Happier days and happier graphics: this was the image used when AMC Networks Publishing launched

A bloodbath of layoffs and write downs last week at AMC Networks included Mike Zagari, who was head of the fledgling publisher efforts, AMC Publishing.

As previously reported, earlier this year, Zagari launched a small but high profile graphic novel line at the network, which included work by Bill Sienkiewicz, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kirk Hammett, Stephen King, and more.

Most recently they announced the launch of Parisian White, by DeConnick and Sienkiewicz, a long delayed project that, well, will probably be delayed again.

Zagari tweeted confirmation of his departure:

The news is out – my time at AMCN has ended due to mass company layoffs. It’s been an honor working with talented individuals across AMC & beyond. Launching & leading AMCN Publishing, among other exciting projects, was an incredible experience. Excelsior!

While Zagari’s departure is confirmed, the fate of the line he curated is unclear. Besides the announced projects, there were several more in the works which are free to find new homes, but the existing ones may be tied to the program…without anyone left at AMCN to run it.

AMC has been in turmoil for a while, as streaming, linear and every other form of TV is in freefall at the moment. CEO Christina Spade, who was at the helm for a mere three months, stepped down at the end of November with a memo warning of 20% layoffs yapping at her heels. Chairman James Dolan (who also owns The New York Knicks, so he knows a thing or two about disasters) has released a steady stream of memos and SEC reports that paint a gloomy picture: “It was our belief that cord-cutting losses would be offset by gains in streaming,” he wrote in one memo. “This has not been the case. We are primarily a content company and the mechanisms for the monetization of content are in disarray.”

This disarray has led to writedowns on productions such as Moonhaven, a SF tale of a moon colony whose cast included such reliable stars as Dominic Monaghan, Emma McDonald, and Joe Manganiello.

AMC has long been the home of some of cable’s most beloved shows, led by The Walking Dead, still one of the biggest hits ever in cable history, but a mature show with a declining audience. That show’s flagship series ended a few weeks ago, but several spin-offs are planned. Earlier in the year, Better Call Saul ended it’s acclaimed run, with some saying it was even better than its revered predecessor, Breaking Bad.

The legacy of these shows is huge, but in 2022 the streaming business has been completely upended – AMC seems to be desperately searching for purchase in an unfamiliar landscape.

But back to the AMCN Publishing Group. Announced projects included Parisian White, Shudder’s Creepshow: From Script to Scream, a coffee table tribute that was just published this week;  Miss Fisher’s First Mysteries a spinoff of the popular show by adapted by Cecil Castelluci; Nights of Lono  from Kirk Hammett and Marcel Feldmar and Christine Norrie; and Oubliette by Brendan Fletcher and Tula Lotay. Their fate remains unknown, but with a parent company in disarray it’s hard to see a little unicorn side business going forward.

As for Zagari, he has long stints at Walt Disney, DC and Aftershock  behind him, and he’ll land on his feet when the smoke clears. You can check out his website here. 

With AMC Publishing most likely at an end, and signs of trouble at many other publishers,  the feeling is growing that a certain era of “Peak Comics IP” is at an end – certainly the almost weekly announcement of a new publisher or print imprint will slow down. However, as far as we can see, many segments of the market, including kids comics, manga and webcomics are still strong. Developing.