How Karen Berger Can Save DC Comics

Posted: August 20, 2011 in Comics, Commentary, DC Comics
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

In one week DC Comics is  re-starting their publishing line. If you haven’t heard about it you’ll start seeing ads on TV and online. Much ado has been made of this move with some loving it and some hating it. (You check out my take here) We won’t know  until the books go on sale. However, when I was picking up my books today someone made a comment about “The New 52” being a stunt by DC to remain relevant. To an extent I think it is. But if DC wants to become relevant again and get people talking about their books, they need only look to their editorial department. They look to Karen Berger. Karen Berger is the Senior VP-Executive Editor of DC Comics’ Vertigo line, but should be promoted to Editor and Chief of DC Comics.

It was Karen Berger’s editorial stewardship that gave us Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Brian K. Vaughn, Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Rizzo, Jill Thompson, Phil Jimenez, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, and G. Willow Wilson. These are only a few of the top creators in comics that got their big break under Berger’s watch. All of these creators are special because they bring a unique point of view to their stories. Titles like “Sandman,” “Preacher,” “Y the Last Man,” “Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing,” “100 Bullets,” and “Scalped” are powerhouses on the graphic novel charts. So why does this qualify her to take charge of DC? Easy, recognition of talent.

One of my biggest issues with DC’s relaunch is that relies on creators who have been insulated in a “super hero bubble.” This is not an insult to those creators and their work, not at all, but we know their point of view. The above mentioned creators all brought a unique sensibility and perspective to their work. Karen saw their talent and potential and was able to work with them and harness it into success.

When I think of Karen’s editorial stewardship, I’m reminded of a man named Joe Quesada who before becoming Editor and Chief at Marvel was editing a line called Marvel Knights. The Marvel Knights line took top talent who were not associated with super-hero work and placed them on  lower tier Marvel characters, turning them into successful titles. “Daredevil” need I say more? Marvel’s President of Publishing, Bill Jemas, at the time, saw how the Marvel Knights line was more in touch with readers taste as opposed to the mainstream Marvel Universe. So he made Joe Editor and Chief and the rest is history. So why isn’t DC doing the same thing?

Putting someone with a different perspective can kick start a renaissance for a comic book company. Karen Berger and Vertigo have produced some of the most cutting edge books out there. Now imagine Karen (who developed and raised this line) in charge of the mainstream DC Universe. Imagine someone with an eye for talent, knowledge of how the comic book industry works, and is outside the “super hero bubble” being placed in charge of assigning creators to the DC Universe. I honestly believe we would get new and unique perspectives of DC’s Pantheon of heroes. I believe that Karen would be able to get some of Vertigo’s top creators to bring their talents and perspective to the DC Universe. A perspective that may make some fan’s uncomfortable, but ultimately will hook them because there would be a sense of danger that would bring them back either month after month.

This is only speculation. But I think someone like Karen Berger could take DC to new heights and levels of excitement. She has an eye for talent and is in touch with an audience that is not interested in super hero books. Who knows what she could do with the DC heroes. I think she should be given a shot, how about you?

  1. taffysaur says:

    The problem there is, writers outside the superhero “bubble” often (not always) seem to see superheroes as silly, and when coerced or cajoled into the job, strip the heroes of everything that appeals to me in the first place. I *hated* Azarello’s Superman run, for instance. And he didn’t seem to like Superman all that much either, so why ask him to write it?

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