A lot of think pieces are beginning to come out about the DC upheaval — it’s beginning to be clear that the initial feelings of relief after the first press release were about as accurate as the “We dodged that one!” feelings right after Katrina passed through. As expected, Tom Spurgeon lays out Twelve Initial Questions I Have About DC’s Publishing Moves Announcements and it’s very thorough. Tom writes from the distinct perspective of someone who isn’t immersed in day-to-day DC Kremlinology and yet comes to many of the same conclusions. (As a Manhattan-based writer, when I say “word on the street”, I sometimes mean it quite literally.) Some of the questions he asks I’ve answered here — I’ve been told by multiple sources that the main reason that the entire DC comics operation wasn’t moved was economic: it simply would have cost too much. With that in mind, a lot of the non-answers for keeping publishing in NYC becomes clearer. I do like his totally right field theories that it might have something to do with more favorable freelancer laws and jurisdictions for various lawsuits underway though.

“The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which reviews cases heard in the Southern District of New York, has well-developed IP jurisprudence that is generally regarded as owner friendly. The Ninth Circuit, which includes California, is commonly seen as somewhat less predictable and more plaintiff friendly in regard to IP,” Trexler wrote in respond to my inquiry.

Two ideas that Tom comes around to in his piece are that 1) The statements that things were going so well that there’s no need to change anything doesn’t hold up:

Even the fabled people skills of the new executive team — an all-time A-list talent handler and three veteran industry new executives, two of which are working pros — seem to have been employed in a way that’s only riled further one of their most profitable, long-time authors and not exactly sent scores of creators scrambling from another company towards a seat in the Hall Of Justice. There’s also Tuesday’s news. Shutting down imprints may make sense from an organizational standpoint and may make the future a brighter one, but it also seems to be an implicit criticism of how things are being done right now. It should go without saying, but no imprint gets closed because it’s awesome and it performs wonderfully. So what am I missing? What is the reason for any enthusiasm in staying this particular course, even its roughest outline?

DC Comics is still not fixed, and has a lot of work to do. Three imprints shot down in six months. Are there new ones in the offing?

2) Spurgeon also dissects the entire rollout of the news and finds it bizarre. From DC’s servers going down to Ben Fritz-gate, it’s been a very, very curious news cycle. But read the whole piece.

As I said a few days ago, I have no desire to add to the misery that people go through during layoffs by adding speculation and rumor to the bonfire. One of my former co-workers at DC had a status update on Facebook this week that read just “WHY????” and if that isn’t heartbreaking, I don’t know what is.

Meanwhile, mops of opinions are beginning to swab down the deck, starting with David Brothers on the way forward in a piece called “Why WildStorm, CMX & Zuda Got the Axe and What It Means for the New DC Comics” that points to the things DC has been doing right since all the changes began a year ago:

This new, streamlined DC Comics has two focuses. DC Comics is responsible for maintaining the stable of DC Comics-owned superheroes and serving as an idea farm for Warner Brothers to exploit in other media. This means generating good stories, yes, but also characters and ideas that can be used in cartoons, movies, video games, and more. The fact that Geoff Johns has been working closely with the team behind the upcoming film “Green Lantern,” the organized roll-out of the new Aqualad in “Brightest Day” and “Young Justice,” and the hand of DC creative talent in games like “Batman: Arkham City” suggest that this is a formula that works, and will be employed for the foreseeable future.

Also before we move on, Andy Khouri’s personal account of what WildStorm meant to him is essential reading, for better and worse:

Superman was dead or dying. Batman was breaking. The Ultraverse was… Ultraversing. But regardless of how good or bad the classic superhero stories were at the time, all the excitement was with Image Comics, through which Jim Lee presented his WildStorm Universe. More than any of the other Image partners and their respective product lines, WildStorm was an ambitious and ultimately successful attempt to create a new superhero-esque mythology. For many of us, Lee and his collaborators were the first to present a world of superpowered men and women who didn’t necessarily wear costumes and who didn’t necessarily fight for the good of all mankind — or at least, not in the traditional sense. While the WildC.A.T.S. did defend Earth from the alien Daemonites, the success of the WildStorm Universe had more to do with shadowy government conspiracies and covert black-ops than it did with truth, justice or the American way.

It also had a lot to do with Caitlin Fairchild’s breasts.

It’s pieces like this that prove the “Forty-year-old virgin” theory of comics readership obsolete. Back when the early Image comics were coming out, they were often decried as pablum for teenagers, and even though they were, they did help breed a new generation of comics readers. What DC Entertainment/Comics does from here on out will definitely help decide if these readers remain engaged with their publishing ventures.


  1. “I’ve been told by multiple sources that the main reason that the entire DC comics operation wasn’t moved was economic: it simply would have cost too much.”

    Just get Geoff Johns to change the fucking continuity – so that instead of using dollars, people just exchange french fries. Or dust bunnies. Or old AOL discs & pogs.

    I’d also like to take this opportunity to mention Geoff Johns again as someone who will be working hard to ensure the quality of up & coming projects, both in the many DC Comics plotted and/or written by Geoff Johns and Hollywood projects that Geoff Johns will be heavily involved with.

  2. Spurgeon quotes DC as saying this, “We determined that the optimal organization for DCE acknowledges the close proximity to NY and East Coast operational, talent and business resources.”

    Makes sense to me. Not sure why everything has to be a conspiracy.

  3. A lot of DC’s editorial talent comes from New York-based publishing.

    For creative talent, I can see where being close to the animation field would be a plus, so being in NY or LA might be a wash, there. But for editorial, I think being able to draw on talent trained in NY is a pretty good advantage.

    And I think it could possibly have been extremely disruptive to try to move editorial to Burbank all at once, and to find replacements for all those who were either unwilling to come, laid off, or considered not to merit relocation costs. Editorial’s a big treadmill that needs to keep running, and can’t absorb and train too many newcomers at once.

  4. Geoff Johns sells books. He’s so good at what he does he now gets trashed for being successful. God Bless him. His detractors have done nothing in their lives to compare.

  5. @Chreese

    You were good up until the last sentence, ” His detractors have done nothing in their lives to compare.” That was unnecessary because you already made your point. You have no way of knowing what John’s detractors have done in their lives, so you undercut your point.

    As for DC, their answer on why editorial is staying in NYC is a non-answer. I agree with Spurgeon, it’s odd they’d announce essentially a non-announcement.

  6. @Chris Hero “…it’s odd they’d announce essentially a non-announcement”

    The internet would’ve disintegrated if they didn’t mention this. Thousands of blogger’s heads exploding all at once.The possibility of a move was constantly being discussed or debated so it makes complete sense to me for them to mention this.

  7. “The internet would’ve disintegrated if they didn’t mention this. Thousands of blogger’s heads exploding all at once.”

    That’s okay. Bloggers and self-absorbed pundits explode their heads at minutiae at least once every other day anyway.

  8. great info throughout. Thanks to Spurgeon and the Beat. I work in the greeting card industry, lots of parallels. Re: Ed Brubaker encouraging people to pick up stuff in print now. Maybe w/ hard copies. But I expect a day when everything is digital, w/ easy access to downloads. His more personal work, more Hollywood friendly. To me, there are more reasons to keep Sleeper, etc., in print.