Will DC Comics still be a thing? Part 1

by Matt Russell - Posted 9 months ago

   

Welcome, my CryptoComic Compatriots! I know that this has been a long time coming, but we needed to let the dust settle to get a visualization of the landscape. So, what has been happening over at DC Comics?


DC COMICS LAYOFFS

Earlier this month (August 10th, 2020), DC Comics was forced to lay off a third of the editorial staff. So many comics canceled, but most importantly, hundreds of people are without jobs. We need to figure out what decisions led to this and how we can avoid this in the future.

I am thoroughly convinced that the year 2020 is cursed. It feels like the “End of Days” and now I wonder if Superman will be around to save us.


WHAT LED TO DC COMICS LAYOFFS?

There were so many moving pieces that it SO hard to pinpoint specific reasoning. It mostly comes down to a common mantra “Evolve or die.” For so long the comic industry refused to evolve, and now it is being forced to. I just hope that what is left is still recognizable to the core fan base.

Going Digital

People saw the change to digital in the music industry as a bad thing; an evolutionary step backward. People shouted out “Poor Music Industry!” but didn’t realize that technology was coming for their industry as well.


If you look at Disney’s movie sales; they are no longer going to be selling physical copies of most of their (and Fox’s) libraries. Major releases such as Star Wars, Marvel, and core Disney movies will still have physical releases. The reasoning is the major push for streaming.

As our fearless leader Joe has pointed out on quite a few occasions (he’s probably pulling his hair out at the prospect of being quoted in this article); buying a digital copy of a movie is only leasing the rights to watch it. The true test of ownership; can you sell it?

It makes sense to put everything up for streaming; there is a monthly fee, shipping, and manufacturing overhead has gone out the window, let’s not forget the data collection.

Yes, they collect data on you. If you don’t believe me, ask Netflix. They keep track of everything, to include what movies you paused on in order to read the description. I know I’m venturing into Conspiracy Theory territory, but it’s true. There have even been people outed as “gay” due to the suggested content. That, however, is a post for another time.

Bottom line, they want your money and the easiest way to do this is get you on a monthly fee. If you want to watch the new Mulan movie, you have to get a specialized account costing more money a month. Speculations are that this will be the same with any new Marvel movie until it no longer attracts new viewers.

It was the final decision of Jason Kilar (who made a name for himself in the digital realm) starting his career at Hulu and then Dreamworks. He worked for Jeff Bezos. This guy loves him some internet.

Now as the CEO of WarnerMedia, he is charged with streamlining everything under his charge, and that includes DC Comics.

AT&T & Time Warner Merger

Back on October 22 of 2016 AT&T purchased Time Warner for the tune of $108.6 billion. That is a hefty chunk of change. With that large of a price tag, they were pretty invested in the success of WarnerMedia.


This, of course, meant taking a good hard look at all it’s newly acquired properties, including DC Comics.

They were gearing up for another major shakeup event known as 5G (later known as 5th Generation in order to separate from telecoms 5G). AT&T decided to take a more active role and sent out a mandate of trimming the fat.

This was largely ignored as they took a look internally to figure out how to try to compete with other various comic publishers without a 5 year plan, but more on that later.

CoronaVirus and Comics


This hit everyone in every industry across the board. Not a single industry was left unaffected due to the pandemic and shutdown.

Artists and writers were told “pencils down” and had to stop production on new comics. So many great runs were left unfinished. Stopping production is always bad. It takes so long to get back up and running again.

Trouble was that as the shutdown happened, bills didn't stop. Writers and artists banded together and many of them went Indy to keep food on the table.

Major conventions were canceled and this is how talent manages to get their name out. It is the interaction with fans that fuels the lifeblood of the industry.

Trouble with Dimond Distribution

I have covered this in a few blog posts in the past. DC Comics has been pigeon-holed into a distribution deal that has the industry and the comic shops in a chokehold for quite some time. Originally, it was designed to save the industry, yet years of exclusive contracts and inflating costs prevented DC and every other comic company from branching out.


Everyone who saw the raw data predicted that this would come to bite them in the @$$ and it did. Just as production began to resume and comic shops were able to open their doors again, the announcement that DC was breaking away from Dimond put the final nail in most comic shop’s coffins.

Calling it quotes with Dimond was a great thing for DC, but Dimond still had a unique hold on the industry. They were able to essentially keep DC Comics out of the comic shops. This means that a major majority of the sales at comic shops would not happen. A very large majority of local comic shops were forced to close their doors for good.

SJW VS DC Comics and 5G


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the doors of DC Comics, they were under fire from SJW groups due to the lack of diversity in their comics. In order to combat this, they decided to go overboard with diversity and change things up for well-established heroes such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and the Flash.

I can’t think of a single hero that would not be replaced by a new “ethnically diverse” cast member.

It was a meeting between then head of DC Comics Dan Didio and AT&T that saw the reversal of the 5th Generation storyline and the removal of Dan from the offices of DC Comics all together.

With their 5-year plan for publishing suddenly thrown out the window, DC remained directionless and my personal opinion is that it shows in the work that they were able to produce directly before and after the shutdown.

Rise of HBO Max


There has been build up surrounding HBO Max for a few years. People were talking about it and had very high hopes for it. Announcements for upcoming shops such as the Green Lantern series and the JLA Snyder Cut had people hyped.

Well, instead of the Superhero landing, it fell with a thud. Blame was placed on their own (more established) competing streaming apps such as HBO Now and the DC app.

Keep in mind, they were competing with themselves as well as outside forces such as Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. This was a time when people were forced to stay at home. It should have been a great thing, but peoples money was already being spent someplace else.

Not only that, all the shows that were getting people hyped for the service, were nowhere to be found. Either COVID-19 had shut down production on the shows or they were slated for 2021-2023 release date. The content that was there simply could be found in other places and with a price tag of $14.99 a month, you guessed it, thud.

At the time of release HBO Max has 4.1 million subscribers, as compared to Disney+ which has 60 million, and Netflix at an astounding 198 million subscribers.

I wrote this entire article as a single long article. Unfortunately, I had to break it up and this seems like a great stopping point. Unfortunately, this blog post does not have a happy ending here so we had better do something happy to keep you coming back for more. So, here is a baby yoda gif. Enjoy.