It’s been a while since we checked in on Disney Publishing and their impending move. Since then, a lot has happened. As we recall from our own time at Disney, they have an entire department that does nothing but move people around, and this switch sounds like it was put in place just to give them something to do. Basically, as reported by Publishers Weekly, Disney is swapping its East and West Coast publishing houses, moving 100 people from White Plains and the NY office to Glendale, and 50 Disney Press people back to New York. Wha–? The moves will roll out from now until September 30th.
Positions moving to Glendale include all upper management spots and the digital, content creation, global magazines and licensing units. Transfers are expected to start early this summer. In a statement, Disney said that rapid changes in media and technology make it imperative that “we look at our business holistically through the eyes of the consumer. This shift in focus requires a closer alignment and integration of Disney Publishing with the company’s incredible content and distribution platforms which are based in California.”
About 50 employees, including sales and marketing staffers, of Disney Publishing book imprints – Disney Editions, Disney-Hyperion, Disney-Jump at the Sun, and Disney Press – will move back to New York City, where a number of DPW editors had remained. DPW said it remains committed to its core book business and that the move to Glendale will make it easier to leverage its content throughout the Disney company.
What does this have to do with comics? Well, a lot of the recent comics-related hires are in jobs that are slated to move to LA., including the recently launched kids magazine line. Twitter feeds have been full of apartment hunting trips to LA. Word on the street is that one of the comics-related Disney personnel will stay in NYC and move to the Marvel office. But just who is going and who staying hadn’t been made public, yet.
Meanwhile, the move claimed a big casualty: Disney Publishing Worldwide president, Russell Hampton, who announced he was leaving soon after the move was made public.
In an e-mail to company employees, Hampton did not state what his upcoming plans were, but did make mention of the recent successes including, "Our core publishing business is bucking industry trends and showing great vibrancy. Equally important, the Company has supported DPW's investment in new businesses such as Disney English, Digital Publishing and Digital Learning."
We’re told that Hampton fought the move to Glendale and quit rather than move. Apparently he lived quite near the White Plains office, so maybe he’s just a homebody.
Again, all reports we’ve had from inside Disney are unclear on who or what is moving where….but it’s clear that a lot of the people who put together the licensed Marvel content—Marvel Press— is moving West, suggesting more studio oversight… eventually.
Now, this paragraph you are reading right now is completely SPECULATIVE and is not based on any intel or gossip…just our own fretting. With Hampton gone and no new publishing head announced, and the staffs involved in a time sucking coast-to-coast move…could this be one of those situations where Marvel’s Ike Perlmutter offers his “helpful advice” to Disney bigwigs about cost cutting and all that? We’ve all been hoping that someday Marvel would be able to take advantage of Disney’s incredible success as a licensing publisher, but what if it goes the other way and Disney stops keeping books in print and so on? Riddle me that.
In personnel moves UNRELATED to any of the above, Jody LeHeup, an editor who was laid off from Marvel last year and briefly worked with Disney, has found a new permanent spot at Valiant as an associate editor.
In addition, Marvel’s director of merchandising & promotions Tim Dillon is moving to the West Coast to take a job in studio marketing. At his old job, Dillon ran the various Marvel booths at conventions around North America. In his new position, he’ll still be involved with the San Diego booth, which might mean more Thor thrones and the like. The Beat likes Thor thrones. More Thor thrones.
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.