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Vertigo Comics Executive Karen Berger Is Leaving DC Entertainment

Vertigo Comics has been the more serious, adult oriented arm of DC Comics since 1993 and at the very start was Karen Berger. Getting Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman published was just one of this editor’s countless accomplishments at the company, you can also put Hellblazer and V for Vendetta in that group, so it’s with a great deal of disappointment we must report she’s leaving the DC Entertainment altogether.

DC issued a statement yesterday:

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.

Berger worked her way up at DC starting as an assistant in 1979. She later became the Editor of Wonder Woman and Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld which she also helped introduce. Besides Gaiman, she was also responsible for bringing other British creators like Peter MilliganGrant Morrison, and Garth Ennis into the fold. Her tenure at Vertigo ushered in the hit series Fables, Y: The Last Man, Transmetropolitan, Preacher, The Invisibles, Scalped, iZombie, DMZ, and American Virgin.

Most of Vertigo’s staples have since ended (100 Bullets) or are on their way to a finale (Hellblazer) and although the ground at the imprint looks shaky, they’re still publishing Fables (and related spin-offs), The Unwritten, Saucer Country and American Vampire as well as a graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Also, they just introduced a new sci-fi anthology called Time Warp with stories/art from names like Damon Lindelof, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Toby Litt, Mark Buckingham, Dan Abnett, Milligan, Ray Fawkes, Simon Spurrier, Gail Simone, Rafael Albuquerque, and Tom Fowler. Coincidentally, it will start the same month Berger leaves. And we can’t forget the recently announced Sandman prequel Gaiman is set to do with artist J.H. Williams III.

In something of a tribute to Berger’s impact on the industry, “Karen Berger” was trending on Twitter after news broke last night. Here are a few of the first reactions from industry folks:

We only know Berger is leaving because she needs a “professional change” and don’t know where she’ll go next but we’d assume a person with her resume could have her pick.

“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.”

(via The Beat)

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  • Anonymous

    1979… wow. End of an era indeed. It’ll be… interesting to see who takes up the post.

    And I hadn’t realized ‘Hellblazer’ was winding down. I stopped buying the comic when Milligan came on (differences in taste), and I guess I kinda lost track of what was going on. …Time to go stare at the floor for a while.

  • Anonymous

    Jeeeezus! Her resumé is like 60% of what I was devouring in terms of comics in the 80s/90s. And 85% of the works that had the most profound impact on me (just missing Alan Moore and Dave Sim, and some of Miller’s works).

    I hope she gets to do great things in the future as well!

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    DC hasn’t made many good editorial decisions lately, so they’re going to feel the loss doubly so. I hope she does equally fantastic work elsewhere!

  • Adam Barraclough

    I believe a correction is in order – end of the first paragraph following the DC statement, I think you meant to say American Vampire.

    But oh, what a delicious Freudian slip!

  • Jill Pantozzi

    Not a slip, that’s Steven T. Seagle and Becky Cloonan’s comic “American Virgin.”

  • Life Lessons

    :( May your new step in life bring you joy, Ms. Berger.

  • Anonymous

    This is very sad. It seems like current DC editorial is more interested in shifting characters back to the DCU and the higher ups at WB don’t understand the point of mature, artistic comics unless they can use them as fodder for a movie. I hope Vertigo can survive without Ms. Berger and I hope she finds success, whatever her next career move is.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Is anybody else taking this as a sign that she’s going off to start some awesome new project with awesome talents, free from the limits working at a DC-owned company might impose? :D

  • milliways

    Hellblazer at Vertigo is ending… And instead a Constantine series is starting over at DC proper next year, as part of the New 52 and it’s a complete reboot of the character who has currently been appearing in Justice League Dark.

  • Anonymous

    …I see. :( Thanks for the info.

  • Anonymous

    Gaiman has a hidden message in his tweet.

  • Sophie

    I’m terrible at noticing these things. What’s the message?

  • Anonymous

    To me, it implied that VertigoDC was losing its sanity.