Edit: Tom Spurgeon weighs in with some of the strangeness surrounding the announcements and non-announcements this week. Go read.

So there was a ton of big news at DC today. So far as I can tell, it boils down to:

  • They’re laying off 20% of their workforce, about 50 people out of 250 from their New York offices.
  • They’re keeping publishing in New York, but they’re moving all of the digital publishing stuff to the west coast, under the direction of Jim Lee and Jim Rood.
  • They’re shutting down the Wildstorm and Zuda lines, cancelling all of the Wildstorm books, and releasing everything else under the DC banner.
  • There are more changes to come, but there likely won’t be any more official word about it.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to say about this. I look at it and I feel like kind of a dick but it’s like “Is that it? Really? They look at what DC’s doing and that’s where they think the problem is?” It’s not nice when anyone loses their job, and I personally hope that the few friends I have there are safe in theirs. I know my DC rep has worked his butt off to get my store ordering more product and doing so intelligently–he’s great and it’d be foolish to let him go. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write a letter to that effect…

But as a reader I feel like–save for the occasional Grant Morrison project–DC Comics abandoned me years ago, with the event-driven nonsense, infinite sequels and spin-offs, and a truly awful trade paperback program… As a retailer I look at their plans going forward and I just shake my head. Publishing a bunch of mediocre-to-bad comics at Wildstorm is unfortunate, but next month DC proper is publishing like 13 utterly unnecessary Batman one-shots that didn’t even have CREATIVE TEAMS when that shit was solicited? Meanwhile Planetary Volume 4 is out of print for nearly 6 months between the hardcover and softcover, and we have lost sales every day.  I’m flabbergasted that this is the kind of stuff that gets a vote of confidence from the new management at DC but they decide that a digital content initiative or a separately branded licensed comics division needs to be shown the door? I don’t understand those priorities at all, and I’ve honestly gotta wonder if they understand them either. If DC Comics is really about integrating into Warner Brothers and generating new media ideas, how does their recursive publishing program tie into that?

So the whole thing strikes me as tightening-the-belt rather than a sign of any real trouble at the publisher, I guess it’s probably wise given the economic and publishing climate, but I have to wonder if Diane Nelson’s seemingly unquestioning faith in Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns to shepherd the DC Universe could maybe use the same touch of skepticism that’s touched every other part of the company. Perhaps we’ll find out more about that this week.

- Christopher

6 Comments on “Big changes at DC”

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  1. Nawid A says:

    I saw the whole thing as cutting fat. Seeing it any other way is silly.

  2. Dominic Bugatto says:

    DC needs to hire you as a consultant ;-)

  3. Bitter Matt says:

    No, dangit; then we would never get more blog posts out of him! :-D

  4. Nawid A. says:

    The 20% number is actually bullshit, apparently no layoffs, just shoddy reporting by the LA Times. Everyone’s just moving over to DC main. I think brand simplification would be good. DC Main and Vertigo. That sounds good to me.

    And they need to do the Avatar thing and just offer paperback, hardcover, and super deluxe hardcover at the same time with no incentive variants. Avatar’s been totally successful doing that at my local store.

  5. Nawid A. says:

    I should add, no layoffs YET. But DC seems to be expanding not shrinking so I think pretty much all the house keeping will be moving people around.

  6. Bob Harras Named DC Comics Editor-in-Chief, Latest in Major Company Changes: A Summation » Comics Worth Reading says:

    [...] well-known retailer/commenter, Christopher Butcher, is underwhelmed by the news: as a reader I feel like –- save for the occasional Grant Morrison [...]

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