Monday, September 27, 2010

DC: A Company on Two Coasts?

Last Friday was a tough one if you worked at DC. With rumors that anywhere from 20 - 30% of the workforce might be laid off, many DC employees were given the option to relocate to Burbank, California or face being laid off. Having gone through my share of Move or Get Out layoffs in the past, I can sympathize with the DC staffers. Having to decide between your job and your current home is not an easy decision, especially in one of the worst economies in American History.

Diane Nelson
I wonder how many of the DC staffers this is blindsiding? Sometimes the writing is on the wall. In this situation, I think people knew a reduction in force was in the wings, as many outgoing positions were being filled with contractors (always a bad sign.) Also, Time Warner has been cutting staff all across all division of the company.

From 2007 to present, Time Warner has laid off a virtual army of employees from Time Inc., Cosmopolitan and Entertainment Weekly. I've often wondered how DC was able to avoid the layoffs. What I suspect is that the *streamlining* that may now be occuring was always in the cards, but there were timing issues that needed to be dealt with. Obviously, getting Diane Nelson installed at DC was step one.
Diane Nelson
That move always felt to me like Time Warner not really grokking someone like Paul Levitz (or viewing him as a little too old school to really understand how run a modern business. And to be honest - based on some of his statements about Digital Comics, Time Warner may have been right.

My question is: Who's going out to Burbank and why? Of the big names mentioned, Nelson, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, only Nelson really makes sense to me. Isn't Johns the driving force behind the publishing side now? (His comics are definitely the ones bringing in the most cash.) And why is it necessary for Jim Lee to move the digital side to Burbank? (The digital side in New York is apparently being relocated but without any of the original staff.)

DC Digital is being moved to Burbank, working under Jim Lee, creating new exclusive digital comic books. While the offer to move coasts for the New York digital staff has been offered, most are unlikely to take it, and both New York-based Marvel and Comixology have made approaches already. ~BleedingCool

So what's going to be left in New York exactly? And how much power and autonomy will it have? It sort of feels to me like the publishing side is set to become even MORE of a Time Warner afterthought than it ever was before. Outside of Dan Didio, who else is going to be manning the ship in New York? And how stable is it going to be? The ship may not be sinking just yet, but it sure feels like Nelson, Johns and Lee are deserting!
Nelson, Johns and Lee leaving DC Publishing
In my experience, splitting companies into different divisions can be a good thing as separate divisions can sometimes act more nimbly. My concern here is in this case, one division is argurably tied to a dying industry and had its connections to revenue streams with greater potential distanced (if not altogether removed.)

My prediction - I suspect will see larger than normal number of DC titles cancelled over the course of 2011 as budgets get realigned in a way that the publishing side has never had to deal with before.

Anyway - while the future of DC Publishing may be murky, let's reflect on a time with the future was filled with fin shaped star ships and bowl shaped helmets with today's two free comics. Two issues of Charlton's Space Adventures


[ Space Adventures 2 ]


[ Space Adventures 3 ]

- Enjoy!

5 comments:

Trey said...

I can say that for my experience such splitting has good and bad points. True, you can get the right people concentrating on the right things, and budget accountability may be better. However, its easier to get "siloing" and boneheaded communication blunders, plus you increase cost by duplicating support staff that could have been shared.

I'm sure Time-Warner has thoroughly weighed the costs/benefits but communication issues are not always something easy to quantify, particularly at the outset.

Caine said...

I see this as a step (the first?) in the end of "lines". Both Wildstorm and Zuda are now officially "gone for good". Profitable entities (characters/situations) from both have been rumored to continue to be published under the DC banner (we'll see if that actually happens). They've all ready announced that Swamp-Thing will be coming over to the DC banner from Vertigo (Harley Quin & the Batman Beyond character/situations have made the jump into the DC banner as well) so how much longer before Vertigo isn't a line any more either?

I'm betting that what we think of as "Lines" now will be 100% aligned with a particular character in the future (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and the JLA for all else).

Reno said...

What are your thoughts on Bob Harras being named EiC?

Sorry to go off on a tangent here, but I thought that was the job co-held by Lee, Johns and Didio. Are they now working under Harras, or is Harras under them? Or are they autonomous from one another?

JimShelley said...

What are your thoughts on Bob Harras being named EiC?

On the surface, it seems odd, but maybe not so much considering he and Jim Lee had a good relationship.

What I'm curious about is what has he been doing since he was let go from Marvel? And how did DC decide HE should be the new EIC (what swayed them to go with him over some new fresh blood?)

Reno said...

Jim...

Harras was in charge of DCs collections (TPBs, hardcovers, and the like) for the past five years (I think).

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