DC Comics has had one hell of a rough year. They fired their publisher, two editors-in-chief and many staffers who had been at the company for decades, with more expected. All as a result of the AT&T buyout of Warners, the pandemic and cuts across the board. But Bleeding Cool understands that it was former DC President Diane Nelson's decision to move DC Comics from relatively expensive offices in Manhattan to insanely expensive offices in Burbank that was the biggest factor in the decision. The move from coast to coast succeeded in making DC work better as part of Warners as a whole, with many projects spinning out of that increased proximity. But it also brought greater financial pressure on every project, including the publication of comic books. And that proximity was entirely absent this year with Warners continuing to work remotely – but that work still has to justify the costs of that empty building.
Bleeding Cool has heard repeated reports that DC Comics is planning to reduce serialised print publication, increase digital publication, and license comic book publication to other publishers. We have heard that Marvel, IDW and Dynamite have all approached DC, but the prices cited were too high. But that it was a price that Penguin Random House was willing to pay.
But this is still all rumour and hearsay. From prominent people, sure, but still. Because I have also heard that it is all guns blazing at DC Comics right now. From Future State to Infinite Frontier, sales-per-title are up. Way up. The line is smaller — with fewer editorial staff, it has to be — but per title, per allocated desk space in that empty Burbank building, profitability is up. It also helps that some rather pricey exclusive creator deals are also a thing of the past as well. There is some suspicion that everything is resting on the Infinite Frontier performance as to whether or not DC Comics continues to have a serialised print comic publishing line. But as it stands, things are very good. Better than they have been at DC for some time. With their new diversity pushes, they have also seen positive mainstream press they have sought for years as well.
However, very good for comics may not be very good for Warners who have to put the space and expenses allocated to comic books up against that allocated for TV, games, movies and more, in terms of profitability. The comics are making money — but are they making enough money to justify the space and resources allocated to them, even if they are not using them?
We'll see. Infinite Frontier #0 is out in March with Infinite Frontier #1 to follow in July. By then we should get a better lay of the land. But there are other plans as well, and finally, I get to what on earth I was talking about in the headline. You've been patient enough.
Last year, a number of high-rolling individuals were given tours of DC Comics Burbank with AT&T/Warners officials. And as a result, there may be some new options. Because Bleeding Cool has been made aware of plans by big-time DC Comics fans with access to a lot of money. Many millions from across many businesses.
A collaboration of some of the biggest cheeses who, with a combination of personal wealth and raised capital, are making an approach to AT&T. Not to buy DC Comics outright from AT&T/Warners, not to touch the movies, the TV, the games or the merchandise — but solely the rights and ownership — of the comic book side of the publisher. To be able to create and publish the DC Comics line as they would like. Let Warners do the movies and TV shows, but take all the cumbersome work of actually publishing comic books off their hands, while Warners are free to adapt if they wish.
If you could be a member of this group, you have probably already been approached. People who can bring, or can raise, a minimum of eight figures apiece. Who have both an Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27 to spare. And who really, really, really like DC Comics. The fans are taking over Arkham Asylum.
So… what say you? Would you welcome such a move? And what do you think Warners' response will be?