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May 22, 2014

Bob Wayne To Leave His Longtime Gig With DC Comics?

So I'm seeing a bunch of tweets that Bob Wayne is retiring from DC Comics. That usually means that Bleeding Cool saw something, posted it, and then people are kind of being coy about finding it the same place that Bleeding Cool found it. I'm avoiding all of this by being really late getting something up. Let's just assume that everyone had this before me, and that everyone had rumors about this six months ago that I completely missed. Here's a story. Here's another story. Here's a funny tweet. I guess there's a chance this could still be revealed as misinformation, so we'll see.

imageIf true, though, this is a big deal, and not just because everyone is going to write that it's a big deal. Wayne is a key figure at DC and in the development of the comics industry as it relates to the Direct Market of hobby and comics retail. Wayne joined DC's sales department in 1987, just as comics began to negotiate a very tricky general sales period of new players, consolidated distribution and an expanding readership at least in terms of demographics. As someone with actual retail experience -- and as a same-generation comics person with many of the major retailers, Wayne soon became a trusted presence for those market movers within DC. He was also very effective in shaping policy to benefit those retailers, both in the odd period of distributor consolidation that re-shaped that market on the fly, and in the period following where non-Direct Market avenues and prose-publishing marketing tactics grew in importance for the media-resource rich publisher. He's a survivor whose title -- which I think has stayed at the Senior VP title as a lot of folks have seen job title changes -- never seemed as important as his presence and influence on policy and orientation.

That last thing sounds made up, but the fact that Wayne will be bowing out as the company makes it move to Burbank will seem extremely symbolic for a lot of people that sell comics for a living, people that will no doubt worry about the emphasis become more and more about managing properties to be exploited through videogame licensing. I kid, but I'm sure someone thinks that, or something close to that. If someone ever has the chance to write a rigorous corporate history of DC Comics, it will be interesting to see how Wayne is treated according to the fact on hand. I mean, I suspect that DC's success in moving so much "New 52" product through the Direct Market in 2011 was as much a massive vote of confidence in the retailers' relationship with the Direct Market side of DC's business as personified by Wayne as much as if not more than broad enthusiasm for Superman in a t-shirt and jeans, but that more a hunch of my part than anything I know for sure.

I haven't had much personal contact with Wayne, but I wish him all the best with whatever he chooses to do moving forward, and if that includes recovering from rumored health issues, I doubly wish him the best on that.

photo of Wayne from 2005
posted 3:25 am PST | Permalink

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