As 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.
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