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Warner Perpetrates ‘Bloodbath’ With DC Comics Lay-Offs, Bring the Comic Book Industry to the Brink of Death

It’s a strange thing, but as comic book movies have become basically inescapable and fully half of a broadcast television network’s shows are adaptations of comic books, the comic book industry itself is breathing it’s last, dying gasps. In America, anyway, Japan’s is doing fine, and you!re going to be seeing a lot more adaptations of Japanese comics in the near future.

COVID-19 has put the squeeze on the comic book industry, but it’s mostly just exposing the weakness that has been present since the 1990s when the speculator market caused a crash that the industry never recovered from.

Warner laid off 600 DC employees, including Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras.

Here’s the thing about the comic book industry: it’s like a three-legged stool and is supported by DC Comics, Marvel Comics and comic book specialty stores. These specialty stores need both Marvel and DC to be publishing books people want to buy to stay in business, and Marvel and DC need the stores to buy their comics because that’s basically the only place that they’re sold. If any one of these three were to go out of business, the other two would fall in short order. This certainly feels like a first step to shutting DC down or reducing its operations to a point that’s virtually the same as shutting down.

Now, you may be asking yourself “if Warner doesn’t want to publish DC comics, why don’t they just sell them to Marvel/Disney?” Well, for starters, Disney doesn’t want to be publishing comic books any more than Warner does. But the real reason is that owning Superman and Batman is a very different thing from selling Superman and Batman comic books.

In 2019, the entire American comic book direct market made about $500 million dollars in gross profit. In that same year, Avengers: Endgame made $858 million dollars domestically, and nearly three billion dollars worldwide. That’s just one movie. DC had two movies in 2019, Joker and Shazam!, which grossed around $1 billion and $300 million respectively, both well over the ~$159 million DC Comics made for the entire year.

Can you see why the big media companies don’t care about comic books? And it’s not like they’re actually producing new valuable IPs at Marvel and DC either. The last successful new character either company created was Deadpool in 1991.

Basically, the characters Marvel and DC own are very lucrative but publishing comic books about them is not, at least not for a company the size of Warner or Disney. We’re a year, maybe two from one of these companies, probably DC, ending major operations and only publishing back catalogue titles with a small smattering of new graphic novels sold mostly in the book trade. After all, why operate an entire division that doesn’t even as much money as a single movie.

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