Well, a very very looong week continues for employees of DC Entertainment as each and every person undergoes an interview to explain whether they are staying, going, or getting laid off. Ugh. There is certainly a lot of information and speculation floating around, but it seems unnecessary to play this out on the internet while staff is still being informed.
In the meantime, for observers, this IGN interview with Diane Nelson, Jim Lee and Dan DiDio includes as much information as we’re likely to get for now. While as many questions remain today as there were yesterday, at least there is a plan in place, says Nelson:
Nelson: It’s not so much that we’re taking stock. We have a very specific plan. But we’re making every effort to handle this really personally with our employees, so we’re going to have conversations with each of them, and until everyone arrives their individual dispositions, we’re not able to talk specifics. But we know our intent with it and now we want to make sure our employees have a chance to consider all of the good news and, unfortunately in some cases, some layoffs.
Nelson doesn’t say much of anything about the obvious multimedia plans that DCE has for the characters, but says that it isn’t going to be like Marvel’s plan:
Equally I think it’s important to distinguish that… People make an assumption that we’re going to mirror Marvel’s strategy, for example with Avengers. We do have a very different attitude about how you build a content slate. And it isn’t necessarily about connecting those properties together to build into a single thing. We think we’ve got great stories and characters that will lend themselves to great standalone experiences, and that’s the way we’re focusing on it.
The interview with Lee and DiDio is a little blunter:
IGN Comics: Okay the simple question, and one not entirely addressed in your statement is this – Why close down Wildstorm?
Jim Lee: That’s something that we’re in the midst of discussing internally, so I’m hesitant to answer that. I’d be happy to address it after Friday, but we wanted to put out this information at the start, with the announcement that Diane made today so that people at Wildstorm would not be speculating as to what was going on.
In talking about the potential move of some or all of the DC divisions to LA, a lot of people wonder, “Have they never heard of videoconferencing?” It will be used, but the human touch is still needed, Lee explains, while hinting at…something that’s still a big secret.
At the same time, we have to be sensitive to the fact that we’re meeting with them one-on-one over the next couple days to inform them what’s going on. For them to find out further through interviews online wouldn’t really make sense. I’m actually here in New York with Dan, and have sent a letter out to the Wildstorm crew saying I regret not being there in person but for obvious reasons I couldn’t. I’m then flying back to San Diego to talk to them Wednesday and Thursday and then I’m on a red eye back to New York on Friday. So there was a plan to all of this but I can’t really explain that answer for you at this time.
Answers will be coming slowly.
A couple of notes and follow-ups to some of the things that happened yesterday:
§ The size of the layoffs may be smaller than thought. While a sentence like “About 20% of DC’s roughly 250 staffers will lose their jobs as part of the shift,” in the LA Times piece does tend to jump out at you, evidently there was some follow-up to point out that this was a paraphrase and NOT a direct quote, as iFanboy put it.:
UPDATE: Upon further inspection, we noticed that the 20% figure is not a quote from Diane Nelson, but was written in the LA Times blog as fact without being directly attributed to anyone from DC. So based on the LA Times as the source of the number, and with no one at DC confirming a number to the layoffs, we are prepared to say that it isn’t necessarily fact. While there will very likely be more layoffs, there’s been no annoucement about who, what, or how many there will be, if any at all. As always, when we know more, you will too.
A few other sites ran similar disclaimers–although a retraction is not evident at the LA Times site, we could be missing it. But yeah, take that number with a grain of salt.
§ DC.com’s servers did not stand up to all the strain of posting the news there and only there. The Beat experienced near record traffic yesterday, so it’s not a surprise.
§ One name missing from the transition team was one of the original Five Heads, EVP Finance and Administration Pat Caldon. Since Admin is moving to the West Coast, you can pencil in a “not solved” on that one.
§ As someone texted us yesterday, the most said words on September 21? “Geoff Johns.”
§ Finally, DC’s main comics business staying in New York is seen as something of a triumph for the “traditional comics business” — a sort of romantic ideal of the freelancer finishing up his bagel with a schmeer as he drops off beautiful art and the Fabulous Flo of the day bids a cheery hello. Even though the truth is that most freelancers live elsewhere — a good portion of them abroad — and everyone uses FTP these days, and editors spend most of their time on the phone and answering emails. But it’s a testament to the strength of this notion that it seems to have been something traditional and important that was saved from obsolescence. And the collective unconscious of the comics biz is satisfied that the old ways are still with us.
BONUS LINK: Retailer Chris Butcher speaks his mind:
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?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.