Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by Dark Times

A week of interesting and cool things was overshadowed by a rather dark term in the lives of many good, talented people and the company they worked for. Let’s look at all of that and more in Comics Disassembled, my look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the past week of comics.

1. Dark Nights, DC Comics

Let’s start with the very basic basics of this. Due to broader layoffs at the AT&T empire, DC Comics saw EIC Bob Harras, executive editor Mark Doyle (who oversaw the Black Label line), editor Andy Khouri (who worked with Doyle on the Black Label line), VP global publishing initiatives and digital strategy Bobbie Chase, senior story editor Brian Cunningham, and many, many more people laid off. While there are plenty of discussions about who specifically else was let go of and there were deliberations about how long their runway is until departure (sounds like 90 days, but could be less), the ultimate story is this: about a third of DC editorial appears to be gone, a fact that sucks because a lot of good people lost their job. My heart goes out to those caught up in this, and I hope you all find jobs quickly, whether it’s in comics or outside of them.

When this news first arrived, it quickly became a race to see who could get the most information out there the quickest. And so far, there are rumblings about someone with an eSports background taking over (because sure, why not) and both Marie Javins (maybe the most beloved person in comics) and Michele Wells taking greater leadership roles as well as all kinds of things about what’s next for DC and comics. Some say Black Label is dead, which mostly seems to stem from the departures of Doyle and Khouri. Some say the focus will be on digital and graphic novels, which mostly seems to be derived from, well, I don’t know, that those were already becoming the focus so of course it was, as well as Javins and Wells being the executives that were kept on.

But the point is, a lot of people have said a lot of things about what’s next…and none of them are at DC or AT&T. From what I’ve been hearing, most of what is currently out there is some combination of conjecture, placeholders, and just straight up incorrect. I’ve heard anything from Jim Lee was out for sure to he will be overseeing an expansion of the DC brand, as if he was Schrödinger’s executive. I’ve heard more comics will be published and also less will be published. I’ve heard it’s going to be a straight IP play from here on our or they want to make comics work even better.

Based off all of this, here’s my take: no one knows. I mean, it just happened three days ago and there’s an unbelievable amount of change going on in one place at this time, a time of a pandemic and one that’s right before a gigantic event was set to take place with DC Fandome. It’s entirely possible we won’t know exactly how this all shakes out until later. And that’s okay. I’ve been through a reorganization. It is a terrible experience, and they are times of great confusion. I remember rumors spreading like crazy during that, a great many of which proved to be untrue.

I could run rumors and let everyone know every detail I’ve heard, but based off my experience, I don’t think that’s going to do anyone any good. So let’s see what is still to come, wait for something real, and send good wishes towards both those who remain at DC and those who are departing.

2. DC, Also Announcing Comics (Awkward!)

Part of the reason that 90 day runway idea for departing editors makes sense is it’s clear DC already had plans in place for the foreseeable future and they need people to make those work. Like, for example two prestige projects that were announced this week, with one of them being long, long, lonnnnng in the making, and the other just recently being mentioned as a thing.

The first is The Other History of the DC Universe, John Ridley’s long-gestating project that explores DC’s history from the perspective of characters from marginalized groups, with art by the excellent Giuseppe Camuncoli. It’s coming November 24th, and being released in a bi-monthly frequency. I’d write about this, but I feel like I’ve written about it at least three times before. So needless to say, I’ll probably be reading it, but almost certainly waiting for trade.

The other is Sweet Tooth: The Return, Jeff Lemire’s triumphant return to his beloved Vertigo series that will soon be a beloved Netflix series. This series sounds like an inversion almost of the original, which makes it very interesting, but let’s be real: it’s Jeff Lemire revisiting Sweet Tooth. Of course I’m onboard. It arrives on November 3rd, and I had a nice chat with Lemire about it a while back.

I have to say, though: it feels so weird seeing big announcements from DC in the days that followed these layoffs. I know they want to get word out there about these books, but I feel like they could have waited a week? Maybe that’s just me, but boy did it feel awkward. I also don’t think it’s necessarily meaningful. If you’re trying to use this as proof of DC falling on one side of comics in its future or the other, you’re reaching, I’d say.

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