Around this time last year, we saw many groundbreaking changes occur for the major comic book publishers. Marvel, of course, grabbed the bigger spotlight with the news of their purchase by Disney for $4 billion.
DC, however, had made it a point to slowly show its hand by first unveiling the new division known as DC Entertainment. Rumors came about the rest of the year of new positions and changes that would involve putting more focus on the creative direction of its TV and movie properties. As 2010 dawned, we then came to learn those changes involved Diane Nelson heading up DCE, Paul Levitz stepping down as president, Dan DiDio and Jim Lee as co-publishers, and Geoff Johns as Chief Creative Officer. DC and Warner Bros. were making it a point to mean business when it came to making the most of the many years of characters and storylines they had under their belt.
Then yesterday, the kid gloves came off:
1) DC first announced a bi-coastal move that involves relocating the multimedia portion of their business to Los Angeles while keeping their comic publishing division in New York City. Says Nelson, “Our two offices will stretch and build their respective areas of focus, while prioritizing and aggressively striving to connect and cooperate more strongly than ever before between them and with their colleagues at Warner Bros.”
2) We then learned that Wildstorm, the long-standing studio that helped get Image off the ground running in ’92 and was then purchased by DC in ’99, would close shop by the end of the year and fold into the DC Comics imprint.
3) Lastly, as one would expect from a big move to LA and shutting down one of its studios, there’s talk of an estimated 20% layoff in DC’s divisions. Whether this includes the predicted current employees who would not want or be able to make the trip to the West Coast remains to be seen.
My two cents? It’s no surprise it would come to this. Re-structuring always involves shifting positions and studios and unfortunately also means layoffs. The minute we heard DC Entertainment was created last year, this was bound to happen. One will only hope this results in a more focused direction for its TV, film, and, of course, the comic properties. TV is definitely not an issue if you look at how well their DC animated offerings have been as of late and you can make a case that Smallville has had somewhat of a mini-revival after Geoff Johns put his influence into play.
Films are a different matter. The Green Lantern film coming next summer might change the perception that DC and Warner Bros. can only do Batman flicks as of late, but we’ve known for the longest time that the focus was lacking on what else they could turn into film properties. Marvel is definitely ahead in that chess match, but if you hear what Nelson has to say about the competition, there doesn’t appear to be one. Probably the best thing to say at this point.
As for Wildstorm? I’ll confess to not being well-versed in that universe, so it’s hard for me to judge whether I’ll be missing out on anything. Its early days gave us Alan Moore’s imprint, America’s Best Comics, which had a great impact in the beginning with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Tom Strong, and Promothea. It also brought The Authority and a more adult tone to the superhero team-up book. Warren Ellis and John Cassady’s Planetary explored a great deal of comic book history and pop culture. In recent years though, I can only recall Ex Machina as the one book that stood out to me. Granted, this doesn’t mean Wildstorm’s characters will go away forever, but it’s hard pressed to say how much can be done to create interest for future generations.
One thing’s for sure – I’m sad to see much amazing talent be let go. I wish them the best in finding future work and hope the gifts and skills they bring to the industry overall will not go unnoticed.
What’s your thoughts on all the changes?