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  1. #1
    Hey Baby--Wha's Happ'nin? HandofPrometheus's Avatar
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    Default Business Insider: DC Insiders and hope for the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger

    • The comics publisher DC saw much of its staff cut and comics line reduced in recent years.
    • Now it faces another change in corporate parents with the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger.
    • Insiders are hopeful for stability after creators and editors were treated like "complete trash," one creator said.



    DC, the comics publisher and entertainment company known for Batman and Wonder Woman, is about to have new corporate parents — again.

    AT&T is set to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery in a $43 billion deal that is expected to close this month. The merger will give Discovery CEO David Zaslav oversight of the new company, Warner Bros. Discovery, and WarnerMedia assets like the film studio Warner Bros., the streaming service HBO Max , and DC.

    DC went through a seismic shakeup under AT&T, which acquired Time Warner in 2018 to form WarnerMedia.

    It suffered major cuts including the loss of its editor-in-chief of 10 years, and its comics output was reduced. Amid the changes, people close to the company were wary of its direction, and worried the comics division was being undermined.

    "The Discovery merger is not scaring anyone on the comics side like the AT&T deal did," one comics-industry source close to DC told Insider. "I think that one showed people how disposable they were, so the Discovery merger is just another day of being a cog in a machine."

    Insider spoke about the future of DC with four comics-industry sources, all of whom have been close to DC in some capacity. They requested anonymity to protect career prospects and business relationships.

    DC declined to comment for this story.

    The people Insider spoke with were hopeful that the Discovery regime change would lead to prolonged stability for DC after a tumultuous period.

    2020 was a particularly grueling year for DC

    Many of DC's setbacks occurred in 2020.

    Copublisher Dan DiDio exited DC in early 2020. Later that year, amid major WarnerMedia layoffs, 20% of DC's staff was cut, including editor-in-chief Bob Harris. (Marie Javins, who previously led the company's digital strategy, was named the new editor-in-chief shortly after.)

    In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter soon after the layoffs, DC's creative chief and publisher Jim Lee said that the comics line would be reduced, after "looking at the bottom 20%, 25% of the line that wasn't breaking even or was losing money."

    Milton Griepp — the founder and CEO of ICv2, an online publication that covers the comics business — observed that since the print reduction, DC has "doubled down on key characters," notably Batman.

    "It's damaging to long-term IP development," Griepp told Insider. "There are plenty of characters nobody thought would be popular that have spawned big franchises [in other mediums]."

    Griepp said that all of these changes and disruptions have hurt DC's relationships with fans and talent, too.

    DC's publishing arm wasn't the only business affected, either.

    DC also launched a streaming service called DC Universe in 2018, but announced in 2020 that its original TV shows would move to HBO Max and the service would become a digital-comics platform.

    Much of this could have been accelerated by the pandemic. But even if AT&T had more of an indirect influence on these decisions, comics industry insiders were still dismayed by the direction of DC in the years after the telecom giant acquired Time Warner.

    One comic creator told Insider that he left DC in that time period because he felt creators and editors were being treated like "complete trash."

    "Hopefully it gets better from here for DC," the person said.

    As growth in superhero comics slows, they're driving IP in other mediums

    Over the last nearly four years, the concern throughout the comics industry was that, under AT&T, WarnerMedia was gutting DC's comics division and merely using it as a content generator for other brands, especially as it looked to strengthen the company's streaming business. It didn't help that DC has consistently lagged behind its biggest competitor, Marvel, in comics sales.

    But a second comics-industry source close to DC acknowledged that the path to stay relevant for DC lies beyond comic books.

    "There's a dedicated but not growing base of customers for [single-issue superhero] comics," the person said. "It's important to have a cultural presence, so the best place for DC is to be in a position to promote new ideas into the popular culture to keep the characters vibrant."

    Griepp said that the comics business "is now a graphic-novel business," because that's where the most growth has been in recent years, as opposed to the single-issue periodicals. But the growth hasn't been in the superhero genre, which is DC's bread and butter.

    One theory, Griepp said, is that people are getting their superhero fix elsewhere, like in movies and TV. Another theory is that "content is king, and maybe the product isn't as good."

    "Editorial functions are tied to corporate goals of IP management," Griepp said.

    After the Discovery merger, DC will continue to play an essential role in Warner Bros.' film slate and HBO Max's content library.

    "The Batman," currently in theaters, has grossed $678 million at the worldwide box office so far. "Black Adam" and "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" are due out in theaters later this year. A "Batgirl" movie and "The Batman" TV spinoff, among other DC projects, are in the works for Max.

    Industry insiders are hoping for stability

    Even though the trials and tribulations of the AT&T era still loom large for many in the industry, the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger offers DC a chance to start a new chapter.

    When WarnerMedia announced that all of Warner Bros.' 2021 movies would be available in theaters and on Max on the same day, it drew heavy criticism from Hollywood. As Insider's Claire Atkinson has reported, Zaslav, the Discovery CEO, is intent on repairing the studio's relationship with movie theaters.

    People in the comics industry are optimistic that DC will be afforded a similar chance to get back to basics.

    "Anything that stabilizes the industry and promotes good comics and product would be a welcome advancement," said a third comics-industry source close to DC."

  2. #2
    Extraordinary Member DragonPiece's Avatar
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    Don't think anything of note is said in this article.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member Primal Slayer's Avatar
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    Basically "we were treated like trash by AT&T so we arent afraid of being treated like trash by Discovery." "we hope things only go up from here"

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonPiece View Post
    Don't think anything of note is said in this article.
    Aside from this..

    Milton Griepp — the founder and CEO of ICv2, an online publication that covers the comics business — observed that since the print reduction, DC has "doubled down on key characters," notably Batman.
    How many folks have screamed this and got shot down by Batman fans? That you had to flood the market with Batman and still trail Marvel and others.

    "It's damaging to long-term IP development," Griepp told Insider. "There are plenty of characters nobody thought would be popular that have spawned big franchises [in other mediums]."
    Another thing many have yelled and got shot down by certain fandoms.

  5. #5
    Spectacular Member Thephantasm's Avatar
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    For me, the current lineup isn't doing anything new or groundbreaking with the characters I like. A lot of ppl love Taylor's nightwing but I feel he's just retreading. Batman too, I think needs to be taken into a good yet bold creative direction.

    Robin is doing something new and I plan on buying the tpb. Action comics has a lot of passion going into it but idk, something isn't quite right for me to want to buy it. It's admirable, though.

    Also, I'm not getting my fix of my fav non bat characters
    Last edited by Conn Seanery; 04-14-2022 at 01:23 PM.

  6. #6
    Mighty Member krazijoe's Avatar
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    I am just happy Discovery + will be folded into HBOMax.

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