After only 16 months as DC Comics’ Senior VP and General Manager, Daniel Cherry III exits the struggling comic book publisher. According to The Hollywood Reporter, multiple sources have confirmed the exit and implied that Cherry had quit.
Reasons for the abrupt exit, which was characterized as a “quitting,” are unclear. Cherry was in the position for less than two years, having come aboard in September 2020. The role he inhabited was a newly created position at the time, crafted in response to harsh executive layoffs that occurred in 2020 and followed the departure of co-publisher Dan DiDio.
DC had no comment.
Cherry reported to Warner Bros. global brands and experience president Pam Lifford and headed up business affairs editorial, talent services, marketing, sales, brand and direct to consumer for DC. He also oversaw business development for the company with executive Anne DePies.
Cherry came in as DC was in rebuilding mode and one of his goals was to “future-proof” the company with one of the aims being to increase its global reach. It is unclear how successful his initiatives were, but sources say DC did have a banner 2021 thanks to editorial initiatives and interest in its publishing lines thanks to The Suicide Squad movie, Sweet Tooth series and The Sandman Audible adaptation, among others.
It is unclear where Cherry will land, although the comics blogsphere is speculating he’ll be working with Kanye West.
DC’s new leadership after DiDio left, were hard left partisans. Marie Javins, the newest Editor-in-Chief is a very vocal big supporter of liberal causes, and Daniel Cherry III was well known to be an outspoken LGBTQ activist, who recently had the following to say about the direction DC’s would take under his shepherding:
“While always respecting the past, I also think it’s our responsibility to leverage the cultural power of DC Comics and our characters to entertain and inspire an increasingly diverse global fan base. Comics have the unique power to create resonant imagery and narratives that can move the world toward a better, more inclusive version of itself.”
Cherry’s “better, more inclusive” efforts, ushered in a new low for DC Comics, with far less adherence to long-standing canon and much more focus on identity politics activism than had ever been seen at DC or with any major comic book publisher. Despite only being in charge since September 2020, many fans were bewildered at some of the comic stories readers were presented with under his tenure. For instance, from last summer, I Am NOT Starfire presented a charmless, offensive, garishly-drawn, fan-fiction tale with a message for women that raw power is all you need. The main thrust of this book was about a misfit lesbian coming out to her silly mother. This book wasn’t aimed at the larger demographics, but was heavily marketed by Cherry’s team to YA lesbians.
The next slight to mainstream comic book fans was having Tim Drake (aka Robin 3) break up off-panel with his longtime girlfriend Stephanie Brown. Fans were confused why after a 20+ year relationship, and having just gotten back together when DC Rebirth started, Tim would suddenly rather hang out with an “old friend”. In a single issue, Batman: Urban Legends # 4, Tim unceremoniously broke it off with his longtime girlfriend (off panel) and by the final page, this Batman sidekick that readers had grown to love since his first appearance in 1989, suddenly decided he wanted to explore a homosexual relationship:
And perhaps most upsetting to long time Superman fans, John Kent, the “Son of Kal-El,” arguably DC Comic’s flagship character, was reduced from his role as the most famous and powerful superhero in the world into a sniveling, bi-curious, climate change protesting, anti-American shadow of his former self, or more technically, of his father.
Under Cherry’s watch, DC Marketing not only amped up their push for more and more LGBT-focused comics, but the publisher proudly announced that Jonathan Kent, the son of Clark Kent, and the new standard bearer of the Superman persona, was suddenly gay, with large panels in the news media featuring him kissing a pink haired alien boy, and followed that media push with the news that he would no longer fight for truth, justice, “and the American way,” but would instead be battling climate change. It was the elimination of “the American way” line that compelled long time colorist Gabe Eltaeb, and son of patriotic immigrants, took a stand on principle and abruptly quit working on the title
Many comic book fans, particularly DC readers, feel that Cherry’s time at DC Comics, while short, was a total disaster. This also applied to overall sales. Sure, a news story about a gay Superman made Son of Kal-El # 5 have a huge spike in sales, DC’s overall sales during 2021 fell from around 39% or so of the comics market share, always a very close second to Marvel Comics, all the way down to 23% in market share. Concurrently, Image comics, IDW and BOOM! Studios increased their market shares, eating away at DC’s dwindling readership.
While many DC Comics readers may be breathing a sigh of relief at Cherry’s departure. As Chief Creative Officer, Jim Lee seems to have no strength or will to return the publisher to form. Others hold out hope that Marie Javins will be able to right the ship, although some critics recognize Javins is also still very new at her position as Editor in Chief, and is quite an outspoken political ideologue herself. Daniel Cherry’s departure may not be followed by a change in the tone of DC Comics or his stated mission to make it more “inclusive,” but perhaps Cherry’s biggest accomplishment for the comics market may have been increasing readers’ interest in the indie comicbook publishers – as well as manga. Whatever the case, there is little doubt that he is leaving the comic company in worse shape than when he arrived.
Farewell, and good luck, Mr. Cherry.