not make him a more compelling character, it makes him feel hollow. Especially when he’s a religious figure. I can only imagine what actual religious people think about this.

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What is Happening to Vertigo?

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 SandmanHellblazerV for VendettaFablesPreacherThe Invisibles100 BulletsY: The Last ManAmerican 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.

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