The DC Implosion Mark II.

§ August 12th, 2020 § Filed under dc comics § 10 Comments

So I just recently finished reading the above book detailing the history of the “DC Implosion,” in which DC Comics in the 1970s is hit with immense cutbacks by its parent company resulting in lost jobs and a linewide culling of books in the midst of a planned publishing expansion.

Well, it happened again, with layoffs across Warner Bros. also hitting DC…not that DC was in the middle of a big publishing push, and no idea what’s going to happen to any of the comics they are publishing, but I expect it’s not good news. But plenty of people lost their jobs both at DC and the DC Universe streaming service, and of course my condolences and best wishes to those folks so affected.

I saw a lot of doomsaying online about how this was the end of DC Comics, which seems…premature. Okay, it’s probably the beginning of the end of the streaming service, which seemed doomed from the get-go, and its new shows all are migrating to HBO Max anyway. (Here’s hoping they find a way to keep the digital library of comics going.) DC’s inhouse collectibles division DC Direct is done as well. But DC Comics itself…it’s been through tough times before, and I feel like if this was the end, it would have just been shuttered completely instead of cut down and a new person being installed to oversee things.

According to that last link, there are publishing plans in place for DC going forward, though it looks like the Black Label line may be on its way out. Which is a shame, given that it’s been quite successful at least for me, but apparently, according to said article, DC’s new general manager ain’t a fan of the more “grown-up” comics so don’t expect a new Vertigo to arise from the company anytime soon. There’s a lot of other speculation in that article regarding what will happen (larger push to digital? licensing characters to other publishers?), but we’re all going to have to wait and see.

I’m not sure how I feel about any of this yet. I mean, aside from my sympathies for everyone losing their jobs, of course, especially right now in this COVID-19 impacted society we have here in the U.S. As a retailer I have some uncertainty, naturally, given I don’t know what this means for titles currently being released, or for DC’s graphic novel backlist. I’m hopeful that there will be a leaner, stronger DC Comics that emerges from this reorganization, though the human cost to get there is admittedly terrible. I just have to hope it all works out in the end, but I have to prepare for what will surely be some rough times ahead for the industry. Not that I haven’t been riding out those rough times since the ’90s comics bust, right?

10 Responses to “The DC Implosion Mark II.”

  • Snark Shark says:

    WELL, THAT AIN’T GOOD. I hadn’t heard this yet!

  • Dave-El says:

    I once speculated that some exec at Warner Bros looked at Disney acquiring Marvel and all the moolah Disney was raking in from the movies and thought, “Wow! I wish Warner Bros owned a comic book company.” Then someone reminded the exec that Warner Bros already owned a comic book company. And ever since Warner Bros has been actually paying attention to DC, things have gone down hill for DC ever since.

  • Mikester says:

    Dor and I once figured that the New 52 was DC’s “last chance,” that if things didn’t turn around for the company re: monthly sales all the characters would be taken away and given to the licensing departments.

    Now this didn’t happen quite the way we thought it would, but it feels like this is at least a partial implementation of that plan. Installing someone from outside comics to be in charge sure seems like a “you guys have screwed it up enough, here’s an adult to run your company” move.

  • Talk in Chicago about the new52 was the same. As a writer, I’ve always said you need a concordance to actually accomplish anything. DC can’t seem to do that. I’m confused about Doomsday Clock now, is it part of Dark Metal now? Was it always meant to be that way?

    Mike: on another note, you are about a decade younger than me. I was just out of high school when the first Implosion occurred. A sad time, as DC seemed to be doing well with the Dollar Comic experiment. I’m sure they are indirect, but what are *your* memories of f it as you heard from others (or read up on) over the years?

  • Thom H. says:

    I’m getting the distinct impression, from the little I know, that Warner is planning to skew DC’s output to the kid and YA audience.

    Objectively, I think that makes a ton of sense given a) they need to freshen up their aging audience and b) that’s where the money is.

    Subjectively, I’m disappointed because I like the more mature books in the vein of Strange Adventures, and I anticipate them disappearing. But I belong to the aging audience, so that’s not a huge surprise.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    The article writes, “Or will they just license out the DC characters to IDW, Dark Horse and Boom for publishing?”

    From a reader’s perspective, that doesn’t sound so terrible? An IDW or Dark Horse Batman or whatever could be pretty interesting, especially if shorn of convoluted continuity issues with a focus on the “basic character.”

    Too bad about the Black Label stuff, though. Most of my limited DC reading for the past couple years has been Black Label.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    This is not the first time there have been rumors of DC licensing its characters to other publishers. Several years ago, the rumored licensor was Marvel. I suppose it counts as some sort of improvement, at least in the sense of the fans acknowledging reality, that the discussion this time has mostly been about the major characters, such as Superman and Batman. The previous time, it was all strictly fanboy talk, with people looking at DC’s B- and C-list characters, picking out their favorites, and imagining Marvel making a big deal of them. These discussions tended to focus on characters who had never been particularly popular (Aztek, Arion, the Green Glob, etc.), or who were to some extent duplicated by established Marvel properties (What stories could Marvel tell of Aquaman or the Atom that it could not tell with the Sub-Mariner or Ant-Man? What gap had S.H.I.E.L.D. left that Checkmate could fill?). In other words, these were properties that would not have been worth Marvel’s while to license, but that obvious fact was completely ignored. Instead, the discussion rarely went beyond the level of “Oh, boy, won’t it be great to see Richard Dragon fight Shang-Chi?”

  • Jack says:

    Not sure what I think about this. On the one hand, yeah, losing your job during a pandemic just plain sucks, regardless of what the job is, so there’s that.

    On the other hand, let’s be frank, DC and Marvel have been seemingly torching their business monthly in order to try to catch lightning in a bottle again. While Marvel had the fortunate luck to fall backwards into being the biggest IP farm in the entertainment industry, DC didn’t, despite having some of the most recognizable characters in the world. Sooner or later someone was going to look at the company and go “okay, you guys are screwing this up, we need new people.”

    I mean, I don’t mean to be cruel, but when you’re employing Bob Harras twenty four years after Marvel cratered into the ground, the need for a culture change was obvious.

    This assumes that we don’t have either (1) a ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ situation or (2) this is the beginning of the end for DC and they reconfigure either into licensing their characters out or abandoning the direct market model forever, or god knows what.

    I think honestly the fact that DC got as far as the New 52 before someone did this to them was miraculous, and the fact that Rebirth happened without a massive culture change occurring suggests that WB just plain wasn’t watching. It still sucks that so many people lost their jobs, but that’s what happens when you under perform for years (or are seen as under performing) and the parent company finally notices.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    I should point out, to preclude arguments, that I understand that Aquaman and the Atom are not interchangeable with the Sub-Mariner, and Ant-Man. My point was simply that, if you were a writer under contract to Marvel, and you had an idea for a story that took place in the ocean, or that required a hero who could make himself very small, you would not wait for your publisher to license another publisher’s characters; you would make your story fit with the characters available to you. So, the Marvel/DC deal that fans were imagining back then would not have suddenly made possible a wider range of stories.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Bob Harras”

    Bob Harras- the diarrheic of the comics world!