Continuing DC’s rollout of promotions and restructuring, Mark Chiarello, the mastermind behind WEDNESDAY COMICS and many other much-admired projects over the years such as BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE, has been promoted to VP Art Direction & Design. Chiarello had been overseeing most of DC’s art-related output for some time, and the appointment consolidates functions which had been under several positions that were eliminated in the restructuring.
Via the Source, DC Editor-in-chief Bob Harras has announced the new structure of the DCU, with long time editor Eddie Berganza getting promoted from group editor to Executive Editor. Group Editors Matt Idelson and Mike Marts will oversee the Superman and Batman groups, respectively, while Ian Sattler has been promoted to Director–Editorial, Special Projects & Archival Editions. The post doesn’t go into details of what that will cover, but since Harras left running the recently downsized reprint department, it sounds like Sattler will be taking that over. The editorial team is rounded out by Vertigo’s Karen Berger and MAD’s John Ficarra– it isn’t clear if they are reporting to Harras or not, nut in any event they will be working closely.
In all the massive changes taking place at DC of late, the fate of the Vertigo imprint has caused much speculation and fretting. The staff has been slashed, output has been slowed, and what the future focus will be has not been publicly revealed. This comes, ironically enough, at the very time that plans long hatched for Vertigo to become more of a graphic novel imprint are finally being published. Chris Mautner takes a look at several recent GN offerings, which include work by novelists Stephen King, Peter Straub, Denise Mina, and Mat Johnson, as well as more typical comics types like Matt Kindt, Sarah Glidden and Dean Haspiel. There are hits and misses but this is really a pretty lively line-up for any publisher, let alone one that is being completely rebranded.
Nothing really, business as usual.
Seriously, there is a lot of change going on — although DC Comics is staying in New York, a lot of people are either leaving their jobs or being faced with a move to another coast. We’re not going to run all 80 — or however many it is — names, but some departments are newsworthy enough to be reported on.
As part of DC’s ongoing reorganization, three editorial personnel have been laid off from the Vertigo imprint: Pornsak Pichetshote, Jonathan Vankin, and Joan Hilty, The Beat has learned. All three are Vertigo veterans. Pichetshote was responsible for the recent hit THE UNWRITTEN, while Hilty and Vankin had mostly worked in acquiring graphic novels, including fall releases, CUBA and HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS.
A lot of think pieces are beginning to come out about the DC upheaval — it’s beginning to be clear that the initial feelings of relief after the first press release were about as accurate as the “We dodged that one!” feelings right after Katrina passed through. As expected, Tom Spurgeon lays out Twelve Initial Questions I Have About DC’s Publishing Moves Announcements and it’s very thorough. Tom writes from the distinct perspective of someone who isn’t immersed in day-to-day DC Kremlinology and yet comes to many of the same conclusions.
When a company spokesman suggested that the LA Times story stating that 20 percent of DC’s 250 or 50 employees would be laid off, was incorrect, he was perhaps half right. Bloomberg News uncovered a NY State Dept. of Labor WARN filing (Worker Adjustment and Retraining) which says that 80 employees will be laid off or relocate. Layoffs will begin on 12/27/2010 and continue through 8/27/2011, according to filer June Martin, SVP Human Resources. A DC spokesman told Bloomberg:
As we head into Day 3 of the Bi-Coastal Era of DC Comics, even bigger organizational changes were announced at Warner Bros. Short version: Time Warner head Jeff Bewkes announced that Warner Bros Chairman/CEO Barry Meyer would be staying on for two years (he had been rumored to be retiring before that) but studio head Alan Horn will be moving along in April 2011. Three men will fill a three-headed president role to replace Horn: Jeff Robinov, the movie guy, Bruce Rosenblum, the TV guy, and Kevin Tsujihara the multimedia/home entertainment guy.
Although this all seems far distant from the traditional comics business, it is all tied in, of course.
With the announcement of the closure of WildStorm imprint at DC and the retiring of the WildStorm name, it isn’t just another in a long list of comics imprints that have ended over the years. In its 18 year run WildStorm has been a vital part of several revolutions in commercial comics, and changed the game in many ways — Rob Liefeld’s post below gives a succinet run down of some of the highlights.
Founded by Jim Lee as one of the original six Image Studios (along with Marc Sillvestri’s Top Cow, Todd McFarlane’s McFarlane Productions, Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios, Jim Valentino’s ShadowLine and Erik Larsen’s Highbrow Entertainment), WildStorm immediately established itself as one of the most commercial, with huge sellers like WildCATS and Gen 13. A series of developing fan favorite artists, including of course Lee himself, but also J. Scott Campbell, Joe Madureira and Humberto Ramos, kept popularity up, while the creator owned Homage imprint delivered such strong properties as Astro City and Leave it To Chance.
Although known first for their art, by the end of the decade, WildStorm was really becoming known for some of the most daring mainstream writing of the period, with genre-defining work by Warren Ellis and Mark Millar, strong adventure material by Jimmy Palmiotti and Ed Brubaker, as well as daring experiments like Automatic Kafka, a book by Joe Casey and Ashley Wood that people are still figuring out.
And then there was America’s Best Comics, an new line of comics written by Alan Moore that would introduce the world to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Tom Strong, Promethea and Top Ten, the superhero police procedural. And our favorite, Jack B. Quick, the boy inventor who solved science’s greatest non problems.
Of course, there are dark parts to the legacy as well, all of which will be trotted out and discussed at length, we’re sure. But for now, we asked creators and staff for some of their good memories, and this is what they came back with.
Well, a very very looong week continues for employees of DC Entertainment as each and every person undergoes an interview to explain whether they are staying, going, or getting laid off. Ugh. There is certainly a lot of information and speculation floating around, but it seems unnecessary to play this out on the internet while staff is still being informed.
In the meantime, for observers, this IGN interview with Diane Nelson, Jim Lee and Dan DiDio includes as much information as we’re likely to get for now. While as many questions remain today as there were yesterday, at least there is a plan in place, says Nelson:
Okay, now we know why there’s still unease over all outposts of the DC Entertainment empire today: In the first interview we’ve seen with DC head Diane Nelson, she explains that DC’s staff will be cut by 20%:
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.
Ever since the Big Shake-up last year, both Marvel and DC have been the subject of much speculation regarding moves, with some guessing that Marvel might move to Disney’s offices in White Plains…or to Burbank. However it seems that preserving the Pixar-like independence for Marvel is still a priority, as they are staying in town and merely moving a few blocks uptown.
While an announcement of some kind is expected today about DC’s possible West Coast move, the NY Observer confirms that Marvel is moving to newer uptown offices, , 135 West 50th Street, the same address as Sports Illustrated and EW. The House of Ideas will take over the 60,000 sq. ft. office on October 1 — or…next Friday.
DC Entertainment head Diane Nelson pledged a “no fear” era at DC since announcing changes earlier this year, everyone has been plenty nervous ever since she took over. The reason? DC’s proposed move to the West Coast. Will it happen and when? That’s been the question on everyone’s mind.
Word on the street is that next week, the answer to “Will DC be moving to the West Coast?” will finally be revealed, and an article in The Hollywood Reporter seems to back that up.