DC announced today that the company will rebrand in 2020, bringing all of its publishing content together to be organized and marketed under the DC brand. This move means the end of the beloved Vertigo publishing imprint, as well as the recently-launched DC Ink and DC creating three age-specific labels – DC Kids, DC and DC Black Label – that would absorb all of its existing imprints and focus DC's publishing content around characters and stories that evolve and mature along with the awareness and sensibilities of DC's readers. As a result of this new labeling strategy, DC will sunset the Vertigo publishing imprint at the end of the year.
The end of Vertigo will come as little surprise to comic book fans who have been keeping their ears to the ground; it has been rumored numerous times over the last couple of years, and quite loudly in recent weeks. Justice League writer Scott Snyder even appeared to confirm the reports on Twitter, when someone asked him what the end of Vertigo meant for his creator-owned series American Vampire and Snyder said that they had plans to tell more stories, which would be released with the Black Label branding. He would later walk back those remarks, suggesting that he was merely speculating and saying that since he is currently on paternity leave following the birth of his child, he had not been keeping up with comics news.
DC's new structure, featuring the new age rating system, will launch in January 2020. Books currently being published under the recently launched DC Zoom and DC Ink imprints, which are focused on the middle grade and young adult segments, respectively, will be assigned to the DC Kids and DC labels depending on the content and intended audiences.
"We're returning to a singular presentation of the DC brand that was present throughout most of our history until 1993 when we launched Vertigo to provide an outlet for edgier material," said DC Publisher Dan DiDio, who has long articulated a passion for expanding DC's outreach to young and young adult readers and who was reportedly the brains behind the Ink and Zoom imprints. "That kind of material is now mainstream across all genres, so we thought it was the right time to bring greater clarity to the DC brand and reinforce our commitment to storytelling for all of our fans in every age group. This new system will replace the age ratings we currently use on our material."
Per a statement from DC, the three labels will be structured as follows:
- DC Kids will focus on readers ages 8-12 and offer content created specifically for the middle-grade reader
- DC, focusing on ages 13+, will primarily be the current DC universe of characters
- DC Black Label will focus on content appropriate for readers 17 and older
"What we've done here is apply an ages and stages organizing philosophy that will strengthen what we're already doing well, whether that is our move into the young adult and middle grade audience or our long track record of success with creator-driven pop-up lines," said DC Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee. "We will also continue to publish creator-owned projects, and will evaluate and assign to the appropriate label to help our fans find the best books for their interests. These new labels not only bring greater consistency and focus to our characters, but they also open up a wealth of new opportunities for the talent working on our books."
ComicBook.com recently broke down how grim things had gotten at the once-great Vertigo, with the much-ballyhooed relaunch -- the latest in a series of them -- seeing only about half of its announced titles make it past six issues. Ink and Zoom, meanwhile, have seen an extremely slow roll-out of its ambitious slate of announced projects -- perhaps in part to accommodate the new branding, or perhaps for other reasons that simply line up with the change to the publishing line.