Thursday, April 2, 2009
The New King of D.C. Comics???
In his latest Permanent Damage column, Steven Grant is reporting that ultra-conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch is purchasing DC comics!
It's quite a tale, actually. Grant has been supplementing his income as a Hollywood consultant. One of his producer contacts pumped him for information about what he'd do with DC comics if he were running the company and what it would take to purchase the comics publisher.
Seems Murdoch is interested in DCs intellectual property so he can create a synergistic multi-platform entertainment factory. And now Grant is reporting that this fantasy has become a reality - that former Fox exec just called him as a representative of a new Murdoch firm: publisher of DC comics!
The broad strokes are that Murdoch would own the lion's share of DCs characters, but would kick a portion of new licensing deals to Warner Brothers. Warner would also retain the rights to Batman and the Vertigo imprint under the proposed deal.
According to Grant, this thing is all but in the bag, although no major news source has picked up on it, and neither has comics top beat reporter, Rich Johnston. Grant's source apparently told him to keep the entire thing under wraps - unless he put it in his April 1 column so that everybody would interpret the news as a hoax! And that's exactly what he did.
I don't know if this is a joke or not. But if this is true, my guess is that this is going to have major ramification for comics.
Because he'll run DC into the ground? Nah. Whatever you might think of Murdoch's politics, he seems to be plenty astute as a businessman. I suppose the big concern would be creative interference. But then again, this is the entity that brings us Family Guy. I don't see Murdoch censoring or squashing creative energies.
And didn't we predict doom and gloom for that bastion of liberality: The New York Times? Seems to be humming along to the left just fine. No, I think comics as stories continues relatively untouched by the move.
But remember that fine print where DC has the option to buy out monopolistic distributor Diamond? DC has never followed through on that, but it makes a lot of cut-throat sense to eliminate the middle man and distribute your own books while crushing your competition with unfavorable rates.
Think about it - why wouldn't you own your distribution chain and raise the rates on Marvel? I don't know if that's good for comics, but it sure is good for DC. Plus, Diamond owner Steve Geppi is really hurting for cash and probably can't wait to draw up the paperwork.
At that point Marvel and the rest would either have to create or develop an alternative distributor (probably good in the long term, probably quite painful in the short term) or let DC dictate terms. Ouchie.
The point is that I don't see Murdoch letting that loophole slide. If this is for real, I'd look for DC to take over Diamond very, very soon. Buckle up, kids, it should be a hell of a ride!