Karen Berger (pictured with Grant Morrison); 1988 - 89?
If you are a fan of DC’s Vertigo imprint, you owe it all to Karen Berger.Karen Berger was an English lit and art history major who graduated from Brooklyn College in 1979. She joined DC comics shortly after graduation as an assistant to Paul Levitz (who was an editor at the time). It quickly became apparent that Berger had a knack for editing and she soon became editor of House of Mystery - Berger's experience with a horror/suspense anthology book would foreshadow great things that would come later in her career. After House of Mystery ended in 1981, Berger went on to edit a TON of books that you are probably familiar with if you were a fan of DC comics in the 1980s. These included Legion of Super-Heroes and it’s various spin-offs, Amethyst, Blue Beetle, Arion: Lord of Atlantis, DC’s New Talent Showcase, and the Wanderers (just to name a few). The comic book editor is the unsung hero of the comic book industry (most of the fan mail goes to the penciler/inker and the writer), mainly because readers don’t realize how big of an impact the editor has on the finished product. To put it broadly, the editor is like the project manager of the book/series. They oversee the entire process of a book from start to finish, coordinate with the writing and art team to make sure the book is ready on time, and act as quality control for the final product (this includes spotting and correcting continuity errors).As impressive as a resume of accomplishments that may be, they don’t even hold a candle to the three major impacts Berger had on DC during the 80s that you may be unaware of:1) Karen Berger redefined Wonder Woman for the modern era. When DC comics decided to reboot Wonder Woman after Crisis on Infinite Earths, George Pérez got the job of plotting and penciling the new Wonder Woman series in 1987. Anytime people talk about this series they always refer to it as the Pérez Wonder Woman, but few realize the important contributions Berger made as the editor of that book. First of all, she humanized the Amazons and their gods - which led to a re-examination and modernization of the Wonder Woman mythos. Secondly, she introduced real world issues to the series (drug abuse, feminism, racism, etc). Finally, she recruited new female talent for the Wonder Woman series (big names include Mindy Newell and Jill Thompson). George Pérez himself cites Berger as a huge influential factor in the series, and believes that the amazing sales and acclaim the series received couldn’t have happened without her. Pérez and Berger both left the book at the same time (issue #63). Read more about it at http://thanley.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/karen-bergers-wonder-woman-legacy/.  2) Karen Berger spearheaded the British Invasion. And by ‘British Invasion’, I am referring to the period in the late 80s when DC fans suddenly found books written by Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan and other UK writers gracing the shelves of their local comic book shop. In 1984, Berger became editor for Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing - this made sense since Berger had experience with horror books (remember House of Mystery?). The acclaim and success of Saga of the Swamp Thing combined with the high level of sophistication the title had achieved inspired Berger to seek out other UK talent. Keeping in mind, an editor also acts as a talent scout and can assign work to artists and writers or even ‘green-light’ proposed projects launched by writers. Berger was able to sway a few former 2000A.D. artists and writers to come to DC comics to work on a few projects involving the revamp of several C-list DC characters. Read more about the British Invasion here: http://sequart.org/magazine/19399/1986-the-british-invasion-part-1-grant-morrison-in-1986-batman/
which ultimately lead to…3) Karen Berger created the Vertigo imprint. In the late 80s/early 90s, the British Invasion had led to Swamp Thing, the Sandman, Hellblazer, Doom Patrol and Shade the Changing Man being recognized as successful ongoing titles. Coincidentally, these titles were also edited by Berger - and this is a good thing as it allowed the writers to go places conventional comics were not allowed to go - bringing in a more adult audience. Founded in 1993, Vertigo comics was the logical conclusion to all of the titles Berger had managed to amass under her editorial control. Vertigo found itself on the fringe of the DC Universe - rarely did Superman or the Justice League make appearances in any of these comics - and the imprint managed to absorb a few more DC characters (Zatanna, Madame Xanadu, Unknown Soldier, the Spectre, Doctor Occult, Jonah Hex, Phantom Stranger) as it gained momentum. If you have ever enjoyed any of these Vertigo titles just as I have, then you have Karen Berger to thank for that. Read more about comics as literature at the Sequart Research & Literacy Organization.
Karen Berger stepped down as the Executive Editor & Senior Vice President of Vertigo comics in 2012. I can’t say enough great things about Berger. She viewed comic books as more than just ‘funny books’ or ‘pictures with words’, but as actual literature. She recruited some really talented young writers (who may have not been discovered in North America otherwise) which ushered in a whole new era of thought-provoking writing that incorporated mature content matter and intelligent ideas. I miss her already.
*photo from: http://sequart.org/magazine/17537/karen-berger-to-leave-dc/morrison-and-berger/.

Karen Berger (pictured with Grant Morrison); 1988 - 89?

If you are a fan of DC’s Vertigo imprint, you owe it all to Karen Berger.

Karen Berger was an English lit and art history major who graduated from Brooklyn College in 1979. She joined DC comics shortly after graduation as an assistant to Paul Levitz (who was an editor at the time). It quickly became apparent that Berger had a knack for editing and she soon became editor of House of Mystery - Berger's experience with a horror/suspense anthology book would foreshadow great things that would come later in her career.

After House of Mystery ended in 1981, Berger went on to edit a TON of books that you are probably familiar with if you were a fan of DC comics in the 1980s. These included Legion of Super-Heroes and it’s various spin-offs, Amethyst, Blue Beetle, Arion: Lord of Atlantis, DC’s New Talent Showcase, and the Wanderers (just to name a few). The comic book editor is the unsung hero of the comic book industry (most of the fan mail goes to the penciler/inker and the writer), mainly because readers don’t realize how big of an impact the editor has on the finished product. To put it broadly, the editor is like the project manager of the book/series. They oversee the entire process of a book from start to finish, coordinate with the writing and art team to make sure the book is ready on time, and act as quality control for the final product (this includes spotting and correcting continuity errors).

As impressive as a resume of accomplishments that may be, they don’t even hold a candle to the three major impacts Berger had on DC during the 80s that you may be unaware of:

1) Karen Berger redefined Wonder Woman for the modern era. When DC comics decided to reboot Wonder Woman after Crisis on Infinite Earths, George Pérez got the job of plotting and penciling the new Wonder Woman series in 1987. Anytime people talk about this series they always refer to it as the Pérez Wonder Woman, but few realize the important contributions Berger made as the editor of that book. First of all, she humanized the Amazons and their gods - which led to a re-examination and modernization of the Wonder Woman mythos. Secondly, she introduced real world issues to the series (drug abuse, feminism, racism, etc). Finally, she recruited new female talent for the Wonder Woman series (big names include Mindy Newell and Jill Thompson). George Pérez himself cites Berger as a huge influential factor in the series, and believes that the amazing sales and acclaim the series received couldn’t have happened without her. Pérez and Berger both left the book at the same time (issue #63). Read more about it at http://thanley.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/karen-bergers-wonder-woman-legacy/

2) Karen Berger spearheaded the British Invasion. And by ‘British Invasion’, I am referring to the period in the late 80s when DC fans suddenly found books written by Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan and other UK writers gracing the shelves of their local comic book shop. In 1984, Berger became editor for Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing - this made sense since Berger had experience with horror books (remember House of Mystery?). The acclaim and success of Saga of the Swamp Thing combined with the high level of sophistication the title had achieved inspired Berger to seek out other UK talent. Keeping in mind, an editor also acts as a talent scout and can assign work to artists and writers or even ‘green-light’ proposed projects launched by writers. Berger was able to sway a few former 2000A.D. artists and writers to come to DC comics to work on a few projects involving the revamp of several C-list DC characters. Read more about the British Invasion here: http://sequart.org/magazine/19399/1986-the-british-invasion-part-1-grant-morrison-in-1986-batman/

which ultimately lead to…

3) Karen Berger created the Vertigo imprint. In the late 80s/early 90s, the British Invasion had led to Swamp Thing, the Sandman, Hellblazer, Doom Patrol and Shade the Changing Man being recognized as successful ongoing titles. Coincidentally, these titles were also edited by Berger - and this is a good thing as it allowed the writers to go places conventional comics were not allowed to go - bringing in a more adult audience. Founded in 1993, Vertigo comics was the logical conclusion to all of the titles Berger had managed to amass under her editorial control. Vertigo found itself on the fringe of the DC Universe - rarely did Superman or the Justice League make appearances in any of these comics - and the imprint managed to absorb a few more DC characters (Zatanna, Madame Xanadu, Unknown Soldier, the Spectre, Doctor Occult, Jonah Hex, Phantom Stranger) as it gained momentum. If you have ever enjoyed any of these Vertigo titles just as I have, then you have Karen Berger to thank for that. Read more about comics as literature at the Sequart Research & Literacy Organization.


Karen Berger stepped down as the Executive Editor & Senior Vice President of Vertigo comics in 2012. I can’t say enough great things about Berger. She viewed comic books as more than just ‘funny books’ or ‘pictures with words’, but as actual literature. She recruited some really talented young writers (who may have not been discovered in North America otherwise) which ushered in a whole new era of thought-provoking writing that incorporated mature content matter and intelligent ideas. I miss her already.

*photo from: http://sequart.org/magazine/17537/karen-berger-to-leave-dc/morrison-and-berger/.

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    Always reblog Queens of the comic book world
  6. theblogofmystery reblogged this from dcinthe80s and added:
    Karen Berger is pretty much one of the coolest people ever to work for DC.
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    Karen Berger appreciation post.
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    I never read Vertigo but I’m a fan of Perez-Berger Wonder Woman Wow. Young Morrison is gorgeous.
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    Bless all of this.