September 9, 2013

The Too-Much-Drama-At-DC-Comics Brouhaha

Between more creative team shuffles, an ill-thought out creative challenge (which resulted in a stern Twitter lecture on context), and various shenanigans, DC Comics finds itself under public scrutiny.

And I, for one, am tired of the negativity....but I think I have a possible insight into why DC Comics is misbehaving, and one of the possible fixes.

I only realized this when reading this fine timeline via Gutters and Panels, I saw that the person who runs DC Entertainment - Diane Nelson - comes from the field of "brand management". Basically, this means that her speciality is figuring out how to position a particular brand in the marketplace, determining how the audience interacts with that brand, and making sure that the product matches up to the brand.

Throughout DC Entertainment, however, this seems to be playing itself out in a very destructive way - freelancers may be let go because their efforts aren't "meeting the brand". (Editors may be more in clue to the DC Entertainment "brand" - whatever that is - and making last minute changes because storylines don't fit the "DC brand"). Instead of focusing on the key element of DC Comics - most notably, the actual comics themselves - the powers that be (and that includes Dan Didio, Jim Lee, and the rest of the wacky gang) are focusing on fulfilling DC Entertainment's "brand promise" the expense of actually having products which promote that brand. (Or, as fellow blogger Siskoid might say, it's the John Nathan-Turner school of management).

Ironically, this also means that people who practice this - who are more focused on the image and on being the "top dog" - often lose out on opportunities. In my own life, after a fellow colleague in the field (whom I'll refer to as "Connector-In-Chief", mostly for purposes of satire) requested ideas for a presentation, I suggested my "Doctor Who Guide to Social Media". As the Connector publicly stated reluctance, needing to go to "the community", several members of this person's group shook their heads in affirmation - they wanted this, the Connector did not. (Eventually, the Connector-in-Chief stated that they were canceling the meeting in which I would have presented....but I had gone ahead and scheduled it anyway. Besides, the Connector-in-Chief's behavior towards me seems to indicate that they feel that I am a "threat" to them, and that having me around takes the focus off of them. It's understandable - after all, I am much younger, smarter, and better looking...but that goes without saying.)

But enough about me - this is a post about DC Entertainment.

With the amount of online copy generated about DC Entertainment's shenanigans, it's probably not suprising that the leadership team sees this as a victory - that they're dominating online conversation. Sadly, I believe we are seeing the sharp decline and sad fall of a major comics company. Somewhere in this story is a great book - a Barbarians At the Gate or The Smartest Guys In the Room - about DC Entertainment.

I just refuse to be one of the people who help write it.

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