Ask Egg Fu: Vertigo’s Disney Connection

At Nothing But Comics, we’ve recruited DC Comics super-villain Egg Fu to answer your questions about comics!  So send your questions to Egg Fu at nothingbutcomics@gmail.com.

Dear Egg Fu – The owner of my local comic shop noticed that I often buy titles published by DC’s Vertigo imprint, and he told me that Disney had something to do with the creation of Vertigo.  Sadly, shortly after he started telling me the details he was shot and killed by a customer that was enraged by all the white pages in Jonathan Hickman’s comic books.  Can you give me the info on Vertigo’s Disney connection?    – Lisa S.  

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Slide2Hellblazer 1Slide3VertigoSlide4Slide5Disney TalespinSlide6Slide7Sebastian O CoverSlide8EnigmaSlide9MercySlide10Touchmark1Touchmark2Touchmark3Slide11Slide12Slide13

 

“Also, a few months into the inception of Vertigo, I rehired Art Young.  He was an editor who worked for me for a number of years and had gone over to Touchmark when Disney decided for five minutes that they wanted to do mature comics.  Art was there for a year, and when he came back to DC he brought a number of projects, like Enigma, Mercy, and Sebastion O.” – Karen Berger, interviewed by Gary Groth, “Vertigo Roundtable“, The Comics Journal #163

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The Egg Fu character was created by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru and is the property of DC Comics and is used here as a not-for-profit fan parody.  DC Comics was not involved in the creation of this not-for-profit parody feature and any opinions or information provided in this feature come from the author and not DC Comics.

NOTES AND FURTHER READING:  Any information in this feature that was not plagiarized from Wikipedia probably comes from Gary Groth’s “Vertigo Roundtable” interview in The Comics Journal #163 and Alex Boney’s “From Such Great Heights: The Birth of Vertigo Comics” in Back Issue #57

The images of the Touchmark leaflet can be found on Todd Klein’s website, along with some fascinating details from Klein about the design of the logo.

Red Bee Puzzle

 

 

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The images above are the property of their respective owner(s), and are presented for not-for-profit parody and educational purposes only under the fair use doctrine of the copyright laws of the United States of America.

30 thoughts on “Ask Egg Fu: Vertigo’s Disney Connection”

    1. Great question.

      One scenario: A successful Touchmark imprint creates competition for top comics talent, with a nascent Vertigo no longer having an early monopoly on mature material. Berger and Young’s competitive attempts to create interesting, mature comics material in order to capture the market results in the creation of even more innovative, groundbreaking comics in the 90s, and an expended comics readership. Marvel Comics continues to publish loud X-Men comics. 🙂

      Another scenario: Could the 1990s direct market have sustained two strong publishers of mature comics? Touchmark and Vertigo’s competition might have diluted the efforts of both, and retailers might have purchased fewer comics from either imprint. I think Vertigo would have had the advantage in that scenario, because they had: a good established distribution network via DC that Disney lacked; Karen Berger; and Neil Gaiman, whose Sandman was the bedrock of the early Vertigo imprint. None of the nascent Touchmark titles had that level of long-term craft, although in time Art Young might have closed the gap.

  1. I think part of the problem here was that Sebastian O and Enigma were really not that good. I read them in back to back issues about 10-15 years ago and they were instantly forgettable. Trying to start a company with those would have been tough and the results speak for themselves (I imagine someone read them and thought that they weren’t worth the advertising investment to publish).

    Seeing those talespin characters brings back good memories though. I loved that cartoon.

    1. I also loved TaleSpin – it was a great cartoon!

      Regarding the failure of Touchmark, I didn’t go into more details about Disney’s comics publishing problems given the constraints of the feature, but Disney saw how well Gemstone Publishing was doing with its licensed comics in the early 90s, and the company decided that it should cut out Gemstone and do its own comics publishing. IT WAS A DISASTER.

      Disney comics fans didn’t like the new editorial direction that Disney brought to the comics, and sales on comics like TaleSpin and others dropped. Disney decided it was best to get out of comics publishing and go back to licensing its comics. The decision to drop the Touchmark idea had little to do with the content of the books, but rather Disney’s failure with its other comics properties.

      That said, I agree with you about SEBASTIAN O, ENIGMA, and MERCY; they are not my favorite comics. I don’t even know how to describe MERCY. I never could get into ENIGMA. And SEBASTIAN O was interesting, but the ending was very confusing and disappointing.

      But to be fair, I’m also not a fan of early Vertigo work like SHADE THE CHANGING MAN or SKIN GRAFT. I think it would have been interesting to see what Disney might have accomplished if Art Young and his team had been allowed to publish comics by talented creators.

      1. Ah, that makes sense.

        I’m pretty sure I read Shade and Skin graft as well. After reading all the big hit Vertigo books I tracked down all the smaller series and was mostly disappointed. Most of the 6-12 issue series were pretty mediocre.

        1. Ryan C. over at SEQUART makes a compelling argument for the brilliance of early Vertigo series SCARAB: http://sequart.org/magazine/36915/bugged-out-scarab-reconsidered-20-years-on-part-one/

          I enjoy that 8 issue series as well, though it has its flaws.

          I also recommend MOBFIRE. It is one of my favorite early Vertigo mini-series, about a London crime family using magic.

          Even though a lot of those short comics series don’t hold up well, it was a great time for comics experimentation and established a great brand for the imprint. I particularly liked how the walls between DC and Vertigo weren’t solidified yet, and you could have the Phantom Stranger showing up in SCARAB and Green Lantern villain The Tattooed Man show up in SKIN GRAFT.

    1. Dark Wing Duck and Ducktails were great too
      I’ll raise you a Gummi Bears, bouncing here and there and everywhere!

      1. Ya’ll remember Gargoyles? Loved that. The creator is actually writing the Star Wars book Kanan The Last Padawan right now.

        1. Wow; I liked that series, and didn’t make the connection to the KANAN comic. I’ll have to check it out.

          1. I remember GARGOYLES was a cartoon, but I can’t recall actively following the series. Kinda strange cuz I’ve always had a thing for gargoyles on old gothic cathedrals. I even made a comic book as a kid starring a superhero called the Gargoyle. Total Batman ripoff. 😋

            1. I would LOVE to read a superhero comic about the Gargoyle written by a young Sitara119!

              My brother and I created a superhero comic called MOON MAN AND BUMBLEBEE that was about two superheroes in Louisiana having fun adventures. Despite what Alan Moore claims, it was not a rip off of WATCHMEN . 🙂

              My favorite kid-created superhero comic is from my nephew, who created WOLVERINE FIGHTS A HAUNTED HOUSE. It’s great stuff.

  2. @iroberts
    I forgot that even existed! 😀 good call.

    @Reed
    Perhaps your luck is better than mine, but I have the hardest time getting 5yr old to watch old school stuff with the exception of TMNT ’87 and SUPER MARIO BROS from around the same time. JUSTICE LEAGUE seasons/movies are cool with him, but those aren’t that old. We’re starting to bond over STAR WARS:CLONE WARS, which is AWESOME for me.😃
    My 2yr old only wants to watch UNCLE GRANDPA (which I love), but I’ve seen season 1 on Netflix about 10 times now.

    1. My daughter and I enjoy SCOOBY DOO MYSTERY INC on Netflix (which is a great commentary on the whole history of the Scooby Doo franchise, with references to other Hanna Barbera cartoons) and CLONE WARS (although I think some of the politics goes over her head; the other day she asked her mother, “What’s a chancellor?”) But those aren’t that old. She did show some interest in the old JONNY QUEST cartoons, but the lack of any female characters just wasn’t helpful in engaging her, I think.

      I have high hopes for TALESPIN, though. 🙂

  3. I have to play the serious devil’s advocate now — “Engima” was not only the best thing Peter Milligan ever wrote, I would contend it’s the best thing that’s ever gone out under the Vertigo imprint. The fundamental questions of identity it asks and the existentialist humor are a bridge too far for many, but I would liken it thematically to Dan Clowes’ “David Boring,” only with a healthy does of LSD thrown in. I re-read it every year or so and get something new from it each time. Probably one of my ten favorite comics of all time.

    1. Thanks for the counterpoint, Ryan. As I commented above, I’ve found ENIGMA a difficult book to get into, but I haven’t tried to read it in a awhile. Maybe I should take another look…

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