Let me say at the outset- I know none of these people; I have no intimate connection with anyone who might; I’m just purely spitballing, as is the wont of any fan…
Last week Bleeding Cool reported on the guard-changing going on over at Vertigo Comics (a DC imprint, fyi). Looong time head of Vertigo, Karen Berger, has left the building, drawing a line under a fantastic career shepherding some seriously quality story crafting into the world. Bleeding Cool also takes the opportunity to inform some of less well connected folks on the behind the scenes wranglings- none of them very nice for poor Karen, apparently alone in often standing up to the DC and Warner money-men in defence of story vs marketability and profit (bless her soul! Literature of all forms needs more like her!).
But here’s my thinking: Karen Berger, seasoned and experienced as she may be, was the initial product of a different time. Today Marvel (and in particular Marvel Studios) is a Big Fucking Deal, riding on the back of an Avengers juggernaut whose road runs faaar into the distance and- crucially relevent to my interests- includes an in the works tv spin-of. DC needs to get on their bikes before a big slide into irrelevancy becomes irreversible. Cue a move into tv.
The tv landscape has massively changed. Fantasy, scifi, horror, in fact 99% of comic book style content is now a major ratings attraction across nearly all networks, and its also being produced well. Much of it is also non-original and is based of other sources: True Blood (based on a book), Once Upon A Time (a Fables clone), Grimm/Supernatural/Merlin (based on a book, kinda), Sinbad (book), Game of Thrones (book) etc. In fact one of the current giants of the genre– The Walking Dead- is based on a comic book! The precedent is set right there, and set by a network with far fewer resources than Time Warner and DC Entertainment. TV is where it’s at these days, and now that the Batman fiasco has wound up DC could do worse than give Smallville and Arrow some more stablemates instead of trying to outcompete The Avengers.
Tl;dr? Boiled down it comes to this:
1: The old-guard, right as they may have been in the past, is no longer standing in the way.
2: TV is at a point where it can faithfully serve a Vertigo story.
3: Even better, tv wants to serve a Vertigo-style story faithfully. They be thirsty for that viewership! We all know tv always likes to have more of the same, let them have it just this once…
1: Doctor Who, whilst not based on anything in particular (although in some cases it’s started eating its children by adapting spin-off books back into scripts) is a masterclass in merchandising opportunities that have yet to devalue any of its storytelling value. Follow their lead, the money will print itself and the bean counters will be squared away. See Game of Thrones for further reference.
2: Star Wars is back on the scene. You think you’re going to compete with that and The Avengers? Take down the summer tentpole and reinstall it over at HBO or basic cable for a while.
3: Last year Neil Gaiman said American Gods was in bona-fide development. It’s not too much of a stretch to hope it devolves back into its original tv plan, or that any of Gaiman’s other works could follow suit (Vertigo flagship title Sandman, I’m looking at you rn). He’s also been writing for Dr Who lately, lets hope the experience is encouraging enough to prompt him to other ventures!
So, yeah… That’s the story of why I think Vertigo titles need to be on and around my tv asap. Please dear Jebus let it be Preacher on HBO… or 100 Bullets on TNT; or Scalped and Jonah Hex on FX; or Swamp Thing at BBC Masterpiece (yeah, pushing it I know!)