It’s hard to replicate what made Vertigo happen in the first place (the British Invasion). There were later hit series from writers outside that movement, but the momentum had drastically shifted when other companies embraced the model. And essentially, DC has Vertigo in a one-man label now anyway, Jinxworld. I mean, what else would you call it? It’s the same thing the Chief has been doing (except in mini-series for the most part). The moment Image revamped itself as a Vertigo company rather than a superhero alternative, the rules had changed. Vertigo itself lost the mandate.
It actually shows you the depth of material available these days. Millar isn’t that prolific but tends to have two books on the go at any time, Bendis has 4 or 5 creator owned books right now, Remender usually has 4 or 5 running so between those 3 guys alone it is more output than early 90s era Vertigo.
Earlier I forgot to mention Black Crown and Berger Books which are the most obvious in putting out the same type of material with two ex Vertigo chiefs.
Saying that they don’t necessarily need to replicate the British Invasion period. iFanboy were discussing this week that as recently as 2012 they stuff like Scalped still running, 100 Bullets, Fables (which ran until 2015), DMZ are not that long ago.
I would add Unwritten to the list of strong early-10s Vertigo book. It petered out by the end but it was great for a solid 30 issues or so.
The Clean Room and Unfollow era for me was the death knell of Vertigo. Both brilliant, and if they couldn’t keep those titles afloat then their days as an imprint are effectively done. Although I started to get suspicious around the time of Crossing Midnight.
The Fables crossover killed Unwritten for me, it was utter dreck. The book had been on life support since the midway finale, but that was the finishing blow.
That’s a trend I’ve noticed not just here, but elsewhere, over the past decade or so.
I remember, in the 90s and early 00s, on usenet and other public boards, that when a new issue of Sandman or The Invisibles or Preacher came out, that thing would be dissected like a frog in a junior high biology class. (Sandman, having ended before the ‘net really went mainstream maybe less so, but I remember the book being discussed in-depth well after it had ended.)
But somewhere along the line that changed. I don’t know if it’s because there isn’t enough enthusiasm out there about the stories to sustain conversations about the stories. Or if it came to be seen as rude to the creators (who might be posting to same board or newsgroup, or even lurking) to publicly discuss and critique their work. Or if it was collectively decided that doing in-depth discussions of comic books was a sort of piracy that would allow people reading the discussion to follow the storylines without buying the books in question.
Oh, that was lightning in a bottle there.
You had a lot of really talented people like Moore, Gaiman, Wagner, Morrison, Milligan, and Delano hitting the industry at just the right time, when the readership of comics was maturing and looking for more than the same old Silver Age retreads.
The “British Invasion” was definitely a big part of that zeitgeist, but you also had domestic stuff like Grendel, Epic Illustrated, and Love & Rockets that was operating on the same level. And, to a lesser extent, First Comics, who were putting out titles like American Flagg, Grimjack, and Dreadstar.
I think one answer is to ask what else was there in the 90s outside of those book that wasn’t superheroes? The likely answer is not much.
Now? There’s more genres than ever, more books than ever which tends to dilute that effect. Instead of people raving over one great book, they may be doing the same with far more.
Which expands across so much media. JR posts stories of some sci-fi show getting a 3rd season that I never noticed even existed before. There is no MTV now playing music, the main channel does reality shows while there are 8 other MTVs playing specialist genre music.
Our media environment now is more material targeted at smaller groups. Comics are not significantly different which is why that sales figure at #300 is relevant. It’s all spread out wider and in different formats to 15-20 years ago.
I also haven’t really seen many comics in the last few years with as many levels to them as titles like Sandman, or something like Promethea did. Promethea, especially, had a great deal of information and references to unpack in each issue. I haven’t really seen many comics with that level of detail since.
Gaiman and Moore are one offs though
We were just really lucky to have both of them firing at the same time
Also I think they did books out of a labour of love with a real appreciation for language and the craft of writing
I do see an unfortunate few trends of creators chucking as many concepts as they can out there to see if anything is going to make them some TV or movie money, or writing a shitload of books at one which they can’t possibly spend development time and research on.
Now I’m not saying I blame those creators, because they’ve got to eat. But perhaps they were given some pay to bide them by on research time and maybe getting paid enough to justify the effort.
I mean, that’s Millar’s big thing. Has been since Wanted.
Not all luck either, Moore was Gaiman’s mentor that suggested he do comics, the same with Jamie Delano too.
Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III has just been announced. On behalf of myself and my son, “Thank you!”
I think Millar has been a pioneer of this - however there’s no end to those looking to try and emulate his success rather than concentrate on just writing good comics.
Idea creation is actually his job now with Netflix. The comics only happen because he insists on it.
Once you are on the level of a Millar and some of these other guys, you can just shop treatments around. You don’t need to make comics at all.
So I don’t know if that is a totally fair way to look at Millar’s approach to comics, although I wouldn’t mind seeing him write more 12 issue stories again. That’s always been his sweet spot.
I’m not saying this to be on point for the board but I do think with Millar a lot has been coincidence. That’s the way he has written comics since before any TV or film options. Short run high concept stuff.
Pioneer was maybe the wrong choice of words.
Mark loves comics and has written them with enthusiasm for decades.
What I mean is he had some success outside of the medium, others have seen that and that’s what they are trying to emulate - rather than emulating how to just tell a good comic book story
I’m enjoying Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern: Space Cop series. It does seem like Hal Jordan gets through his cases a bit too easily, but, to be fair, so do most cops in police shows and movies, actually.
Having been patiently waiting for some sign of the promised Third Cycle for years now, I finally relented and read my copy of the American Vampire Anthology #2. A hodge podge collection of short stories across the decades. Some good; some barely comprehensible. It just reminded me that I really miss this series. I like Snyder’s DCU work, but what Vertigo really needs is a big marquee title to prop up the line, and American Vampire could be this. If only him and Albuquerque could find the time to do this, instead of everything but.
The Anthology ended with the promise that the series proper would return in 2017. I’m still waiting.