Jim Lee Clarifies the Reshuffle at DC Comics
Following the recent major layoffs at WarnerMedia, which saw DC cut 20% of its staff including many senior editors, DC publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee has opened up about the layoffs including addressing the rumors that WarnerMedia “wants out of the comics business.”
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Lee said that this “has been a really heavy difficult time not just for me, but for the entire organization. We’ve said goodbye to people that have been huge contributors and who have helped define and make DC what it is today.”
“We are still in the business of publishing comics,” Lee clarified. He also shared that the planned reorganization will take about two to three months while his team focuses on DC FanDome, which begins this Saturday, August 22.
“[Publishing comics] is still the cornerstone of everything that we do,” Lee said. “The need for storytelling, updating the mythology, is vital to what we do. The organization leans on us to share and establish the meaningful elements of the content that they need to use and incorporate for all their adaptations. When we think about reaching global audiences, and we see comics as helping drive that awareness and that international brand, it’s very much part of our future.
“That said, we will be reducing the size of the slate. But it’s about looking at everything and looking at the bottom 20 percent, 25 percent of the line that wasn’t breaking even or was losing money. It’s about more punch for the pound, so to speak, and increasing the margins of the books that we are doing. It was about aligning the books to the franchise brand content we’ve developed and making sure that every book we put out, we put out for a reason.”
Lee also added that “there is no pencils down notice. Everyone has been notified to keep working on all the projects that we’ve already greenlit and started. To that extent, there is no change.”
Lee struck down the rumor that DC is “going to only sell trades and OGNs” as well as the rumor that they’ll make a deal with Marvel to public DC’s comics, saying, “There is nothing further from the truth in that.”
Lee revealed that Oscar winner John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) is penning a Batman mini-series that “will have a huge impact on the rest of the line,” and that there will also be “the return of Milestone” a label that features “underrepresented heroes and creators.”
As far as DC Universe, Lee shared that DCU’s original content will be migrating to HBO Max, with a DCU transformation currently taking place: “In regards to the community and experience that DCU created, and all the backlist content, something like 20,000 to 25,000 different titles, and the way it connected with fans 24-7, there is always going to be a need for that. So we’re excited to transform it and we’ll have more news on what that will look like. It’s definitely not going away.”
Lee confirmed that he still has the title of publisher, and that he now has “more responsibilities and more expectations” than before. “In conversations with (WarnerMedia CEO) Jason Kilar and (Warner Bros. CEO) Ann Sarnoff and my boss, (Warner Bros. global brands and experiences president) Pam Lifford, they have some very ambitious goals for DC and I’m excited to be a part of that. In that respect, there is more on our plate than ever before. I will continue to be involved as intimately with publishing as I have from the get go. Nothing has changed there. And that’s to focus on the creative content, the content strategy how many books we should be publishing, the formats.”
(Photo by Michael Stewart/Getty Images)