The end of the “Big Two” era as Diane Nelson confirms DC Entertainment relocation to West Coast

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201310291733 The end of the Big Two era as Diane Nelson confirms DC Entertainment relocation to West Coast

In a letter to staff obtained by CBR, DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson confirmed what most industry watchers have been waiting for ever since a Burbank head for the division was announced: DC Comics is moving lock, stock, and barrel to Burbank. All employees will be offered relocation, which will not take place for a year or so. Here’s the text of Nelson’s letter:

Dear DCE Team,

As I hope you know, I and the entire DCE exec team work hard to offer transparency about as much of our business plans and results as we possibly and responsibly can. In an effort to continue to do that where possible and to ensure you are hearing news from us, rather than a third party, I am proactively reaching out to you this afternoon to share news about our business.

I can confirm that plans are in the works to centralize DCE’s operations in 2015. Next week, the Exec Team will be in New York for a series of meetings to walk everyone through the plans to relocate the New York operations to Burbank. The move is not imminent and we will have more than a year to work with the entire company on a smooth transition for all of us, personally and professionally.

Everyone on the New York staff will be offered an opportunity to join their Burbank colleagues and those details will be shared with you individually, comprehensively and thoughtfully next week. Meeting notifications will be sent tomorrow to ensure the roll out of this information and how it affects the company and you personally.

We know this will be a big change for people and we will work diligently to make this as smooth and seamless a transition as possible.

Best,
Diane


About two years ago, DC’s staff was lessened by more than a hundred layoffs when digital and other support staffs were moved to Burbank. Co-editor Jim Lee and CCO Geoff Johns are already Burbank-based, and as has often been reported, DC has already created a complete office in Burbank that was just sitting there waiting to be filled up.

Warners has long wished to move DC to Burbank. It was former publisher Paul Levitz’s lifelong Dumbledore-like task to guard against that. It’s believed that his final act to avoid it was signing a very expensive long-term lease on the DC offices that would have cost more to break than to move. I guess the lease is up—or else the offices were simply subleased out.

What it does mean is that the “Big Two” publishing era is officially over—which has been true for a long time, but will now be official. For 50 years, freelancers ran from one side of town to another, from Marvel to DC, looking for work, finding safe haven when they got on the bad side of one editor, and running back when things looked better. That freelance culture hasn’t existed in a while except as a romantic notion, but it did still exist.

Disney has been more adamant about keeping the Marvel Office in New York a separate entity, one bathroom or no—although we’ve recently confirmed the existence of a separate “secret” bathroom for VIPs—and the notion of the Bullpen has more currency in Marvel’s mythology than DC’s copier room did in its own.

Still, we’re likely to see a huge changing of the guard as a bunch of long-timers decide not to take the move.

As an aside, for everyone who wished that controversial co-editor Dan DiDio would be removed, most observers thought that hypothetical event would hasten the moment that the New York Office became unnecessary. Evidently, the hastening wasn’t even necessary, as DiDio abides but the history of comics in New York City is changed forever.

14741627 The end of the Big Two era as Diane Nelson confirms DC Entertainment relocation to West Coast

Comments

  1. It appears that I was the third party…

  2. Karen says:

    This makes me sick to my stomach. It’s such a rejection of history and tradition. I get that business decisions trump history and tradition–but I don’t have to feel happy about it.

  3. Dandru says:

    A rather redundantly worded headline…

  4. As far as I’m concerned this just means that thanks to the internet NYC’s reach is so big that it now extends all the way to the west coast!
    ;)
    Dan
    Dewey’s Comic City
    Madison, NJ

  5. Joe S. Walker says:

    Rich Johnston: a grown man jumping up and down saying “It was me! It was ME!” is not an admirable sight.

  6. jonboy says:

    1. Does that office have a big Sinestro symbol on the floor?

    2. Joe, you have to (begrudgingly) admire a man who has been able to make a living off of “it was me, it was me”…

    3. I’d be curious how much this will really affect the creators. I mean, not everyone lives in New York, ya’know.

  7. Mike B.risbois says:

    Name three people employed by DC Comics who can afford to live in New York City. The real estate market drove the freelancers and staff out of the city, and now it drives the company out.

    Overdue, it seems to me.

    Personally, I’d prefer DC move to Detroit if rent was the issue.

  8. This is over a year from happening, let’s us not get our panties in a bunch.

    Meanwhile, the biggest news today should be how FANTASTIC the first issue of Sandman Overture is!! I, being a comic store owner, got to read it as we get our shipment for Tuesday processing and it exceeded my expectations (I say this with the qualification that I’m not even the biggest Gaiman fan). And for anyone who hasn’t read Sandman previously, no worries, Sandman Overture takes place before the very first Sandman story 25 years ago.

  9. Mike B.risbois says:

    Vertigo will move to Burbank, too.

  10. Mike B.risbois says:

    That was meant to be a question, not a statement. Will Vertigo move to Burbank? Egads.

  11. Torsten Adair says:

    I wonder what will happen to the big mural?
    http://www.fanboyplanet.com/comics/rb-fanboyinnewyorkDC.php

    I haven’t visited in a while… do they still have the Batman and Superman themed waiting areas?

    And what of MAD Magazine? They share the same building.
    MAD has an even more historical attachment to New York City…

    If the lease isn’t up, I’m sure Warners could use it. Or sublease it. It’s a great location, just across the street from Letterman.

  12. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Personally, I’d prefer DC move to Detroit if rent was the issue.

    I wouldn’t wish a move to Detroit on my worst enemy.

  13. Kurt Busiek says:

    >> Will Vertigo move to Burbank? >>

    Of course they will. They occupy a part of the DC offices; if DC goes, they go with, because all that office space will be rented out to someone else once DC’s lease is no more.

    On the other hand, the book I do via Vertigo is _already_ edited in Burbank…

    kdb

  14. Dave Elliott says:

    Hey Torsten,

    I’m sure they can print another version of that mural if they want but they have a new mural on the West coast, a version of which can be seen on the 6th floor of the current location.

    I hope there is a smooth transition for the staff, there are some great people there I’ll be sad not to see so regularly.

    – Dave

  15. Real estate prices and proximity to the mother ship are probably the two main reasons. Burbank is the suburbs — far cheaper to do business there.

  16. Spud nick says:

    Dark Horse kicks both their comic asses

  17. John Shableski says:

    DC move to Burbank? That’s like selling the Dodgers to L.A. Can they at least leave MAD alone? Karen, I agree: it may be business but I dont have to like it.

  18. Jim Caldwell says:

    John,
    I heard that both Vertigo and Mad were staying behind in New York, and that once every thing was settled out in Burbank (totally legitimate in 5 years!), they’d be able to break off and form their own companies.

    Oh, wait. That was the Godfather. Maybe Dan DiDio is a good wartime consiglieri …

  19. Rich Harvey says:

    But, how does this mark the end of the Big Two era?

  20. Matt C says:

    Rich Harvey says:
    10/30/2013 at 12:18 am
    But, how does this mark the end of the Big Two era?

    Exactly. BS headline just to get hits.

  21. I feel this is confirmation they are more committed to movies than comics. I’d like to see this move have DC reinvigorate itself, and rebuild it’s comic line back into the mass market general audience books that will attract more readers in the long run than their books current direction. This move, while a sad time for comic tradition, can give a fresh start to an industry leader.

  22. Jon Q. Citizen says:

    I think that WB sees what most of us can see…..movies make $$$, even when comic books don’t. Take the examples of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Wolverine, & Punisher…..the movies do well, but they’re comic book titles aren’t top tier at all.

    They only care about making films with big returns…..they don’t care whether or not those films happen to be based on comic book characters. DC & Marvel are really just creative “wings” for their film division.

  23. When I see someone move out of New York because of the expense, I nod, understanding.

    When I see them move to LA, I shake my head, baffled.

  24. I too see this as an indication that Superheroes are about Movies. And movies are brokered in the West. Since comics are printed overseas and in Canada now, and the internet allows (theoretically anyway) planet-wide talent collaboration, there is no real reason to stay in cramped NYC.

    Of course, we could make the same argument about ‘why West Coast?’ since Movies can be done anywhere. But you need to be near a big talent pool in order to attract and maintain resources.

  25. Comic books were never printed in New York City anyhow. Well New Fun #1 was, but that’s about it. The closest the printing ever got was Poughkeepsie and Bridgeport.

    Hey, at least DC still has an office. My employer just told me to take their computer home and clear a space somewhere.

  26. Claude Parish says:

    Good luck with the burdensome California tax code. You’ll be dead before the next Batman movie comes out.

  27. Synsidar says:

    I agree that the move has a lot of symbolic weight as far as the importance of movies and merchandising are concerned, but since Ms. Nelson has had an office in Burbank for a while, the move is probably overdue.

    Too bad her letter has a typo: rollout instead of roll out.

    SRS

  28. Who cares. They made shitty comics in NY, now they’ll make shitty comics in CA.

  29. Calvin Reid says:

    For those of us who grew up reading comics in a certain era–for myself that’s the 1960s–it is indeed the end of an era in New York City when Marvel and DC Comics seemed to define the whole world of comics and made New York City seem like the hub of the universe. Thats sure how it looked to me as kid 10 or 11 in the early 1960s and later. New York City to me back in those days was a kind of fantasy land where superheroes battled in the streets and editors that seemed like super heroes battled in the editorial offices and bullpens of the Big Two. (I’ll admit it, every time I’ve visited the offices of DC or Marvel here in New York, I think about how my 10 year old self would have been blown away to be walking into DC Comics). Of course, this is all nostalgia and it was a forgone conclusion that DC editorial would move but some of us still reserve the right to get a little sappy over changes in continuity.

  30. This isn’t a real estate issue at all — it’s a control issue. DC is more important to WB’s bottom line and they understandably want it closer to home, rather than operating 3,000 miles away.

  31. So…they’re moving. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not exactly sure why some people are in a huff about that.

  32. I will seriously miss sharing evenings of fellowship (and alcoholic beverages) with my friends from DC.
    I hope everyone involved makes a “move” decision that works out well for them and their families.

  33. Kurt Busiek says:

    >> When I see them move to LA, I shake my head, baffled.>>

    They could relocate to Omaha, but:

    1. They need access to a ready pool of talent from which to draw editors, production artists, etc. This can be done in many places, but best done in larger cities.

    2. This is a company that already has lots of office space in LA.

    >> Good luck with the burdensome California tax code. You’ll be dead before the next Batman movie comes out.>>

    Yeah, Warner Bros. has no idea what to expect from California’s tax code.

    kdb

  34. usaftr464 says:

    “This isn’t a real estate issue at all — it’s a control issue. ”

    —from his perch at WCG Comics, Randy has special insight into the thinking of WB execs.

    what is it that prompts people to publicly opine about these internal corporate machinations like they have the first clue what is going on behind doors that are closed to them?

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