As part of DC’s ongoing reorganization, three editorial personnel have been laid off from the Vertigo imprint: Pornsak Pichetshote, Jonathan Vankin, and Joan Hilty, The Beat has learned. All three are Vertigo veterans. Pichetshote was responsible for the recent hit THE UNWRITTEN, while Hilty and Vankin had mostly worked in acquiring graphic novels, including fall releases, CUBA and HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS.

joan_face.jpgHilty is a 15 year DC veteran, having worked her way up from the Trading Card department to Vertigo, to the DCU and back to Vertigo. In her tenure, she discovered Brian K. Vaughan and G. Willow Wilson, among others. She’s also a talented cartoonist — perhaps the time off will give her some time to pursue this.

Vankin also has a background as a nonfiction writer, with several books to his credit.

Pichetshote is also a filmmaker, and in addition to the hits he’s turned out, he’s one of the better liked editors in town; rumors that he’s going crosstown to Marvel remain prevalent.

In short, all three should land on their feet just fine.

In light of the departure of Vankin and Hilty, it would be difficult not to conclude that Vertigo’s drive to acquire more original graphic novels has been dealt a blow; both were charged specifically with this, and had been busy putting out books like THE QUITTER, INCOGNEGRO, and REVOLVER. In addition, Vankin edited several books in the Vertigo Crime line.

However, earlier this year, production of Vertigo graphic novels and ongoing series in the pipeline was reexamined, and the schedule was pushed back quote a bit. We contacted several creators who have GNs in the works, and all have been assured that they are still going forward. However, going forward, an ambitious OGN acquisition slate for Vertigo looks to be one of the casualties of the reorganization.

A DC spokesman had no comment on the layoffs.


  1. Jonathan Vankin also wrote the awesomely entertaining VERTIGO POP: TOKYO with art by Seth Fisher, which you owe it to yourself to find in back issue form, since I don’t know that it’ll get a trade collection.

  2. I’d heard and reported the same – but hadn’t named names – and then I was away. What was astonishing to me, if correct, was that every word earlier in the year had Pornsak being groomed for great things at DC.

    Something happened.

  3. Pornsak didn’t want to work at DCU. He liked his job at Vertigo, where he got to find, groom and build unique books with strong creative voices. He said no to the DCU and this is what he got.

  4. Damn. Those first two were wonderful editors and very fine people as well. I hope things turn out well for them. Very sad.

  5. I knew Joan Hilty was one to watch when I was reading through the DC Kids books and noticed her name on books my kids loved. What a shame. Perhaps her exit from Vertigo could mean a move to a different editorial position? Having worked in big corporations for years, this is not unheard of.

    Best of luck to all.

  6. Not that they have any editors that they don’t like, but it seems to be bad business to let go of some that seem to be amongst your best talents.

    Thoughts and prayers to the three to land on their feet, as folks seem to think they will.

  7. I have been edited by all three of these wonderful people. Joan was the first editor to hire me in the DCU. Jon the first to bring me to Vertigo. Pornsak helped me create Unknown Soldier and was as much a perfectionist about the book as I was. The book is better because he was the editor of it. I am not sad for these people. They will go on to continue doing amazing things, and I will always be at their beck-n-call, both professionally and personally.

  8. I recall seeing the names of these people on many fine comics over the years, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Luckily, there are other publishers out there who are producing the kind of material now that WildStorm and Vertigo used to do best – the ones with the voices and the things to say, you know.

    As for DC, it would seem they’re gutting their imprints to consolidate their mainstream line, doesn’t it? Given that the DC Universe talent pool has been growing weaker over the last few years along with Vertigo and WildStorm and Superman doesn’t sell comics anymore, that’s probably not a very smart move.

    But what do I know. I didn’t even understand BLACKEST NIGHT.

  9. Sorry to hear this, but like Heidi said above, Vertigo’s loss is going to be someone else’s gain.

    And I hope we can start hearing some good comics news soon. These layoffs are depressing.

  10. Well, shit.

    I didn’t know Pichetshote or Vankin, but I’ve heard well of them– best of luck to them. Joan was my editor on both BLUE BEETLE and BLACK LIGHTNING YEAR ONE, as well someone I consider a good friend of mine. This is a real downer…

  11. That’s a lot of great editorial talent to lose at a publisher that, frankly, is hurting big in that area. Let’s hope they land at other comics publishers. I hate when the industry loses or casts off good people.

  12. If you told me that Bob Harras was fired this week and one of these editors became DC’s EIC, I would have thought, “now there is progress in action”

  13. Best wishes to all three. These are very smart and extremely talented people and their books speak for themselves.

  14. “But what do I know. I didn’t even understand BLACKEST NIGHT.”

    And that matters to all of this because…?

    DC’s bean counters understood it. And their licensing department. And retailers. And many many many fans. And was most likely looked at very seriously for all the reasons why it worked on all fronts: comics, tie-ins, trades, licensing, etc.

    Back on topic – so were they laid off or were they offered other positions that were turned down? Because those are two very different things.

  15. I hope all of these people find new gigs that they like and I hope that DC / Vertigo still publishes great graphic novels like Cuba My Revolution and How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less (the latter of which I just finished reading the advance copy of this morning).

  16. Once again those with unique voices and unique talents are being cast aside to pander to”The NORM”, that big, insidious monster that has been taking over our politics, our eating habits and our entertainment. It’s not “The Stepford Wives” it’s the “Stepford Society”!

    Good luck to all three where ever they find themselves.

  17. i’m at a loss as to what the thinking was behind these firings. joan hilty is the BEST editor i have ever worked with and “Manhunter” would not have been half the book it was without her wisdom and championing it at DC. i have no doubt she will find a place to thrive and i would work with her again without a second thought.

    in addition to all her editorial skills, joan is also a dear friend whose presence in my life has made me a better person. such a shame.

  18. As someone who buys a lot of Vertigo trades, I’m sorry to hear this news. I’m sure they will continue to have great careers, but I hate to see where I think some really great comics being made being pulled back. Vertigo Crime line has been hit and miss for me, but I still loved the idea of small little hardcover b&w crime books and keep picking them up.

    Is Vertigo hurting or is this just the corporate Warner Brothers looking to fire a certain % of their workforce?

  19. Ah, this makes me sad. Joan and Jon have both been above the board awesome to me and are amazing editors. Pornsak was also pretty cool when I had a minute to meet him… wishing the best of luck to all three and I know I’ll see them pop up somewhere new soon… and then I shall PITCH TO THEM AGAIN!

    oh, yes. I shall.

  20. All three are really stellar people. My interactions with both Jonathan and Pornsak were always pleasant, though my professional dealings with either of them were limited.

    Joan, on the other hand is someone I’ve had a treasured working relationship with for around twelve years now, both on the all ages titles and at Vertigo. I have no expectation that that relationship will cease now that she’s no longer at Vertigo.

    All three of them should be prized as fresh talents at some other venture and could be a real boost in the arm for whatever company hires them.

  21. Joan Hilty is an incredible editor. I cannot thank her enough for her great support, her patience, and her guidance. She sees things no one else sees, is always there with intelligent commentary and suggestions, and I am a better artist because of her. I sat down and bawled like a baby when I heard this news. Some enterprising publisher should grab her. She’s gold.

  22. I should add that surprise made me post a bit hastily, in a way that makes it sound like I don’t care for Pornsak Pichetshote.

    Nothing could be further from the truth, I have never met him or worked with him, is all. I HAVE worked with Joan and Jonathan and know and like them both very much. I have heard nothing but raves about Pornsak, I just hadn’t met him, is all, when I commented about the other two editors.

    It’s a shame to lose all three. I wish them every success. They will be missed.

  23. I’d heard and reported the same – but hadn’t named names – and then I was away.

    Rich, we get it — you had it first, even though in this case you didn’t.

    Back on topic, I’m sorry to see these editors go.

  24. Bummer! I knew Joan when I worked at DC way back in the mid-1990s. She’s a super nice person and a talented editor. I never met the other two but am fully aware that Pornsak Pichetshote was editing some of the best Vertigo books (Sweet Tooth, Daytripper, and Unwritten), which are some of the finest series DC/Vertigo has ever published. I wasn’t as familiar with Vankin’s work but did recently enjoy “The Quitter.” I wish them all the best of luck.

  25. I’m angry and sad.

    Working w/Jonathan Vankin on THE QUITTER put me on the map, allowed me a follow up with THE ALCOHOLIC, and paved the way for Vertigo’s turn on AMERICAN SPLENDOR.

    CUBA: MY REVOLUTION wouldn’t be what it became without Joan Hilty, my favorite editor and a fine cartoonist.

    I’ve always wanted to work with Pornsak Pichetshote. Now, maybe I will.

    All three will find new homes in the comix biz if they so desire. I just hope they want to.

  26. Joan and Pornsak are collectively responsible for, like, 50% of my career output. They are both fantastic editors. Good editing really is the soul of good writing, and I have benefited tremendously from working with them.

    Oh, and hi Dysart.

  27. Vertigo has been a bastion of good comics. That these editors who pushed for the fairly successful OGN and are now gone is sad. What was so wrong with these books, ones that the mainstream book audience could read instead of just floppies. Not everything can be a long running series of floppies like Sandman or Y The Last Man. and even then I wonder if a series of graphic novels isn’t a bad idea. Either way, I don’t see why any of these editors were let go. Vertigo is one of the finest publishing labels out there, especially amazing considering they’re under the weight of DC and Warners.

  28. Pornsak was an editor who actually gave a damn about finding new voices, and even took the time to read and analyse various of my pitches, despite the fact that they came from an unknown German writer.

    And while we never quite saw eye to eye on projects (mainly because I am such a stubborn son of a bitch), he was kind and generous and open to new ideas, regardless of whether you came with a pedigree or previous contacts.

    As a writer, I have to say that DC lost one of the best guys they ever had.

    As a reader, I fear that an already shrinking Vertigo line will make me personally say “bye” completely to DC Comics very soon, I’d say, the moment DMZ and Northlanders have finished their runs, from the looks of it.

  29. I had gotten wind of this earlier and sincerely hoped it was wrong info. It’s shocking that such great editors, who have done so many great books, have been cut from the Vertigo roster. I understand the structural reasoning, but it seems like bad business decision to let talent like that walk away.

    Whoever hires any of them, wins.

  30. Sad for all three, especially my friend Pornsak. I was intending to work with him on something in the near future. Dark days.

  31. If this is true it’s really bad news. I just met Pornsak in April after years of being ‘pen pals’, and his results speak for themselves.
    Anyone who can negotiate a great book like Dysart’s Unknown Soldier through the system, not to mention all the other books that he’s been involved with that are innovative and plain fun to read, has my respect.
    If Vertigo is losing him that’s a big hole – but the rep he’s built will serve him in good stead wherever he lands.
    Best of luck P, and if you ever want to come back to documentary we’re happy to have you.

  32. All three were my favorite editors at DC, and I never worked with them. Their work was so good that I just felt I never really had a chance. I knew Joan back in her first days with Vertigo, and was disappointed to learn she moved to DCU, but elated when hearing she was moving back to Vertigo. Pornsak really impressed me when I was desperate for work, but he traveled all the way down stairs to tell me he liked my work, but didn’t have anything available.
    Classy editors, old school types.

  33. Joan was the first editor I worked with on my first project, the four-issue mini Finals (way back in 1999), and she raised the level of the book in every way — and was a pleasure to work with. Very sad to see her go.

  34. God Bless Joan Hilty. She was my first angel at DC back in the “Cartoon Cartoon” days, after taking over editorial after our blog host Ms. MacDonald moved on (Heidi interacted mainly with Clay Croker, I was more behind the scenes back then…) She gave me a million breaks and was instrumental in my branching out to other “all ages” titles over the years, specifically Scooby-Doo and Cartoon Network Block Party. A class act.

  35. *facepalm*

    First off, the very best of luck to Pornsak Pichetshote, Jonathan Vankin, and Joan Hilty. As the face of DC keeps changing for the worst, you’re all far better off going elsewhere where your efforts & talents will be more appreciated. Godspeed.

    Secondly, and maybe I’m alone in this, but does anybody else remember how utterly awful & unreadable Marvel product was between… let’s say around 1990 after the end of Gerber’s FOOLKILLER series to around 1998 with the relaunch of both AVENGERS & DAREDEVIL?

    That’s what DC is looking like to me more & more these days. No joke.

  36. Karen Berger should quit, take these three, start awesome off-beat publishing house and rock the industry. Anyone have a couple million dollars to help them get this going? They have creator loyalty, talent and knowledge…sounds like a fine investment to me…

  37. Best of luck to them. They’ve each been involved with projects that have brought me much entertainment.

  38. I’m very sad to hear about all three of them. All were good people besides being good editors and creators themselves. I never worked with Jonathan or Pornsak, but both were always very nice to me, always willing to take a minute with me on my rare visits to the offices or at a con.
    But it’s Joan I’ll particularly miss. I worked with her for many years on the Cartoon Network books, and while I was always happy to have work, what I most appreciated was talking with her about all sorts of other things. She saw the big picture in comics, saw more than just the capes and zombies, so even after leaving CN behind, we continued to talk. She was one of the few big-company editors who was willing to listen to some of my ideas, sometimes even wanting to explore what might be done with them. We never got anything approved, but the fact that she’d consider something different of mine will always be appreciated.
    I hope all 3 land on their feet elsewhere. They all have the talent and vision to make great comics (and other things) anywhere.

  39. Any truth to the rumor that Matt Damon is looking to start a line of graphic novels? If so, these three would be a great in-house editorial team to start with.

  40. Joan is both a very good person and a very good editor.

    She bolstered my stories when need be, yet never once did she mettle or act out of ego.

    The bottom line was always creating the best possible story and assisting me in becoming a better writer.

    And, as others have mentioned, she’s interested, smart and caring.

    Talented as hell, too.

    I bow down to all things Hilty…

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