Big changes are happening and are coming to DC Comics and the DC Universe streaming service via parent company AT&T as word of massive layoffs was reported earlier today.
The news shouldn’t be that all surprising if you have been reading Cosmic Book News or following former DC Comics artist Ethan Van Sciver who earlier in the year offered things were a disaster at DC and that AT&T could actually close down DC Comics.
Earlier in the year also saw DC Comics cut its line and get rid of Dan DiDio, with further cuts to the line now expected.
With the launch of HBO Max, it seemed a given that eventually DC Universe would fold, which looks to be the case.
Bleeding Cool also offered their own rumors to the story, noting their info may not be set in stone.
Worth mentioning is that all this comes before next week’s big DC FanDome virtual convention on Aug. 22, which seems to say a lot of what AT&T thinks about its DC brand.
Follow along below.
Massive layoffs at DC Comics
The Hollywood reporter says “Monday’s WarnerMedia layoffs have affected a significant number of high-level figures” at DC Comics including the following said to be losing their positions and that “roughly one-third of DC’s editorial ranks are being laid off”:
- Editor-in-chief Bob Harris
- Senior VP of publishing strategy and support services Hank Kanalz
- VP of marketing and creative services Jonah Weiland (former owner of Comic Book Resources now known as CBR)
- VP global publishing initiatives and digital strategy Bobbie Chase
- Senior story editor Brian Cunningham
- Executive editor Mark Doyle, who oversaw the rollout of the Black Label graphic novels
- While THR notes Jim Lee remains the DC chief creative officer (and publisher), Bleeding Cool says Jim Lee “will be transitioning out of that role”
DC Universe Done For
Regarding the DC Universe streaming service, THR’s sources offer: “DC Universe was DOA as soon as the AT&T merger happened.”
Recently saw a majority of the DC Universe shows move to HBO Max and The CW, so expect DC Universe to close and get folded into HBO Max.
Obviously, AT&T wants one giant streaming service instead of separate services, and DC Universe was aimed at a small segment, so again not surprising.
DC Direct closing
What’s also interesting is that DC Direct is closing, which is DC’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer, with Bleeding Cool offering the DC collectibles will be licensed to probably someone like Hasbro or Mattel (McFarlane Toys is putting out the DC Multiverse line).
Recall Ethan Van Sciver said something similar, in that AT&T would most likely license out the DC brand, with rumors even offering Marvel might be interested.
DC Comics further cutting the line
Bleeding Cool also offers all the layoffs “will have an immediate effect on the publication of DC Comics monthly titles,” where a “rapid reduction of titles” is expected.
Similar to previous comments made by Van Sciver, the rumor says the popular characters will stick around such as Batman, Superman, and Justice League, adding that the digital line and the original graphic novel line will stick around, while “a lot of comics will disappear” because there aren’t enough people left at DC to work on them.
It’s also suggested the Batman family of titles could get a big boost, as obviously Batman sells, which sees BC note: “If you thought DC Comics published an unhealthy percentage of Batman books, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
DC focusing on digital not comic book shops
BC also says the plan in place is for “publishing to definitely continue,” but says to “expect a greater emphasis on digital and bookstore rather than the comic book shop, for now at least.”
While the current pandemic is in part to blame for the layoffs and changes, it seems things were headed in this direction, but possibly the pandemic sped things up, as again this fits with what Ethan Van Sciver has been stating on his YouTube channel about the collapse of the comic book industry and the huge success of creator-owned crowd-funded comics, aka #comicsgate.
It’s all about HBO Max
Basically why all this is happening is because of HBO Max, as AT&T is making its HBO Max streaming service the center of things.
Last year at Comic-Con insiders told me “it’s all about HBO Max,” and as we saw, the Crisis On Infinite Earths CW crossover included everything from TV and movies (sorry, but comics just don’t make that much money, especially when they push a politically correct agenda on its fanbase who now no longer support the product).
Evidence that it’s “all about HBO Max” at AT&T and WarnerMedia comes from Warner CEO Jason Kilar in a recent memo to staff which in part states:
Because of the gift that is the internet, we have what I believe is one of the greatest opportunities in the history of media, which is to deliver our beloved stories and experiences directly to hundreds of millions of consumers across the globe. Earning this ambitious future won’t come easy. To do so, I believe it is vital that we change how we are organized, that we simplify, and that we act boldly and with urgency. The pandemic’s economic pressures and acceleration of direct-to-consumer streaming adoption places an even higher premium on these points.
To accomplish this, we are going to do the following:
1. We are elevating HBO Max in the organization and expanding its scope globally.
2. We are simplifying how we organize our studios.
3. We are creating a consolidated International unit focused on scale and efficiency.
4. We are bringing our key commercial activities into one group to allow us to operate more strategically.
5. We are making other structural changes that will help us operate more effectively and efficiently.
Back in May, I was told AT&T and HBO Max are planning on moving away from its focus on movie theaters to streaming, which WB seemingly backed up when they told journalists not to report that streaming is killing movie theaters.
It’s the same with the comic industry which is in worse shape than the film industry.
Actually, it’s the same in near every industry as the world continues to transition to digital and online.