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Hey, are you going to eat that?

One of the stories coming out of New York Comic-Con that caught my attention is Vertigo's announcement that they are seeking to acquire original graphic novels. They've announced Jeff Lemire and Peter Bagge as coming on board, both of whom do comics work outside of the speculative fiction genres Vertigo has traditionally published. Karen Berger, Vertigo Senior Vice President, comments in the PW article I'm linking to here, "We're really moving out of the traditional genres Vertigo is known for publishing and into the reality based fiction that you might expect from other book publishers."

I'm not sure if anyone has addressed this news in these terms (there's just too much NYCC commentary going around for me to read it all*): In essence, what Vertigo is doing is putting DC into competition with independent comics publishers -- much as mainstream publishers have done in recent years with the establishment of graphic novel imprints, such as Random House's Pantheon (they publish former indie-comics mainstays Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns). Jeff Lemire was, as far as I can tell, first published by Top Shelf after first self-publishing.

This seems to be a different model from how Minx went about getting talent -- there was not the open call for submissions with that imprint. Instead, Minx editor Shelly Bond took a look at the comics we, Oni and Top Shelf were publishing and did a little browsing, choosing artists to approach. (OK, I can't actually say that's what she did, and it's so, like, two-years-ago's controversy. And anyway, I can't be completely down on this. It's her job, just as it's mine to read mini-comics and keep an eye out for artists I think are cool, and, hell, it puffs up our editorial pride.)

So I'm wondering what I should anticipate. Sometimes, when we publish new comics, I know that Minx will be on the creator in a flash once the project's announced, but I don't know if it will work the same way with Vertigo's editors. I wonder if there will be a temporarily lull in submissions, followed by a torrent of Vertigo-rejected projects.

Time will tell.

*Check out this "regular book" blog's comments on pictures from NYCC: "the Boba Fett was a fan (who was wandering around with a near-identical twin, in a more battered olive-tinged armor)."

Comic Book Guy, please enlighten this blogger: "Uh, the guy in the picture is Jango Fett, and the near-identical twin is, duh, his clone, who, as it turns out, is the one who is actually Boba Fett. Get it right! Worst. Convention. Coverage. Ever."

Not that I'm huge on Star Wars or anything (actually, I'm pretty damned sick of it), but I found that mistake kind of cute.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
I think it's going to depend on what kind of deal they're offering. I'd like to think anyone who'd potentially be interested in this sort of thing would realize that there's probably no free lunch. If there's a page rate or advance involved, there'll likely be a trade-off in terms of how much of the work is owned by DC vs. by the creator.

On the other side, I wonder if DC/Vertigo can make this work. We're clearly in a graphic novel "boom" at the moment, but that audience can only grow so fast and can only spend so much, particularly with the economy where it appears to be heading. With all the editorial overhead at a place like DC, and little opportunity for marketing coming out of general fiction GNs (as opposed to genre stuff), I wonder if they'll be able to do the numbers to make it work.

My hunch is that for a publisher like SLG or Oni or Top Shelf, that selling, say, 3000 copies of a $12.00 book means the book's been profitable. For DC, I'll bet that's a loss.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
My hunch is that for a publisher like SLG or Oni or Top Shelf, that selling, say, 3000 copies of a $12.00 book means the book's been profitable. For DC, I'll bet that's a loss.

Very true.

From what I understand, Vertigo has traditionally offered creator-owned contracts, but I don't know what rights they reserve. I imagine DC owning optioning rights--at least a good chunk of them--would be the incentive for creator ownership. But that's just me imagining. I've not seen their contracts, so I shouldn't speculate.

I haven't seen it addressed whether Vertigo will continue to publish within the genres they have traditionally. Is it a move entirely over to "reality-based" work? It seems so, as Berger says they're "moving out" of the other genres. I can't see that that sort of shift will help them out, either. it's just trading a couple of genres for another instead of adding diversity to the line.
Apr. 23rd, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
I hang my head in shame.
In my defense, though, I never made it past Attack of the Clones, and I really wasn't even paying all that much attention to that.

Still, I take comfort in having framed the photo decently.

Apr. 23rd, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
Re: I hang my head in shame.
Ha, I only know any of this because my husband is a Star Wars fan. And also, working in a "nerd" industry, you're required to absorb this stuff by osmosis. It makes you know things that lead you to think, "But Jango Fett and Boba Fett would have never been together as adults!" and then be ashamed that you're thinking it.

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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