It was a day of big news for DC Comics today, and part of the news is the announcement that DC is shutting down their WildStorm imprint as well as shutting down their webcomic division, Zuda Comics.
On a statement on DC’s blog The Source, co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee spoke of the changes occurring within the company and their efforts to focus on what makes most sense to them as a publisher.
What does the end of these two imprints mean? Not much, really. It is bad news for the Zuda creators who are now out of work, as well as a number of WildStorm employees who may lose their job, and we hope they all land on their feet. However, any popular books at WildStorm are sure to be carried over and will see publication under DC’s main line.
WildStorm was launched in 1992 and was founded by Jim Lee as the publishing house for his first Image Comics series, Wild C.A.T.S. With the success of that book, Lee was able to add more books to the line, such as Stormwatch, Backlash, and Gen 13. Many other books followed, with the line putting out a number of critically and commercially successful properties, including The Authority, Astro City, and was the original home of Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics, which published the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Eventually, DC saw the value of the line, and of Jim Lee as a creator, and in 1999, DC bought the company.
Zuda was launched in 2007 as an effort by DC to gain some kind of webcomic presence. Zuda was originally a competition-run webpage, where voters decided which series would continue and which wouldn’t. The competition segment was dropped earlier this year, and it has to be said that the line was met with general apathy from the beginning. While I’m sure there were many fans of the works presented on the site, and a few of the series eventually saw a jump to the printed page, Zuda never had the impact that DC would have liked, and the writing has been on the wall for months that Zuda would be coming to an end.
It’s not surprising that WildStorm has been folded up so close on the heels of the release of the last issue of Ex Machina. Ex Machina was the last “great” WildStorm series still seeing publication, and if the last few issues had come out on a regular schedule, I’d bet money that WildStorm would have been closed down months ago. The imprint had ceased to be the house that Jim Lee built, and had become largely the licensing factory for DC. By shutting down the line, DC will be able to shine a light on books that appeal to a more mainstream audience like Fringe and World of Warcraft. They’ll also be able to bring the WildStorm Universe characters like Wildcats and The Authority more in line with the rest of the DC Universe. Fans of WildStorm’s superhero line shouldn’t be worried that they’ll never see those characters again, as the announcement already spoke about plans by Geoff Johns to revitalize the characters.
So, WildStorm and Zuda have been put out of their misery, but don’t shed any tears for the books. They will live on. Think of those who have lost their jobs today, cause they are the ones most impacted by today’s news. It’s not really a surprise that the two lines have come to an end, and it should make for a more focused line.