Vertigo restructures; Shelly Bond let go

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Whoa, seismic news tonight as longtime Vertigo editor Shelly Bond, currently Vice President & Executive Editor and the storied Vertigo imprint, has been let go, as the imprint restructures. DC released a statement to CBR which you can read below. The move comes only days after a new “Young Animal” imprint, led by former DC intern Gerard Way, was announced, using many of the characters and tactics that made Vertigo a success when it launched in 1993.

Bond joined Vertigo in 1993, following a stint at Comico. Rising from assistant editor to editor to senior editor to group editor, and finally executive editor, next to Vertigo founder Karen Berger, she was the heart and soul of the imprint, masterminding the hugely successful Fables line and successfully shepherding the Sandman universe through its many iterations. I’m sure the internet will overflow in the next few hours with testimonies from the countless comics professionals whose careers she helped to jump start and to flourish.

But despite that storied history, it’s all about the current scheme, and Vertigo has been a weak link at DC even in a time of diminished sales. The imprint has had many reboots and restarts, with few new “franchise” series that became graphic novel perennials, despite the TV success of titles like Lucifer and iZombie. Of course, this was mainly due to Vertigo changing its contracts to take all media rights; for top line creators it makes more sense to go to Image, and that’s been evident for some time. I’m not sure that you could really lay the blame for this decline at Bond’s feet.

A recent new relaunch with 12 new titles, announced at San Diego last year, gained some critical acclaim but little sales traction. My guess is that this was the nail in the coffin for Vertigo as it had once been.

According to CBR, the Vertigo staff, including Senior Editor Jamie Rich, will now report directly to DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee.

More to come on all of this….

DC Entertainment is reexamining the direction and focus of the Vertigo imprint of comic books and graphic novels. The goal is to keep competitive and stay relevant in the changing marketplace, and to set the business up for future success.
The updated business structure will result for some employees in a change of reporting relationship, new job descriptions, and expanded roles and responsibilities.
Unfortunately, as part of the restructuring, the position of Vice President & Executive Editor has been eliminated. This was a very challenging process, and we made every effort to ensure all decisions were made with great care and consideration.
· We are extremely grateful for Shelly Bond’s commitment and dedication to Vertigo, its books and its incredibly talented team of staff and creators.
· In Vertigo she leaves a legacy to which we remain committed and on which we intend to build for the future. She will always be a deeply valued and respected member of the DC family.
· We have the utmost confidence in the current editorial staff and look forward to the team leaving their mark on the Vertigo line knowing this new alignment creates a stronger organization that is well positioned for maximum potential.

Comments

  1. Evan says

    Let Jamie take over Vertigo, let him do what he did at Oni, and watch it get back it’s stature. And restructure the contracts back to their old ways with WB just getting first look at the media rights.

    You see what’s going on at Image, so get back to that scenario and live with it.

  2. Jacob Goddard says

    I honestly didn’t know Vertigo was still a thing. I thought they brushed off the old logo for the new Sandman comic.

  3. says

    That’s a real shame for Shelly, and I hope she lands on her feet.

    Putting aside the contractual stuff (which, yeah, limits the number of solid pitches they’re going to get), recent Vertigo was both a failure of marketing (*twelve* monthly series in three months? That’s a big mis-read of the market’s wants — especially when it’s come on the tail of the failed “DCYou” relaunch where it was clear that they’d lost the retailer’s goodwill), as well as accessibility — by my count only maybe one of those twelve series actually contained its premise within the first issue, an absolute cardinal sin.

    -B

  4. says

    I’m a longtime Vertigo fan, and her leadership was my last hope that the imprint would retain some of its historic identity. Maybe it’s time to change the name of my blog to “Mr. Image.”

  5. Skottie says

    “Let Jamie take over Vertigo, let him do what he did at Oni, and watch it get back it’s stature.”

    Except the market is crashing for Marvel and DC. Vertigo has no hope.

  6. says

    It wasn’t really 12 series. They count everything in this, one shot, mini-series and ongoing series. There was just something like 6-7 new monthly series. They just marketed it as “12 new launches in 12weeks”, whihc was a little deceptive,
    Upping the price of both floppyies and first trad epaperback of 33% wasn’t the kind of initiative I expected would make mor epeople joint the party, especially when, at the same time, Oni and Image kept their first paperback at 9.99$ like Vertigo used to do.
    Perhaps they should go back to what made the imprint work at first: take some lost DCU properties and twist them into something interesting, then use that sucess to launch new oroginal series.
    That would come at the right time, seeing that the DCU rebirth catalog has made it clear it wants to stay away from obscure or second- DCU characters monthly series.

    Amethyst and Doom Patrol could be a start…and reclaiming Hellblazer of course!

  7. Kyle Pinion says

    Xavier
    That’s what the Gerard Way-led Young Animal line is going to be, with Doom Patrol as the leading book. Basically it’s late 80’s pre-Vertigo resurrected.

    Brian
    I only read three of those new Vertigo books – Sheriff of Babylon (excellent), Unfollow (fine), Twilight Children (good), and they all seemed to get on with their premise right away in the initial issue.

  8. Thomas says

    Xavier
    What one-shots? There were 12 new series launched, including miniseries. Twilight Children had four issues, as advertised, Slash & Burn and Jacked will both last six issues… where’s the deception?

    Brian
    One of my favorite things about the recent wave of Vertigo titles has been how *quickly* they get into their central premises. What are you talking about with “only maybe one,” man? If anything, titles like Survivors Club and Red Thorn were criticized for leaping into their arcs too quickly.

    Jacob
    The Vertigo logo is drifting off into space, just like DC is apparently letting the imprint drift. http://nerdist.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/the-sandman-overture.jpg

    Sorry for the reactive nitpicking, but I’ve enjoyed much of Vertigo’s output as of late and am frustrated when Bond’s departure is announced on the same page of a comics news site as, “I honestly didn’t know Vertigo was still a thing” and “recent Vertigo was a failure of marketing and accessibility.” I can’t wait for the trade editions to come out and vindicate Bond’s recent work.

    Okay, fanboy rant over.

  9. Earth-2 Chad says

    So the response to an environment where Vertigo’s contracts hamper them in attracting talent is to get rid of the editor who everyone wants to work with?

    That said, I tend to agree with Brian that the first issues of recent Vertigo launches weren’t as focused or clear in setting up their premise as they could have been (with the possible exception of Unfollow). I went back and took a look at the first issues of Fables, Preacher, Y the Last Man, Sandman to see if it was just my imagination that things used to be less muddled, and all of them set things up clearly while giving me a reason to come back and want to read more.

  10. William Owen says

    Vertigo was the smartest move DC since they first lured Kirby away from Marvel. Sorry to see this go the same way that did. So many of my shelves are stocked with the full trade collections of Vertigo titles – there isn’t another publisher that is as close and I didn’t think another publisher would ever get there.

    Now its only a matter of time until Image takes that prize. Good on them.

  11. Torsten Adair says

    In retrospect, Vertigo should have transitioned to a graphic novel model, more like a regular book publisher, printing original graphic novels.

    I don’t know how many movies Warners produced when they owned Little, Brown from 1989-2006.
    I suspect that most prose authors retained the movie rights, and put those to bid once a book was published. (Sometimes selling that option before the book was published.)

    If Vertigo had published OGNs (which they did on occasion, to mixed success), perhaps dominating the SF/Fantasy/Horror genres, then perhaps history would be different.
    Vertigo Crime died a gruesome death on the shelves.
    Matrix/Helix did as well, although a few titles were adopted by Vertigo.

    But the most troubling aspect: Vertigo dominates DC’s backlist. Doom Patrol, Sandman, DMZ, Fables… that’s where the money is at. Over in the DCU, you have a few Elseworlds titles, and a few creator-driven arcs like Morrison’s JLA and Snyder’s Batman, but few readers go back and read the collections of dead series.

    But recently? Since the New 52? Unwritten might be their last successful title.

    My prediction: Vertigo becomes “DC Max”, the Mature Readers line of DC Comics.

  12. Joe Helfrich says

    I only met Shelly once, at a Fables panel at SDCC years ago. They passed out free copies of #50 which had either just released or was coming out the next week or something like that, autographed by everyone on the creative team. At the end of the panel, a bunch of us went up to her to have her sign the book as well. She seemed legitimately surprised that anyone would want her autograph, but spent a good 10 minutes signing things when I’m sure she had somewhere else she was supposed to be.
    Comics is an industry with a lot of…I’ll say drama, barely-behind-the-scenes. But I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about Shelly Bond. DC will regret letting her go when she ends up at a competitor that will actually let her do what she’s good at.

  13. Lucia says

    I am looking forward to learning about a smart publisher snapping up Ms. Bond.

  14. Tim says

    The best revenge is living well. Bond is better off without the dumpster fire that is DC over the course of the last few years.

  15. says

    “In retrospect, Vertigo should have transitioned to a graphic novel model, more like a regular book publisher, printing original graphic novels.”

    That’s pretty much the single worst business model ever, Torsten, and I am literally flabbergasted that you would suggest this could be fruitful for Vertigo ever. The only possible chance Vertigo has is multiple revenue streams, where they double and triple and quadruple drip to eak out every possible penny of profit.

    -B

  16. Jon says

    Vertigo without Shelly Bond and Karen Berger, people who ARE Vertigo, who were there from the beginning, is just wrong.

    I feel very sorry Shelly Bond was fired. Awful news.

    “So the response to an environment where Vertigo’s contracts hamper them in attracting talent is to get rid of the editor who everyone wants to work with?”

    Second you, Earth-2 Chad.

    Didio and Lee haven’t got a clue. How is it they keep their jobs?

  17. Rick Dee says

    Lee must have a life-long contract for a high position after the sale of Wildstorm, DiDio and Harras? Who knows what their deals are, but all three should be fired. Vertigo started strong, but it’s now a shade of its former self. Good luck, Shelly. You are better off.

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