I’m sure by now the most seasoned and die-hard comic book nerds know but I will catch everyone else up to speed. The rumor-mill is at it again, preaching the demise of Detective Comics Comics (DC Comics, weird that it’s two comics, Its like saying ATM Machine) and this time the speculators and fear instigators might be right. I know it will hard to take sites like Comic Book News and industry veteran Ethan Van Sciver seriously, but when they mention sites like Bleeding Cool who have a little bit better reputation I start to listen. Even today there was an article from Newsarama saying that Geoff Johns, former DC president/chief executive officer, and co-head of DC Films, will be doing his first creator-owned work in almost over two decades. Which at first glance isn’t much, (exciting actually if I’m being honest) but is telling in the fact that Johns isn’t writing for DC.
Let’s start back in March of 2020 with the firing of Dan Didio. This was VERY significant to me and showed that DC wasn’t in-charge of DC any longer. The entity who is actually pulling the strings is AT&T! Yes, you heard right, for those who also don’t know, AT&T owns Time Warner, who in turn owns Warner Bros Studios, who in turn owns DC Comics. This relationship has been pretty calm and honestly well tempered with AT&T not stepping into DC’s business at all, that was until the shut downs. Didio was always the master at keeping the AT&T monster off DC’s back. He would tell them that DC Comics is an IP factory, where DC would pump out great stories and characters for Warner Bros Studios to use in their big profit grading movie and merchandise franchises. This relationship seemed to work rather well until March with the COVID shut downs and Didio was let go. The moment AT&T saw ANY profit loss they saw their relationship with DC needing to reevaluated.
This lead to budget cuts, a massacre of staff being let go, and now rumors galore that monthly comics themselves are next on the chopping block. That is my biggest concern and the reason for writing this post. I have been reading comics for longer than I can remember, and bring in a world where there is no monthly DC comics saddens me more than you know. I was a Marvel guy through the 90’s if I am being honest, X-men is what got me through those challenging times. I was introduced to DC in the early 2000’s and never looked back. However with the future prospect of no more printed comics coming from DC, I would take the 90’s all over again with a smile on my face and a $10 in my hand. However I digress, with DC leaving the monthly subscription market, how long will the other comic companies last?
Marvel, being owned by Disney, should be fine but will also see them leave the monthly subscription market in favor of collected edition for book stores or just leasing out their characters all together. Disney already does this with their Disney comics, leasing the characters of Mickey and his gang to IDW(another comic company). I see DC going the same route. We already see rumors from the articles I mentioned above saying that DC will be putting more of their focus on trade paper backs(collected editions). This will mean more focus on book stores and online sites like Amazon. Then one can infer that Comic Book Stores will be left in the dust, with no real support from the big two companies.
This is the real reason I am concerned, it is because of my love for Comic/Game stores that I fear for this trend. If we lose monthly subscriptions, Comic stores will be in danger of being obsolete. Game stores are not that far behind either, with companies like Games Workshop pulling back from their dissipation to sell their merchandise themselves to Wizards of the Coast putting more money into online gaming and not their physical product. All these are just evidence of the times changing and companies just trying to change with the times. However I believe if you lose that in-person aspect of sales, then you lose the whole reason people got into the hobbies. You NEED Comic/Game stores for these products to be viable in the long run. These products need to be talked up by employees and not faceless reviews online. We need these shops for the culture they provide for people just getting into the hobby or seasoned veterans.
I hope I am wrong and I hope that these articles are wrong as well. I do not WANT to see the fall of printed comics, however all the evidence points to this being our new reality in the coming years. If you wish to change this, then support your local comic shops, because you you buy more than they order more than these bigger companies will see that they can support them with more life changing products.