Warner Bros. Consumer Products has taken over global licensed publishing responsibilities from its sister division, DC Comics. The announcement was expected to be made at the start of the Bologna Children's Book Fair, which runs March 28–31. 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.
"It made sense from a strategic standpoint," explained Dave Rupert, WBCP's senior v-p, global publishing, hardlines, product development, and Canada. "We already manage all of DC's properties in every category except publishing, and we've managed publishing for all of our own properties, so why shouldn't we apply that expertise to DC Comics' publishing, too?"
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."
The DC licensed publishing activity, handled by Warner Brothers going forward, 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; among its many other characters are the Flash, Aquaman, and Justice League of America.
The move of licensed publishing to WBCP's offices follows Warner Bros.' creation of DC Entertainment in September 2009. DC Entertainment, based in Los Angeles, was formed to handle all management of DC Comics' properties outside of publishing, including films, DVD, and television productions. It also has overseen consumer products, in conjunction with WBCP, in all categories except publishing, until now. "We've tapped some talent from New York to join us out here," Rupert said.
WBCP has doubled its booth size at Bologna this year to showcase both its DC characters and its Warner Bros. properties, which include Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, Harry Potter, Tom and Jerry, Happy Feet, and more. For DC, WBCP is highlighting four key properties: the Green Lantern, which will star in a feature film premiering this summer; Batman, for which production starts this year on another film, The Dark Knight Rises, for a 2012 release; Wonder Woman, for which a new TV series is in the works; and the perennial favorite, Superman. DC Entertainment is working on a variety of other, as-yet-unannounced entertainment vehicles, and Rupert said that more publishing initiatives will be announced shortly.