Dan DiDio is gone from DC Comics as of today. No reason has been given but the co-publisher stepped down from his duties and parted ways with the company.
ComicBook.com reports DC confirmed his departure and will likely issue a statement soon. The site adds it’s unclear if Jim Lee will handle publishing duties by himself from here on out or if a new co-publisher will be appointed.
DiDio and Lee have worked together as co-publishers since 2010. Before then, DiDio was VP of editorial and then VP executive editor for six years.
Under their tenure, they oversaw the New 52, Rebirth, 52, Infinite Crisis, Before Watchmen, and Doomsday Clock – which recently came to an end.
They also toyed with the idea of yet another reshuffling of continuity, 5G, which establishes Wonder Woman as the first superhero. Diana makes contact with the world of man around World War II.
No word dropped as of yet how DiDio leaving will affect this proposed relaunch.
DC had their share of missteps as well under DiDio and Lee. Among them was the folding of Vertigo in the startup of the DC Black Label line. Of the problematic rollout there, he promised improvements during a retailer Q&A:
“The response and reaction has been better than we could imagine. Our plan is to make sure we’re consistent in the material we’re putting out, and that it’s strong, and that it comes out on time. We will not be soliciting anything until we are clear that this material will come out as scheduled.”
“We like the maturity, the sensibility, the quality. The talent is going to be driving this line,” he added. “We will not overproduce here, because we want to make sure this is a long-term plan.”
DiDio won’t get to see any long-term plans come to fruition now. He joins a trend that started last year with laying off 240 comic employees, a decision made by Warner Bros.
The writing may be on the wall. Randall Stephenson, CEO of WarnerMedia parent company AT&T, declared in October his company has “no sacred cows” among the assets of theirs to be reviewed over the next three years.
He said this in a third-quarter conference call with investors:
“We’re committed to an objective, diligent and disciplined process. We’ll analyze the merits of each of our businesses individually and as a part of the whole. But let me be clear, we have no sacred cows.”
Stephenson continued by pointing out they’ve “monetized more than $30 billion in non-strategic assets over the last few years.” DC wasn’t mentioned but the implications are dour.
AT&T seems to forget the publisher exists. DC had a reduced presence at Hall H and San Diego Comic-Con and promotional material for Wonder Woman 1984 as well as other Warner products showed up at a small licensing expo.
In WW84’s case, they opted to move the trailer’s premiere and other announcements to December’s Comic-Con Experience in Brazil. That worked out okay so there was a small victory there.
Last September, former DC Comics artist Ethan Van Sciver predicted on a live stream:
“I kind of feel like AT&T is going to consider divesting DC Comics. That’s what I think is going to happen. I think there is going to be a lot of pressure to do so. That’s a lot of debt.”
The reason he sees that happening is Hedge fund Elliott Management has a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T. Furthermore, they are not happy AT&T stock is underperforming compared to the competition in the telecommunications industry and the S&P Index.
EVS discussed a letter Elliot sent to AT&T, specifying:
“Elliott’s letter also calls on AT&T to streamline its ‘bureaucratic organization,’ remove redundant positions, and consider outsourcing noncore functions. Along with office centralization and other cost cutting, Elliott sees $10 billion in potential annual savings that could expand AT&T’s profit margins.”
AT&T added $85.4 billion in new debt when they acquired WarnerMedia. Their debt as of August stood at $164 billion. For purposes of monetization, they view WarnerMedia as a whole greater than the sum of its parts and want to make that money back.
DC is a small but unsteady part of that business. It’s no secret comic sales are low, especially new comics, and older books from 30-40 years ago do better. DiDio, admitting defeat, said this last year:
“We do these Facsimile Editions where we reprint older issues of comics including all the old ads and stuff…and in some cases these are selling more than the new comics with these characters. People are more interested in buying the stories from 30 or 40 years ago than the contemporary stories, and that’s a failure on us. We should be focused on moving things forward, always pushing the boundaries and finding new stories to tell. That’s how we’ll survive and grow this industry.”
His exit is a sign he could not stem the tide.
How does DiDio stepping away hit you? Sound off below.