We’ve been reporting for a few weeks on the inner turmoil at DC and Warner BRos following the exposure of Batman’s junk in Batman: Damned.
The story goes that new DC head Pam Lifford was greatly displeased with the appearance of the Bat-junk and told as much to DC pblishers JIm Lee and Dan DiDio. And that the fallout has led to a total rethinking of the adult themed Black Label line, and also changes at Vertigo comics to bring them into line with LIfford’s vision – or perhaps DC’s internal interpretation of Lifford’s vision.
And now, in their first interview since Batman went commando, Lee and DiDio spoke to ICv2 on various DC matters. Including Lifford’s role:
You have a new boss, Pam Lifford (see “Pam Lifford New DC Boss in Warner Bros. Restructuring“), and she had a somewhat similar career track to Diane Nelson (came out of Consumer Products), but this is a new situation and we’re interested in your interactions with her. What does her different experience bring to the table in terms of new insights or directions for DC?
Didio: She is passionate about understanding about the characters, and making sure that we expand the awareness of them. She’s very much built for the franchise business, and the brand part of the business. Because of that, we want to make sure that the tonality, the voice of our books have a sensibility that seems to match what people’s expectations are, which is something we should be doing anyway in our comics.
This is a new relationship so we’re excited, and we’re pushing it forward and we’re hoping that we all together, through her and the new areas that are responsive to her, are able to grow ourselves in ways that we haven’t seen before.
Lee: Yeah, look. She has a vision for what this business can be, an understanding that today’s consumers live in a world where this content is available 24/7 and that a fan can come into this from a number of different touchpoints. It’s not just from watching a TV show or reading a comic book. It might be that as a little kid they buy an action figure, and that’s how they bond or embrace the DC universe. She’s looking at it from a very global, holistic point of view, and understanding that that experience is crucial to growing our fan base and growing the business.
It’s really interesting to see the business through that prism, and with her leadership, we feel that we’re going to do some really big and different things, and we’re excited for that.
Well a little line reading there. “It’s really interesting to see the business through that prism.” – Yes, I’ll bet it is. Treating these globally known characters as icons and not the projection of the father issues of the month?
Interesting. It sounds like Lifford might be more interested in a Disney-like take on the characters (she came to WB from Disney) where they are timeless figures to be marketing on endless merchandise. This works for some characters, but not for others.
I worked with both Disney and WB’s consumer products departments MANY MANY YEARS ago, and Disney definitely had a lock on marketing image that WB struggled with. And Disney’s successful integration of the Star Wars and Marvel brands stands in contrast to WB’s mixed record with bringing their superheroes to the large and small screens. TV has been huge, movies…well, we may never seen another Justice League movie.
Now, it might have changed quite a bit since then. Lifford has certainly been a success at WB’s consumer products division, by bringing a different approach.
There’s arguments to be made for both approaches – timeless icons vs. projected archetypes. But the merch argument can’t really be made for Vertigo books that sell 20,000 copies if they’re lucky.
Sounds like there’s more excitement and rebranding to come.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.