Unless you don’t believe in paying attention to what’s going on round the comics world, you’ll have noted that DC Comics has been undergoing a lot of changes of late. And this weekends ComicsPRO meeting is where we’ll learn about more of them.
From what I’m hearing over he last few months, it’s total Game of Thrones.
Mark Chiarello and Bill Morrison – two of the most creative people at the company – have been let go, as has John Cunningham, formerly the head of sales, and Eddie Scannell, a lesser know exec who worked in Consumer Sales.
It wasn’t all bad- Marie Javins, who was Group Editor/Executive Editor of New Publishing Initiatives, has been promoted. As has Jim Chadwick, who was a Group Editor. Their new portfolios haven’t been made public, but they are two of the most talented people at the company, so that’s all good news.
But a lot of other changes have been made, few public. Industry veteran Jim “Ski” Sokolowski, formerly VP, Comic Book Specialty & Newsstand Sales at DC Entertainment, has been demoted, I’m told.
Cunningham and Ski were DC’s direct conduits to the direct sales market and retailers. Previously Bob Wayne was the much much loved figure who led the way in this market for DC a near messianic figure never quite replaced.
Why is all this happening? Well, you may also have heard that AT&T purchased Warner Bros, and although many thought it would be months before they turned the eye of Sauron to DC Entertainment, it came at them fast. The entire consumer products division has been revamped under new boss Pam Lifford. While DC is under the gun to get costs under control, it’s also part of wider cutbacks in Lifford’s entire area, as WBCP also had layoffs.
Like other sites, I’d heard the rumors that DC publisher Dan DiDio was considering cutting the DC line to between 20-30 titles, a number that would send retailers reeling. Today at ComicsPRO, Didio confirmed that DC would be cutting its line, though not to those levels, to focus on higher sales per title.
I think a lot of retailers thought the market has too many books, but they may be saying “Not like this, not like this.”
Also, two new DC initiatives, DCeased and DC Villains may be a little bit of projection. Who knows.
I’ll have more details on all of this, but in the meantime, one more note on who appears to be taking over DC’s sales department: Nancy Spears, who has moved from Vice President – Mass, Book & Digital Sales & Trade Marketing to merely VP, Sales this month.
I’m hearing nothing but good things about Spears, whose resume is stellar with 7 years at DC, and previous stints at various Warner Brothers departments and even as COO of a WNBA team. Her twitter handle is a reference to Wonder Woman, so she’s not just the VP, she’s a customer.
Spears first appeared on my radar in the PR about the Walmart expansion. This program has been a success, and perhaps those retailer doomsayers were a little bit more on the nose than I thought. With Spear’s previous experience in mass market sales, and rumored huge changes to DC’s sales and marketing departments, well, maybe that is the way the wind is blowing?
Mass market sales for comics are such a huge topic, with many many bizarre failures over the years. The moves to this market have mostly been under reported. But perhaps it is the result of comics-themed IP taking over all entertainment. Mass market for mass media.
While we have operatives on the ground at ComcsPRO, we’re always looking for more – hit us up if you want to add anything to this massive, developing story.
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.