In Advance of San Diego, Lion Forge Hires Rich Johnson, Mark Smylie, Joe Illidge

Just ahead of the opening of San Diego Comic-Con International this week, St. Louis-based comics house Lion Forge, announced an slate of executive and staff hires that included a number of highly regarded veteran comics professionals.

Geoff Gerber, formerly Lion Forge’s general counsel, has been named president of the company, succeeding Lion Forge founder David Steward, who will now assume the position of founder/publisher.

Rich Johnson, former longtime v-p book trade sales at DC Comics, cofounder of Yen Press, Hachette’s graphic novel imprint, and founder of the pop culture consulting firm Brick Road Media, has been named v-p of sales, marketing and business development.

Mark Smylie, founder of graphic novel publishing house Archaia in 2002, has been named executive editor at Lion Forge.

In addition, Joseph Phillip Illidge has been named senior editor at Lion Forge. Illidge is a former editor at Milestone Comics, the pioneering African-American superhero comics house cofounded by the late Dwayne McDuffie. Illidge is both a writer, a former editor at Archaia and edited Batman at DC Comics.

Syndee Barwick, a former marketing manager and former director of product management at DC Comics, has been named director of marketing and product development at Lion Forge.

And Beth Scorzato, formerly with DC Comics and NBM, in addition to writing about comics for Publishers Weekly and other publications for several years, has been named managing editor of Lion Forge.

Devin Funches, formerly with BOOM!, has been named sales and marketing manager at Lion Forge.

Gerber said the new hires represented an effort "to get us to the next level. The talent that we have recruited understands and respects not only the creative side of publishing comics, but the business of pop culture as well.” 

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