Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Abattoir That Is DC Comics Editorial


 When AT&T bought Warner Brothers, I assumed that some changes would be made to the WB and some of that would trickle down to DC Comics. I have been wondering when the axe would drop or when corporate changes would be made.

 It seems that time is now. As of 8/10, news had leaked out that there were going to be major changes in the DC C suite and Editorial offices. Here is a link to Bleeding Cool's coverage of the proceedings: 

 This is not trimming of the fat. This is a culling of the herd. 

Now I certainly haven't agreed with the path DC has taken in their comics, probably an overall sentiment of the last 20 years or so. But some of the names are good comics people, people who love comics and the characters, and who interact with fans.

Seeing Hank Kanalz, Andy Khouri, and Brian Cunningham listed among those who are leaving was shocking. These were solid folk who I followed and trusted.

Does AT&T even care about this little corner of WB? Is there a vision for the future? Or was this just a purge? 

Does AT&T care about stories and characters? Or only (as Gerry Conway states so eloquently on Twitter) the ability to strip mine the IP for profit?

Or was this just a result of downward economic trends in the pandemic? Employees were laid off everywhere within WB. Or is that just an excuse?


 This doesn't sound too good either. 

'A rapid reduction in titles' means less product on the shelves. I suppose the dust has to settle a bit and new people have to be brought on board. Or maybe AT&T thinks that the world simply doesn't need 50 DC titles a month.

And I will say that I simply dislike reading digital comics. If this is AT&T's way of moving out of the paper publishing business, this might be the death knell for my fandom.

I have pondered the death of comic books and the death of DC Comics for a long time. It suddenly feels a bit more real.


Part of this is the complete dissolution of DC Direct.

Again, per Bleeding Cool, rather than having an in-house department to control and parse out merchandise, AT&T will most likely sell the license for the properties to other companies. 

This also sounds like a bit of a cash grab.

Maybe it just what DC needs. To paraphrase the great Harry Lime, times of chaos are often times of great creativity. If I am sick of most of what DC has been doing recently, maybe things need to be shaken things up a bit.

Still I can't help but feel that this is more like a salting of the Earth than sowing a new crop.


 Maybe I should be thinking more about Swamp Thing #50 and Swampy's thoughts on aphids. Maybe it is only from the evil of this destruction that a purer, more virtuous DC Universe.

I guess we'll have to see.

All that said, only the best for those who have lost their jobs in this cycle.


Anonymous said...

I don't wish to see anyone out of work, but I also can't feign sympathy.

I have been disappointed with DCs lack of diversity for a long time. I have done my part to change it by pulling diverse comics but one person does not change the world, nor DCs antiquated lineup.

When Covid struck, DC parried with reducing diversity even further. When a company sacrifices values for comfort I am out. I cancelled just about everything I had left and vowed to myself to not pull more until I saw change.

I realize that my actions were not the source of these layoffs and that they are the collective events happening over a megacorporation, but when all is said and done I cut off my money supply to DC because I wanted change. While not personally responsible, I strangled my funds to DC and very much did what part I could to help bring on these layoffs. I don't want to see people fired, but in the end a monetary blow was my intention with my actions, so I'm not going to starve their income with one hand and pat in compassion with the other.

I'm not sure if DC comes out better on the other side, probably not. Chances are that it becomes worse, maybe even the end of the era of comics are coming as doomsayers cry. But with newer companies telling better more inclusive tales, would the loss of DC leave the world for worse?

Maybe their story has been told. They were a company built in the 40s and truly never changed with the times. Maybe their watch has ended.

Anonymous said...

Yeah this feels like the end, if DC's floppy count drops to the expected trickle, Marvel's dominance on the LCS shelves will be nigh absolute. Even before Covid19 LCS's couldn't survive in such a situation and now...pfft, that distribution model seems finished. I feel for anyone who has lost a job in these ghastly times, but DC/Warner et al have made a lot of bad decisions down thru the years that've made something like this inevitable.
I think the print market will be TPB's that support digital comics I think the profit margins will sink still further and all this will only enable AT&T/Disney to cannibalize their comic book copyrights still further.
I think its time for DC to refund my money and I think its also time to get a new hobby that doesn't depend on the whims of corporate cannibals.
I also expect "DC FanDome" will be a pretty sad @ssed wake quite frankly.
Anyone wanna take action as to when AT&T/Warner pull the plug on floppies entirely?


Bostondreams said...

DC has been through this before, and in worse shape, in the late 70s, when they dumped like 40% of their books and fired people left and right. I believe they will bounce up. Remember that Marvel was in the same boat not that long ago.

Anonymous said...

Yeah DC went thru some hard times in the 1970's, Warner Brothers almost imposed a decision for nothing but all reprint books, luckily Jeanette Khan Julius Schwartz and or Dick Giordano talked them out of it...I dunno if there are people like that in a position to negotiate with AT& T/ Warner Brothers in the current environment with any success...but I guess there is always hope.


Martin Gray said...

What a terribly sad situation, and certainly not one deserving of an ounce of glee - if DC becomes more diverse in its publishing output, that’s because it’s inevitable, this is where history is leading - it’s not going to be a win for spite.

I’m with Bostondreams in refusing to lose hope. That’s the Supergirl way.

KET said...

"DC has been through this before, and in worse shape, in the late 70s..."

Nope, not this time. AT&T are cleaning house, and they're getting rid of the deadwood. The end of DC Direct should be the first indication of the aim of their overall restructuring, that they didn't buy Warner Media to get into the antiques and collectibles biz.

But here's another that isn't being said much within the more sequestered confines of the comic book chatter: the company also gutted suits at HBO, who has enjoyed much more media success with entertainment vehicles such as "Game of Thrones". The new owners of Warner Media are shifting resources towards their new HBO Max streaming service. THAT is their Priority #1 now.

In terms of the little niche hobby corner that has been DC Comics, the new owners like the brand name. But just as with HBO, the brand name can be utilized into something other than it was....and that's AT&T's new game plan for these other brand names for themselves moving forward.


Anj said...

I can only hope that AT&T sees that the IP is only as good as the foundation it is built on.

If they like the shows and movies that have been made, they should understand those are built off of actual comic stories. The comics are the field test for the big budget films.

Anyways, I'll hope.

Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

I waited for the press articles in french to lokk at the situation. It is a massacre !

The strenght of dc was its diversity : movies, tv series, anime drawing, comic book, graphic novels, video games, derivative products, etc ...

In addition with the crisis, not everyone will be able to afford streaming abandonments. They'are going to have to sacrifice quality for quantity ...

I hope we have a special christmas this year.

Bostondreams said...

A hopeful interview with Jim Lee. Still rough, but the reduction is about a quarter of their books, which is better than we thought, and the good news is that Milestone is returning.

Anonymous said...

I am sure Jim Lee is a spouting fountain of pure hope, he didn't lose his job after all and thats always a powerful impetus towards hopefulness.
DC's pivot towards more digital product is a direct attack on LCS of choice, where is the hope for them?