DC Entertainment Gets Vertigo

New head honcho likes the grown-up stuff

Last week it was announced that Warners and DC Comics have finally got their house in order and created DC Entertainment: essentially a behemoth multimedia division designed to keep DC's roster of comics characters in-house (Warner's house), even as they're sent out into the world in the form of movies, TV, and... whatever. It's more or less the case already, but any future media you see based on a DC character, will stem from Warners.

Head of the new division is Diane Nelson, who oversaw the Harry Potter series, and ran Warner's Premiere DVD line, which included small-scale movies based on DC characters like Green Lantern. Talking to MTV over the weekend, she enthused about "greater opportunities to work with the characters and stories that are part of the DC library: both the big ones that we all know and, equally importantly, the ones we might not know."

The "big ones that we all know" of course include the currently in development Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, Batman 3 and, er, Lobo, not to mention the apparently resting Superman, and Joel Silver's long sat-on Wonder Woman.

But specifically, although she stresses that it's by no means her only focus, Nelson highlights DC's Vertigo imprint as worthy of particular attention (she speaks fluent Corporate, so bear with her). "There's a lot more to this than just the traditional superhero," she says. "Vertigo is an area of great interest to me. It's even less well tapped than other parts of DC, and could potentially offer amazing stories for our future television, video game, digital and consumer products businesses."

Vertigo was set up in 1993 as an outlet for more 'mature' content than yer tuppeny hapeny superhero stories. Its big hitters include Alan Moore's Swamp Thing (talked up just last week by Joel Silver), Neil Gaiman's Sandman and its various spin-offs (Death, The Dreaming, The Dead Boy Detectives, Mike Carey's superb Lucifer), Garth Ennis' Preacher (recently mooted for Sam Mendes with John August on the script), Brian Azzarello's 100 Bullets, Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan, Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, Bill Willingham's Fables, and the multi-authored Hellblazer, which already made it to the screen (more or less) as Constantine.

We're not necessarily looking at movies for all these though: TV is equally likely, and would be preferable in many cases. The idea of Sandman crammed into two hours is an alarming one, but the breathing space a series would give it might make it a viable proposition.

"There's no question that the feature film slate is an engine that drives our business, and that it's unique and incredibly powerful," says Nelson. "But I don't think that this is a question of [just] making big, tentpole feature films and spinning all of the ancillary business off of that.

"This is about looking at all the different faces of the prism at the same time. It will be about working with the television group and the digital group and the video game and the home video group, etc. If we do our job well, the feature slate will be a key piece of it but it won't be the only piece of it by far."

So, Spider Jerusalem on HBO, while Jesse Custer tears up the big screen? Which "properties" would fit which format best? And which do you not want to see touched at all?