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Wednesday, October 30, 2013 

WB plans to move DC to Burbank, CA

In another step proving how mainstream comics have become far too commercialized, Time Warner is going to move DC's publishing arm to California in another 2 years. With the downturn in California's economy, one can only wonder how much good that's going to do for them.

Then again, this is only supposed to happen in another two years, so given how poor sales have been on their comics output, it remains to be seen if they'll even still be around to make the move.

Just a few months ago, Bob Layton spoke about the future of publishing, and from how he sees things, it doesn't look good:
As I see it, the biggest problem with the comics industry will always be cost effectiveness.

The average comic costs $3.99 U.S. and a movie download from I-Tunes is $4.99 U.S.. The bitter truth is that the comic industry is now in direct competition with Hollywood.

And, not to be the Harbinger of Doom but there is another factor I see rearing its evil head on the horizon… The Walt Disney Corporation.

One only needs to examine the monthly sales figures for the comic industry and the evidence becomes increasingly clear that most comics are not profitable. [...]

I’m not an economics major but it doesn’t take a Master’s Degree to figure out that these numbers don’t work. For independent publishers, this nightmare scenario keeps them hanging on by their fingernails.

And, at this point, this is where my fear of Disney rears its ugly head.

Marvel Studios has successfully raised the level of interest in characters like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America to iconic status with the general public by a series of popular films. This is the pinnacle of what every Intellectual Property owner hopes for.

Once a character becomes part of our lexicon, something that your mother recognizes and understands, all the rungs of the ladder that were used to climb to that level become moot.

So…what’s the problem with THAT?

Only this: When was the last time you saw a Mickey Mouse comic? Or a Donald Duck comic?

Eventually, some middle management guy within the Disney Corporation is going to figure out that comic publishing is not very profitable.

At that point, he will probably lobby to shut the publishing arm down in order to save the company millions in expenditures per year. Hoping to get a big promotion for his innovative thinking, he will inadvertently cause over half of the volume of the comic industry to disappear overnight. Marvel has the largest back issue library in the world and can continue to publish trade paperbacks and reprints until the end of time.
He goes on to admit that if he were a corporate exec, he'd probably end up "pulling the plug" too, because they're not turning any profits, and thus, there's not much point in keeping on. It's the modern editor's/publisher's faults, naturally, for getting us all to the unprofitable situation we're at today, since without good storytelling, you cannot expect good sales and profit, nor can you sell the comics at decent prices, which forced the raise in dollars. Again, this is exactly why I firmly believe the pamphlet format has to go, and serial or not, the storytelling has to take on a better format. Yet that does not look likely to happen at this point in time.

And that's why executives at Warner Brothers might decide to pull the plug on the publishing arm too. On the superhero tales anyway. And Marvel might not even follow suit by moving their publishing arm to California, much as I'm sure they'd like to ponder.

With the current situation, however, it's always possible that somebody decent with the dough to spare might step up to plate and buy out the publishing arms the studios aren't even keen on keeping in business, and if that somebody does, I hope they'll take my recommendations to heart and restructure everything into a better format like OGNs that would be more satisfying for everyone. Comics - including, but not limited to superheroes - can have a future if done with the right marketing approach.

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Speaking of the move, here is some fun lulz on that:

http://www.theouthousers.com/index.php/news/124689-blogger-throwdown-fallout-from-dc-burbank-story-scorches-rich-johnston.html

They might very well shut down Marvel publishing. However, they'll gladly license the characters out to third parties to produce comics.

Might be the best thing that could happen to the Big Two characters. Or not, depending on how much creative control Warner/Disney insist on...

The only reason Marvel and DC exist now is to develop their characters for other media. If they didn't have their movie/animation divisions, they'd have gone out of business years ago.

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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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