Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Huge Changes At DC Comics

Bleeding Cool reported yesterday.... that expected layoffs at Warner Bros widely expected over the weekend, would impact DC Comics today. as well, including editorial staff.  Variety has numbered 650 layoffs coming from Warner Bros while HBO is expected to lose up to 175 staffers, topping 800 staffers.

These come in the wake of a major overhaul at Warner Bros lead by new Warner CEO Jason Kilar who appears to have some kind of evangelical, even colonial zeal, with his talk of Warner Bros acting like missionaries to the world. And of course, you can't have missionaries without a bloodbath at some point.

We are being told that DC Comics staff are being informed of the changes. It's all still developing but all indications are that it's a lot more than editorial. But we are talking high-level cuts at DC Comics. And time after time after time, people are using the same word to describe it – bloodbath.

Multiple people have mentioned Mark Doyle, Executive Editor at DC Black Label, as an early casualty. Which, considering that Black Label (aside from the likes of Last God)  remains a strong profit centre for DC Comics – in comic stores, bookstores and foreign sales especially. But the … exposure of Batman: Damned still casts a long shadow at the publisher.

We have heard mention from various sources, of various reliability, that Vice President, Global Publishing Initiatives & Digital Strategy Bobbie Chase. DC Editor Andy Khouri, DC Senior Story Editor Brian Cunningham, SVP Publishing Strategy & Support Services at DC, Hank Kanalz and DC Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras are also rumored to be laid off. If true, this would be one of the biggest editorial changes in DC Comics' history.

But I am also getting contradictory information that some – like Hank – seems to have survived. And DC Collectibles may have been sidelined off elsewhere, to be licensed outside of DC – too much cost, timer and attention for the revenue it brings in. No one is making any of this up, but there are games of telephone being played out across the industry right now. Or should that be games of WhatsApp, Zoom, Slack. Discord or even Google Hangouts?. I am being told from multiple sources that Marie Javins Executive Editor of Global Publishing Initiatives & Digital Strategy at DC Comics may be further elevated in this new reality.

But what I am hearing most is that no one actually knows, and that people are being asked not to talk. But because DC recently lost one of their most successful PR people in Courtney Simmons Brown, who presciently left for Amazon Studios and Lord Of The Rings this week. without her handle on the situation, where there is a vacuum of information, gossip floods in to fill the space – and then it leaks out to Bleeding Cool. As a result, consider hiring your own saltlick when reading any of this information. Also what this means for the upcoming DC Fandome online event is unknown, but it would have involved many of these names.

As for why? Well, the reasons being given are all related to the pandemic, the shutdowns, and the health of the economy. But it has also been mentioned that DC Comics were not able to recover sales with their new distributor partners as they did with their old. While Batman and Death Metal have sold very well indeed, and graphic novels got a big boost from bookstores during the shutdown, the midlist – middle range monthly books across the DC range – suffered a major sales shock. And the shockwaves of that are now being felt across the industry. It might suggest DC's further move towards digital and graphic novel publishing and away from monthly comic book shop titles – but this is a journey DC has been on for a while, and Dan DiDio's departure exacerbated that.