Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Breaking News: DC Shuts Down Wildstorm, Zuda

DC Comics announced in a press release earlier today that they are shutting down Jim Lee's Wildstorm imprint and absorbing the characters into DC. The move was one of several major changes announced, including the end of Zuda Comics as well as the relocation of numerous jobs from DC's New York headquarters to Los Angeles.

Wildstorm, of course, has been one of the premiere imprints in comics since it debuted nearly 20 years ago as part of the Image launch in 1991. Under Lee's guidance, Wildstorm published acclaimed and groundbreaking titles by creators such as Warren Ellis and Alan Moore, including influential series such as Gen13, WildCATS, Planetary, The Authority, Tom Strong, DV8, Ex Machina and Top Ten. For the last few years it has also been the publisher for Kurt Busiek's Astro City.

Considering Lee is now a co-publisher of DC itself, the move isn't necessarily a complete shock, but it's still a bit of a surprise that leaves many questions unanswered, particularly the future of the many Wildstorm characters. Will they now be folded into the DCU itself? Will some of them be DCU characters and others go to Vertigo to maintain their feel? And what will happen to creator owned works like Astro City (Busiek has said on his facebook page that he hasn't heard anything from DC yet)?

The decision to dump Wildstorm came at the same time as DC's decision to dump Zuda Comics, which as you know (thanks to my reviews last year) was a digital comics experiment that for a while provided a unique platform for new creators. That's gone and in it's place is... a nebulous something that DC is working on instead; their press release indicated that Lee will now be heading the new digital initiative, but what form that's going to take is unclear.

Also unclear is how the decision to move a number of jobs from New York to Los Angeles will affect DC. One has to assume that this is a result of last year's move by parent company Time/Warner to consolidate the management of DC under the Warner Bros. entertainment banner.

In short, pretty much nothing is certain as a result of these moves other than the fact that Wildstorm and Zuda no longer exist. It appears on first blush, though, that these moves all are part of a larger plan to focus on and leverage DC's core properties -- which unfortunately may come at the expense of their more innovative and creative smaller branches.

We'll see.

p.s. The DC website where they posted the press release seems to have crashed but I'll try to get a link to it when I can. Here's an interview with DC's head honcho Diane Nelson, though, where she sort of talks about the changes.

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