CMX Shutdown Reactions

In the wake of yesterday’s news that DC is shutting down CMX, a variety of reactions hit the internet. Here are some of the strongest and smartest.

David Welsh reviews DC Comics’ history of forgetting that it had a manga imprint.

When Diane Nelson took over for Levitz, it surprised absolutely no one that CMX was not among her talking points, probably because DC didn’t have the right to repackage CMX properties in other media, so who cares? We need a goddamn Green Lantern franchise with legs, and we need one now.

He also speculates about the convenient timing, before pointing out that with CMX, DC was serving customers that otherwise may have nothing to buy from them. Commenters point out that the decision may have come suddenly, since the CMX website was updated with new titles just the day before the news broke. On Twitter, speculation revolved around the possibility that, if DC’s fiscal year was based on calendar year, then it’s an interesting coincidence that CMX is ending exactly at the end of the second quarter.

The dislike of DC based on this decision isn’t a rare occurrence. Rob McMonigal takes it even further by linking it to some of DC’s other decisions focused towards restoring the traditional.

… it’s a pattern of action that leads me to believe that DC Comics is trying to market itself to a group of people who, like the comics DC is promoting, want to look backward into the age of what was, rather than forward into the promise of the future. Giving up on manga, despite the fact that the right titles, marketed properly, can compete financially with most of what DC publishes in single issue and trade form, strikes me as part of a trend that places the company squarely with a vocal political minority that refuses to accept that the world has changed.

In other words, it sure looks like DC is trying to be the comic arm of the Tea Party and those who want to keep this country divided along racial lines. With the stories of the past few years, DC has not been a good place to be if you aren’t a white male character steeped in years of history. It seems like they have no desire to even try to write a comic written for women or minorities, or at least one that doesn’t show them as being second class.

I think Rob takes this too far, but it is an unfortunate combination of timing. If anything, DC is awfully tone-deaf about the perceptions they create.

Kate Dacey examines the decision in light of sales figures and finds a small glimmer of hope for some other publishers who are making smarter decisions. In a second post, she praises the (now presumably unemployed) CMX staff.

Saddest of all, as the group at Good Comics for Kids points out, is what this decision may say about how DC plans to reach girl customers: in short, not at all.

… girls never have been an audience that DC courted or considered seriously, and they aren’t going to be any time in the near future. I don’t care what Karen Berger said at the beginning of Minx: teenage girls are a tiny blip in what DC looks at when creating or promoting comics. I still enjoy what they do well for what they are: slick and occasionally compelling superhero tales. I’m just sad to have to accept that they are not, and never will be, aimed at me or the girls who enjoy superhero comics. We exist, and it feels terrible to be ignored or, as is often the case when I try to bring this problem up, tossed the Gail Simone bone and told that should be enough for me. (I have no quarrel with Gail Simone herself, just the fact that she’s considered enough representation for half the population. No one woman should shoulder that responsibility!)

Another market that DC is losing with this decision: librarians who found the titles of CMX excellent for tweens, younger than the older-teen ratings of much other shojo. Some fascinating discussion follows about how poor a job Random House does of representing graphic novels to the library trade.

Update: (5/20/10) As usual, the insightful Christopher Butcher has the last word, summing up the history of CMX through a comic retailer perspective.

I can’t stress enough, their initial licenses were very strange and generally weak with no cohesion as a line. Sales tanked, comics retailers who were encouraged to buy BIG were left with unsold stock, and comics retailers have long and ’specific’ memories and if they’re ever burned by anything they never forget and hold a grudge indefinitely. (Except for superheroes of course.) …

DC evidenced quite clearly that they have no idea how to run a manga line so if they weren’t going to _try_ then it’s best they stopped wasting my time clogging up my shelves.

5 Comments

  1. While I don’t read manga, out of curiosity (and, erm, getting a pile of free stuff) I did pick up the CMX sampler they gave out at the DC Comics booth at C2E2 last month (that and the Sabrina the Teenage Witch manga run’s digest of the first several issues of that run, which I now want to read the rest of). I guess it’s useless now?

  2. Well, Megatokyo was in the sampler, and that’s going to be continuing… otherwise, yeah, pretty much.

  3. So SWAN stops dead with vol.15, just as it was becoming something more than a shoujo manga (however superbly made)?

    Good thing I’ve kept the whole Japanese-language deluxe set I splurged on years ago, I suppose…

  4. I can’t believe they can just STOP PUBLISHING like that! Some other manga company HAS to come forward to publish SWAN now!

  5. [...] days, when manga publishers are going out of business left and right, it was a wonderful reminder to get a press release noting that as of the coming July, [...]

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