Behind the Panel: Karen Berger on the birth of Vertigo Comics

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Jan 30, 2018, 5:00 PM EST

Back in 1993, editor extraordinaire Karen Berger was put in charge of creating DC ComicsVertigo imprint in order to publish stories with more graphic and adult content, something that couldn't be done at DC proper. Berger had already spent a decade honing her skills as editor on various titles such as House of Mystery, Wonder Woman, Legion of Super-Heroes and Swamp Thing with Alan Moore when she was given the all-important gig.

Interestingly, Berger was not a superhero fan and didn't grow up reading comic books when she joined DC Comics in 1979 as an assistant editor to Paul Levitz (who worked as editor of the Batman titles at the time), her background being that of a former literature and art-history student which, for her, she found was an advantage. "In many ways I thought it was an advantage that I didn't have all the sort of preconceived notions of what a comic could be and what these characters had done in continuity for decades," she told us.

This is one of the reasons why she brought in outsiders' perspectives in UK writers such as Neil Gaiman, Peter Milligan, and Grant Morrison to write comics for DC. Berger's interest in 'lesser' characters and the supernatural and horror stuff ultimately led to the creation of Vertigo, when they offered her the gig following her maternity leave.

SYFY WIRE's Mike Avila sat down with Berger for an insightful Behind the Panel interview about her days at DC and the genesis of Vertigo Comics, which has given us some of the best comic book titles out there, including Sandman, Hellblazer, Black Orchid, Y: The Last Man and Preacher.

Dive into the video below, and let us know if you're a fan of Berger's work.


Additional material by Nathalie Caron.