Robot 6

Some thoughts on DC’s new ‘executive management team’ [Updated]

The new Warner Bros. mural (photo by Jonah Weiland)

The new Warner Bros. mural (photo by Jonah Weiland)

Like virtually every other comics blogger and fan, I’ve been mulling over DC Entertainment’s big announcement this morning of an executive management team to replace President and Publisher Paul Levitz.

As you can read at Comic Book Resources, the new team is: Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, co-publishers of DC Comics; Geoff Johns, chief creative officer of DC Entertainment; John Rood, executive vice president-sales, marketing and business development; and Patrick Caldon, executive vice president-finance and administration.

First, congratulations to all five. And now, some thoughts:

• Nobody won the DC Publisher Betting Pool — although, as Sean Collins points out, Variety alum Tom McLean, with his much-derided list of candidates, certainly came closest. Still, in all of the prognostication that’s gone on since September, when Diane Nelson was named as president of a newly formed DC Entertainment, no one predicted that the departing Levitz would be replaced by a five-person “executive management team.”

• Another possible surprise is that Nelson, former president of Warner Premiere and shepherd of the Harry Potter movie franchise, turned in-house for four of those team members. And the only “outsider,” the head of sales, marketing and business development, is a longtime colleague and friend of Nelson’s who worked for Warner Bros. Consumer Products before moving on to the Disney ABC Television Group.

Caldon, a longtime DC employee, stresses that, “Today’s announcement signals change, but change that comes with continuity.” True enough; it’s just not the change most were anticipating — and certainly not the kind of shake-up some were hoping for.

• The odds-on favorite, at least among pundits, was someone — someone — from the book industry or from the Time Warner empire. However, Nelson says she and Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Picture Group, were focused on “this specific combination of people” as early as mid-November, and that no candidates “other than this team were approached or considered seriously.” That makes the recent rumor about Barbara Marcus all the more perplexing.

• The naming of co-publishers just begs for comparisons to The Office, doesn’t it? (DiDio and Lee even issued a joint statement.) Jokes aside, the decision to shift from a single publisher to a five-person executive team is certainly ripe for a case study in a college management course.

• There’s probably also room for cracks about it taking six people (including Nelson) to fill the shoes of Paul Levitz.

• Tom Spurgeon characterizes the hires as “a very conservative set of choices by Time Warner, almost boring in fact.” Well, they’re definitely safe. But the division of labor tells us a lot about this new DC Entertainment and the desire of Warner Bros. to better exploit its comic-book properties. With Rood and Caldon seemingly handling the traditional “business” duties of a publisher, DiDio, Lee and Johns — longtime creative driving forces within the company, for good or bad — are free to better position existing properties for television, film and video games, and (possibly) spur the creation of new characters. Johns, who already has a hand in film and TV adaptations, revealed that as chief creative officer he’ll “lead the creative charge on bringing [DC's 'comic-book world'] to film, toys, television, video games, animation and beyond.”

“This team is designed first and foremost to show that DC Entertainment will be a creatively driven company,” Nelson told The Wall Street Journal.

• That said, should we expect some kind of promotion for Karen Berger, founder and longtime guiding hand of the Vertigo imprint? Sure, a publisher triumvirate may have been a little much, but I’m a bit surprised that Berger didn’t somehow figure into the “executive management team,” given Nelson’s stated interest in Vertigo. Maybe she’ll be promoted from senior vice president-executive editor to … whatever comes after that.

Update: Heidi MacDonald passes along word that Berger apparently will report to DiDio while Gregory Noveck, the senior vice president-creative affairs who ran point for DC in Hollywood, will answer to Johns. MacDonald also reports Richard Bruning, senior vice president-creative director and Berger’s husband, “is getting a diminished role at the company.”

• Who, if anyone, will succeed DiDio as executive editor of the DC Universe imprint?

Sean and others have pondered whether, under Nelson and this new management team, DC finally may move from New York City to Los Angeles — something that’s been rumored for ages. After all, Nelson and three of the five executives are West Coast-based (only DiDio and Caldon are in New York). Given the costs and logistics, it seems far more likely that we’ll see, in effect, “DC East” and “DC West,” with Lee and Johns remaining in California, at the center of the film, TV and video-game worlds.

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29 Comments

New management, same old DC. DC will still put out (even more so now) the same old tired rehashed elements from 60′s silver age DC comics filtered through a grim and gritty restrainer and aimed at the existing and rapidly shrinking older teen and adult readership. So DC superhero comics will become more “mature” and have more cussing,more strongly implied sexual innuendos/situations,and more on panel scenes of bloody and gory graphic violence. We will also see an increase in more sales gimmicks/stunts like crossovers,variant covers, and plastic toy rings.

I don’t know that this was such a great idea. I’m a big fan of Lee and Johns but, look at what happened when Jim Lee got all the control over at Wildstorm w/ DC. He got overloaded between Wildstorm, the DC online game, a few covers here and there and All Star Batman and Robin stopped coming out. I’d hate to see that happen to Johns. I think he’s DCs best writer and I think this will take up too much of his time.

What a joke. The problem with DC (and Marvel) is that for the past thirty years they’ve been run completely by fanboys. So how do they rectify that problem? By taking away the big fanboy in charge and replacing him with MULTIPLE fanboys! Good thinking!! I agree with Blade X’s comments above. All we’re going to see from this is more continuity, more soap opera, more pretentious, depressing, endlessly-continued crap aimed at an ever-diminishing audience of retarded, thirty-five-year-old FANBOYS! Yes, this day oblivion just got one step closer for what’s left of “mainstream” comics.

When WB/DC goes the way of Lehman and Madoff because of these clowns, I’ll be laughing my way to the bank. :D

I don’t foresee this lot ushering in a new golden age in the foreseeable future.

Look, you lot of disaffected, strident non-fanboys, which is just bad as a fanboy. This will likely not result in anything good or bad, so in the long run, it’s not worth getting upset about.

Speak your dooms and predict the End of Days like you always do, oh rational masses! For if you actually took the time to take a breath and form coherant thoughts, you might realize that DC promoted a bunch of people that have only brought recognition and success to the company.

Why the hell, now of all times, would the company collapse? Oh, right…Because the interent hates the mainstream, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Dan DiDio represent the mainstream (BOO!!! Zombies aren’t cool anymore! Boo!), so phooey on them, DC’s gonna die!

Please. If you don’t like the comics these people produce, go at least find some you DO like and speak nicely of THOSE. I swear, the negative lot of you should be rounded-up with all the Comic Book Guy stereotypes and launched to Mars where you won’t keep soiling the industry.

“THE problem with DC and Marvel”…? YOUR problem with DC and Marvel, not THE problem. Stick to your black-and-white, high-concept indy dregs and leave our continuity-driven superheroes alone, thank you very much.

that awful list that newsrama did was right on.

Ben, who are you even talking to? Do you really think “Blade X” and “Joe Schmoe” are into the alt-comix scene?

Well I’m Happy and yet Disappointed at the same time. Happy That Geoff Johns finally gets his due as a creative force behind DC for the last Decade. Personally I’m kind of Disappointed that they didn’t bring in someone to shake things up as well.

This talk is pointless. Why don’t we just and wait and see. Let them be judged by their actions. I’m hoping to see great things and if not, replace them and move on.

But what happened to having an Executive Editor? Who’s going to handle the day-to-day co-ordnation of the Comics? Will Dan now be both a Publisher and Executive Editor?

Given all the heat Dan got as editor some of the good stuff like secret six becoming a go Gail on wonder woman where she belonged a long time ago even bringing back birds of prey and also taking most of the blame for final crisis . Dan proved he has the tough hide to now do the top job. and with Geof hopefuly he keeps Dan in line and stops him from killing any more titans or characters created by Keith Griffin. as for Jim Lee he now is sharing the load with Dan so a balance and in jim case should he do one of his long vanishing trips to do what ever else he does . at least Dan will be able to pick up the slack. as for Karen Berger. odds are vertigo may be changed and the big one now with Dan being high dog is swamp thing may finaly be moving to his old stomping grounds.

Oh god, reading comments here was not the best idea.

Yeah, it’s not any radical change, and if you don’t like DC you won’t probably start liking it. What a surprise. In that case, I don’t know why are you even reading this, let alone commenting.

I am excited.

Am I the only one that thinks very, very little will change?

I have a feeling that as “co-publisher” Dan Didio will still have a lot of influence over creative direction (like an executive editor) and as “co-publisher” Jim Lee will still work with the interactive division and maybe work on a webcomics initiative. Basically the “computer nerd” stuff.

The only thing that seems different here is the respective stationery.

My reaction to this is..

A political transition. In the end.. one of these 5 will end up being the “new Paul Levitz”.

The most interesting result will be the persons that end up being the executive editors for the various imprints…

DC — it would be good to see Karen Berger move over here or see Jimmy Palmiotti take over
Vertigo – If Berger doesn’t remain here then Shelly bond is ripe for promotion. Barring that Alonzo having jumped over to marvel would be great to hire back.
Wildstorm. — Palmiotti again a good choice

The decision that Didio,Lee and Johns make on who takes over the imprints are going to mean more to comics.

for DC as a whole in digital and visual media — the big announcement was this one

I worry about the Vertigo line, since I am an exclusive Vertigo reader. Paul Levitz was a big Karen Berger supporter, and he saw the value of the low selling line, The fact that Karen Berger did not get a promotion, and that she is closely associted with the Levitz regime, and that her husband has a diminished role at DC, does not bode well.

I have a feeling Vertigo will be downsized in the coming months, with the creator owned stuff wrapping up and becoming a thing of the past; The more mainstream characters, like Swamp Thing and a castrated watered down Constantine (Heckblazer) will be moved back in the DCU. I guess all good things must come to an end (just let Scalped end it’s run properly, I beg you), and Vertigo was great while it lasted. But the blood appearst to be in the water.

I can say, without any regret, when Vertigo shuts down, I will be done with comics, and I will never look back. Thanks for the memories Ms Berger. You should be proud.

Aaaaaaaaaaah-lister

February 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

Wow. Prophets of doom unite! I agree with the poster who says wait and judge the actions (outputs) that come out of this reconfiguration. And Daaave!, how you come to the conclusion that Vertigo is finished on the back of this news is a mystery to me. Vertigo (and Marvel’s Icon line) will continue as long as good creator-owned books continue to be written and make money. Scalped will reach it’s conclusion just like Y: The Last Man did and Ex-Machina soon will.

The doom-sayers are probably just overworked or understimulated Marvel fanboys who saw an opportunity to get their digs in and took it. Note: Not saying all marvel fans are like this, just the $#@%heads.

What this means: Geoff will make sure the DC characters as seen in other mediums will be consistent with their comic versions. he’ll also continue to do what he’s been doing for so long, helping make DC a fun universe to read about.

Jim and Dan’s roles are less clear to me, though Jim is working hard on the DCU Online game, so I’ll have to wait and see.

I like the changes, I’m happy for the guys. Now let’s wait and see. Although I know comic book fans worst displayed virtue is patience.

Aaaaaaaaaaah-lister, I’m speaking from various experiences I have had at different companies. New regimes don’t want reminders of the past (or anything they did not create) around them. I feel Vertigo is vulnerable because, as I stated, Karen Berger is part of the old regime, and Vertigo is not a top seller. New brooms sweep wide and clean. I hope I’m wrong. I hope these guys appreciate the line and give Ms. Berger the recognition she deserves. But the cynical side of me (btw, DaVeO, as I stated, I only read Vertigo books, no Marvel) can’t help but be concerned. As I said, I hope I’m wrong.

Every DC comic ever printed, available on the DC website, for free. Sell ad space for revenue. Make it happen.

Johns’ new position sounds to me like Warner’s is setting him up to be DC’s Avi Arad, sheparding their stable of characters to other media (movies, tv, games, etc.), which sounds like a very good thing. What’s not so hot is that he may not have as much to do with the comics (either as a writer or editorially) anymore.

Most of this strategy seems to be all about maximizing DC’s presence in media other than comics, so all the gloom and doom about what this means for the comics is even more over the top; as I see it, these announcements, so far, have next to nothing to do with the direction of the comic lines at all. It’s still up in the air who is actually going to be overseeing the direction of the books themselves.

Are there any comics boards left that aren’t “all negativity, all the time”? I remember when CBR (and sites like it) was a place where you could actually discuss the content of books you liked with intelligent, likeminded fans. These days, it feels like every single board I used to frequent has been taken over by “Comic Book Guy” clones.

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With The Geohns and Dandio firmly in control I only expect to see an INCREASE in the pointless violence (Speedy’s arm being ripped off, WITH A COVER SHOT, Wonder Dog as a KILLER!!…Oooooh!!!) and insipid, continuity driven insanity.

TELL A STORY, jokers. Don’t try to impress ME with you Continuity crunching, I’m NOT INTERESTED.

I want ADVENTURE STORIES, not S&M fantasies. I will NEVER buy DC as long as Dandio and Geohns run the show. They are THE WORST “creators” I can imagine. Let’s see Dandio used to work on SOAP OPERAS and The Geohns thinks Smallville is a GOOD SHOW.

NOT a good day for DC. A good day for Marvel. DC, not so much.

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Oh YEAH.

The Smallville episode with the JSA reminded me of the unreleased JLA movie from 1987.

EXACTLY the same level of “quality”.

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I can’t for the love of god understand where all this love for Dan DiDio is coming from. His run on ABCKIDs left that place in one huge train wreck. Then there’s Mainframe Entertainment. Where he left Mainframe Entertainment in almost Bankruptcy. Mainframe was forced to sell to Warner Bros just to make ends meet. And then there’s that whole death of Stephanie Brown mess. As well as him firing tons and I meant TONS of DC’s writing staff. As well, as the Amazons Attack and Countdown and tons and TONS of failed comic lines that failed to bring sales. In fact DiDio was one of the reasons that Marvel sales jumped so high.

It’s the sign of the dying days of DC

Jack it would be nice to read an opinion of yours that was formed based on facts. Not opinions shaped as facts

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The Mainframe thing is true. He worked them over until they had to sell out to Warners. And then SOMEHOW he was offered the DC job.

Curious.

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