Archive for DC Comics

The Bad Times Ahead

Well, if you haven’t been paying attention to comics news this week, you might have missed this scary piece of info — AT&T, the new owner of Warner Entertainment and DC Comics, laid off about a third of their staff, including a ton of editors and their entire merchandising department.

This got immediate comparisons to the infamous DC Implosion of the late 1970s, with Mike Sterling talking specifically about some of the similarities, as well as his thoughts on what it may all mean.

But I want to direct y’all’s attention to a Twitter thread by none other than Gerry Conway, one of comics’ Grand Masters, outlining what he sees as the causes (AT&T has no clue what to do with any of its content-producing subsidiaries and basically wants to treat them the way Bain Capital treated Toys R Us) and the likely future results (very, very little good):

What happened at @DCComics yesterday was probably inevitable once @WarnerMedia became a subsidiary of a tech company uninterested in creating new creative content, and planning only to strip mine existing IP for streaming.

It should have been clear when the incoming AT&T management told the management of the highly successful and profitable @HBO that they needed to upend their corporate culture in order to feed the AT&T cable pipeline with continuous streaming content a la Netflix.

It should have been clear when AT&T replaced the successful management team at @HBO that AT&T didn’t see value in @HBO’s content — only value in @HBO’s *brand*.

The content currently produced at @DCComics or @dcuniverse is of no interest to the tech bros of AT&T — only the brand. Publishing comics is a low profit margin business — the value lies in the IP, and only the IP.

Expect AT&T to do the absolute minimum necessary to keep the @DCComics brand alive for its IP value. Some of the decisions AT&T will make are probably long overdue for a business model tha’s been marginal for decades; this will be brutal and bloody.

This time next year, I predict @Marvel will own about 90% of the new monthly comic market — in which case, retail comic shops are done. @DCComics will probably publish reprints and a handful/dozen of new digital-only monthly series intended for graphic novel release.

When the comic book retail market collapses, @Marvel too will have to turn to a digital monthly/print graphic novel format for a reduced number of titles. It’s simple economics. The business has relied too long on a fragile distribution model. COVID-19 and AT&T have broken it.

In the long run, despite the tremendous personal loss of the people affected by this — and my heart breaks for them, it really does; these are good, worthy people who deserve better — this may be for the best, creatively.

Storytelling in superhero comics has been in a creative, market-driven straitjacket for decades. Pandering to the tastes of a diminishing comic shop readership, relying on marketing gimmicks like variants, reboots and bi-annual “events” to temporarily boost sales.

It’s all had a cost, creatively. A long time ago, in my naif youth, I once argued with Marvel’s head of production at the time, Gentleman John Verpoorten, that some production decision he’d made would have a negative effect on the creative value of the book I was working on.

At the time Marvel was publishing 40 titles or more a month. John gestured at the wall of covers behind him in his office. “Hell,” he said. “If you want to talk about creative value, from a creative point of view we can justify maybe six of these.”

It was true then, and it’s true now. Maybe a diminished superhero comic book market would be a more creative one.

Guess we’ll see in 2021. Till then…

F**king 2020.

So there’s our grim portent of the future. I’m a natural pessimist — or as I like to remind everyone, a realist — so this all makes dreadful sense to me. On the one hand, it would be great for the Big Two to get away from annual crossover events. On the other hand, really can’t say I like the idea of killing off comics shops and original superhero comics as a sacrifice to AT&T’s profit margins…

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DC, Release the Style Guide!

Last Thursday was José Luis García-López’s birthday. I didn’t have time to write about him then, but it reminded me of something I’d really love to see happen someday soon.

Of course, longtime comics fans know García-López as a guy who’s provided art for almost every important DC Comics character over the years. But he’s most recognizable as the artist of the DC Comics Style Guide.

For years, it’s been used as a guide on how to draw the most classic versions of DC’s characters, but it’s also very well loved as an example of García-López’s beautiful and stylish artwork — and it’s not available for sale anywhere for the general public!

You can find examples of some of the work in the Style Guide on Facebook and elsewhere on the web, but honestly, that’s no substitute for being able to put artwork this fantastic on your bookshelf, on your coffee table, or even on your wall.

There’s been talk about publishing the full Style Guide as a book that anyone could buy — it seems like an easy sell, doesn’t it? A collection of art from DC’s glory days by one of its greatest artists — it’d be popular with fans, creators, pop culture collectors. Some of DC’s higher-ups have at least sometimes discussed the idea favorably, but nothing has come of it yet.

Let’s check out some more of García-López’s art, ‘kay?

Come on, DC, let’s get to it. Time to get the classic DC Comics Style Guide by José Luis García-López released for the general public. It’d be a great way to honor García-López and to let us fans drool over this brilliant artwork.

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Friday Night Fights: Snowball Fight!

Whether you made it onto Santa’s Naughty List or the Nice List, I suspect we’ve all just about had it with Christmas this year. The stores are packed, our fellow shoppers are unpleasant, every store is playing the worst possible Christmas carols over the loudspeakers, and Fox News is waging its own special War on Christmas by trying to make the holiday synonymous with douchebaggery. Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men? Not if Santa’s black, dammit!

It’s the last Friday before Christmas, and that means it’s time for holiday-themed mayhem and… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today’s truly epic battle comes from the DC Comics holiday card from (mumble mumble) a few years ago by Travis and Jordan Kotzebue.


Pshaw, that’s not violent at all! But I’ll allow it anyway, mostly because I couldn’t find any comics that featured Black Santa kicking Megyn Kelly’s racist butt.

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The Last of Batwoman


Batwoman #24

We know the background of this, do we not? J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman became the latest in a very, very, very long line of comics creators who announced they were going to leave their current comic because of ongoing, insulting, useless, and relentlessly dorky interference from DC Comics brass. While they planned to stay on the book ’til Issue #26, DC decided to go the childish and spiteful route and throw them out the door at Issue #24. Which is where we are now.

So the D.E.O. has decided they want to know who Batman is, and they’re going to use Batwoman to find out his secret identity. First they unleash a bunch of Gotham City’s supervillains on the city. After the Bat-family clears the villains out, Batman goes after Director Bones, and Batwoman steps in to fight the Dark Knight. Meanwhile, Hawkfire is invading one of the D.E.O.’s safehouses so she can rescue Kate’s sister, the former (maybe current) supervillain Alice. And it pretty much ends there, with no real resolution.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nah, I don’t blame Williams and Blackman for the fact that we may never learn how this was going to end. What we get here is good stuff. Lots of action and drama, suspense, two different fast-moving storylines, nice art from Trevor McCarthy, too. It’s a good comic, and I wish it’d been a good comic in the middle of the creators’ final storyarc, instead of an awkward ending. I don’t know if the storyline will be continued. If I were new writer Marc Andreyko, I think I might be tempted to just leave it unfinished, rather than screw with someone else’s story.

Anyway, this is the last week I’ll be buying DC’s mainstream comics. I’ve decided to keep reading Vertigo books — most of them are at least creator-owned — as well as “Batman: Li’l Gotham,” which has the benefit of being funny, cool, and starring characters from before the Reboot. But everything else, including some series I really enjoy, like “Batgirl” and “Batman ’66,” are being left behind. As I’ve said before, I’m tired of seeing creators, characters, and readers disrespected by this company, and I’d rather do what I can to reduce the monetary support that company gets from me.

Of course, I still picked up some other DC books this week, and I’m more than willing to review them while I still can…


Wonder Woman #24

Well, that’s certainly a nicely heavy metal cover, isn’t it?

Apollo has called the other gods together, and since Wonder Woman killed the God of War last issue, that makes her the new God of War now. There’s quite a lot of the kind of backstabbing intrigue we’ve come to expect from gods. The First Born is kinda pointlessly imprisoned right there in front of everyone, and Hera is all weepy over being mortal. There’s really not a whole lot that goes on.

Verdict: Ehh, it’s really not a bad comic at all. I enjoyed most of it just fine. It’s just — there really isn’t a lot that goes on, unless you really groove on gods playing mind games with each other.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Drawing the Line


I think it’s very, very well-established at this point that DC Comics does a lot of extremely stupid things.

I was willing to forgive a lot. Honestly, I think I was much too forgiving. But running J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman off of “Batwoman” — the most astoundingly beautiful comic book on the stands today — and then spitefully cutting their run even shorter? That’s too stupid. That’s too malicious. And I’m not going to forgive it.

When Williams’ and Blackman’s final issue of “Batwoman” comes out, I’m dropping nearly all DC Comics off my pull list. That’s probably about a month or two away, so we’ll have plenty of DC books to review for the next few weeks.

There are some of their comics I’ll keep buying. I completely refuse to drop “Astro City,” which I’ve been reading long before it was published by Wildstorm or Vertigo and which I consider one of the best long-running superhero comics out there. I suspect I’ll keep reading “American Vampire,” but since it’s going to remain on hiatus ’til March 2014, that may not make a lot of difference.

But I’ll give up “Batgirl” and “Batman ’66” and “Batman: Li’l Gotham” and “Wonder Woman” and all the rest of them. It’ll suck, because I’ve been a DC fan since I was a little kid. I love a lot of those characters. I love a lot of these creators. It’ll suck, and I may be miserable about it.

I’ll give myself permission to buy DC books when I see them at the used bookstore, where I know DC won’t get my money. I give myself permission to buy DC’s “Showcase Presents” collections of old comics, as well as all-ages books like “Tiny Titans” or “Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade,” especially if I’m buying them as gifts. I’ll give myself permission to buy an occasional DC book — this isn’t a hard boycott, obviously. But I’m done feeding so much of my money and attention into that sick, bleeding, rabid beast.

I think there’s a time to say things have gone too far, that things have gotten too bad, that comics fans should stop supporting a company that doesn’t respect readers, creators, characters, or stories.

Get rid of Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Bob Harras, and you’ve got a good chance of getting me back. Otherwise, I’ll buy books from Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Boom, Red 5, Archaia, First Second, and just about anyone else.

I’ve got no illusions about this. I’m one guy, and the money I spend on comics is insignificant, even within the far-from-profitable comics industry. I’m one guy with a blog that has fewer than 20 readers a day. I’m one guy, and this will have absolutely no effect on DC.

But I’ll do it anyway. I’ve had enough. The line, at least for me, must be drawn here. This far, no further.

And I’ll remind y’all — and any Time-Warner execs who just happen to blunder onto this blog — that I know how to fix DC Comics, and when the global megacorp finally gets tired of watching their highly profitable and marketable trademarks getting devalued, I’m available to help get the ship righted.

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How to Fix DC Comics


Y’all settle down and get comfortable. I’m gonna be talkin’ for a while.

Let’s start out with something that should be obvious to all of us: DC Comics is broken, and broken badly.

The New 52 has been, by and large, a disaster. The stuff that worked was either already working before the reboot or would’ve worked with or without it. The company makes poor decisions that seem to have no purpose other than gratifying the people running the company, and they seem to be working as hard as possible to alienate their readers. The marketing and public relations efforts are so laughable, they’ve inspired this wonderful site, which tries to track how long it’s been since the last DC PR disaster.

Which isn’t to say that Marvel doesn’t have its problems — an over-reliance on summer crossover events and a bizarre focus on giving Millar and Bendis way, way too many comics to write being chief among them — but they’re just not as screwed-up as DC is.

So what happens if the higher-ups at Warner Entertainment get a clue and put me in charge of their comics division? Let’s run down the list.

First, and most obviously, we’ll be firing the guys in charge of the company: Diane Nelson (if we’ll get hire-and-fire privileges over Warner execs), Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Bob Harras. And I can tell some folks are already saying “No, not Geoff Johns! Not Jim Lee!” Sorry, they’re both getting the axe. Johns is the Chief Creative Officer — and DC has been publishing a lot of deeply uncreative stories since the reboot. He is at least as responsible for the ongoing debacle as DiDio.

As for Lee — listen, I realize he draws real pretty, but he’s also the guy responsible for Superman’s new armored costume. And any costume that makes the long-maligned red-underwear costume look really, really good in comparison has got to be classified as a complete failure in costume design. Even worse is the costume redesign for the Flash. He took one of the most perfect superhero costumes in history and turned it into an over-busy disaster. That’s like deciding to improve the Taj Mahal by adding racing stripes and Ed Hardy logos. And it seems very likely that Lee is behind DC’s move to the ’90s-Image, flash-over-substance, let’s-make-everything-gritty-and-exxxtreme garbage. The guy hired Rob Liefeld, after all.

Ideally, not only would I fire these guys, but I’d try to blackball them as well. They’ve screwed DC up so hard, none of them really deserve to work in comics anymore. However, the comics business being the way it is, trying to keep these guys out, even for the good of the medium and the industry, would probably be an exercise in futility.

Second, dump the New 52. Let the writers finish their current storylines, then dump the Reboot completely. Need a way out of it? Try this: “Hey, Barry Allen, it’s me, Wally West! Flashpoint shot you into Earth-53, where everyone is unhappy and the costumes look like crap! Come on, I came over on the Time Treadmill to bring you back to Earth-1!” Or alternately, just leave Barry over there. I’m not a big fan of Barry Allen, and I wouldn’t care a smudge if we left him in a parallel universe.

With the Reboot out of the way, start rolling things back to the way they were before. Restore the classic looks for Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Superboy, Supergirl, Nightwing, Beast Boy, Captain Marvel, and more. Restore the Robins to their proper places in the Bat-family. Leave Jason Todd — unfortunately, his resurrection has gotten too well-established by now, but he works best as an anti-hero or even a villain. Bring Damian Wayne back as the current Robin. Sorry, Grant Morrison — Damian is too good a character to discard, so he’s still alive on Earth-1.

What else? Huntress is going to be Helena Bertinelli again. I thought her story was a lot more interesting than Helena Wayne’s. Also, Batman isn’t going to have sleazy sex on rooftops with Catwoman, Starfire is not going to be an amnesiac slut, Roy Harper is going to have both arms.

Ya know who’s going to be making their triumphant returns? Pretty much everyone. Wally West, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Renee Montoya (as the Question), Ryan Choi, Atlee, Lian Harper, Misfit, the entire Justice Society, the Secret Six, and Donna Troy will all exist again.

That doesn’t mean we’re completely abandoning characters created for the New 52. If we’ve got any characters we want to write stories about, we can have versions of them exist on Earth-1 as well — Batwing, Starling, Simon Baz, Bunker, Element Woman, Frankenstein, etc., etc. We own ’em — we’re not going to abandon them if they’re worth keeping.

And yes, we’re restoring DC’s classic continuity again. That’s one of the strengths of any long-lasting comic publisher — something Marvel definitely realizes. You dump your continuity, you dump your history — and comic fans really, really love continuity. We all know it’s true, and it’s time to accept that there are things we should be doing just because they make comics fans happy.

But we’re not necessarily going to restore the entire continuity. Frankly, this is a great opportunity to take some of the bad stories from the years just before the New 52 and throw them into the East River. Let’s get rid of “Cry for Justice” — Lian Harper is alive, Roy Harper isn’t an amputee, Green Arrow didn’t somehow get the drop on Prometheus, the Atom didn’t torture people by kicking their brains. Let’s get rid of “Identity Crisis,” too. There were parts of that story I kinda liked, but it’s worth it to memory-hole stuff like “Dr. Light raped Sue Dibny” and “Deathstroke moves faster than the Flash.”

Now here’s a tough question we’ll have to take care of: Is Barbara Gordon still Batgirl? Or is she wheelchair-bound Oracle again? That’s a damn good question, and trying to answer it is actually kinda scary. I think Barbara was a better character as Oracle, but you don’t want to take her out of the chair and then re-paralyze her again. It seems cruel. I think my preferred solution would give her both worlds — on Earth-1, she’s still paralyzed and does most of her good deeds, including leading the Birds of Prey, as Oracle. But in a world as full of technological miracles as the DCU, she should have access to a temporary treatment or super-suit that lets her periodically swing around Gotham as Batgirl.

However, for something as important as the fate of Barbara Gordon, I think I’d probably let some of the smart writers who love Babs, including Gail Simone and John Ostrander, take the lead in figuring out what happens to her.

Okay, that takes care of the New 52. But there are plenty of other items on our rebuilding agenda that we need to talk about.

What are we going to publish? No, I’m not going to talk about every single comic that’ll have the DC bullet on the cover, but let’s discuss some general trends. We should aim at publishing two Superman books, three starring Batman, and two for Green Lantern. There should also be a solo book for Damian Wayne. I’d love to see Power Girl back in her own comic again. And I think we should be publishing a comic called “Batgirls” that would star Barbara, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, and any other Batgirls we want to include — maybe the Huntress, maybe Carrie Kelly, maybe Harper Row.

I want “Dial H” moved under the Vertigo banner. It just doesn’t fit in a mainstream superhero universe, and we shouldn’t handicap it by trying to force it into that mold. I also want John Constantine out of the mainstream DCU and back in Vertigo. Heck, Vertigo needs to be strengthened in general — there’s more to comics than superheroes, and DC should embrace Vertigo’s vision. Can we get Karen Berger back in charge? Let’s try.

We’ll be giving the Wildstorm properties back to Jim Lee. There are actually some characters I think we could have some fun with, but we’ll be parting with Lee on less-than-friendly terms, and I think he’d be unlikely to let us keep using them.

I’d also like for DC to start publishing Milestone again, either as a separate imprint or more strongly blended into the mainstream DCU. DC and the comics world in general owe a debt to Dwayne McDuffie, and part of the way we could pay it back is to make sure his creations are still available to readers.

And one of the first things I’m going to do when I’m put in charge of the company? I’m greenlighting “Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 9th Grade.” Because in complete seriousness, “Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade,” the 2009 all-ages series by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones, was phenomenally fun, and the creators had a great plan to continue the series all the way up to Supergirl’s senior year in high school.

I also want to give Art Baltazar and Franco permission to do anything they want to for our all-ages line. “Tiny Titans,” “Superman Family Adventures,” another series entirely — their work is just too much fun.

We need to be expanding our all-ages comics anyway. Not just comics based on TV shows, though those are important, too, but all kinds of comics for readers young and old. I don’t care if they’re not million-sellers. All-ages comics are how we get young readers and their parents caring about comic books. It’s how we persuade them to become lifelong comics fans. All-ages books are an investment in the future of the industry, and I think we need a lot of them.

And I want us to start cultivating more women and minority creators. It’s embarrassing that DC is so bad in that area. We need talent, and we don’t need to alienate anyone who has the skills to make good comics for us.

Also: Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, creators of “Atomic Robo”? We need them working on a book for us. Pronto.

And finally, let’s talk about the business side of things. And we’re going to start out scaring the crap out of the stockholders, ’cause a couple of our decisions will, in the short term, lose us some money.

I’d like to see us improve things financially for our freelancers. I’m the type of guy who’d kinda like to pay everyone a salary, but I also know that’s really not the way things work in the publishing world. Writers and artists in magazines, book publishing, and comics are, for the most part, freelancers who get paid when they do work for us. Not much of a way we’re going to be able to break that pattern, and ultimately, there’s probably no reason for us to try. But I’m tired of hearing about comic creators who die destitute or have to declare bankruptcy because of health troubles. We screw over too many of our creators while the corporation gets insanely rich on their work. So let’s try to improve things a bit. Better insurance options, better savings options, profit-sharing — anything we can do to keep creators’ heads above water. It’s not just good for our creators either — it’s good publicity for the company. And that is a gain for us in the long-term.

Ya know what else? It’s time to let Alan Moore have “Watchmen” back. He signed an agreement in good faith, and the company has gamed the system to keep from letting him have the rights back. I think it’s time to hand the rights back over. Now I’m sure the lawyers will have their say about which rights he’ll get — sorry, Alan, it’s really unlikely that you’ll be allowed to burn every copy of the movie. And here’s the other thing — after we give him the rights to “Watchmen” back, we say, “Listen, we know we haven’t had the best relationship, but that was with a different administration of the company. We want to let bygones be bygones. Now, would you like to write anything for Vertigo?” And that is also a gain for us in the long-term.

Anything else? I think it’s time to stop leaving marketing and PR in the hands of us hotheads in upper management. Comic readers and creators have strong opinions, and that often leads to us saying things that don’t go over well with the fans. It’s time to do what we can to reduce that, and that means hiring some real marketing and public relations professionals to make sure our messages — and our corporate messaging — are clear and efficient. And I think we need some of them helping guide us through pitfalls we’re not even aware of, so I want a public relations pro in a fairly high position to watch what we’re creating, who our creators are, who our readers are — and how to improve our communications and marketing, and to warn us when we’re about to do something that will needlessly alienate and anger our audiences. I don’t want them there to write corporation-safe stories for us — I want them to help us make sure great stories are getting told the right way.

And I’d like to improve the availability of all our collections, graphic novels, and trade paperbacks. I ran into a situation a couple weeks ago where I really wanted to get one particular trade paperback — a fairly recent one, too — but it was already out-of-print. That should never happen, barring short periods where we’re between print runs — everything we’ve published in book form should be available to readers, either in print or digital — or even in print-on-demand. We shouldn’t force readers to pay $50 for a trade paperback to complete their run on a series. We shouldn’t force them to torrent a series that isn’t available otherwise — because it’d be better for us to sell it to them ourselves! And I really think that, though it’ll cost some to make sure our comics — including the DC Showcase collections — are available, it’ll also be a long-term gain for us.

And finally, when it comes to our publishing philosophy, part of the work we’re doing needs to be comics evangelism. I’m not talking Stan Lee-style evangelism, because there’s only one Stan Lee, and I don’t think he’s gonna start publishing Stan’s Soapbox for us. What it does mean is that we need to work to spread the good news of comics everywhere. That means all-ages comics as an investment in the future of comics; alternative comics to make sure we’re not neglecting adult storytelling; female and minority heroes and creators because we need to expand our audience. And always great stories and great art and great characters. Because that’s still the best way to get more people reading and caring about comics.

And that, my children, is how we’re going to fix DC Comics.

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Everyone Hates the New 52

This is a week or two old, but just too funny to let pass.

It started as a simple poll on the DC Comics Facebook page. “With Zero Month drawing to a close we’re wondering: How do you want to learn more about the history of the characters in DC Comics-The New 52?”

The problem was, as well as the expected choices, they left the poll open. So people could add their own choices.

Some of the most popular answers included:

  • Bring Back the old DCU
  • Crisis on Earth-New52: How the experiment ends and we return to the “real” DCU
  • Bring back some characters, such as Wally West, Cassie Cain and Stephanie Brown.
  • Fire Scott Lobdell
  • Give Booster Gold his own new 52 title and let him fixt the DCnU mess
  • Just end the New52 for God’s Sake!
  • Stop with all the 90′s-esque books
  • Get rid of Dan Didio!
  • Bring back Rucka and Waid; Lose Johns and Glass
  • Make Karen Berger DC’s EiC.
  • Quit flailing, dammit!
  • Go back to the old DCU and we all promise to pretend this mess never happened
  • Put all the DCnU shenanigans on a different numbered Earth
  • Burn a Didio Effigy
  • Hire artists who can properly draw women. Fire anyone ignorant of basic anatomy.
  • Again to make the Superman married to Lois Lane.
  • Wally West NOW!
  • Make batmite kill all new 52 charaters

When the people who like comics enough to join your actual Facebook fan page all hate your comics that much, you should maybe consider that you’ve made some serious errors with your career choices.

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The Stupid, It Burns

Seriously, I try to write more positive posts about comics. I mean, I love comics! There’s so much great stuff in comic books, both old and new, and I wish more people read them and took them seriously. I always enjoy this blog more when I can talk about the fun and awesome side of comics.

But holy guacamole, sometimes the Big Two just make it too danged hard to think about comics in a positive way.

Obviously, there’s the bit about Marvel killing off Charles Xavier in the newest issue of their AvX crossover nonsense. I honestly have trouble getting too excited about this one — not because, as the creators said, that Professor Xavier is boring and irrelevant — Cyclops and Emma Frost seem a lot more boring and irrelevant, and they’re the ones who the creators clearly love the stuffings out of — but because it’s been done before. Xavier has been killed off so many times, for all kinds of dumb reasons, and he always gets brought back. Because Charles Xavier is a good character, and the fans like him a lot, and they keep putting him in movies. So of course they’re going to resurrect him in a few months. I’m really more irritated that Marvel thinks everyone should care about yet another pointless character death.

Now something that does make me wanna kick the slats out of certain Marvel creators and editors is this “Avengers Arena” thing where the creators assemble a bunch of good teenaged characters, many of them with big fan followings, many of them coming off of well-received series, and promise to kill most of them off.

In other words, yet another shallow, mostly brainless exercise in cheap bloodletting, once again of teenagers, because apparently, comicsdouche manchildren think it makes ’em look “mature” instead of like the standard comicsdouche manchild.

Everyone knows it’ll probably end with X-23 as the winner. Yeah, even though they’ll “kill” her in the first issue to make everyone think they’re shaking things up.

Interestingly, there’s not a lot of dirt-level stupidity going on right now at DC Comics. Doesn’t mean DC isn’t still winning the Stupid Sweepstakes. After all, the Diane Nelson/Dan DiDio/Geoff Johns/Jim Lee/Bob Harras band of idiots already has amnesiac sex-addict Starfire on their tally, as well as the “Superman will never date Lois Lane” idiocy, which really trumps anything Marvel can do for stupidity.

However, I do want to point you to this excellent post by Siskoid on DC’s astoundingly bad communications and public relations problems. Try to imagine a major media company that has less skill at talking to the public or the media — I doubt you can do it, can you?

And as long as we’re dropping links in here, read this powerful essay by Brandon M. Easton on racism in the comics industry. It’s depressing how common this crap still is, isn’t it?

And that’ll do it for me, at least ’til Friday Night Fights this evening. Let’s everyone cross our fingers and toes and hope I can come up with something positive and uplifting to say next week…

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Shakeup at DC!


It was just a bit over a week ago that the big news broke about Disney buying Marvel Comics, and now there’s another big shakeup.

Time Warner, which has owned DC Comics for decades, has announced that they’re going to restructure DC, and Paul Levitz, DC’s publisher and president, is stepping down, supposedly so he can focus on writing comic books again.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (WBEI) has created DC Entertainment Inc., a new company founded to fully realize the power and value of the DC Comics brand and characters across all media and platforms, to be run by Diane Nelson, it was announced today by Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, and Alan Horn, President & COO, Warner Bros.

DC Entertainment, a separate division of WBEI, will be charged with strategically integrating the DC Comics business, brand and characters deeply into Warner Bros. Entertainment and all its content and distribution businesses.  DC Entertainment, which will work with each of the Warner Bros. divisions, will also tap into the tremendous expertise the Studio has in building and sustaining franchises and prioritize DC properties as key titles and growth drivers across all of the Studio, including feature films, television, interactive entertainment, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products.  The DC Comics publishing business will remain the cornerstone of DC Entertainment, releasing approximately 90 comic books through its various imprints and 30 graphic novels a month and continuing to build on its creative leadership in the comic book industry.

In her new role, Nelson will report to Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, in order to best capitalize on DC Entertainment’s theatrical development and production activities and their importance to drive its overall business with each of the divisions of Warner Bros.

Nelson will bring her expertise and more than 20 years’ experience in creative brand management, strategic marketing and content development and production to ensuring DC Entertainment’s dual mission of marshalling Warner Bros.’ resources to maximize the potential of the DC brand while remaining respectful of and collaborative with creators, talent, fans and source material.  Additionally, Nelson will continue to oversee the franchise management of the Harry Potter property, which she has done since 2000, and also continue to represent the Studio’s interests with the author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling.  Nelson will segue from her post as President, Warner Premiere but maintain oversight responsibilities of that division.  (An executive succession plan for Warner Premiere will be announced shortly.)

Paul Levitz, who has served as President & Publisher of DC Comics since 2002, will segue from that role to return to his roots as a writer for DC and become a contributing editor and overall consultant to DCE.  This transition will take place as expeditiously as possible without disrupting DC’s business operations.

In his new role, Levitz will be called upon for his deep knowledge and more than three-decade history with DC Comics, both as a comic creator and an executive.  Besides serving as a writer on a number of DC Comics titles, he will be a contributing editor and consultant to DC Entertainment on projects in various media. 

Okay, that’s a LOT of corporate marketing-speak (and there was a lot more that I cut out, too), and corporate marketing-speak is designed to say as little as possible while looking like you’re saying a lot. Basically, all this says is: Levitz is out, Diane Nelson is in, and Warner’s is kinda tired of getting their butts whupped by Marvel’s movies. There’s a lot they’re NOT saying. Sure, we have no idea what really went down, but as they say in the blogosphere: Would it be irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to!

First, there’s not much question that this all went down because of the Disney-Marvel deal. The Warner bigwigs opened up their business section one morning, read about Disney’s big purchase, and said, “Hey, don’t we own a comic book company, too?”

At that point, research was done into one of Warner’s smallest properties, and someone came up not happy with what they saw. It would be nice if they said, “Holy cats! They cancelled Blue Beetle?! Teen Titans has turned into a murder parade?! They’re relaunching old characters and then abandoning them again?! These comic books are crap!” But ya know, like Disney, Warner’s almost certainly doesn’t care about comics. Comics are small fry. Movies and video games are where the big money is, and for the past few years, DC’s comic book movies have been, except for “The Dark Knight,” an unrelenting parade of suck. And even then, the pace of production has been ploddingly slow. Marvel had a huge hit last year with “Iron Man,” and they’re already filming the sequel. DC had an even larger hit with “The Dark Knight,” but they haven’t even started pre-production work on a sequel. To be honest, this was probably more about lighting a fire under their film division than it was about comic books.

…except for Paul Levitz. His resignation — and I have little doubt that this was a “resign-or-else” resignation — would not have happened if this was all about movies, ’cause Levitz isn’t in charge of making any movies. It looks to me like Levitz was pushed out because one of the higher-ups at Warner’s didn’t like something about how the comics side of the business was being run. It could’ve just been “Wait, why are Marvels comics more popular than ours? We’ve got Batman, dangit!” But that’s not certain — maybe someone at the top actually reads comics and is tired of seeing DC publish bad comics.

Now what does this all mean for us funny-book fans? With Marvel, I’m figuring Disney won’t care to interfere with the comic book side of things, but I’m not sure that’s the case with DC. Getting rid of the publisher means someone wants some changes made.

If we’re lucky, maybe Dan DiDio will get shown the door, too, and maybe DC’s books will see some improvement.

If we’re not lucky… Well, Diane Nelson doesn’t seem to have any prior experience in the comics biz — it’s all movies, brand management, and marketing. And I think we’ve all seen far too many marketing-driven comics to expect good things on that front. It doesn’t take too great a stretch of the imagination to see that DiDio might actually be very, very happy about this new arrangement — he may be afforded more power than he ever was before…

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Getting your Foot in the Door

Interesting news: DC Comics has worked up, a new online imprint that will let aspiring comics creators submit their own work for publication.

Most people who produce online comics do so as labors of love. Some post their work online free, hoping to catch a publisher’s eye or gain a following, but Zuda will offer a rare chance to become a paid professional.Each winner will be awarded a one-year contract to produce their online series, DC Comics executives said. The company, a division of the Warner Brothers Entertainment, part of Time Warner, views the initiative as a chance to increase its library of intellectual properties, which can be lucrative as films, television shows and toys. DC Comics will also have the right to print the comics in collected editions.

“We’re not looking for a specific type of material — we’re actively looking for everything,” said Ron Perazza, the director of creative services for DC and one of Zuda’s chief architects. “We’re going into this with no ego. We can’t possibly know what an entire community will want to read,” he said.

I remember back when all the publishers would let you send them submissions. DC announced they were going to stop accepting submissions a few years ago — I guess they decided they needed a little new blood in the industry.

Any cartoonists out there interested in sending something in? Click here to go to their website.

(Link from Kevin Church)

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