Geoff Johns and DC Comics: The Late-Night Gossip

The second shoe at DC dropped today: Geoff Johns is no longer CCO or President of DC Entertainment. Instead he is launching Mad Ghost Productions and lining up work for DC and Warner Bros. in comics, TV, and film.

The official word is that Geoff Johns is doing so in order to focus on creative matters full-time.

He is writing and producing a Green Lantern Corps movie that will be based on his comic book run. This will follow Aquaman, which he co-wrote and produced, and Wonder Woman 2, which he is writing and producing. The upcoming Shazam! movie for 2019 is based on his graphic novel. He has co-developed, co-produced and writes the new Titans TV show, and spinning off Doom Patrol. He remains involved in all the DC TV output, the Arrowverse and beyond.

He has his own DC imprint, The Killing Zone. He is writing a new Shazam comic alongside the comic book industry’s best-selling title Doomsday Clock and the rescheduled Three Jokers. While DC continues to publish the Rebirth line that he, more than anyone else, is responsible for. DC Comics’ success in the charts is his success and he will be letting everyone know it.

But no sooner had the word got out than the gossip in the industry hit Bleeding Cool from all sides — and there are two very different and contradictory versions.

The first is that Geoff Johns did not go willingly — that he was pushed but he got a very gilded golden parachute to set up a Geoff Johns Island at DC Comics. That once it was official that Diane Nelson was no longer DC President, that those associated with her would also be going. And that the language used, including a production deal and a statement that he stepped down rather than be fired is, as one industry source put it, “classic Hollywood firing protocol”. That it won’t get reupped, the projects were all shoved together to look as if he had something going on, will be it for Johns at DC. Done and dusted.

Then there’s the other version — that this was genuinely Geoff Johns’s choice, getting out of signing requisition forms and spending time writing films, TV, and comics. In his President/CCO job, he was restricted from above how much he was allowed to write, and he was left with only the bimonthly Doomsday Clock comic and the irregular Earth One books while the DC Rebirth series continued without him. That he had the chance to write the Green Lantern Corps movie or just write notes for someone else’s drafts that would probably, like last time, be ignored. And so his decision to step down is all about taking such gigs as writing the Green Lantern Corps, Wonder Woman 2, and Shazam. Writing TV shows like Titans and Doom Patrol. And writing comics like Shazam, Three Jokers, and whatever else comes next.

Now, it could be that he was given the opportunity and told to make a choice. And, yes, the timing is very coincidental considering the announcement about Diane Nelson‘s departure — Geoff being someone she considered an important partner and friend.

But from those who have spoken to Geoff, they confirm he seems very excited and enthusiastic about these possibilities — not the sound of a man who was pushed, or jumped, but is skipping.

He is already writing the best-selling comic in the industry with Doomsday Clock. What will he do for an encore?

This will put certain cats among certain chickens. Geoff Johns kicked off the DC Rebirth comic books by closely working with every creative team, and the line performed better than it had in years. Decades. Both critically and commercially, outstripping the New 52 and reversing the taint that the likes of Convergence had brought to the line. But he then pulled back from the comics as they continued to flourish while Doomsday Clock ruffled feathers — notably few DC creators mention it in social media and the Hollywood Reporter piece on Geoff’s new situation cut it out entirely. Publisher Dan DiDio‘s attempt to start a new comics line the New Age of Heroes has horrifically stalled with artists headhunted from the DC Rebirth titles, now jumping back as their audiences did not follow.

So what’s next? Well, his rival creators on the comics side will no doubt look at their own setup and compare. DC has been launching imprints for valued creators — Gerard Way, Neil Gaiman, Brian Michael Bendis, and now Geoff Johns. Scott Snyder has a consulting role with DC. But who has got the better deal — and who’s next?

Publisher Jim Lee is taking his Geoff Johns’s CCO position as well, which may mean a lot less time on the Twitch.

And there’s the question as to who will succeed Thomas Gewecke, Chief Digital Officer and Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, who is currently serving as DC’s interim head. Emphasis on the interim.

More, much more to come. And they still haven’t announced Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp on Green Lantern, Brian Azzarello on Suicide Squad, Kelly Sue DeConnick on Aquaman, David F. Walker on Flash, and much more. That Tom King massive event announcement is due tomorrow as well.

Interesting times…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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