Rumored layoffs and downsizing at Valiant Comics

OK, as if Oni Press, Tapas Media, and Warner Bros Discovery weren’t enough, Valiant Comics is the latest company to be rumored to be downsizing.

The situation isn’t clear, but reportedly most employees have been laid off and work has stopped on most series. Publisher Fred Pierce and senior Editor Lysa Hawkins Change their social media postings to indicate they no longer worked at the company, but other confirmations have been hard to come by.

However, the Beat has reached out to a number of sources, and one close to the publisher indicated that Pierce is still publisher and Valiant continues to release books, including Bloodshot Unleashed #1 next month.

The history of Valiant is one of the most colorful in comics publishing – and one most indicative of how the emphasis on publishing comics as cheap IP for movies and film can backfire.

The company was founded back in the early 90s by former Marvel EIC Jim Shooter, Initially publishing revamped versions of classic Gold Key characters like Magnus, Robot Fighter, Turok, and Solar. But Shooter quickly assembled a team of veterans and up and comers ranging from Barry Windsor Smith to Christopher Priest to David Laphamto create characters such as Bloodshot, Harbinger and Quantum and Woody – superheroes who would earn a devoted fanbase and become the most successful superhero universe outside of Marvel and DC in the modern era.

Shooter was eventually forced out of the company after it was purchased by game publisher Acclaim, and Valiant ceased publishing as part of the late 90s comics publishing implosion.

In 2012, the company resurfaced, the assets acquired by fan and investor Dinesh Shamdasani. Under editor in chief Warren SimonsValiant quickly set about establishing their universe with creators including Matt Kindt, Brian Stelfreeze, Robert Venditti, Cullen Bunn, Jeff Lemire, Lewis Larosa and many more. Even for those who weren’t into superheroes or “harbingers” the comics were always done with care.

Valiant pressed on through the current ups and downs of the comics industry, but as time passed, more and more potential media deals for the characters were floated. In 2018, 57% of the company was sold to DMG Entertainment, a media company led by Dan Mintz. At that point Shamdasani left the company, while publisher Fred Pierce stayed on to run publishing ops. Although often called a Chinese company, DMG is owned by Mintz, with backing from Chinese investors. Media development continued with the announcement of a Bloodshot movie starring Vin Diesel, set to be released in March 2020 – literally the day after the Covid pandemic shut down the world.

Since then, Valiant has continued publishing although at a reduced pace. A reboot of several titles was announced earlier this year. and Bloodshot Unleashed and XO Manowar Unconquered are expected to come out.

The Beat will continue reaching out to get information on the situation at Valiant. But in the meantime, Shamdasani couldn’t help but deliver his own little snark on Twitter:

“want to buy a comic book company on the cheap?” asked one twitter user, with Shamdasani replying “Been on it all week.”

While we wait for future developments, it’s worth noting that no comics publisher who was set up to be a front for Movie and TV development has ever succeeded long term. Every publisher who tells me “We put comics first,” is saying the only thing that works.

OR as someone told me in a DM about this “Do comics for the love of comics, don’t do comics to be a motion picture intellectual property mill.”

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