Saturday, February 13, 2010


Until fairly recently, I’ve remained silent on the subject of the twin upheavals that are already reshaping the comic book business in ways that, I suspect, will startle most hard-core and long-time fans. The first thing I’m referring to, of course, is Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Entertainment.

The second is the process by which, over time, DC Comics will be reorganized into, or become a division of, something that will call itself DC Entertainment. Neither this new business entity’s exact mandate from its corporate parent, Warner Bros., nor its intended core business, has yet been revealed to the outside world. At least, not in precise or exhaustive detail.

My last working relationships with Marvel and Disney were long enough ago that I don't feel qualified to offer speculation, even if I were so inclined, on what direction that association will take. Much has changed recently in the business cultures of both entities, not to mention their increasing efforts to de-emphasize print media in favor of digital and mass-media entertainment that aggressively exploits each one's library of properties.

Since the publication of my capsule history of DC, The DC Vault, I’ve sort-of become DC’s freelance Boswell -- meaning I may be the only person besides Paul Levitz with so comprehensive an understanding of both the company’s history, including its products, and its business culture. Much of it comes from reaearch, but that knowledge is enhanced, to some extent, by the fact that a small bit of that history -- by virtue of my long association with the company in many capacities -- I had a hand in making. I've met or known well most of the people I write about.

Comics readers who know that have been besieging me with requests for leaks of secret, behind-the-scenes information that I simply don't have. It got to the point where I had to resort to a posting on my Facebook page stating that I'd chosen to remain silent for the time being -- not to protect any secrets to which I’d been entrusted, but because I just didn’t feel I had a well-informed grasp of what, in fact, was going on. And I had no desire to add to the blogospheric miasma of ill-informed speculation and whack-job hand-wringing.

I’ve since had the chance to get some information from various horses’ mouths on the DC situation, and, doing nothing more than carefully analyzing what I've been -- and haven't been -- told, an interesting picture emerges. It’s a case of announcements being made at a particular time for no apparent reason, if we are to believe certain denials -- such as the comment that the timing of the press release had nothing to do with the Disney announcement a week or so earlier. And when one carefully parses the sentences in the various public statements, one finds that what is supposed to be informative is, in fact, a dizzying stew of business jargon, Orwellian Hollywood newspeak, and upbeat, "supportive of the comics community" rhetoric that doesn't actually say anything.

In the weeks and months to come, I look forward to analyzing the various ridiculous rumors and "official" interviews with some of the players -- perhaps even here -- until a definitive announcement is made. Maybe even before Summer, 2010, if we're lucky.

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