CBR’s interview with DC Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio is the gift that keeps on giving. And while their tandem answers to questions about the role of the Vertigo imprint will be playing under their reign — specifically, the rumor that Vertigo characters like Swamp Thing are on the verge of reintegration into the main DC Universe — leave lots of room for interpretation, they do paint a picture of the pair’s working relationship with both the line’s creators and its leader, DC Vice President – Executive Editor Karen Berger.
Shifting focus to talk about Vertigo for a minute. Recently, you’ve had two well-received launches with “American Vampire” and with “Greendale,” both of which represent in their own way the two things that Vertigo is most known for: long-running series with a definite shape and scope to them and stand alone volumes build for a general audience to jump right into. Neither of you had worked much with the Vertigo staff or on those kinds of properties before becoming co-publishers. Do you foresee that Vertigo will continue to present projects in those two veins, or do you think that you’ll change things up in terms of the kind of material and formats we see?
Lee: Karen Berger is fairly synonymous with Vertigo, so it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for us to walk in and say, “Hey, by the way…this is how Vertigo should run.” We certainly sat down with her and went over all the titles and how the publishing plan should run. And fortunately, we had a great dialogue, and through that dialogue we’ve really come to lay down some stuff we think will best represent Vertigo as a line and will create more hits like “American Vampire” and “Greendale” that we think will make an impact with the readers. Part of the trick is that they do a lot of one-offs, so you don’t have projects dealing with well-known characters with established histories. It’s not just about finding diverse material. It’s about pushing the marketing to find new audiences for this material. It’s a great challenge, and that’s how Dan and I helped Karen – in pushing Vertigo as a line. And that’s where I think we’ll be more helpful than necessarily deciding “it’ll be this book and these creators,” because that’s what she and her team are so good at.
Didio: And I think that there’s a small renaissance going on at Vertigo too. For so many years, it was about “Y” and “Fables” being the real lynch pins of the line, and now we see things like “Sweet Tooth,” “American Vampire” and “The Unwritten” all break out and grab an audience. We’re really excited by the feedback and excitement those books are building at this time.
Recently, there was talk online from science fiction writer China Miéville who said he’d been working on a new version of “Swamp Thing” for Vertigo, but that it didn’t come together because there may be plans to return the character to the DCU proper. Is there anything to say there about the chance that some of these characters may be moving back or forth with you guys in the publisher role?
Lee: You’ve got to understand, we can’t respond to rumors. There’s one every day, and maybe one in ten comes to fruition or ends up being true. We really can’t speak about that kind of stuff, or we’d spend all our days squashing things that could or couldn’t be true.
Didio: I’m going to go really big picture on this for a second. In any entertainment situation or any entertainment environment, there’s constantly product that’s being developed with all of the best intentions to be made, but they get turned aside for whatever reason. They’re never the same reasons twice most of the time. In this particular case, though, we are examining everything that we do, and we’re looking for the best ways to approach our books and our characters to make product with the best chance possible of the best success possible.
If I’m reading all that right — including the non-denial with regards to bringing Vertigo characters back to the DCU — Lee and DiDio’s input on Vertigo is more structural than a question of directly intervening on the creative end. But again, there’s plenty of room for interpretation…