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Gossip: DC Comics, Abandoning Comic Shops and Comic Cons?

I have heard versions for this rumour on and off for the last 15 years, alongside the word that Dan DiDio was going to be fired as DC Comics publisher. And for fifteen years neither came to pass – until Dan DiDio earlier this year, which seemed to set of dominos up to this week, and beyond. But this week I have heard it more times, from more senior figures than before – and for the first time I didn't get any pushback from the kind of people who normally push back on this sort of thing and say it is a load of stuff and nonsense.

That the Warner Bros firings of yet more DC Comics senior staffers, and the subsequent fallout across the company is part of a series of measures that will include a switch away from month print comic books towards digital comic book serialisation of stories, then collected in trade paperback sized volumes, or larger, thicker, anthologies aimed at a general mass market, a bookstore market, the bookfair market, the likes of Amazon – and then comic book stores and the direct market almost as an afterthought.

That the content being published and publicised will be pulled back to characters and storylines that have a big multi-media presence, so we're basically talking Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, and Suicide Squad.

Gossip: DC Comics, Abandoning Comic Shops and Comic Cons?
Gossip: DC Comics, Abandoning Comic Shops and Comic Cons?

Bleeding Cool named a number of redundancies made by Warner Bros in recent days as well as adding further details as to what was taking place at the publisher the day afterwards, later partially corroborated by Comics Beat. No other comics news source has reported further details as yet. This may be because DC Comics has not issued any official press release.

It is notable that the naming of the departure of the likes of Adam Philips, Director, Marketing Services and Stuart Schreck, Sales Manager with 47 years at DC Comics between them were the principal figures who dealt with the direct market of comic book retailers, which led to much lamenting from comic shop owners as a result.

The other thing to bear in mind is that is this were to happen, and that is still up in the air, it wouldn't be for some time. DC is publishing their February solicitations tomorrow, whatever the DC Omniverse thing is meant to kick off in March, with a big company-wide relaunch and the return of titles such as Harley Quinn. Another lead creator is meant to be taking over both Superman titles, just as Brian Bendis did. And Brian Bendis has a big event to follow as well –  and then there are the greenlit Black Label books, the YA and Kids OGNs and much more -all this is baked into current DC Comics schedules, which have seen a number of titles such as Batgirl, Young Justice and Hawkman come to an end in recent weeks. So if this does happen – don't expect it any time soon. Just watch for the signs as the company starts to change gear.

Something more solid is the rumour at DC Comics have made the decision to no longer have a strong comic book presence at comic book conventions in the fashion they have before, any appearance will now be subsumed into Warner Bros presence. We have seen a move in that direction at New York Comic Con, but San Diego Comic-Con still had DC Comics doing the full month. Not any more, and the departure of Fletcher Chu-Fong as DC Events Director after 18 years is seen as further proof of that. Not that there are any conventions to appear at right now, but this is a decision made going forward.

Much of these decisions come down to the Warner Bros Burbank offices, and DC Comics having to justify the space the company uses with them – even as everyone is working from home. So comic books that would make a profit at other publishers, are in the red at DC Comics. Which might also mean that other publishers would be keen to license titles that DC Comics has no current interest in publishing right now, able to monetise them without Warner Bros overheads on the balance sheet. However, I understand from those who have made enquiries that the suggested price demanded by Warners for such a thing is too high for anyone in the direct market. If Warners have chosen not to publish a comic, and someone else thinks they can make a profit doing so, it would have to be an unachievable profit for Warners to agree, as things stand.

Remember, this is just rumour and gossip right now, but it is an accurate representation of what is being discussed by the kind of senior comic book people who don't usually engage in such speculation. There is however a lot of faith in new EIC Marie Javins as someone who can pull whatever still exists of DC Comics into a manageable, workable whole. And as a comic book industry lifer, if anyone can pull this together, it's her. That is, if DC General Manager Daniel Cherry III and Warner Bros President Pamela Lifford, architects of the current changes, will afford her the ability to do so.

DC Comics did not reply to enquiries made, but then they rarely do, do they? Look forward to Jim Lee taking the opportunity to say how wrong this all is at some point, just like he did about 5G.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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