Following their recent announcement of signing Sheriff of Babylon artist Mitch Gerads to an exclusive deal, DC has signed on Aquaman writer Dan Abnett to one as well. This means that Abnett will be restricted to writing only for DC and Vertigo properties, leaving Marvel and Image in the cold. This may be surprising since Abnett really cut his teeth on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy with Andy Lanning, as well as a number of other books.
Abnett is going to be scribing Aquaman come Rebirth, which is one of the several “core” DC titles that will be shipping twice a month and have a variety of artists coming on to speed up the turn-around time. Whether or not this new model from DC is going to be successful remains to be seen, but what we can expect is lower sales numbers yet higher yields monthly. With less distinct art, the success of the book will largely be on Abnett to keep readers there, which may be why they want to lock him in now.
The new DC/Vertigo exclusive deals seem somewhat new in that they are covering all imprints. In the past, it was not uncommon to see exclusive deals for superhero books, yet the writers and artists were free to take their creative-owned projects to whatever publisher would have them. Now by swooping Vertigo into the contract, it changes that dynamic, and says that Vertigo gets ‘first look’ at whatever they want to work on. In the past, Vertigo was largely made up of adult-oriented titles that drew on DC-owned characters, but as they switch to an Image model their contracts are really just swooping in the creator’s own projects into their publishing model. Hopefully this will have a “downstream” effect with Vertigo, bringing in more superstar creator-owned books to keep the imprint going strong.