Amid flying rumors all day, it’s been confirmed that DC Entertainment has undergone a huge reorganization, with three VPs laid off and DC Collectibles removed to Consumer Products.
Among those gone SVP of sales trade marketing John Cunningham, SVP Art Director Mark Chiarello and VP of consumer marketing Eddie Scannell. The moves were part of general layoffs around WB Consumer Products, all overseen by Pam Lifford, WB’s President of Global Brands and Experiences. At WBCP about 10% of the staff was laid off, THR reports. DC’s layoffs amounted to 3% of their 240 person staff – seven people in total.
DC has been reorganized into three divisions: Editorial, to be overseen by SVP and EIC Bob Harras; Publishing and Manufacturing under Alison Gill, SVP Manufacturing & Operations; and Publishing Support Services, a new division that will be run by Hank Kanalz whose new title will be SVP Publishing Strategy & Support Services.
You can read a memo sent to staff by Lifford below but a few quick takes on this:
While, as usual, the easiest suspicion on the layoffs were the removal of publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, that move would have been superficial at most. I’d been hearing for months that entire departments at DC were under scrutiny, and that is indeed what has happened, with DC Collectibles – an independent unit that was distributed to the Direct Market – being shuffled into Consumer Products, and the entire sales and marketing team reorganized.
The new set up is planned to focus on publishing, with the direct market getting a shout out. However the removal of Cunningham and Chiarello seems fairly dire. Cunningham, a 13 year DC veteran, succeeded Bob Wayne as the main vision for DC’s publishing plan in both the book world and the DM. Chiarello is known as one of the sharpest creative eyes in the business, and impacted the look of DC’s products in innumerable ways. I’m sure both will find new positions as soon as their severance packages and non-competes allow.
While on first blush this is a direct hit on publishing, I’m told both Cunningham and Chiarello had the kind of salaries that are a homing beacon when downsizing. Still, neither can be replaced.
Kanalz is a WB veteran and goes even further back to his days at Wildstorm, Jim Lee’s Image Comics label that was purchased by DC in 1999. In fact he’s the “other guy” in those famous Image Founder photos. Kanalz’s name is one that used to be in the mix quite a bit in the Comics Hot Stove League, but faded after the move to the West Coast in 2015. But he was always waiting in the wings, and those rumors just took longer to come to fruition.
I’m already hearing concerns about DC’s revamped sales and marketing staff, as well as the fate of Vertigo, Black Label, Zoom and Ink. Also DC’s 240 person staff to put out products that sell 25,000 copies is math that anyone might ponder.
While this is all developing, my Heidi sense is tingling. To quote Pam Lifford “We recognize there are other groups across DC who are not fully dedicated to supporting the publishing business and, therefore, are not directly addressed in today’s news.”
Any change in the status of the Big Two is going to have a huge impact on the already shaky Direct Market. ComicsPRO is going to be lit!
Below, Lifford’s staff memo as reported by THR.
Today has been a challenging day. We have made organizational changes across DC that we believe will help to strengthen and evolve the division for future success. With these changes come difficult decisions which we take very seriously.
We recognize and appreciate that all of our employees have made considerable contributions to our business and that it is difficult to lose colleagues, many of whom have been here for a long time and have made an important impact on DC. We thank them for their hard work and dedication to DC. As always, we are committed to taking care of our employees and will be as thoughtful as possible with those who are impacted by these changes.
Together with Dan and Jim, and the executive team, we have spent time assessing DC’s business, as well as the comic book publishing landscape. DC is going back to its roots of delivering epic stories with our world-class characters, stories and brands. Being a premier house of storytelling will never go out of style and we intend to ultimately super-serve our existing fans, while providing new compelling content that engages and excites even more fans around the globe. Rest assured, the direct market will remain at the heart of our business – and will continue to be one of our greatest strengths.
The new streamlined structure is focused on creating, delivering and supporting a robust publishing operation that will allow DC to be nimble, navigate an industry in change, and thrive. As we communicated today, we are forming three distinct work streams – Editorial, Production & Manufacturing and Publishing Support Services.
• Editorial will continue to be run by Bob Harras, SVP & Editor-In-Chief, who will now also be responsible for new initiatives and global publishing, editorial scheduling, and art direction
• Production & Manufacturing will continue to be run by Alison Gill, SVP Manufacturing & Operations
• Publishing Support Services is a new business unit consisting of all departments that support the sales, marketing and promotion of our books, and this will be run by Hank Kanalz who is taking on additional responsibilities as SVP Publishing Strategy & Support Services As a result – DC Collectibles and its team will be part of the Consumer Products Toy team moving forward.
We recognize there are other groups across DC who are not fully dedicated to supporting the publishing business and, therefore, are not directly addressed in today’s news. As The Global Brands & Experiences structure continues to develop, I look forward to sharing more with you as that evolves.
Many of you will have questions and in the coming days you will receive more information from Bob, Alison and Hank about their teams. Together with Dan and Jim, I will be hosting Town Hall meetings Thursday on the individual floors to discuss these changes and provide more insight.
Thank you again for your support, hard work and loyalty to DC. Each of you are incredibly valued and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow afternoon where I will do my best to answer any questions.
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.