The cover for “Border Town” No. 1 by writer Eric M. Esquivel and artist Ramon Villalobos.(DC Vertigo)
The cover for ‘Hex Wives’ No. 1 by writer Ben Blacker and artist Mirka Andolfo.(DC Vertigo)
The cover for “American Carnage” No. 1 by writer Bryan Hill and artist Leandro Fernandez.(DC Vertigo)
The cover of “Goddess Mode” No. 1 by writer Zoë Quinn and artist Robbi Rodriguez.(DC Vertigo)
The cover of “High Level” No. 1 by writer Rob Sheridan and artist Barnaby Bagenda.(DC Vertigo)
The cover of “Safe Sex” No. 1 by writer Tina Horn and artist Mike Dowling.(DC Vertigo)
The cover of “Second Coming” No. 1 by writer Mark Russell and artist Richard Pace.(DC Vertigo)
The new logo for DC Vertigo.(DC Vertigo)
DC Entertainment is celebrating Vertigo’s 25th anniversary with a line-wide relaunch that includes new books, a new logo and a new name: DC Vertigo.
Along with the rebranding, DC Vertigo is refocusing its vision to help set the tone to guide the imprint’s next 25 years.
According to DC Vertigo Executive Editor Mark Doyle, DC’s relocation from Manhattan to Burbank and Vertigo’s access to the deep pool of local talent across various entertainment media has had an effect on the foundation of the imprint’s new identity.
“We’re really focusing on new voices and modern takes on comics storytelling,” Doyle said in a recent phone call. “Ever since we transitioned to L.A. and a whole new Vertigo team, we really made an effort to find new voices and people who were doing storytelling in other media, whether it was video games or music or stuff like that.”
As DC’s imprint for more “mature” work, Vertigo initially launched in 1993 and became known for publishing edgier titles with sensibilities that appealed to both longtime comic book aficionados and non-comics readers alike.
With a catalog that extends beyond traditional superhero fare to include science fiction, horror and fantasy books, Vertigo was the imprint for both creators and readers unafraid to experiment. Titles such as “The Sandman,” “Hellblazer,” “Swamp Thing,” “Fables” and “Y: The Last Man” helped make Vertigo’s reputation. Other popular Vertigo books such as “Preacher” and “Lucifer” have been adapted into TV series.
“Vertigo, to me, has always meant new voices,” explained Doyle. “It’s finding writers and artists who I haven’t seen before and set them up to tell these stories you just can’t get anywhere else.”
He added: “If you’re reading superhero comics or sci-fi comics or whatever elsewhere, Vertigo is going to be doing something different that you just can’t get anywhere else. That’s really the core of it.”
Seven new books will make up the inaugural DC Vertigo lineup. The titles will debut following the launch of the previously announced, Neil Gaiman-curated “Sandman Universe.”
The monthly debuts will kick off in September with “Border Town” by writer Eric M. Esquivel (“Adventure Time,” “Starburns Presents”) and artist Ramon Villalobos (“Nighthawk,” “America”). Set in the small town of Devil’s Fork, Ariz., the series will follow Frank Dominguez and his high-school friends as they uncover the secrets behind supernatural occurrences that are being blamed on Mexican immigrants.
In October, “Hex Wives” — by writer Ben Blacker (co-creator of “The Thrilling Adventure Hour”) and artist Mirka Andolfo (“Wonder Woman,” “Shade, the Changing Girl”) — will make its debut. The series involves a world where some unsavory men brainwash a coven of witches into subservient, suburban housewives.
White-passing biracial FBI agent Richard Wright infiltrates a white-supremacist group believed to be responsible for the death of a fellow agent in “American Carnage,” written by Bryan Hill (“Titans,” “Michael Cray”) and drawn by Leandro Fernandez (“The Names,” “The Punisher Max”); that series will debut in November.
December’s “Goddess Mode” is set in a not-too-distant future where a godlike A.I. oversees all of humanity’s needs. The series, by writer Zoë Quinn (“Crash Override”) and artist Robbi Rodriguez (“Spider-Gwen,” “FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics”), follows IT officer Cassandra, who stumbles upon a group of super-powered women who are locked in a secret war against horrifying monsters.
More debuts will arrive in 2019, including “High Level,” “Safe Sex” and “Second Coming.”
Writer Rob Sheridan (former art director for Nine Inch Nails, co-creator of “Year Zero”) and artist Barnaby Bagenda’s (“The Omega Men,” “Green Lanterns”) “High Level” follows a smuggler with a bounty on her head who is forced to deliver a child messiah to the mystical city of High Level — a mythical city at the top of the world from which nobody has ever returned.
“Safe Sex,” written by Tina Horn (host and producer of “Why Are People Into That?” podcast; author, educator and journalist covering sexual politics) and drawn by Mike Dowling (“Unfollow,” “2000 A.D.”), is a dystopian sci-fi thriller where a ragtag team of sex workers must fight for the freedom to love in a world where the government monitors, regulates and polices sexual pleasure.
In writer Mark Russell (“God Is Disappointed in You,” “The Flintstones”) and artist Richard Pace’s (“Imaginary Fiends”), “Second Coming,” Jesus is sent to Earth by God in order to learn from the all-powerful superhero Sun-Man.
“All of these stories just felt really relevant and really topical,” said Doyle. “Whether it was a smart take on immigration fears or what it’s like to be a woman on the internet, these are all things that are just constantly in the headlines and not going away.”
In an era where there are exponentially more entertainment options than when Vertigo first launched, Doyle insists that no other medium can beat comic books in episodic storytelling.
“For me the appeal of comics against any other medium is that it’s a chance to unplug,” said Doyle. “You put your phone down, you turn your TV off and you go into another world that you just can’t experience anywhere else.”