24th Jun2019

Publishers to read now that Vertigo is ending

by Dan Clark

The announcement of DC shutting down the Vertigo imprint was certainly a sad day for comics, however, it has been inevitable for some time. DC did recently try to relaunch Vertigo with a slew of new titles to bring life back to the brand, but despite critical acclaim for many of those series, it was a relaunch that never got off the ground. Vertigo gave us some of the greatest and most revolutionary comics of all time, but due to a shifting market, its importance has dwindled.

What has not dwindled is the influence it and the books that made up the Vertigo line have had on the medium. Looking across the comic landscape there are publishers who very much live in a similar spirit that made Vertigo so legendary. With that in mind, I wanted to point some of those publishers out for those who wish to live in the glory days once again.

Ahoy Comics

Ahot-Comics-logo

Ahoy Comics has an interesting tie to Vertigo as next month it will be publishing a book that was originally slated to be part of their line. Mark Russell’s Second Coming was on the wrong end of some controversy leading Vertigo to drop the book for release but luckily Ahoy Comics was there to pick it up.

Ahoy is one of the youngest publishers but in its infancy has already put out some notable titles. One of their biggest strengths is how much they pack into many of their single issues. Things like essays, short stories, and other treats ensure you get a lot of great content for your money. A major throughline through all of Ahoy books is that there is a major humor element. Often that humor comes through the act of biting satire or inventive parody. Their format allows for established and up and coming talent to shine.

Notable Titles: The Wrong Earth, High Heaven, Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror, Planet of the Nerds

Black Crown

Black-Crown-Comics-logo

Similar to Vertigo, Black Crown is also an imprint but for IDW. Currently, IDW is probably best known for their licensed work but they do have a fair share of creator own properties plus other imprints like Top Shelf Productions that publish graphic novel material. What makes Black Crown standout as a line of comics is the sheer oddity of their books. The best Vertigo books were those that dared to be different, and that is something you will find with Black Crown series.

It is that Punk Rock spirit that lives on in aptly named titles like Punk’s Not Dead or Assassinistas. Books full of energy and spirit with art styles that tend to break away from convention. If there is one common factor among each title it is that their high concepts are strikingly original and tend to only get more intricate as the story moves on. They are books that will not appeal to a mass audience and you get the sense the creators are completely okay with that.

Notable Titles: Punk’s Not Dead, Euthanauts, Assassinistas, Kid Lobotomy

Black Mask Studios

Black-Mask-Comics-logo

Despite Black Mask being founded in 2012 they are the old kid on the block in this article. So because of that, they have by far the largest catalog of comics. Their stated key focus as a publisher is having creators tell awesome and important stories. Typically that means stories with a bold message that look down the belly of the beast without a whimper. Clearly, they hope their books do more than entertain.

Their list of creators is an extremely diverse group of individuals that are just starting to make a name for themselves in the industry. Some like Matthew Rosenberg and Zac Thompson have gone on to bigger things, and when reading the work they did with Black Mask you can see why. If there is one negative to Black Mask it is that their books can be notoriously late. Part of that is due to the nature of the business. When you have indie creators writing on a small indie book that does not pay much if anything at all finding the time is extremely difficult. That is why it is more important than ever to support companies like Black Mask because the industry is better when creators have more places to let their voices be heard.

Notable Titles: 4 Kids Walk Into The Bank, Black, Breathless, The Dregs, Young Terrorists

Vault Comics

vault-comics-logo

The best Vertigo comics were more than just good stories. They push the medium forward to be better than it once was. When reading some of Vaults best comics I get a similar feeling. For example a book like Fearscape that uses narration within meta-commentary that makes you an active participant within the story itself. Those who were found of series like Sandman may see it as a natural evolution of that series.

If you were to ask me what the best publisher in comics is today my vote would most likely go to Vault comics. For two key reasons – their consistency and inventiveness. As a publisher, they focus on Science Fiction and Fantasy stories but never do they fit into the normal box you will expect from the genre. Take something like These Savage Shores that ends up being one of the more sophisticated vampire stories I have read. They continue to build momentum each year as they release more and more stories. Looking at their upcoming slate of books for 2019 this will be their biggest year yet, and with the news that Vagrant Queen getting its own TV series their future looks very bright.

Notable Series: Friendo, These Savage Shores, Wasted Space, Fearscape, Heathen, Vagrant Queen

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Ultimately the point is that today’s comic world is full of fantastic titles from a multitude of publishers. The legacy of Vertigo is alive and well despite the imprint going away I do not see that changing anytime soon. In a way, it became a victim of its own success as it paved the way for other companies and imprints to follow in their footsteps, and considering how new many of these publishers are the world of comics is as healthy as ever.

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