Vertigo in trouble after having to cancel four books?

Over the last month, some rather disturbing things have been emerging from Vertigo.

While they once upon a time produced stunning and industry-defining material such as Sandman, V for Vendetta, Preacher and Y The Last Man (and let’s be honest here, the list just goes on and on), more recently Vertigo seem to be having a bit of trouble not only getting new books off the ground, but also keeping them alive.

Unknown Soldier, Madame Xanadu, AIR and Greek Street have all faced the firing line recently. With those books only selling marginally worse than titles like Scalped, Unwritten, Sweet Tooth and Northlanders, fans of these intriguing comics have got to be a little bit worried.

Not all of those books have gone down overly favourably with some of us — I’m looking at you Greek Street. But, comics like Unknown Soldier and AIR have been a breath of fresh air into an industry becoming obsessed with publishing books that are better suited to movies than comics.

Taking a look at the monthly sales; Unknown Soldier, AIR and Greek Street were among the worst-selling books for Vertigo every month in the last year, however when you come to look at the trade sales they are selling on the same par as the latest Scalped, Fables and Unwritten collections. Worrying times.

With Vertigo’s showing at SDCC also rather uncharacteristically quiet (announcing an anthology called Vertigo Resurrected, due in October, but no announcements on great new collaborations, books or writing teams), you’ve got to wonder whether they have an ace up their sleeve to get them out of the situation they are clearly in.

Unless this new anthology is the thing to resurrect them (see what I did there?), it certainly sounds awesome enough to tempt even the smallest Vertigo fan. The anthology will feature a collection of short stories and previously unpublished stories from famous Vertigo writers including Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis and Brian Azzarello. For fans of Hellblazer, this will also include the notorious Warren Ellis unpublished “Shoot” story. Previously said to be too controversial for print, it caused Ellis to depart the series. Getting an opportunity to see how controversial it actually is compared to today’s standards will be worth the price of admission alone.

It’s not a nice situation to see so many books cancelled within such a short period of time, but if this is the reality of the industry as we move into 2011, maybe it’s time Vertigo took a long hard look at strengthening their TPB and digital presence as it could be their saviour… otherwise get ready for impact.

Your favourite books? They just might be going down sooner than you think.

-Josh “Origami Kid” West

  1. Rick Sand says:

    Blah. I was digging Madame Xanadu too. I don’t know if it’s a sign that Vertigo’s in trouble though. Very few Vertigo books last long. If you don’t count the original launch titles there’s not many books that last: Fables, 100 Bullets, Y the Last Man, Preacher, Sandman Mystery Theater, and the Sandman spin-off, the Dreaming. Jack of Fables will probably stick since its a Fables spin-off. I can’t really think of any other series that’s even hit the 50 issue mark over there. That’s only 7 series in 17 years of Vertigo that hit 50 issues (not counting the founding titles like Hellblazer). Maybe they’ll finally get Swamp Thing back into print with the open slots. It also seems they are trying to bring Vertigo into the DC mainstream a little lately also. Maybe they want to return Madame Xanadu and Unknown Soldier to the DCU.

    • origamikid says:

      You gotta think though, Y The Last Man, Preacher, Sandman, 100 Bullets, etc – all ended because they had finished the story, not due to cancellation.

      Swamp thing would be quite cool – but realistically if they want to bring any fans back then they need to reinvent. They need new books like Unwritten and Sweet Tooth that so-far have managed to keep kinda steady sales figures. Once people realise that most of these books read better in trades…well that’s where the problem comes in.

      Pooling in some new talent to Hellblazer, bring back the gritty -hard edge stories and some nice art would be a good start. Show people that Vertigo is the place to be and they will come back, but as it stands it looks like a sinking ship.

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