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Friday, February 22, 2013 

Would Time Warner sell off the DC publishing arm as they are with other magazine properties?

The New York Times (via Instapundit) recently reported that Time Warner is planning to sell off some of their magazine holdings like People and Better Homes & Gardens, because they're just not cutting it for the company anymore in sales. This was interesting discovery, as it made me wonder about the fate of DC Comics, which came under their ownership as early as 1973. The comics properties aren't mentioned, although the article does say:
In recent years, Time Warner has tried to trim assets unrelated to the television and movie production business. It has divested itself of AOL, Time Warner Cable, the Warner Music Group and the Time Warner Book Group.
The part about their book publishing division might be a slight hint, though it's really a few commentors who bring up that part. One commentor said that:
The article implies, but does not state, that Time Warner is keeping it's entertainment publications, in particular DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, et al). Is that correct?
And another asked:
So where would all this put DC Comics?
Excellent questions, and I'm glad they chimed in on that page. It shows that there are readers out there well aware of TW's ownership of DC, and while the spinoff properties (toys, cartoons and games) based on the comics are making money, it's a facinating question about what they want to do with a book publishing division that by sharp contrast is no longer making much at all, thanks in part to years on end of neglect and disdain. It doesn't say what they intend to do with a division like DC Comics, but that doesn't mean they aren't considering options.

And that's where I'd like to chime in and say that if I were a millionaire with investments in the book publishing medium, I'd sure like to buy the rights to the comic book publishing properties and set to work both repairing the harm done to them over nearly 2 decades, and turning them into something more profitable in terms of how they're formatted and marketed. The same goes for Marvel, which Disney might sooner or later decide to part ways with if they conclude that the publishing arm just isn't turning any profits or selling any comics. I would more than gladly relinquish any and all rights to film, toy and game properties based on the comics, granting the conglomerates the full rights to those items, and just want to focus on how to write the most engaging comic book stories and how to market them to as wide an audience as possible. This could probably be done by concentrating primarily on the adventure genres and putting the superhero themes second, and also - surely most important - by developing the best possible character focus for the casts, which could be done by assembling co-stars and supporting casts with serious purpose.

Not only that, but if a decent fellow who could afford it could buy ownership of both DC and Marvel, it would put an end to the ill-advised rivalries between both publishers, as they'd both be under the same umbrella of owners.

Again, the article doesn't actually say whether TW is considering selling the DC Comics publishing arm. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't consider it, or at least licensing it to other businesses. If they do, I hope there'll be some decent companies interested in buying an ownership in DC and preparing it for a new generation.

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Perhaps I'm wrong, but WB eyes DC as "DC Entertainment" not "DC Comics." Therefore, it's as much about "Man of Steel," "The Dark Knight Rises," and "Arrow" as it is toys, comics, video games, and other licensing. Comics are a small part of the overall DC branding and I'm sure WB will keep them for the movies and TV shows alone.

After 40 years of mismanagement, I do believe it's time for Time Warner to let go of DC. The only good things that came from TW is Lois & Clark and the DCAU.

It would surprise me if TW sold DC. The comic books are not all that profitable, but they probably want to retain ownership of the characters for licensing and for movies and TV. My guess is that Disney will keep Marvel for the same reason.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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