Jim Lee addresses rumors, future of comics publishing at DC

DC’s publisher talks about the past week and the future of comics in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

A week that started with layoffs at DC Comics ends with Publisher Jim Lee discussing many of the changes and rumors that sprang from Monday’s news.

Lee confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he is indeed still in the role of DC’s publisher, noting that he has “more responsibilities and more expectations than ever before.” As a result, he’ll focus on creative content while a new general manager position will “focus on the operational side.” While he didn’t mention a name, he said that person will start in September, suggesting they’ve already been hired.

Here’s a rundown of what else Lee said:

Layoffs: Lee did not address any of the specifics of who was let go and who wasn’t, but he did address them in general. “We’ve said goodbye to people that have been huge contributors and who have helped define and make DC what it is today,” he said.

The comics publishing business: Yes, DC still plans to publish comics — which, apparently, was something rumors suggested might be changing. “It is still the cornerstone of everything that we do. The need for storytelling, updating the mythology, is vital to what we do,” Lee said. He also confirmed that yes, DC will still publish monthly comics.

Reduced line: Lee’s interview was published by THR on the same day that they released their November solicitations, which revealed that DC is planning to cancel several titles. Those include Teen Titans, Young Justice, Suicide Squad, Hawkman and John Constantine: Hellblazer. In the interview, Lee said they planned to reduce the number of titles they publish and would look at “the bottom 20 percent, 25 percent of the line that wasn’t breaking even or was losing money.”

Editor-in-chief role: With Bob Harris out as editor-in-chief, Lee confirmed that DC does have two interim editors-in-chiefs, Marie Javins, who was in charge of DC’s digital strategy, and Michele Wells, who was head of their young adult imprint. Not the use of the word “interim,” which suggests these are temporary positions for Javins and Wells.

DC and distribution: Earlier this year DC Comics broke up with Diamond and began working with two new distributors. Lee said that “things have transitioned very smoothly — that’s not to say there aren’t kinks that need to be worked out. UCS and Lunar, they’ve done an amazing job transitioning all the content we produce and putting it into new pipelines and getting it to retailers.”

New comics: Lee took the opportunity to announce that John Ridley, whose The Other History of the DC Universe will finally arrive in November, is also working on a Batman miniseries that “will have a huge impact on the rest of the line.”

DC Universe: Interestingly, the DC Universe app/service isn’t going away, even as original TV content like the Doom Patrol and Stargirl move to other platforms. Lee addressed the comics content on the service specifically, noting that “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.” So maybe it evolve into a comics-only service?

DC Direct: Lee said DC Direct would shift to “more of a licensing model,” but that principal lead of DC Direct, Jim Fletcher, is still with DC.

Regarding the future: “You’ll definitely see more international content. You’re going to see more digital content. When you talk about growing our business, both physical and digital, to me the opportunities are global.”

DC is moving forward with its FanDome event, a virtual convention that will focus on everything DC, from movies to TV to comics and more. They just released the schedule, and it’s notable that on Aug. 22 at 2 p.m., there is a “surprise” DC Comics panel. So maybe we’ll get an idea of what DC’s future holds then.

Update, Aug. 15: Tom Taylor has said that Suicide Squad was always intended to wrap up with issue #11.

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