Special Topic: Comics and Authorship

Ambiguous Authorities: Vertigo and the Auteur Figure

  • Isabelle Licari-Guillaume (Université Bordeaux Montaigne)


This article examines authorial performance in the context of DC’s Vertigo line. In the 1990s, Vertigo gained its reputation as an innovative and progressive imprint by promoting the work of British scriptwriters, who were hailed as true author figures, despite the inherently collaborative nature of the mainstream comics industry. In a manner reminiscent of “auteur theory”, writers such as Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis or Grant Morrison developed attractive author personas which they consistently displayed through interviews, letter columns or social media, but also, more importantly, by inserting their avatars within the comics they scripted. Upon closer examination, however, it becomes clear that their work in fact simultaneously asserts and destabilizes writerly authority, in a manner that is consistent with Linda Hutcheon’s view of postmodernity. By multiplying author figures and playfully disseminating authority, Vertigo authors question their own authorial control over the text, asserting instead the crucial role played by the reader.

Keywords: Vertigo, Authorship, Auteur theory, Gaiman, Neil, Morrison, Grant, Ellis, Warren

How to Cite:

Licari-Guillaume, I., (2017) “Ambiguous Authorities: Vertigo and the Auteur Figure”, Authorship 6(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/aj.v6i2.7700

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Published on
21 Dec 2017
Peer Reviewed