dc_bloodbath1As we reported yesterday, a new wave of layoffs swept over WarnerMedia yesterday, and that included DC Comics. Although DC’s staff was cut by as much as 25% back in August, still more employees were found to be let go.

Among them, as we guessed yesterday, was Michelle Wells, VP and Executive Editor, DC Children’s/Young Adult and, for a brief three-month period, DC’s co-editor in chief.

Alex Carr, a group editor, was also let go. Like Wells, Carr has a deep history in publishing, including launching Amazon’s Jet Comics line, and working on DC’s kids books.

More troubling to industry watchers, was the decimation of the direct sales department. I’m looking over an old masthead here, and it seems that everyone is gone, including sales manager Stuart Schreck, marketing services director Adam Phillips, and Events Director Fletcher Chu-Fong. Vince Letterio, the Executive Director of Direct Sales, was let go in the last round.

As far as I can discern, the only person left in DC’s direct sales sales and marketing team is Nancy Spears, the VP of Sales. I’m sure she can’t be running everything by herself, but she has lost over 100 years of institutional knowledge on her staff.

It’s safe to say that Vince, Adam, Stuart and Fletcher were the industry face of DC, known to every retailer and creator. Phillips was the guy who generally runs DC’s slideshows, so if you ever went to a DC panel at a comic con, you probably saw him sitting up on stage with Jim Lee and Dan DiDio. I will note that DC rarely if ever had issues with their A/V.

This shocking housecleaning will do nothing to dissuade the rumors that DC is pulling out of the direct market, or at least cutting back on their periodical publishing program so much that that is the practical effect. Spears is much respected in all levels of the industry, but I’m getting nothing but gloomy tweets and DMs from retailers.

That said, I’m also told that total gloom is not necessarily the only possibility. As in, perhaps no final decisions have been made yet about the exact fate of DC’s publishing line.

It’s obvious that the kids line will survive, as it’s the hottest genre in publishing. Although Black Label has had a target on its back, I’m also told that the undeniable success of this line may have given it a reprieve of some kind. May have.

And as many have pointed out, although it had a staff that was perhaps bloated in numbers, DC’s comics line still made money. WarnerMedia is having to make many cuts in light of the overall Pandemic Shift. A slimmer trimmer company may be better poised for the future…whatever that is.

But no matter what else happens, it is the end of an era. DC’s Direct Sales department, as set up by former publisher Paul Levitz and EVP of sales Bob Wayne, was the benchmark for how comics were sold in the direct market. That way of doing business is gone now, for better or worse.

If you have any thoughts on this or light to shed, feel free to contact us — all confidences respected.

 

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. It isn’t exactly great news for the kids line that they fired Michelle Wells, right?

    Albert Ching, I think, is the only person beside Nancy left on the “DM side” now.

    The loss of Adam, Stuart, Fletcher (and Vince and Ski before them) can not possibly be understated. This is bad bad news for DC, not just the DM retailers.

    -B

  2. It sucks all these folks were let go. I would have thought Michelle Wells would have had a guaranteed protected job. Her layoff feels really penny wise , pound foolish . She built up that division and has a vision for it. Not saying that Javins can’t manage that divisions editors, who I am sure are very capable. But Wells vision and management of that division will be missed. I am certain if she had the right support, that line would have scholastic rivaling numbers for certain titles in a few years. DC was actually being taken seriously in that market, hope they don’t blow it.

  3. It’s never fun getting laid off near the holidays. I think the time is coming though when both DC and marvel will be tossed aside by their corporate owners. Not sold outright as was done in years past because the characters can be used in movies, but once you have the characters why publish new stories about them in print when the movies are what sells? They could continue to publish trade paperbacks for years just using the old stories.
    I think it’s been coming to this for a long time. Comic prices kept going up, events and stunts replaced any sort of deep storytelling and a lot of writers loved nothing better than to pick fights with fans on line. A lot of fans were told often ‘if you don’t like it, don’t buy it’ and many did just that.
    I feel very sorry for the comic book store owners. Without DC and marvel to pull people in how many can survive just selling the indy titles?

  4. I suspect 2021 will see the demise of DC Comics. AT&T hasn’t a clue about publishing since the Yellow Pages disappeared. Warners Media should recognize the value of the comics’ IPs, but AT&T is into slashing & burning. Strong rumors persist that they want to sell CNN and other cable channels, too. They have a horrible record from their destruction of Direct TV. The era of monthly comics & weekly trips to comic stores to read about the adventures of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, & Flash is ending. Very sad days indeed.

  5. Jim Shooter said these things several years ago. He stated how, inevitably and eventually, the corporate owner of a major comics publisher was going to look at numbers and say, “Why are we wasted money printing these every month when the intellectual property of licensing the characters is valuable enough?” and we’re seeing it now. Of course, comic publishers have their own role in their demise after increasingly upping the gimmicks the past two decades.

  6. GOOD. Get rid of that fat. It’s been stale and boring for 20 years. – same goes for Marvel.

    Get rid of 50% of the BS titles – and focus on the core – which is what readers want anyway.

    Oh yeah……. let’s launch Batman/Catwoman #1 with TWENTY DIFFERENT COVERS. Whoever thought this was a good idea should be FIRED and banished from the comics industry. Collectors HATE people like this.

    Jim Lee leaving? – best talent they ever had.

    Just a sign of the times. Someone with balls needs to shred DC down to size,… get back to making a core group of good comic books and START OVER.

    Right now it is a huge steaming pile.

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