The news that Karen Berger will step down as Vertigo Executive Editor in March 2013 is a massive shift for DC Entertainment, and arguably for the industry as a whole; it’s impossible to consider the mainstream American comics industry without Vertigo these days, especially when you consider that Marvel’s EiC these days cut his editorial teeth at the imprint (as did numerous Marvel creators). The list of titles that she helped create and curate is beyond impressive, and it’s hard to imagine an editor who has done as much to shift perception of comics as a whole in mainstream pop culture, thanks to Vertigo’s legacy of work including Sandman, Y The Last Man, Fables, 100 Bullets, Preacher, The Invisibles et al.
The official DC makes a point of mentioning twice that her departure doesn’t mean the end of the Vertigo imprint – It goes so far as to mention “veteran staffers” who’ll be taking over, although it doesn’t name them (It’s got to be Shelly Bond, though, seriously) – but Vertigo’s future has seemed shaky at best in the last couple of years, with low monthly sales – especially when compared to the New 52 line – the departure of many of the imprint’s core company-owned characters back to the New 52 line (Most recently seen with the cancellation of Hellblazer – DC’s longest-running, un-renumbered title – in favor of the New 52 series Constantine) and the imprint’s slow shrinking in size and importance. With the Before Watchmen titles debuting the “mainstream” DC imprint’s Mature Readers rating, it could be argued that Vertigo’s one identifying trait within the company – That it produced comics “suggested for Mature Readers” – had finally been stripped away.
It’ll be interesting to see where both Berger and Vertigo go from here. One thing’s for sure; many people will be watching the next steps of both.