Daniel Cherry & Jim Lee Are Fiddling on the Deck of a Sinking DC Comics

 

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed both of two pretentious leading executives at DC about where they’re going. Predictably, nothing’s reported objectively here, but they do bring up some social justice pandering:

 

Former Activision esports exec Daniel Cherry III was hired as senior vp and general manager of DC Comics in September, taking on the business aspects at the company. And publishing initiatives that featured a Black Batman and a partnership with Fortnite became chart-topping hits.

 

Delivered, as expected, with zero sales figures to back them up. They’re obviously aware the low figures an individual title sells by today are enough to make even the most cynical businessman laugh.

 

Yet challenges remain amid criticism that WarnerMedia doesn’t “get” the comic book publishing world. A new merger, the massive one with Discovery, is an unknown X factor and isn’t expected to close until sometime in 2022.

 

 

They most definitely don’t, but they’ll never admit it. This is precisely why it’s been a bad omen in the long run for a corporation to retain ownership of the franchise.

 

But at the same time, DC’s profile hasn’t been higher. Not only is The Suicide Squad looking to be one of Warners biggest hits of the year (though you never know with the shifting winds of the pandemic), but next year should bring up to five live-action movies, including a Robert Pattinson-starring Batman.

Now here’s a truly hilarious one, because guess what? The movie sequel grossed little more than $25 million in its first week. That’s certainly telling for a film that reportedly cost nearly $200 million, and Variety’s attempts to downplay the impending financial failure are unimpressive. At least they admit the Coronavirus pandemic could have some accountability here.

 

A year ago things were pretty dire. How has the last year been?

Lee: 2020 on all levels was a challenging year for everybody. A year out, we’re in a good spot. Part of what we’ve done in this year was think about the infrastructure and the resources we have and where we want to place our biggest bets in terms of the publishing business going forward.

The world opening up a little bit, the fans responding to the content we launched earlier this year, Future State and Infinite Frontier, has made a big difference.

Cherry: As a major player in this industry, it’s really up to us to redefine what this means for the next generation of fans and to build the right type of organization that can future-proof itself to meet that fan demand. So the changes that we are making organizationally, and also with our content, is so that we can evolve this industry and meet fans where they are.

 

I missed the sales figures. On the other hand, I do notice they citing yearly events like Infinite Frontier and Future State, intended for little more than diversity and SJW pandering under a guise of crossover events. As expected, story talent and quality are missing from the mix. How can they meet fan demand if they won’t define what kind of fans they want, or cite what they assume a new generation of fans would want? Especially when their whole goal has been more to do social justice marketing, not unlike Marvel.

 

So what is future-proofing?

Cherry: We talk a lot about the four Rs: Reach, Relevance, Responsibility, and Revenue. When we talk about Revenue, it’s not just to DC, it means to the comic books shops, the creators, and the folks who helped build this industry.

And our job is that we increase the reach as far as possible, not just North America and South America, but globally.

To be as relevant as possible to those fans, from all walks of life. This medium is so beautiful, we all grew up loving it and to me, there needs to be pop culture conversation about this art form and these stories. And, yes, that means we have great theatrical productions and animation that engage with the fans, but we believe that the cornerstone of this entire story is the comic form and the stories we’ve inherited.

And responsibility is a big one as well. We talk about being “fan first.” We do listen. We also listen not just the core but the casual fan, and want to have product to meet them both.

And that also means responsibility to the community, and the comic book shop owners. I spend time on weekends at comic books shops, that’s where I grew up. And if you know anything about cultural trends, it starts with a community that is strong and rich and vibrant. And it’s our job to keep it vibrant and expand it through new channels. Mobile, digital, and global are really important for the next generation of fans.

There are a lot of young fans who don’t have a history of going to comic book shops so how to meet them where they are? How do you build that bridge? It may be with content that is easiest to find, which is on their phone.

More fishy statements about “all walks of life”. That could just as easily describe ideologues and identity politics advocates. It’s certainly what mainstream publishers are pandering to these days. And “listening”? They haven’t done that in years. The mishandling of Green Lantern post-1988 was but an early example, particularly after Emerald Twilight. Worst, they spent years enabling sensationalized, jarring violence to encroach upon storytelling, and all that did was lower the bar much further.

 

What do you make of those rumors that say the higher ups want to get rid of publishing or that they just don’t get it?

Lee: Occasionally you will run across that article or tweet and I have to bite my tongue to not jump into the conversations. It’s the furthest thing from the truth. If anything, it’s the exact opposite. The comics that we publish, the core canon we establish in comics, is driving everything that we do across DC in media. We are constantly referring to the characters as we build DC beyond the publishing world.

Having publishing is vital to our future. You can’t rest on our laurels and having an influx of new voices, new characters, new points of view is vital to keeping the industry healthy and representative of current times. It’s mission one for us to make sure that universe we create and champion is reflective of the fanbase that loves our characters. So yes, it is the cornerstone of everything we do.

Cherry: That is literally a statement in our documents.

 

All that hints is that they’re intent on pushing any and all of their divisive politics on the products. And challenging question: do they intend on restoring even small superheroes whose background is white/Caucasian to the forefront, like the Silver Age Atom? If memory serves, he has not been seen in 4 years, since editorial basically wrote him off into a form of limbo. Though to be fair, his SJW replacement, Ryan Choi, may not have been seen in a while either; they clearly don’t know what to do with such a character any more than the veteran he all but replaced through forced and contrived circumstances.

Lee and Cherry fail again to impress or convince. So who knows? Could the rumors of closure eventually become true? It’d be a blessing for a publishing outfit long abused by modern ideologues, though it’d be far better if it were sold to a business with more respect for the creations than they’ll ever have. Because truly, AT&T/Warner Brothers simply doesn’t get it.

 

Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1

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