In something of a surprise, DC Entertainment, the newlynamed parent unit of DC Comics, has named acclaimed comics artist Jim Lee andDC Universe senior v-p and executive editor Dan DiDio--two of the best-knownfigures in their respective roles in comics publishing--as copublishers of DCComics, the comics division and publisher of Superman, Batman, and other classiccomics characters. The announcementwas made by DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson and also includes the appointmentof Geoff Johns, a critically acclaimed and bestselling comics writer, as chiefcreative officer. In addition, John Rood was named executive v-p, sales, marketingand business development, and Patrick Caldon was named executive v-p, financeand administration.
The appointment puts two well-known comics figures incharge of one of the biggest and best-known comics publishers in the world. SinceNelson, a former executive at DC's parent company, Warner Bros., was named presidentof DC Entertainment in late 2009, succeeding longtime DC president Paul Levitz,there has been intense speculation over who would take over as publisher.Nelson's expertise is in the movie business, and she has acknowledged herlimited experience in the sometimes arcane world of comics publishing. Indeed,there has been speculation that a traditional book publishing figure would benamed.
Nelson called the new co-publishers "a creative 'dreamteam,' with accomplishments and talent unrivaled in the business. Thisannouncement continues and underscores DC's legacy as the ultimate destinationfor creators. "
The home of Superman and Batman will now be guided by two very experienced comics professionals, although Lee and DiDio represent a contrast. Lee is an acclaimed artist and fan favorite who has drawn bestsellingcomics for both DC and Marvel. But he is both a creator and a publishing entrepreneurand is also a cofounder of Image Comics, a pioneering comics publishing house launchedin the late 1990s by a group of superstar artists, that has grown into a majorpublisher of independent comics. Lee also launched another comics house,Wildstorm Productions, and he left Image and sold Wildstorm to DC Comics in1998.
In his role as executive editor of the DC Universe, DiDiooversees the editorial production of all the DC superhero characters from Supermanand Batman to Green Lantern, the Flash, and Wonder Woman--a demanding position ina world where fans respond vehemently when they don't like how theirfavorite characters are portrayed. While DiDio has sometimes received harshwords from some corners of the DC readership, he has nevertheless presided over some of themost popular story lines and bestselling crossover series in recent years.
Now the speculation will turn to, among other things, whether DC Comics will remain in New York City--there's thought that the house could move to California--as well as the direction that Nelsonand her management team will take the company as DC Comics faces a transformedcomics market. Thanks to the impact of Hollywood and hit films based onsuperhero comics, the house's historic competitive rivalry with Marvel--nowowned by Disney--has been ratcheted to new levels. In addition, over the past 15years, the traditional book market has grown in importance for comics periodical publisherslike DC as revenues from book-format graphic novels have begun to equal sales fromtraditional comics periodicals sold through the comics shop market. It's a newday at DC Comics.