The Future of DC Comics: Creators Respond

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The bigger the news, the less people want to talk about it. That’s a rethoric that doesn’t make any sense, but in case of the announcement of DC’s restructuring, that’s exactly what happened.

Last week, when we asked creators to respond to the Marvel/Disney acquisition, we received more feedback than we did when we asked creators for their opinion on Paul Levitz stepping down as DC President, with Diane Nelson taking over as head of the newly formed DC Entertainment. And it looks like our efforts weren’t the only ones that didn’t generate as much interest or willingness from the creative community, similar articles by our friends at Newsarama and Comic Book Resources were much shorter than their counterparts on Marvel/Disney.

The majority of the professionals BF contacted either declined to comment outright, or didn’t want to because they had yet to figure out “what it means for themselves”. Is that a sign that the DC news induces more fear in industry circles? That the announcement is being perceived as less positive than Marvel being purchased by Disney?

It very well might. And that’s a rethoric that does make sense, because even though the timing seems purely coincidental, the formation of DC Entertainment could have a much wider impact on the daily proceedings at DC Comics than Marvel/Disney will have at the House of Ideas. The buzz about the latter almost indicates it’s more like a merger of creative forces – the ‘slash’ everyone’s using to refer to the deal being the best indication – while the former feels like it’s being done to cut the losses and make changes to close the gap with its biggest competitor –in the direct market, but moreso in Hollywood.

The Marvel deal is about propelling the company forward and expanding upon the path it started walking on ever since Joe Quesada became Editor-In-Chief. DC is restructuring because it wants – and Warner Bros need – what Marvel and Marvel Studios already have.

Does the term ‘restructuring’ have to have a pejorative outcome? Not at all… but an action wouldn’t be called a ‘restructuring’ if the skies were all sunny and cloudless above Broadway.

Below we present the statements from the creators that did respond to our call. We asked them to share their thoughts on what they think the formation of DC Entertainment will mean for DC Comics, and whether or not we will still have a DC Comics as we know it. And to those who’ve done DC work, we also asked if they wanted to reflect on working with Paul Levitz in his role of DC President & Publisher.

David Lapham (writer/artist: Young Liars)
Look, it's not like DC was this mom and pop outfit that was just taken over by a corporate giant.  Warners has always owned them.  Moves like this I think are more about the brand than comics.  They want to streamline and compete in the next wave of superhero movies.  I'm hoping they mostly leave the comics alone.

Basically comics are small potatoes compared to movies, TV, clothing, Video games, etc. I guess you could see a lessening in more experimental material. Hopefully Vertigo is protected by proven exploitable properties like The Losers,   Preacher, etc.   I could also see them becoming more protective of the brand of Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.  But really I don't see why.  Millions will go see a Batman movie 99% of them have no idea or care what's in the comic.  There could be some more personnel shakeups that could mess up some creators gigs.  Hopefully there's no cost cutting or scaling back of titles.  That would be a disaster.

About Paul Levitz. I don't know Paul, but the sad thing is that you had a guy there who knew the history and loved comics.  It's always sad when that is replaced by a pure business mentality.  I hope that Paul is happy with what he's going to be doing and he and his family are in good shape.

Overall, I'm going with things remaining relatively the same, except that through a computer error my rates triple and I become the first person on everyone's contact list.

Mike Carey (writer: The Unwritten, X-Men Legacy)
There'll always be a DC Comics - and it's good to know that Paul will continue to be involved with it, although in a different capacity.  I think his vision and his personal style have been a large factor in the company's success.
This is the sort of reshuffle that's intended to open up a lot of new possibilities: we'll see as the dust settles what that means on the ground for DC and for the various imprints.

G. Willow Wilson (writer: Air)
Even though he had a bajillion projects to oversee, Paul Levitz always remembered who I was and what I was working on, and usually had something insightful to say. At the very first San Diego Con I attended as a pro, he said "Don't get too used to anonymity, because this is the last year you'll have any." Which was kind of an awesome thing to hear from the president of DC Comics. Hopefully the incoming president has a vision and a love for comics up to the standard he set.

Mike Richardson (Dark Horse Publisher)
I'm extremely sad to see Paul leave DC. I think we all saw him as a comics guy acting as a buffer between the comics community and the corporate world.  With Paul at the helm, the integrity of so many beloved characters seemed secure. On a more personal level, Paul has been one of the good guys, and I hope he remains close to comics.

Adam Beechen (writer, Killapalooza)
I don't know enough about the business ramifications of the deal to know how it will affect the DC Comics line creatively, but on the surface it feels like giving a formal name to the relationship DC and Warners already have when it comes to projects outside the comics line. I expect we'll see a lot of DC properties in line for development as feature films and other forms of media, not that they're not there already.

As for working with Paul Levitz, I've only introduced myself a few times, mostly to thank him for the inspiration of his writing work. His efforts on LEGION, particularly in the early 1980s, was tremendously important to me...In fact, when my comics collection was stolen earlier this summer, those were among the first issues I tried to find again -- I re-read them that often. So I'm thrilled he's headed back to the keyboard.

In his capacity as publisher, having worked on some animated series based on DC properties, I know what a tireless defender Paul has been of DC's characters, history and integrity. He's treated the characters as characters, not simply as products, and he's done so with a great deal of respect, and for that, all comics fans can be very grateful.

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Sep 11, 2009 at 8:11am

    Nice article. So far everyone is very careful in approaching the sendoff of Levitz; the only thundercloud at the horizon is Dirk Deppy at Journalista which is definitely worth reading for an alternative viewpoint http://tcj.com/journalista/?p=933

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