A day of change: bye bye, WildStorm; so long, Zuda

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Well now, didn’t exactly see this one coming: While everyone has been wondering if WildStorm would become the new DC since they were already on the West Coast…turns out that as of December, WildStorm will be no more. Wildstorm titles, licensing and kids comics, all recently coming out of La Jolla, will be turned over to the DC banner.

The Zuda brand is also done for.

In a surprise twist, WildStorm personnel will be reporting to West Coast heads Jim Lee and John Rood under the DC Comics Digital comics team.

Given the horrible sales of the WildStorm brand and complete lack of retailer confidence in the line, this was inevitable, and yet still somehow surprising.

The changes happening behind the scenes this week are part of a greater campaign to reshape DC Comics and build a company for the future. Our responsibility as Co-Publishers is to find a balance between short term opportunities and long term vision; between our strengths in traditional print formats and the infinite potential beyond print; between our characters’ rich legacies in the past and the bright promise for the future they hold.

As we’ve said before, there’s much to celebrate about DC. The foundation for long-term success is already here.

The DC Universe features the modern adventures of the World’s Greatest Superheroes, as envisioned by an exciting mix of new and fan favorite comic book creators. Vertigo is committed to publishing cutting edge, creator owned comic books and graphic novels by a wide array of creative voices.

One of our first decisions of the Co-Publishers was to up the publication of MAD Magazine from a quarterly periodical to a bimonthly one. In the wake of that decision, the magazine has seen increased sell-through growth. And we’re thrilled that MAD’s brand of madcap humor now stretches across media, with a highly-rated television show on Cartoon Network. The Usual Gangs of Idiots are an important part of this company and pop culture.

As we move forward, we also have to acknowledge the need for change.

After taking the comics scene by storm nearly 20 years ago, the WildStorm Universe titles will end this December. In this soft marketplace, these characters need a break to regroup and redefine what made them once unique and cutting edge. While these will be the final issues published under the WildStorm imprint, it will not be the last we will see of many of these heroes. We, along with Geoff Johns, have a lot of exciting plans for these amazing characters, so stay tuned. Going forward, WildStorm’s licensed titles and kids comics will now be published under the DC banner.

After this week, we will cease to publish new material under the ZUDA banner. The material that was to have been published as part of ZUDA this year will now be published under the DC banner. The official closing of ZUDA ends one chapter of DC’s digital history, but we will continue to find new ways to innovate with digital, incorporating much of the experience and knowledge that ZUDA brought into DC.

We’ll be further expanding our digital initiative and making a lot more news in this space. As part of that transformation, the WildStorm editorial team will undergo a restructuring and be folded into the overall DC Comics Digital team, based in Burbank, which will be led by Jim Lee and John Rood. With nearly two million free downloads and hundreds of thousands of paid downloads, our digital foray is already reaching a new audience worldwide. We could not be more excited by the successful launch of our Digital Publishing products in June, which exceeded all sales forecasts and will be building on our early success with new applications for DC material on all major formats and hardware, partnering with Warner Bros Digital Distribution. It has extremely been rewarding to hear anecdotal stories of lapsed readers returning to the art form and of brick and mortar stores gaining new customers who sampled digital comics.

We remain, as ever, dedicated to working with the greatest creators this industry has to offer, while inspiring generations of creators and readers to embrace this medium that we all love.

Jim Lee and Dan DiDio
 DC Comics Co-Publishers

Comments

  1. Rich Johnson says:

    What happens to the staff in La Jolla?

  2. Snikt Snakt says:

    Wildstorm had some great books “back in the day”, but I personally haven’t enjoyed their output in YEARS.

    Everyone knows DC only bought WS for one reason: Jim Lee!

  3. Not nearly as big as a surprise as when Wildstorm went to DC in the first place, but still a shame. Gen 13 was the book that got me back into comics in high school, and I followed a ton of their titles for years. But it’s been a slow death ever since the failed 2006 relaunch, where the highest profile books (Morrison/Lee’s Wildcats, Morrison/Ha’s Authority) disappeared, leaving a bunch of lower profile books (Simone/Caldwell’s Gen 13, Azzarello/D’Anda’s Deathblow) that unneccessarily tweaked the original concepts to fix what wasn’t broke in the first place.

    The whole approach to the reboot was a mistake, I think…rather than just put a line in the stand and say “new stories start here,” they did a half-assed Crisis on Infinite Earths” that violently changed certain parts of the continuity but kept others intact, leaving a mess that long-term fans didn’t like and new readers couldn’t hope to understand. The apocalyptic reboot “World’s End” came way too quickly after that, and succeeded only in muddying the waters, really. I stuck with it as long as I could, even buying Wildcats for about 8 months longer than I was enjoying it in the hopes that it’d turn around, before even I gave up on everything the line put out.

    Except, of course, for Astro City. Where does this move leave that book, I wonder?

    At any rate, I hope some time away does some good, and allows for these characters to be succesfully reinvigorated at a later date.

  4. Wow.

    The Wildstorm heroes can easily fit into one of the 52 slots.

    The licensing… is probably best handled out of Hollywood, where approvals will be faster. Much of that is also best distributed digitally as well, either via DCKids or some other resource.

    Will DC’s licensing department move west?

  5. Once again, my hopes for a revival of LEAVE IT TO CHANCE continues to diminish.

  6. Jimmie, I would also like to see a CHANCE revival, but I suspect it is a bit less, ahem, personal to me.
    Mildly surprised by the Wildstorm news, but quite surprised by the Zuda announcement. I thought they’d stopped using that imprint long ago.

  7. Some really great people at wildstorm…so here is hoping they find them some new stuff to work on and never let them go.

  8. Wasn’t Wildstorm’s pay scale slightly higher than DCU’s? Wonder if that had something to do with the final decision.

  9. LEAVE IT TO CHANCE shouldn’t be affected by this one way or the other, the last issue and the three hardcover reprints of most of the series were all published through Image.

  10. Al™ says:

    Comic books that do not sell should be discontinued. Doesn’t matter if “nice” people make the comics.

  11. (Surely Leave it to Chance belongs to that other “James Robinson” fella and Paul Smith?)

    This news is just the other shoe finally dropping; it’s only been a matter of time. And it suggests that DCE does have its collective head(s) on straight. Wildstorm as an imprint was simply redundant with the DC and Vertigo imprints, and as a brand it’s defunct. DCE Having a separate imprint for digital comics would be like NBC having a separate network and brand for widescreen-format TV shows. So if they hadn’t axed these brands soon, I’d’ve wondered about their business competence.

  12. Jackie Estrada says:

    Hey, I think James Robinson and Jimmie Robinson could probably come up with a great all-ages book together!

  13. So does this mean the gloves are off as far as developing the America’s Best Comics properties for other platforms?

  14. Army of Dorkness says:

    “Wasn’t Wildstorm’s pay scale slightly higher than DCU’s? Wonder if that had something to do with the final decision.”

    I’d guess that this probably has more to do with the economics of living in California. New York is probably comparable, but you did say “slightly”.

  15. Not surprised, but sad. Wildstorm did some great things indeed and it’s terrible to see them go. Jeffrey Juris, talking about networks, said something that I think is applicable here: “efforts to reprogram them [networks] midstream are often extremely difficult. It is generally much easier to simply create a new project or network then try to retool an existing one”.

  16. Looking at the indicia for the latest Tom Strong miniseries, DC owns that line. Didn’t Alan Moore give up any creative control when he allowed others to write those comics?

    I sincerely hope that DC does not use this as an excuse to cancel series and product lines. Johnny DC isn’t very visible or robust right now… I hope that the licensed comics are actively marketed through the digital comics initiative and other websites.

    Also… given that DC Comics will serve as a big tent for everything not at Vertigo or MAD, will DC rebrand the DCU Superhero titles?

  17. I’ll echo Palmiotti’s comments. Wildstorm has a great group of people working in La Jolla. To answer Rich Johnson’s question, reread the “In a surprise twist..” section.

  18. “Hey, I think James Robinson and Jimmie Robinson could probably come up with a great all-ages book together!”

    They could probably come up with a mature-readers book as well….

  19. Doesn’t Wildstorm still publish creator owned books like Astro City? What happens to those contracts now that Wildstorm is being absorbed I wonder.

  20. I’ve met and talked with James Robinson several times. He’s a busy man, however, I will use The Beat as an open platform to the *other* Robinson that if he ever wants to work on an all-ages project akin to Leave It To Chance that my door is always open. Haha!

    But enough with thread drift. I also wonder what will happen with the Homage titles, which were creator-owned / driven, i.e., Astro City.

  21. Dakota Gadel says:

    No surprise there. Gone are the days of WildC.A.T.S. Team 7, Divine Right, Gen13 and all the others that rocked the industry in the early and late 90′s. I was a rabid fan, but recently (the past few years) it seemed like Wildstorm was just trying to hold it’s head above water. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the cancellation of the new Jim Lee Wildcats series with Grant Morrison a few years ago. That project had promise and, though I don’t know why, it ceased publication after just one issue. What followed was a bunch of junk. Wildcats is not Wildcats without Lee, with apologies to the creative teams. Anyway, hope Wildstorm will rise again through DC. Love the characters, but they need to use them like as they were originally produced. That and with the economy, a hefty price tag is a turn off to us consumers.

  22. Chris Hero says:

    @Torsten

    “Looking at the indicia for the latest Tom Strong miniseries, DC owns that line. Didn’t Alan Moore give up any creative control when he allowed others to write those comics?”

    Not quite. Everything at ABC, except for League (and maybe Promethea), was originally owned by Wildstorm. I believe the deal was there was a slightly higher page rate in exchange for the rights. I don’t know why those titles were work for hire, but I seem to remember Moore saying in an old interview he left the choice up to the artist of each series.

    This is one of the reasons Moore really hates DC and Jim Lee. Lee reportedly flew to Northampton to tell Moore personally DC would never touch the properties and would never have any say in the titles or have any dealings with Moore. This obviously proved false.

  23. Peter Urkowitz says:

    DC does need some way to distinguish books that are not part of its regular DC Universe superhero continuity, as somebody mentioned above. A book like THE MIGHTY, for instance, was not helped by being listed under “DC Universe” in previews, when it was actually a totally separate world of its own. Maybe it wasn’t edgy or mature enough to go under Vertigo, but there should be some other label for books like that.

  24. I used to be friends with Paul Smith (haven’t seen him in years) and I don’t think he’ll return to Chance any time soon. He’s an artist for arts sake, and I think he felt it was time to move on to other things, rather than milk a good thing until it was no longer fun for him. I could be wrong, but that was the impression I had.

  25. Daniel Quesatrots says:

    I guess this makes room for all those new Batman books we’ve been clamoring for.

  26. John Nee says:

    Sad news, indeed.

  27. Kurt Busiek recently posted his surprise re: the Wildstorm news. Wonder how this affects his new Witchlands and Arrowsmith projects?

    Hell, for that matter, how does this affect the creator-owned titles under WS, period?

    This news comes just as Astro City goes monthly again. Lovely. Kurt? Any news?

    Lance Roger Axt
    The AudioComics Company

  28. I’m not sure why this would affect the creator-owned (or licensed) titles at Wildstorm substantially. The contracts will be the same as they were a week ago; you just need to read “DC Entertainment” anywhere it might say “WildStorm” or “DC Comics”. Production will presumably be coordinated by the NY office, which might be a change for the people involved, but shouldn’t materially impact the books themselves. Oh, and they’ll put a different logo on the cover. (Trivia question: after this, which series has had more different logos on the cover: Astro City or Groo?)

  29. Snikt Snakt says:

    They can retire Astro City too IMO, thats been unreadable for years, since the ongoing was cancelled.

  30. The Wildstorm line has had an eventful run to say the least, but I think it’s fair to say that it had fallen into stagnation over the last 18 months or so. Ex Machina was spectacular but its over, and the rebooted Wildstorm mainstays like Gen13 and The Authority, despite the best efforts of some of the best creators out there, failed to gel after that disastrous Captain Atom: Armageddon thing. Beyond that, I’ve been seeing a lot of pretty lame video game adaptations and mini-series that seem well-intentioned but somewhat half-hearted in their execution. This is both a shock and a “no, duh” moment from my perspective. The real story will be what this means for the future of the big 2 in a weak economy and during a time where considerably more money is being made in in licensing than in publishing.

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