DC Comics has reportedly experienced a major shake-up, with editor-in-chief Bob Harras and several other editors among the employees laid off and Jim Lee removed from his publishing role. ComicBook.com has learned that several employees including Harras, editors Mark Doyle, Brian Cunningham, and Andy Khouri, VP of marketing Jonah Weiland, senior VP Hank Kanalz, and VP of global publishing initiatives and digital strategy Bobbie Chase are all out of the publisher. Lee remains at the company as DC's Chief Creative Officer, but ComicBook.com has learned that he no longer holds the title of publisher. Lee's new role will be to act as a liaison between DC and other brands of Warner Media. ComicBook.com has also learned that Warner Bros is in talks to bring in a new general manager "from the world of esports" to lead the division, but talks have not yet finalized. More cuts are also expected. ComicBook.com has reached out to DC Comics for comment but has not received a reply as of press time.
The layoffs are part of a wider restructuring at parent company Warner Bros., caused by the entertainment company experiencing huge dips in profits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Warner Bros. has allegedly laid off approximately 600 employees including CFO Kim Williams. As part of this restructure, Warner Bros. is expected to "elevate" HBO Max and expanding its scope globally, which is expected to lead to a shuttering of the DC Universe streaming service. ComicBook.com has learned that most of DC Universe's staff were also laid off as part of today's cuts.
The news comes as Warner Bros prepares to launch its DC FanDome event, a massive online event meant to replace some of the buzz and excitement typically found at conventions like San Diego Comic-Con. However, DC FanDome also represents some of the challenges faced by Warner Bros. in recent months -- the company had to move its eagerly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 movie due to cascading theater shutdowns, and it has also seen production of several TV projects delayed due to the pandemic. DC Comics was directly affected by the pandemic when comics stores in the U.S. were forced to shut down for nearly a month after Diamond Comics announced it was shutting down due to safety concerns. DC ended the forced industry-wide shutdown when it announced it was working with newly formed alternative distributors. DC later ended their exclusive distribution contract with Diamond in favor of these new distributors.
While DC has announced several high-profile projects like Tom King and Mitch Gerads' Rohrshach, other longterm plans for the company have seemingly been on hold for months, even before the pandemic temporarily shut down the comics direct market.
DC has faced several challenges in recent years, ranging from the unsuccessful launch of a planned Generation event meant to unify the various eras of the DC Universe into a more cohesive continuity to the poor PR related to the company's Black Label, a "mature" line of comics featuring a mix of in-continuity and out-of-continuity stories. As the company lost market share to rival Marvel Comics, Warner Bros. fired longtime DC Comics publisher Dan DiDio earlier this year. DC has also suffered from mixed performances at the box office, with underperforming movies leading to Geoff Johns, whose career was built on the success of his comics, stepping down as an executive from DC Entertainment. Johns remains a producer for Warner Bros. and co-wrote the screenplay for Wonder Woman 1984. Warner Bros. also shuttered publication of MAD magazine in 2019.
However, despite its struggles in the movie and direct comics market, DC has found success in bookstores thanks to a line of graphic novels aimed at young readers. ComicBook.com has yet to hear any word on future plans for those publishing plans either.
ComicBook.com will continue to report on these layoffs as more news becomes available.