Comic recommendation of the day Transmetropolitan

Comic recommendation of the day

Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, and Rodney Ramos

Permit me a long digression before we delve into this comic. We haven’t talked much about Vertigo yet, and it will be the source of many a recommendation.

Vertigo is a brand label that DC applied to certain comics starting in the ’90s, specifically those under the editorship of Karen Berger. Karen Berger is perhaps the greatest editor in the history of comics.

It can be hard to appreciate what it is an editor does or just how great one can possibly be. But she both attracted the best talent and got their best work out of them. We’ve seen some examples already. Early in the year, we mentioned Preach by Garth Ennis and the late Steve Dillon. Two beloved creators, each of whom has turned out plenty of great work. But this was their opus. It’s clear that Ennis put his all into the character of Jesse Custer and his world.

What’s the secret? The part I understand is on the business end. She negotiated a good deal for her creators, respecting their rights with partial ownership of their creations. That attracted the talent and encouraged good work. The other part is some magic, perhaps knowing just when to allow creative freedom and when to reign them in. It’s a delicate balance.

The Vertigo line was characterized by Karen Berger, good contracts for their creators, and the “mature readers” label, allowing Vertigo comics to be subject to less censorship restrictions.

Berger left in 2012, and the contracts seem to have been majorly altered not in the creator’s favor since Vertigo’s heyday. It continues, but all that’s left is the name and the swearing.

Similar to Preacher, Transmetropolitan is by two popular creators, and this really seems to be their opus. Ellis gave it his all and he had the right artists.

It’s about a fucked-up journalist in a fucked-up future. Spider Jerusalem is a sci/fi version of Hunter S. Thompson.

Jerusalem sees the president, known as the Beast, as a personal enemy. But he comes to prefer the devil he knows when the Beast is campaigning against the Smiler.

It’s got sex, drugs, religion, politics, and most of all a lot of heart. It’s a good comic for our times, because we could all stand to remember that truth matters.

(In full disclosure, Transmetropolitan did not originate with Berger, but was moved to her care soon after premiering)

The series is collected in 10 volumes. First one here.

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