DC Comics Hit with Layoffs Amid WarnerMedia Reshuffle. Future of DC Universe is Unknown
Layoffs have been expected all day today as news trickled out from AT&T of layoffs from the company’s WarnerMedia division. Around 600 staffers were expected to be let fo from the company including numerous high-ranking staffers. WarnerMedia became part of AT&T in 2018 and the changes are part of the company’s long-term plan to be more direct to consumers. Reducing costs, including staff, has been a part of AT&T’s strategy since they bought Time Warner.
DC Comics and DC Universe have been impacted by the layoffs. The majority of the staff of DC Universe has been laid off as the entire service’s future has been in doubt since the launch of HBO Max and many of the service’s original programming has moved over to that digital service. DC Universe has recently stopped offering yearly subscriptions switching to only monthly a sign the service may be winding down.
At DC, editor-in-chief Bob Harris, senior VP of publishing strategy and support services Hank Kanalz, VP of marketing and creative services Jonah Weiland, VP global publishing initiatives and digital strategy Bobbie Chase, senior story editor Brian Cunningham, and executive editor Mark Doyle, who oversaw the rollout of the Black Label graphic novels have all lost their positions. Editor Andy Khouri has also been mentioned by some as having also been let go. Jim Lee will remain as CCO but also be more focused as a liason between the comic publisher and other divisions.
Around one third of DC’s editorial staff have been laid off according to reports.
DC Direct, the company’s in-house collectibles division, has been shut down after 22 years. Its existence was in question with recent deals with McFarlane Toys and other collectible manufacturers who have a greater footprint in markets like big-box retailers.
AT&T, and WarnerMedia’s, focus has been going more direct to consumers in recent years either through AT&T’s services or through new ventures like HBO Max. It’s clear DC is taking that focus as well with its expansion of its original digital comics in the DC Digital First initiative. By building up its digital offerings the publisher will become less reliant on the comic direct market and allow the publisher to build its own community to directly engage.
DC press has not released an official comment as to the changes. We’ll have more updates as more news is released.