DC layoffs are all over the comic book-verse with news of staff being let go and walk-offs… These are scary times and it’s looking grim everywhere including the comic book industry, more specifically DC Comics. With all the layoffs going on at DC, especially with star editors like Bob Harras and one-third of DC’s staff, it’s easy to let your mind wander with thoughts of DC closing its publishing doors. But Jim Lee confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter what we were all hoping, which was that DC isn’t turning its back on its publishing unit.
Here’s what we in the business know about the matter and it’s that there’s a rumor circulating that AT&T who acquired Time Warner in 2018, wants out of the comic book business. Jim Lee, Chief Creative Officer of DC’s crown jewel publishing unit confirms that they’re still in the business of publishing comics. With 20% of DC staff gone, it doesn’t leave much in terms of producing the same number of comics pre-pandemic, so what next?
More DC Layoffs…
What About the DC Universe?
Unfortunately, Lee isn’t denying that DC Universe (The platform, not content) is finished. In fact, he believes the best platform for DC Universe content is HBO Max, which is where all its content will be calling home. But how does that affect DCU’s community? Those details, as per Lee, are being worked on.
And DC Direct?
As per Lee, Jim Fletcher is not going anywhere, BUT it’s said that DC Direct will focus more on a higher priced collectible, which will more than likely involve licensing. This to me sounds like less in quantity but higher quality, which will more than likely mean less staff too.
Marie Javins and Michele Wells…
So of those who remain with DC, two staff members were promoted to interim editors-in-chief. The two staff members are Marie Javins (colorist, writer & in charge of Digital Strategy) and Michele Wells (VP & Executive Editor in charge of DC Books for Young Readers). Both Javins and Wells will be replacing Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras, who was among those laid off from DC.
We get that consolidating is part of the main picture at DC, at least for now, but does diversity have something to do with appointing Javins and Wells? I mean, throughout DC’s publishing history, there wasn’t a single woman appointed to Editor-In-Chief and now DC has two. First and foremost, this is the perfect time to clean up the comic book industry as it pertains to the hiring and placement of women in top spots and you can’t get any higher in publishing than Editor-In-Chief. This is a game changer and Jim Lee will be at the forefront of it, proud of you Jim!
So What Will DC’s Main Focus Be On?
John Ridley’s Batman Mini-Series
It seems Jim Lee and DC’s remaining staff are focusing on something much bigger with John Ridley, who won an Oscar for 12 Years A Slave. John Ridley is writing a Batman mini-series that’s said to bring a huge impact on DC’s line. Another important project involving John Ridley that was first announced in 2018 is The Other History of the DC Universe, which involves iconic moments from DC’s history through the eyes of DC Superheroes.
Milestone Comics Is Coming Back…
Finally, there’s Milestone Media/Comics, which has a very interesting origin story of its own… Milestone Media was founded in the early 90s by Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek Dingle. African-American artists and writers who believed African-Americans were underrepresented in the comic book industry.
Do any of you recall “Dakotaverse”? Well, as some of you may know, Dakotaverse is the fictional city where all Milestone titles were set! Just a year after Dakotaverse came to be, a crossover including Dakotaverse heroes and DC Metropolis heroes came together.
From 1993 thru basically 2011, Milestone Media had an ongoing stable of publications and media:
- Monthly Series (8 in total)
- Miniseries (4 in total)
- Television (Static Shock Animated Series on WB Kids and Icon & Rocket appeared on Young Justice & Justice League respectively)
- Video Games (DC Universe Online, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and Young Justice: Legacy)
But then after 2011, there was literally nothing… In 2015, Reginald Hudlin (film screenwriter, director, and producer) discussed a relaunch of Milestone, then nothing again until 2017. In 2017, a panel consisting of Reginald Hudlin, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, Jim Lee, and others formed at New York Comic Con to announce the return of The Dakota Universe. Then legal matters put a stop to the development of Milestone Media, at least for the time being…
But this brings up what Milestone’s main function will be upon its return? It’s said that Milestone will be focusing on lesser known characters. What does that mean? Will Milestone be going back to writing content for its current lineup of characters? Will Milestone be focusing on all sorts of characters who are less known overall? Or will Milestone be focusing on all the above?
Digital or Print Conversation…
With all that DC is working and focusing on, brings up the Digital/Print conversation that’s been going on for well over a decade. As we all know, print is expensive, not only for creating issues and volumes but distribution as well. With the DC layoffs, it’s a conversation that needs to be had and Jim is all for it! As per Lee, digital issues present global opportunities with digital platforms like their own Read DC platform and Comixology, which already carries DC story arcs, issues, series, and graphic novels. But how will going digital affect local comic book shops that expect to carry DC titles for their customers? Well, as per Lee, DC will continue printing, but only for their more successful titles.
With what’s been going on at DC, it’s difficult to say they don’t have it under control, because it seems they do. But the changes they’re making (for obvious reasons), only time will tell as to whether it’ll all pan out. I for one am rooting for DC and Jim Lee!