A recent article in Forbes explored the potential ramifications for DC Comic of AT&T’s takeover of Warner Bros.
With the competitive environment becoming even more intense in the streaming media world, particularly with the giant presence of Disney + looming large over everything, the main driver behind the purchase of Warner Bros. is to enable AT&T to better compete and have access to content, drawing on the vast library that the studio has at its disposal.
However, publishing comic books is not part of that grand plan – especially as the amount of profit DC Comics generates is tiny compared to the movie and TV revenues. And with sales dropping year on year and comic stores closing at the rate of one a month, something may have to give.
One of the factors driving this rapid decline may be that readers simply don’t like the type of content being produced nowadays by both DC Comics and Marvel – with often cited accusations that the focus nowadays is more on virtue signalling and political agendas, versus telling good stories featuring compelling characters. Even Dan Didio recently stated that DC had failed to deliver what customers want, as evidenced by the fact that their facsimile re-print versions of classic comics, including original ads and all, are selling better than the current output being produced today.
Another reason for the decline in the comic book industry is of course pirating. It only takes a simple Google search to find numerous websites out there enabling readers to freely download every single comic book title on sale within a day after they have been released. It is not surprising therefore that both publishers and retailers are struggling to survive.
Which brings us back to DC Comics and whether or not they have a role in AT&T’s future plans. Forbes speculate that within a few years, AT&T could shut down DC as a publisher completely and use their intellectual properties to sell apparel and merchandise instead, turning it into a lifestyle brand. We have already potentially seen this strategy start to take fruition, what with the recent cancellation of Mad magazine and DC’s announcement that titles currently being shipped twice a month, will revert to monthly publishing schedules in 2020. If nothing else, it is clear a cost cutting drive is now underway.
It goes without saying that DC Comics ceasing publishing would be a devastating blow to long time comic book fans, who have grown up with these titles and characters. And while the latter will no doubt live on as pop icons on tee-shirts and the like, we may never see them featured in brand new published adventures again. They’ll simply live on in TV and movies and help to sell merchandise. But as we have seen, the on-screen versions of these characters are often very different to their comic-book counterparts – and not always in a good way either.
In truth though, nobody knows for sure what AT&T have in mind – and perhaps they have a grand plan up their sleeve to help DC Comics return to their glory days? Regardless, it’s clear that storm clouds are certainly gathering, and change – for better or for worse – is surely on the way.
However, one thing I know for sure. Wonder Woman will always be a part of my life – no matter what the world has in store for her…