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Diane Nelson Confirms DC Comics Relocation From New York to Los Angeles

A letter sent to DC Entertainment employees by company President Diane Nelson has confirmed what staffers and industry insiders have anticipated for some time: the DC Comics division of DCE will relocate from New York, NY — where the publisher has been headquartered since its inception in the 1930s (as National Allied Publications) — and join its sister operations in Burbank, CA, part of Los Angeles County, also home to DCE’s parent company Warner Bros.

In the letter (which was made public on Tuesday by CBR), Nelson advised DC Comics employees that the move will take place some time in 2015. “The move is not imminent and we will have more than a year to work with the entire company on a smooth transition for all of us, personally and professionally.”

This news has been expected since the formation of the DC Entertainment umbrella organization in 2009, which installed Nelson as President with a mandate to more aggressively manage and streamline the myriad DC brands and interests with a view towards multimedia success as a major Warner Bros. brand. DC’s digital comics and collectibles divisions were moved to the Burbank facility and from all accounts have been thriving.

Nelson and the company said at the time that keeping comics publishing operations in New York — also the home of DC’s publishing rival Marvel — was integral to the legacy of the storied company. Nevertheless, DC staffers have told ComicsAlliance they “always knew this was coming.” There was a time when the northeastern U.S. and New York City specifically were the heart of book publishing, and over the years many DC employees have come from that world. Indeed, when DC made its landmark distribution deal with Random House in 2007, the details were discussed in person and on a regular basis because the two companies’ offices were located within a few minutes’ walk of each other.

Being in New York has its downsides, though. Technology has made a personal choice out of what was once a virtual prerequisite for ambitious comics pros, living in New York City to be near one’s editors and collaborators. Consequently DC has found itself with fewer and fewer of its freelancers living in New York than ever before, which reduces the need to remain in what we’ve been told is very expensive real estate in midtown Manhattan, directly across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater (even if DC breaks the lease, it’s a good bet there’s still a net gain in long term savings on a Burbank relocation, particularly if it ends up part of Warner Bros.’ expansive facilities).

Hollywood operations were also impacted by key personnel being headquartered in New York, which has precluded series editors and other key DC staffers from being directly involved with the creation of films based on signature works (The Losers film comes to mind).

But while a move to Los Angeles would strengthen DC’s pursuit of occupying a bigger space in film, television, gaming and technology, it’s inevitable that some New York-based employees will be lost in the move. Nelson said in her letter that “everyone on the New York staff will be offered an opportunity to join their Burbank colleagues and those details will be shared with you individually, comprehensively and thoughtfully,” but it’s very likely some employees will wish to remain in New York with their families, friends and neighbors.

In other words, expect some auspicious Marvel hires in the future — unless of course that company does exactly the same thing.

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