Inside the Box: Breaking Down the Three Biggest Issues with DC’s Reorganization

DC's surprising restructuring of its line is analyzed

This past Friday, DC Comics decided to finally shoot the shot that Rich Johnston called a while back. Vertigo will be concluding its run in January 2020. What our guy Rich did not let us know at a previous time, however, was that this would be part of a larger transformation at DC. It’s not just Vertigo going through a substantial change but the entire company. That’s right. It’s a complete reorganization.

That is a much, much bigger deal. But what exactly does it mean from a practical standpoint? It’s simple. The publishing side is now three lines built around specific age bands. They are:

  • DC Kids: 8 to 12 year olds
  • DC: 13 years old and up
  • DC Black Label: 17 years and and older

As part of this move, DC’s most public-facing executives have been out there assuring everyone all is well while walking us through why this was the move to make. CCO and co-publisher Jim Lee said this about the age bands and the larger restructuring: “What we’ve done here is apply an ages and stages organizing philosophy 19 that will strengthen what we’re already doing well, whether that is our move into the young adult and middle grade audience or our long track record of success with creator-driven pop-up lines.”

Meanwhile, Lee’s co-publisher Dan DiDio had this to say: “That
kind of material is now mainstream across all genres, so we thought it was the right time to bring greater clarity to the DC brand and reinforce our commitment to storytelling for all of our fans in every age group. This new system will replace the age ratings we currently use on our material.”

To further reassure everyone, Lee took to Twitter with what I have to imagine was a highly vetted tweet about the company’s plans: “Our decision to rebrand all content under the singular DC imprint is just that. Amazing bks that comprise the Sandman Univ e.g. will continue. Big plans for yr 2! YA, pop-ups & creator-owned comics will continue to be a big part of DC. No books are being cancelled or going away.”

That’s a lot. I wouldn’t typically drop that many quotes in a row, but I wanted to emphasize the company line: all is well! This is smart! Nothing to see here! The pop ups will survive. Creator-owned will still be a thing. Everything is being simplified to make the whole publishing line easier to understand. That all sounds good. So this DC reorganization is a good thing…right?

I’m not entirely sure about that.

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  1. More on this later.

  2. Fun fact: I once wrote Pia Guerra a letter telling her she and BKV owed me something like $10,000 because Y was so good it made me start buying comics again. It was very tongue in cheek and deeply thankful to them. She wrote me back a very kind note, so thanks Pia!

  3. Speaking of, Christopher Cantwell and Martin Morazzo’s She Could Fly is worth a read. So is Ann Nocenti and David Aja’s The Seeds.

  4. Shouts to Tini Howard and Nick Robles’ Euthanauts.

  5. Although I would recommend buying everything Emily does anyways.

  6. Or maybe it is!

  7. This especially would have made sense given that they did what I’m suggesting by turning DC Zoom into DC Kids. They clearly have no issue moving on from names that seem to be struggling. More on this in a minute, though.

  8. Update: apparently giving someone their own imprint is one way to do it!

  9. Particularly for creators with organizational skills. Image is clearly the best deal if you don’t mind a whole lot of project management.

  10. If that statement is confusing, check out the titles currently being published by that imprint and the ones on the horizon. Hope you like The Joker and Harley Quinn, because Gotham is where DC has clearly decided the money lies!

  11. I have to imagine DC’s assorted Looney Tunes type comics will live here as well.

  12. For more on that subject, I highly recommend Gina Gagliano and Alison Wilgus’ chat with Tucker Stone on the Graphic Novel TK podcast. It’s about marketing from that perspective and it’s a very illuminating chat.

  13. This is the only simple one, even if I’m annoyed by it.

  14. Who knows if Milestone even exists in this new world order.

  15. Outside of DC Kids, which again has its own problems.

  16. Even if it is just to one random person pulling their hair out because they have a single Transmetropolitan trade labeled as Helix, five as Vertigo and four as Black Label.

  17. Yes, I know the imprints still exist. But if you think they’re going to lead the way in DC’s external messaging as they were before, well…I fear you have a surprise coming your way.

  18. Speaking of: would Dogwelder be a DC character or a Black Label character now? This is an important question.

  19. More on this later.