2011 is going to be a tumultuous year for comics. Heck, it’s already tumultuous. There’s going to be consolidation and retrenchment. So over the next few weeks we’ll be checking in at a few companies to see what’s going on — some of it’s great and some of it is not so great. We will start with Top Cow which announced last week that they were consolidating many of their functions at Image Central, including production, marketing and sales efforts. As we reported last week, publicity manager Christine Dinh was let go. Others downsized in the reorganization include director of sales and marketing Atom Freeman, and editor/designer Phil Smith, as well as some office staff. When asked about the changes, publisher Filip Sablik sent us a statement:
As announced last Monday, Image Comics is expanding its publishing operations to include Top Cow and moving forward will be Image will be handling Top Cow’s design, production, marketing and sales among other tasks much in the same way they have done for all the other Image partner studios. While this did mean consolidating some of our staff down where we had redundancies, it’s overall an incredibly positive move that will strengthen both Top Cow and Image. There are no additional layoffs planned, Top Cow will maintain its offices in Los Angeles and we will continue to have complete editorial control over the titles we put out. As I mentioned in the press release, this is largely an operational change and fans, retailers, and creators shouldn’t even notice any change. If anything it will help us become more efficient and unified. Marc, Matt, and I are incredibly excited by the future of Top Cow and Image!
We also contacted Top Cow President Matt Hawkins who told us:
I think it means that we’ll have more time to focus on creative issues and developing the characters and the storylines and less time on production and fulfillment and those headaches. It frees us up quite a bit to do what we really want to do. It also is a proactive move to ensure that we’ll be around in 5 years. The publishing business is not easy and anyone banking on their film getting made as part of their strategy for getting out of the red is a fool.
We also asked Hawkins what he felt was the biggest challenge facing comics this year, and he had a typically blunt response:
Survival. There’s going to be more consolidation (like Image and Top Cow) and some people won’t be around in a couple years. I have my theories on who but I’ll keep those to myself. People are harping on Wizard right now, but they are doing what they need to do. Like everyone, you look at where you’re making money and what the potential growth is and you invest your time and energies in that.
Top Cow, which was founded by artist Marc Silvestri as one of the original Image Studios, has always been a survivor, and they will survive this as well — and going with Image Central, which has been hot of late, was a smart move. On a more positive side, Top Cow just announced an exclusive with artist Jeremy Haun and is promoting a new series called Netherworld by Bryan Edward Hill, Rob Levin, Tony Shasteen and JD Mettler.