DC in the midst of significant organizational changes

(Image credit: DC)

Reports of massive organizational changes at DC have surfaced (opens in new tab), as part of significant organizational changes at parent company WarnerMedia (a division of AT&T) that also began emerging Monday afternoon.

DC and WarnerMedia have not publicly addressed the reports. Warner Bros. global brands and experiences president Pam Lifford, who top-level DC executives report to, told Newsarama in an email response to inquiries about staff changes, "We have no comment. Thanks."

The picture that has emerged, however, was one of a publisher hit by significant lay-offs, perhaps involving as much of a third of the staff. 

The names affected most widely reported include editor-in-chief Bob Harras, senior vice president of publishing strategy & support services Hank Kanalz, vice president global publishing initiatives & digital strategy Bobbie Chase, and senior story editor/producer Brian Cunningham. 

Jim Lee in his DC office

(Image credit: Hex)

Chief creative officer/publisher Jim Lee is reportedly still in place, although there is conflicting information as to his role. Some (opens in new tab) sources indicate he'll retain his position role as publisher while others suggest new top-level organization will result in his role being effectively diminished to some degree. 

Other names have been reported by various sources but due to conflicting reports and conflicting information available to Newsarama we're not reporting those at this time. 

Newsarama has also heard from multiple sources that staffers are being given three months before their positions are eliminated, although we have not confirmed that at this time. 

The California state employment law (DC is located in Burbank, CA) known as WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) requires a 60-day notice to affected employees of a "plant closing or mass layoff (opens in new tab)." DC has seemingly given their affected employees 90 days. 

The massive organization changes come just 11 days before WarnerMedia's highly-marketed DC-branded multimedia fan event DC Fandome (opens in new tab) - their first attempt at an in-house, COVID-19 era online convention experience.

While all the names affected and the timeline will eventually emerge in the coming weeks, what will take more time is how such massive changes will affect DC as a comic book publisher. It is possible if not probable such significant changes will come with significant changes to editorial strategy. 

DC has already gone through significant changes before this week, having earlier this year already let go of long-time co-publisher Dan DiDio - the closest thing an organization that prefers their staff to maintain very low profiles had to a public face. 

The publisher also began cutting ties with Direct Market distributor Diamond Comic Distributors (opens in new tab) on the 25th anniversary of their exclusive agreement, and began distributing their periodicals through two new upstart distributors, a move that proved unpopular with Direct Market retailers (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: DC)

For months Newsarama has also been tracking changes that seem to indicate a more significant strategic push into original digital-first publishing (opens in new tab), and this week's news does nothing to indicate that push won't continue or even further accelerate. 

Given the size of DC in relation to its parent company and the value DC intellectual property has in multimedia streams like motion pictures, television, animation, video games, and licensed consumer products, what sort of comic book publisher emerges from these significant organizational changes will be the story to follow in the coming months.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.