Yesterday, Bleeding Cool ran the story that a number of high-level rolling DC Comics fans are putting together a pitch to take over the publishing of DC Comics titles in perpetuity, while Warner Bros retain the movie, TV, gaming and merch rights. And while this is the sort of thing that is often suggested, planned, and put together to no avail, the names of some of the people made me take this one seriously, even though access to this information curtailed my ability to name them – for now.
I did also point out, however, that DC Comics is in a stronger publishing position right now, with a smaller consolidated line, employee count, and Future State and Infinite Frontier lifting orders for traditionally published comics. I am also told that a proposed move to digital-first publication over print publication is getting knocked back after the digital numbers have remained disappointing, even during lockdown. It turns out the remaining print audience have made their decision of print vs digital some time ago and are happy to wait for the ink to hit the paper. Even in pandemic, digital comics sales did not get a bump. But paper sales did.
However, the exploration of other possibilities led Warners to give a number of high-level big-spending DC fans-and-also-investors tours or DC's Burbank studios earlier in the year, to explore the possibility of outsourcing. As a result, I have been made aware of two serious pitches made to Warners/AT&T as a result, the one from New York-based investors is the one I am taking more seriously. The one from Orpington in Kent, England, less so at this time. But you never know.
As for the actual amount of cash needed to be raised for such a venture, if it was the full comics-and-only-the-comics buyout in perpetuity, estimates for the publishing value alone are around the $300,000,000 mark, but to actually make it worth Warners and AT&T's while, and make up for their loss of face, we might be looking closer to a cool half billion. So no, as some wisecrackers suggested, this is not being crowdfunded—this more like twenty people bringing twenty-five million to the game, each.
For something this big, of course, other folks will also have been in positions to hear things. Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld posted to Facebook "More real then you can imagine…. tires are being kicked." Painkiller Jane creator Jimmy Palmiotti tweeted "I have been hearing this for a few months already with names attached I cannot repeat" adding "I will back Rich up on this. I am hearing a lot of late." And Bad Idea publisher Dinesh Shamdasani who is the kind of level of person who might have been involved in this, and will definitely know some of the people who are – but isn't himself – tweeted "This is something different. This is DC trying to get rich fans to bankroll the losses of publishing while Warners keeps everything else."
I should be having a meeting tomorrow that may clear some of this up. Let's see, shall we?