DC Comics cuts 20% of its staff, proving once again that greed isn’t just good…it’s legal.
As we sink further into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, many of us have learned a painful lesson: we’re expendable.
If you’re one of the millions working in the middle class, you’re likely overworked, underpaid, and stressed beyond belief about the possibility of being fired (that is, if you’re lucky enough to still have a job).
This is the face of the recession, plain and simple.
Corporations continue to move as much wealth up to the top 2% as possible, and those dollars, of course, comes from the 98% below. Pay cuts and massive layoffs are becoming so commonplace that they’re now thought of as a standard business practice – just another way to increase revenue for the top earners.
On September 21, 2010, DC Comics announced they were releasing a full 20% of their staff (approximately 50 people). At first I was shocked, then confused, and then disappointed. Surely there is a good reason for this – they made this move out of necessity, not purely out of greed…haven’t they?
Eager for more information I began Googling vigorously.
A special word from the President: We’re firing everyone to maximize growth!
DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson made a statement about the layoffs, which amounted to a spattering of meaningless business jargon tossed randomly into sentences.
Things like “maximum growth, success and efficiency in the future”, and “we looked at the effects on our people and looked for efficiencies and ways to collaborate” were part of her boiler plate narrative, before asserting “it’s not about cost-cutting”.
Click here to read the entire article. Prepare yourself for boredom and confusion.
Having lost 15 minutes of my life, I continued my unrelenting quest to find an intelligible answer.
Comic book legend Jim Lee gives me some closure. Sort of.
In his statement, Jim Lee spoke of a “soft marketplace” as one of the reasons for the layoffs and restructuring. That’s the closest thing he could offer to an actual explanation, but that one simple sentence spoke volumes.
Of course! The crippling recession! THAT’S why they needed to burn 20% of their staff. If folks don’t buy comics, DC staffers are out of a job. Plain and simple.
Except for one little problem.
The market ain’t that soft.
According to estimates, comic sales were $263M in 2008, and experienced a slight dip in 2009 to $257.88M. This is less than 2%, but of course we also have to take into account that digital comics are selling more than ever before, and are likely picking up some of that slack.
Aside from that, the market for newsstand comics and bookstore TPB sales has increased every year for the last decade. All things considered, the industry looks pretty stable.
In addition to comics and TPBs, people are still buying merchandise, apparel, and going to comic book-inspired movies. But maybe DC isn’t getting their share of this pie? Is this the softness that Jim is speaking of?
Looking at the top 300 comic book sales from last month, it seems like this isn’t the case either.
DC dominates most of the chart, including 4 of the top 10 books sold, and they hold the coveted #1 and #2 spots.
They have everything from animated TV shows, DVDs, video games, t-shirts and action figures. And we haven’t even gotten to the big guns yet.
The Dark Knight, released in 2008, made over a billion dollars worldwide, making it the most successful comic book movie of all time – and that doesn’t take into account Blu-Ray and DVD sales, as well as related merchandise.
The Green Lantern is poised to do big business in early 2011, and several other movies are on the way.
So if the pie is still relatively large (and growing) and DC is getting more than a large chunk of it (over a third, according to many reports) then why was it necessary to cut 20% of their staff?
I want to love DC. I want them to thrive and succeed and do great things, but the big gooey optimist inside me also wants them to be good people while they’re doing it.
The dreamer in me wants a Jim Lee at the top of the DC ladder, making decisions based on his passion for the business, but the realist in me knows that, more likely that not, the show is being run by a Gordon Gekko.
All the best to those who were laid off.
My heart goes out to you.
Love you guys,
Comic Book Grrl xo
Sorry if I’m bit of a downer this week – I’m usually filled with rainbows and sunshine but I felt that I needed to cover this issue in a timely manner.
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