The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Karen Berger: Mother of ‘The Weird Stuff’


“It’s the weird stuff… The stuff that makes you different.”

The New York Times interviews Karen Berger, the former executive editor of Vertigo, whose departure from DC Comics has raised questions about the imprint’s future:

When Ms. Berger joined DC straight out of Brooklyn College in 1979, she was simply “another English major looking for a job” and admittedly no fan of superheroes. “I just fell into the company, fell into the business and fell in love with comics,” she said.

Inspired by the publisher’s more offbeat anthology series, like “House of Mystery” and “Weird War Tales,” Ms. Berger cultivated stories that were sometimes more human and sometimes decidedly not of this earth.

After becoming the editor of the “Watchmen” author Alan Moore, she gathered a lineup of young British writers who were eager to break into American comics and who found Ms. Berger receptive to their ideas.

“She was our generation, and not only that, she was offering us what we wanted,” said [Grant] Morrison, who gave new lives, full of angst and existential uncertainty, to discarded DC characters like Animal Man and the Doom Patrol. “It was a perfect storm for a bunch of creative punks from Britain who were suddenly being taken very seriously.”

New York Times

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