As we reported earlier, layoffs were announced throughout Warner Bros. today, with as many as 600 people getting laid off.
While I don’t have all the names of DC staffers who were let go confirmed, two people have separately told me it was “a bloodbath.”
Reports are that a large number of senior staffers were let go, including many senior editorial, marketing and administrative personnel.
Among those we’ve heard are gone: Editor in Chief Bob Harras, SVP Publishing Strategy and Support Services Hank Kanalz, VP Bobbie Chase, and editors Brian Cunningham, Mark Doyle and Andy Khouri. The latter two were key to the Black Label initiative that seemed to be making money, so a bit of a shock.
In addition, VP of Marketing & Creative Services Jonah Weiland has been laid off, I’m told. Word of the layoffs first surfaced publicly in this tweet.
Amid massive layoffs at Warner Bros, I'm getting word of an absolute bloodbath at DC Comics. Bob Harras is apparently gone; so are editors Mark Doyle, Brian Cunningham and Andy Khouri. Jim Lee still with the company, but no longer publisher. DC Collectibles gone entirely.
— Asher Elbein (@asher_elbein) August 10, 2020
While Lee’s position isn’t clear to me yet, his new role may be more of a creative one than a business one, so it could be a title change more in line with his skill set.
Please bear in mind these are just the names I’ve heard multiple times. Many other long-term — I’m talking VERY long-term — DC employees have also been let go, I’m hearing.
Who is left? Besides Lee, Marie Javins, Michelle Wells and Nancy Spears, among the more prominent names. Fans of Marie Javins — of whom there are many — will undoubtedly be happy to see her ascend in editorial but…not like this, not like this.
It’s also evident that those who had large titles and big salaries are also gone, but such is the way of business in the world.
The end of DC Collectibles, if true, is also huge and telling. While I’m not going to run any more names until I have more concrete information, from everything I’m hearing, this is a huge and significant downsizing of DC’s publishing operations that will have huge ripple effects across the entire COVID-scarred comics industry landscape. It’s impossible to see this as anything but a huge sign of disinterest in the comics publishing business by AT&T, WarnerMedia and the Global Brands division. While other WB divisions also faced severe layoffs, losing such a huge swath of the executive leadership at DC is a lot more than just more layoffs.
Among other things, there is also the horrible irony of the timing — in only two weeks Warners will hold DC Fandome, a huge 24 hour “mega, 24-hour, immersive virtual fan experience.” While a lot of DC freelancers were teased for the event, one can grimly picture the crew of surviving DC staffers trying to act happy for this event, while DC’s film and media efforts are promoted…and the comics, the lifeblood of the universe, are left behind.
Business is business, but the ripples of The DC Bloodbath are going to be felt for a while.
We have reached out to DC for comment and will update the story with any further details.
Update: Diane Nelson, former president of DC, has posted the following. It’s kind of how a lot of people are feeling right now.
From what I’ve read, Warner is putting its focus and resources almost entirely into HBO Max (much as Disney is doing with Disney Plus). They’ve decided streaming is all that matters, so everything else is being cut to the bone.
In more news about corporate shittiness, Disney has decided not to release any more live action movies on 4K DVD. That includes many hundreds of Fox films, which the Mouse House now owns. You’d better hoard DVDs, because soon the only way to see these films will be if and when Disney feels like streaming them.
Disney Plus will not stream anything rated R, which means that many, many Fox and Touchstone films will soon fade into limbo. Disney is getting out of the physical media business, so stock up on DVDs and Blu-rays while they’re still available.
There were stories that when AT&T execs met with DC execs a few years ago, their first comment was: “Why are you still printing these things?”
“These things” being comic books. We should have seen this coming.
Warner-AT&T likely figures — probably correctly — that they can make money from the DC characters without publishing comics. There are movies, TV and streaming shows, video games, merchandising, web comics, etc.
DC’s 85-year history of comics on paper may be coming to an end.
All things must come to an end. Collecting since74! I havent seen Geoff Johns name anywhere. And what’s to become of my DC Universe sub?
Cut the superhero line to the core 12 books, print them like Alterna on newsprint, sell them for $1.50, like Alterna. Each month fans can get the entire 12 book line for $18 plus tax. Commit to this for 2 or 3 years, no crossovers/events for at least 18 months. Do only classic versions of characters, nothing fancy.
Get back to making superhero comics, make them affordable and keep the horse ahead of the cart.
Well, it’s a damn shame. Oddly, I don’t worry necessarily for the long-term health of the actual industry…the comics industry, that is. Regardless of the hit that the pandemic has made, some of the best stuff, a lot of diverse genres etc. are out there and available. My immediate concerns, though, are two: 1) all the staffers and the creative talent at DC are losing gainful employment…right during a pandemic. (nice move, corporate honchos, winning hearts and minds) This would cut easily over 30% into the volume of books available in a given month which will, of course, also hit the comics shops. I wonder if the diehard DC fans will start to let their money spill over to other publishers like Marvel or Image or Valiant etc., to get their monthly comics fixes. Hmm. I think I inadvertently included my second point in the first above. For my money, DC seems to have largely lost any significance to me as a publisher as the characters no longer…resonate with me. That has saddened me a lot when I chose to think about it over the past ten years, so…c’est la vie.
Don’t they still need to publish Wonder Woman if they want to keep the rights?
Regardless, this is terrible.
They can license the actual making of the books to another entity and still own the characters, for use in movies and merchandise. It might be the way they go in the near future.
I switched to digital movies, TV and comics a decade ago and I love it. I was never interested in collecting, bagging, boarding, and reselling comics, but I do feel bad for the old-timey collectors who still enjoy physical media. The switch to digital and collections erases the “collector” audience and leaves just the “reader” audience. But really, a $4 floppy comic with 16.7% of a story targeted at 50s-ish men in dusty old stores run by 50s-ish men is unsustainable. I’m surprised mega-corp Disney still has Marvel printing physical comics for that audience. Seems like Marvel should target Raina’s tween and teen audiences instead. Like DC is doing.
Moby S. Moby ++++++++
Shocking but not at all surprising. DC has been very top heavy for a while and there’s very little justification for a lot of the books they put out. They certainly don’t make any money, not that’s significant on a Warners or AT&T balance sheet anyway. We’re used to thinking of Marvel & DC as ‘The US Comics industry’ because they were for so long. Not anymore.
I had been thinking they had about five years left before they got out of the monthly physical comic book business but that seems overly generous now.
“Cut the superhero line to the core 12 books, print them like Alterna on newsprint, sell them for $1.50, like Alterna.”
Sorry, but very few would want these sort of cheap, smelly, muddy looking comics then. And good luck in hiring any quality talent to produce these books with such low profit margins (and I can’t imagine circulation increasing to the point to make up the money lost by slashing the cover price).
After DC dropped Diamond and took up with DCBS and Midtown for distribution, one of the stories came out that the new distributors were a short-term thing. The distribution contract don’t last long. I took from that that DC was looking for an off-ramp out of the direct market. It didn’t have to last long, it only had to last long enough for DC to close down the production of new floppies and transition into whatever their next stage is. Some of the reports coming out, like that DC’s production will be starkly reduced, suggest we’re closer to the end of the off-ramp than the start.
Barry, they contracts were short term, since the belief was diamond would return. Once DC cut ties with diamond, those contracts changed,
also, how do you “get out of the direct market” by literally getting into business with the biggest accounts of the direct market?
Closing down floppies is the best business practice, but it doesnt mean the end of the DM. Transition to ALL 100 pagers, $4.99 with some reprints (like the walmarts) and $9.99 all new content (like the 80th anniversary specials), winnow the line down to 20-25 books a month. Higher price points, and thicker physical material will enable dc to ADD markets and not just rely on the DM, thus growing the industry.
If DC stopped printing floppies, most of the world would barely notice. Only a few hundred thousand people are still buying them.
That’s literally nothing compared to the millions who watch movies, TV shows and streaming series with DC characters. A lot of those people have never read comics, or haven’t read them in decades.
If you don’t frequent the hidden places known as comic shops, you might assume DC and Marvel stopped publishing monthly comics long ago. Because it’s been a long time since they’ve been visible anywhere but the specialty shops.
I switched to graphic novels and trades in the late ’90s, but like Dave, I feel sorry for the aging, dwindling audience that still wants serialized floppies. I wonder how many of them will get their comics fix online, if that’s where the industry is heading.
We know from the BookScan figures that people want to buy comics. They just don’t want to pay insane prices for 20 pages of story that they’d have to enter a comic book store to buy. And who can blame them?
Sad news about DC Collectibles.
If DC stopped printing floppies, the comics world would certainly notice. For many comic book stores, DC can be in the neighborhood of 30% of their business. If that 30% evaporates, would they be able to stay in business? Probably not, and the loss of a substantial number of comic book stores would eat into the sales of publishers other than DC, and that would have the potential for a chain reaction of more Bad Things.
AT&T’s post-buyout debt is around 3,000 times what DC made from the Direct Market — revenue, not profit — in 2019.
Both good years and bad in comics are rounding errors against sums of that scale.
All of this because they can’t adequately launch a successful streaming service that needs a Roku or a Firestick device in order to be in competition with the big leagues.
Bendis killed DC. I stopped last year after buying DC comics for 45 years.
He is an infectious bastard.
AT&T being allowed to take over Warners/DC has been an ongoing disaster for the comics field.
Honestly, part of it may be that they just aren’t publishing anything GOOD anymore…even Scott Snyder, my favorite comic writer of all time, has fallen so far from where he used to be. He used to write grounded, structured, relatable series like “The Court of Owls” and “Death of the Family”. Now he’s writing bizzar, complicated, and confusing stories like “Last Knight on Earth” and “Dark Nights: Death Metal”.
Most fans don’t want a comic story jammed packed with every single DC character ever with the characters soaring across the multiverse the entire time. They want to follow individual characters who go through adventures that, although may be crazy, still touch a heart string that they can relate to. I can relate to Batman seeing everything he thought he knew and control be a lie in “The Court of Owls”. I can’t relate to Batman giving birth to a new (name of famous DC character removed to avoid spoiler) in “Last Knight on Earth”.
I know that Scott Snyder hasn’t been layed off, but I feel like where his work has trailed off shows what’s been happening in most of the comics lately. DC is forgetting what it is about their comics that the fans love, and they are losing fans because of it.
Comics won’t be the driving force behind the DC brand anymore. TV, Movies, Games and licensed merch. Comics will be just another category of niche product next to t-shirts and such. Wouldn’t be surprised if comic books get licensed out to another publisher to deal with and DC itself is just about being in the brand management business.
A sad day for DC, sad so many people got fired. And sadder still that despite that, commenters to the post here are more concerned about their wishes and hate for DC (“cut the line to core 12 books… After DC dropped Diamond… Bendis killed DC”), and not a single comment for these DC people who lost their jobs. Where are your hearts? DC must be really happy to have “fans” like the ones here, wow they must really feel your love and “support” right now.
Everything the deathstar touches gets destroyed….
I’m surprised that Disney is still allowing Marvel to publish comics, considering the pathetic sales in recent years.
“If DC stopped printing floppies, the comics world would certainly notice.”
True, but people who don’t hang out in comic shops (which is most of the human race) would not notice this.
Really, monthly comic books since the ’90s have been a niche thing, appealing to an aging male audience that doesn’t want to let go of their nostalgia for superheroes.
Jim Lee should go to Marvel.
Well, go woke, go broke.
Anyone claiming this is unexpected was not living on Earth the last years.
“AT&T being allowed to take over Warners/DC has been an ongoing disaster for the comics field.”
It hasn’t been good for classic film culture, either, as the people laid off from FilmStruck could tell you. I wonder how much longer TCM (also owned by AT&T-Warner) will be around. The owners could decide that since there are classic movies on HBO Max, there’s no reason to keep TCM going.
If you think DC’s current output is woke you live a very sheltered life.
Couldn’t agree more Heidi MacDonald–DC wants to suppress Harley and Poison Ivy while Marvel has a full page and upcoming one-shot on the wedding of Hulkling and Wiccan–not to mention some of the panels in the latest Empyre (which I am quite enjoying much to my surprise). DC to me is more about the nostalgia (I am one of those gray haired men in the comic shop) where Marvel is more fresh and progressive–plus I think the writing is just better or at least more consistent quality. Not afraid to say my pull-list definitely is “Make Mine Marvel!”
My heart goes out to the people who lost their jobs. There are other places for the other discussions taking place.
Very sad for those who just lost their jobs. Especially in these current times. I hope they can turn this into an an opportunity to use their talents in other ventures with much success
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