And what does Hellblazer‘s end mean for Vertigo? Well, for one thing, it reduces the line’s number of ongoing titles even further after the recent or upcoming conclusions of iZombie, Scalped and Sweet Tooth; with American Vampire going on hiatus so that Scott Snyder and Rafael Alburquerque can work on some DCU material – Snyder is staying with Vertigo for The Wake, though – there’ll only be four ongoing series running from the imprint: Saucer Country, The Unwritten, Fables and the Fables spin-off, Fairest.
It’d be nice to think that that clears some space for a new ongoing series to be added to the line, but that’s not necessarily going to be the case; even if it were, we’ve already seen one attempt at a new Vertigo ongoing – Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child – get cancelled for low sales after just eight months – which isn’t a good sign for the line’s long-term health. Neither is Brian Wood’s tweeted observation this morning:
The long-term prospects for Saucer Country are difficult to intuit; as Marc-Oliver Frisch points out, it’s lost 48% of its orders in the first six months, and is currently around 8,100 copies a month in the US direct market according to estimates from Diamond numbers. That’s not a confirmed death sentence for the book at all – Scalped continued for five years with lower sales – but both iZombie and Sweet Tooth were cut when their numbers were in the mid-7000s. (As someone who really likes Saucer Country, I’m hoping for more of the former and less of the latter model, to be honest).
All isn’t lost for Vertigo as a line: Next year sees both the imprint’s 20th anniversary and a new Sandman series by Neil Gaiman and JH Williams that should significantly increase the average Vertigo order numbers. But revisiting former glories - Grant Morrison has shared that he was approached to return to The Invisibles, too – can’t be enough to keep the line going as an ongoing, viable prospect. It needs new material, new hits, to survive – and maybe the mainstream DCU line to stop stealing the hits and successful properties that it already has (Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Shade the Changing Man…).