Bob Wayne joined the Sales department of DC Comics at San Diego Comic Con in 1987. Previous to that he ran a chain of comics and science fiction stores in Texas.
At DC Comics he became a strong supporter of the direct market and his retail background endeared him to comic store managers who believed he knew what they were going through and would enact policies to help them.
Shipping a day early to all accounts? That was Bob. New comics on sale the same day in US, UK and Canada? That was Bob (to which Bleeding Cool owes a deep debt of thanks). Returnability for the launch of the New 52? Bob. Time after time at DC he has pushed for policies to help the retailer that the rest of the industry has copied.
Hell, the V For Vendetta mask that has been so popular for Anonymous, Occupy and pretty much all protest groups since? That was Bob, and I recall getting mine directly from his hands as he was giving them out for free at a UK comic convention many years ago. And then when the mask got so popular, he got DC to publish the V For Vendetta book and mask set – and all the subsequent mask sets for Batman followed.
There are some that hate him of course, but they mostly seem to work at Marvel. One event when he said intimated that DC Comics would only crossover their comics with Marvel when Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada were both fired (later amending that demand as “one down, one to go”) only consolidated him as a hate figure there.
Internally at DC Comics, he was also a mean scrapper. When he had newcomers hired above him, both Stephanie Fierman and Steve Rotterdam, he survived when they were dismissed and when DC Comics then reorganised, was promoted to Senior VP Sales where he has remained since.
But I understand at the Diamond Retail Summit in Las Vegas, that he told folk that he would not be joining the publisher as it moves to Burbank in April 2015, and would be stepping down as a result.
During his time at the publisher, he also co-wrote a comic book, the fondly remembered Time Masters, issue 1 published in 1990, though he managed to keep a collected edition of the shelves until 2008.
He was awarded with an Inkpot Award for his contributions to the comics industry in 2009, and with the ComicsPro Industry Appreciation Award in 2012.
Famed for his incredibly dry wit, he is as cutting as he can be charming. Compared to Eeyore and Marvin the Paranoid Android alike, laughs are rare when they come are valued. Comics fans who attend comic cons will know him best for the panels he runs and his trademark obvious means of changing the subject in Q&A’s. A common back and forth would have run.
“Can you tell us when Wally West is coming back?”
“I think you said, thanks so much for coming all the way from New York just to speak to us, next question?”
That was Bob. An Anglophile, he was instrumental in DC Comics attending British comic book conventions through the eighties and nineties, when I first met the man. And he learnt to watch for me coming. I’m also aware of his internal distribution at DC Comics of bootleg NTSC video material, such as Spaced, before it was available on DVD.
Happy retirement Bob, I’m looking forward to hearing more on that kiss-and-tell book on the comics industry you’ve been threatening to write over the last twenty years. I think you may well put me out of a job with it.