DC Comics is ending a number of their monthly titles, including Young Justice, Teen Titans, John Constantine: Hellblazer, Hawkman, and Suicide Squad.
The end of these series became known Friday in the publisher’s November solicits, where preview info for those books was stamped with the dreaded FINAL ISSUE. This reduction in DC’s monthly comics line comes amid news that DC was undergoing massive layoffs (you can read Heidi MacDonald’s latest update on that for more). As anxiety rose online about the dual reductions, DC Comics Publisher Jim Lee (one of the few senior leaders to survive the cuts) spoke with The Hollywood Reporter in a conversation Friday seemingly aimed at quelling concerns.
Lee issued an assurance via THR that “We are still in the business of publishing comics.” Lee then went on to say that in the wake of the layoffs, the next few months would see DC reorganizing as well as reducing its line. If it feels like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have, recently, with previous layoffs and linewide reductions in early 2019. That news saw similar assurances issued, almost word for word in some cases.
We’re cutting our line in the name of higher quality. Comics are still central to the DC brand. Everyone involved with the company is behind that…it’s all very familiar.
Lee also discussed the experienced editors who were staying with the company, a duo whose ascendance is a silver-lining for many who follow DC Comics: Marie Javins and Michelle Wells. The pair will be serving as co-interim-editors-in-chief, having previously headed up digital strategy and YA publishing, respectively. A new general manager position for DC Comics will go to a person whose identity has not yet been revealed, with the individual starting work in September. Reporting on this site and others has suggested that person has prominent experience in eSports.
Another noteworthy bit in Lee’s interview was that there was no pencils down notice. This would indicate the titles known to be ending as of today were always going to end, which is also in line with reporting on this site and others regarding a plan that at one point called for a new status quo for all monthly titles this fall. Connecting a few dots, the books ending now seem likely to have been part of that, though it remains to be seen if they’ll ever return or be replaced.
Other news addressed by Lee is that some aspects of the company’s streaming service, DC Universe, including all their original content, would be merging with HBO Max, while other elements would be preserved in a new way that has not been announced yet. Meanwhile, Lee said the company’s collectibles line, DC Direct, will also change, likely moving to a higher price point that will accompany a new licensing model.
When asked what to expect from DC in two years time, Lee said essentially that there would be more focus on digital content.
While it’s nice to hear from Lee, it is, perhaps, still easy to be pessimistic, conjuring up doomed scenarios in which an 80-year publishing tradition is gutted and cast aside in favor of a low-overhead minimalistic approach to the medium that (more blatantly) relies on Batman’s invincible popularity while doing the bare minimum to maintain IP, all in the service of film, TV, and merchandising.
It’s not a giant leap to wonder if DC’s corporate owners are also following some kind of playbook for slowly gutting legacy print media, pushing many of the highest paid folks out the door (many never to be replaced) and reducing physical product in the name of less-costly digital replacements, as has been the case with other aging periodicals like newspapers and magazines. So yeah, from a certain angle, it’s all a bummer, especially when you start thinking about how any reduction in resources and investments (regardless of reasoning) from such a large company in a space as small as comics will likely have a ripple effect. (Excuse me, I think I need a minute.)
However! DC Comics is also hosting its online DC Fandome on August 22, which has a schedule that features a new “Surprise DC Comics Panel.” While the old model of publishing comics at DC has very much been reduced and uprooted, a few glimpses of a deliberate future would be nice, with new titles or exciting initiatives standing in support of everything Lee just told us.