I've worked with a legend for 25 years. She's the best, & I'll miss her gentleness & sanity at VertigoDC – Neil Gaiman

I've long said there are two or three people to whom I owe my career. Karen Berger is one of them. Wow. – Phil Jimenez

There are a few points I want to consider.

Karen Berger ranks with Stan Lee and William Gaines as one of the most influential editors in the history of American comics.- Chris Roberson

At one point in the last decade, then-Senior VP of Legal Business Development at DC Comics, Paula Lowitt was boasting in a meeting about the richness of story at Vertigo comics, as a defense against the line losing money for DC Comics. Then-President CEO of Warner Bros Entertainment, Alan Horn asked why DC and Warner weren't developing more of the books into movies then. Lowitt mentioned that DC didn't necessarily control all of the media rights, but that was one reason why they got such great stories in the first place. Horn asked why they would create a contract that saw the company lose money on almost every book, hope to make it on the collections, and not control every media right going? And as a result of that meeting, Horn saw to it that the Vertigo contracts changed so that DC would have a stronger hold over how and where the comics get exploited.

Very sad to hear about Karen Berger leaving Vertigo. A painful end to an era that shouldn't have ended. I wish her the best.- Steve Niles

Since then, Neil Gaiman created no new properties for DC. Neither did Garth Ennis. Neither did Warren Ellis. DC Vertigo lost their major stars to Avatar, Image, Dynamite, Marvel (briefly) and other media.

Karen Berger leaves behind an extraordinary editorial legacy behind her. Easily one of the best ever.- Steve Wacker

Vertigo never even got a major media hit with the new contracts. Fables was lookaliked into Once Upon A Time. Simon Oliver waited for his contract with Vertigo to expire and he had all the rights back before he turned around and sold the cancelled Vertigo series The Exterminators to Showtime. People stopped playing ball.

Karen Berger gave me my first DC Comics job on WonderWoman. I'm happy to say I pencilled the first Vertigo issue of Sandman.- Jill Thompson

The other major point was the reorganisation of DC Comics into DC Entertainment, which saw Paul Levitz fired as Publisher and President. Karen Berger was his assistant in the early days and, despite all sorts of material he found distasteful, Levitz defended Vertigo's attempts to explore it. Karen Berger used to report directly to him. Now, under the new regime, she reported to the DCU Editor-In-Chief instead, as she saw the IP she managed taken from her and given to the DCU. Hellblazer was the stand out – until next year. Swamp Thing was ripped from Vertigo in mid-publication. The graphic novel line was rapidly reduced, with staff fired. I began to be told that people believed that DC were trying to force Karen out – she was expensive, she was old school, she didn't fit with the New 52. Ironically, she found herself editing such a title, Dial H, after it was repurposed from Vertigo to the New 52, as writer China Mieville demanded he still work with Berger. Karen was at odds with Dan DiDio over many things – aside from the new DC logo which they both despised.

Wishing Karen Berger the best! In 2006 Karen, Shelly Bond & Steve Seagle took a chance on me in American Virgin, and I've never looked back! – Becky Cloonan

Vertigo is, of course more than Karen Berger. There are a number of talented, hard working and committed people on that team, producing some wonderful books. Shelly Bond, Will Dennis and more. There are Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire's sci-fi titles. There's Sandman Zero. There's the Millenium Trilogy. But without her, it will be less.

Imagine what Karen Berger could do at a company like Image or Dark Horse without all the corporate stuff. It'd be neat, is what I'm saying.- Tim Seeley

The reason I read DC Comics today… hell, the reason I still read any comics today is Vertigo. The reason I read Vertigo then was Karen.

Karen Berger is to comics what Maxwell Perkins was to the history of American letters. My imagination has always been a Vertigo imagination. – Joe Hill

Few editors have changed the entire comics industry. Karen Berger is one of them. Her leaving DC is the end of an era – Stephen Christy

But this is not an obituary. Now to see what Karen does next… and, of course, what Vertigo does next too.

"[Karen Berger] will help decide on a new Vertigo director." Why bother? The position won't even exist a year from now." – Mark Waid

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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