Warner Bros. Takes Over DC Comics Publishing – What Does It All Mean?

Sumo = Me

The publishing world, through untrained eyes (mine), looks like a murky mangrove swamp of interconnected companies printing paper products for the masses.  It’s astonishingly confusing, at least to me, and right now I can honestly say that I’m unclear as to what the exact duties of a “publisher” are.

I know what a publishing house does (maybe): it’s a place, company, that buys books from authors, edits them, and puts up all the money for advertising, and distribution and such and, if the book performs well financially, takes the majority of the profit.  Right?  Ok, so then what the heck does this mean?

“Warner Bros. Consumer Products has taken over global licensed publishing responsibilities from its sister division, DC Comics…  The move includes all formats licensed to third-party publishers; DC’s New York office will continue to publish and handle global subsidiary rights for its core comic books and graphic novels.”

This excerpt was taken from an article written by the undoubtedly dashing Karen Raugust at Publishers Weekly (you can read the full article here) and I’m going to try to break it down.  It seems that basically, Warner Bros, which owns DC Comics, is taking over their publishing rights for certain products –

“encompasses children’s formats such as storybooks, novelizations, chapter books, readers, coloring, activity and sticker books, how-to-draw titles, educational books, and partworks, as well as licensed formats for adults, such as script books, novels, and art books. The roster of properties includes MAD Magazine and Vertigo Comics as well as the vast universe of DC Comics characters. DC publishes more than 80 comic and graphic novel titles per month and 1,000 issues per year…”

Intriguing to be sure, especially that bit about “includes all formats licensed to third party publishers.”   Yet we have this bit right afterwards  –

“DC Comics’ existing publishing licensees will remain in place. Many, including Bendon, Penguin, and HarperCollins, publish books tied to both DC Comics’ and Warner Bros.’ properties. “We have many shared licensees, and there are a lot of synergies to be gained,” Rupert said. “This will give us a lot of opportunity to grow.””

I dread the word synergy unless I’m talking about teams in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.  It gets thrown around as space filler adding a pseudo-positive spin to whatever’s being discussed by simply being indefinable.  Alright, so if Warner Bros. and DC Comics have many shared licensees (companies that have purchased the rights to publish material from both of these companies) does that mean Warner Bros. will see a lot of the profit because it’s taken over publishing practices.  Will this result in a loss of revenue for DC at all?  Will the companies that bought licenses from DC now have to go through the WB?

Looks like I need to get into the lab to brush up on my business and publishing knowledge.  If anyone can shed any light on this issue, suggest books to read, or anything I would greatly appreciate any illumination that blasts away my all-too-apparent ignorance.  I feel like this is a huge event that seems to have gone relatively unnoticed… Am I wrong?


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