Layoffs at Marvel Comics Make Cuts to Editorial, Production and Digital Staff [Updated]
Multiple staff members were laid off from Marvel Comics yesterday as part of what's reportedly a cost-cutting measure at the company. According to multiple sources, the layoffs do not reflect the performance of the individuals in question.
Update: Heidi MacDonald of The Beat has a must-read article on the subject, which goes behind the scenes to examine the penny-pinching corporate culture that lead to the layoffs, and the larger issues this has caused for the (still profitable) publisher:
According to Marvel insiders contacted by The Beat... the budget slashing is the work of Marvel's CEO, Isaac Perlmutter, an executive of legendary stinginess whose fanatical devotion to saving money -an increased interest in being hands on at Marvel - has led to a the layoffs and other draconian measures inside the company...
It seems the only way [Perlmutter] knows how to run a company is by increasing profits - not by investing in new businesses, but simply squeezing the bottom line for every last penny by any means... Marvel employees are kind of like the rats in those caloric restriction experiments. They're given the lowest possible amount of resources to get the job done. When something absolutely positively has to be purchased, it's half of what was asked for... Reportedly, people are hoping to hang on until [Perlmutter's] gone to get to some kind of promised land where people can buy paper clips.
One particularly colorful anecdote describes the bathroom situation at the new Marvel offices, where there is only "one restroom for each gender. In a company of hundreds of people. The post lunch hour piddle line is said to be especially long and people actually stagger their lunches so as not to wait in it."
MacDonald also cites the obsession with cost-cutting as the reason why Marvel Comics never sends out review copies of either comics or graphic novels, something that has always seemed odd from a publisher of Marvel's stature, particularly when small indie presses have no such problem providing standard materials to press.
At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon discussed how shifting the significant workloads of departing staffers to the remaining workers might lead to burn-out, and also wonders about the necessity of "cost-cutting measures" given the Marvel's recent success in the lucrative world of movies:
This may put Marvel in the position of having to explain to some super-involved fans and the professional community -- okay, Marvel won't likely do a lot of explaining, which means those people will turn to each other for such explanations -- why cost-cutting had to come for what by most rational measures is a very successful publishing enterprise that serves as a powerful R&D arm for movies and licensing. Marvel saw three movies with its characters out this summer, two from Marvel proper, and has at least two major movies (one from Marvel itself) coming out in Summer 2012.
Among those let go were editors Alejandro Arbona (Casanova, Iron Man 2.0), Jody LeHeup (Deadpool, Strange Tales)and assistant editor Rachel Pinnelas (of the Spider-Man office). Layoffs from the production end of the company included Taylor Esposito, Scott Elmer (known as "Pondscum" to his friends), Damien Lucchese and Special Projects' Production Coordinator Jerry Kalinowski. Two workers from Marvel's trade paperback collections department, as well as digital compositing employees Maritsa Patrinos and Eric Bloom. These layoffs follow the termination of Chief Operating Officer Jim Sokolowski earlier this month.
Social media feeds have been full of support for those affected by the layoffs, with numerous Marvel creators and remaining staff celebrating their talents and value to the industry. Casanova creator Matt Fraction announced on Twitter that Arbona would continue to be the editor of the Icon series. Likewise ex-Marvel employee Jim McCann noted that Lucchese will contribute to his upcoming Image series Mind the Gap.