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.

Author Biography

Isabelle Licari-Guillaume, Université Bordeaux Montaigne

Isabelle Licari-Guillaume is a Teaching and Research Assistant at the Department of English at Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France. She specializes in contemporary comics studies and has recently defended her PhD, which examined the British Invasion of American comics, its aeshetic evolution over time, and its influence on the editorial history of DC's Vertigo imprint. Her other fields of interest include translation and gender studies, on which she has written several articles. In 2015, she edited a collection of essays on the body in comics (Les Langages du corps dans la bande dessinée, l'Harmattan) and is currently editing another volume, Translators of Comics / Les Traducteurs de bande dessinée. She is also a translator, notably for Craig Thompson's Space Dumplins.

How to Cite
Licari-Guillaume, I. (2017). Ambiguous Authorities: Vertigo and the Auteur Figure. Authorship, 6(2).
Special Topic: Comics and Authorship