As we head into the first weekend of the Third Age of Comics, much is still being written and pondered. Let’s check out the Google earth view, shall we?

* First, a succinct Tweet from Rob Liefeld:

Huge reason that DC got restructured is simple math, Marvel has had 10 years, 15 films, 11 hits, compared to 6 films and 2 hits @DC

* Diane Nelson is back with a new interview with Rick Marshall that covers some new territory, including the fact that she’s interested in Vertigo, and that people are already trying to “school” her — anonymously!

MTV: So, what’s the next step in getting acclimated for you? Are you taking boxes of comics out of the DC library? Reading through a few volumes of “Who’s Who in the DC Universe”?

NELSON: That’s funny, because right before I picked up the phone an anonymous package containing a book called “Comic Wars” arrived on my desk with no note. I believe it’s a nonfiction account of the history of Marvel—but yes, I’m reading everything I can get my hands on, and just trying to immerse myself and be respectful of how much I have to learn.

But the real work—not work, fun—will occur when I go to New York and get to know the people there and figure out where we go from here.

You can say THAT again!

* Today’s MOST popular parlor game: who will be DC’s next publisher? Names being mentioned: Jim Lee, Hank Kanalz, John Nee, Bill Jemas, Jimmy Palmiotti .

* Looking back, while most people chose the occasion of Paul Levitz’s departure to say nice things, a few took the other tack. (There were several ex-DC employees doing the happy dance on Wednesday, we can assure you.) Dirk Deppey delivered a classic Glasgow Kiss, although we’re not sure he should be THAT happy over the arrival of Nelson. It’s not like she’s going to put Ai Yazawa on TEEN TITANS and Charles Burns on JLA. Although that would be cool.

* Valerie D’Orazio did another kind of happy dance:

You can only place my reaction in context of the massive amount of misogyny I’ve witnessed or heard reported about in selected sectors of DC Comics during the time I’ve worked there. During those four years, I had seen strong women again and again be censured, criticized, grumbled about, and disparaged. I’ve watched my department be emptied out of females one-by-one. I was warned on literally the first day I worked there by two different people to watch my back because I was a woman and not to make any waves. I was told by one boss that females just didn’t have the natural aptitude to edit comic books.

I am absolutely thrilled that the buck now stops with a woman at DC Comics. I am overjoyed – nay, almost orgasmic – that certain men will now have to regard Diane Nelson as their boss. It is karma working on the most basic level. Let these men explain to Nelson, who has worked with one of the most famous female fantasy writers in the entire world, how women don’t have the natural aptitude to edit and create comic books. Let these men explain to her the employment and dismissal history of female editors in the DCU over the last ten years. Let these men explain to her the plot of Final Crisis – I dare them.

Although there are quite a few females in Editorial even in the DCU these days, we know exactly who delivered some of the putdowns D’Orazio mentions because we heard ’em too, so, yes, that is gonna be fun

* Finally, here’s one interesting take on the whole thing from an anonymous blogger named Whiskey who is alarmed by the dangerous tidal wave of entertainment aimed at females and thinks DC may be our only hope for a world where men rule, or something:

DC Entertainment has the ability to develop such new talent, without much risk, and test drive new characters, storylines, situations, and plots that appeal to young men and boys. Currently, there seems to be very few writers and producers who know this audience, as Hollywood has become more oriented towards the female audience (in Television) and the adult art-film audience (as Oscar bait in movies). The few producers, directors, and writers who had the knack, seem to have lost it forever, as anyone who sat through “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” can attest. Michael Bay can reliably generate a large younger male audience (“plus” women, girls, and of course older audiences) but relies on big effects and/or built-in 80’s nostalgia (“Transformers.”) Comics because of their low risk allows DC Entertainment the ability to “try out” many new writers, and develop ones it finds compelling. Since this makes complete sense, however, I expect DC Entertainment to ignore the possibilities and focus on the same aging, shallow pool of comic book writers as Marvel does. With about the same results: a buying pool of comic book readers well shy of half a million, and creative stagnation.

In a post on the Disney/Marvel deal there’s even evidence of the dreamed feminist-homosexualist axis at play:

Disney’s Rich Ross is listed as one of the more powerful openly gay men in Hollywood by After Elton. It is questionable how well he and other execs operating in the very gay friendly and female-oriented Disney empire understand and relate to boys concerns, let alone straight male concerns and desires in entertainment. Disney has been successful in creating girl-friendly series and movies, featuring Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. But neither Lovato nor Gomez have been able to break out to the degree that Miley Cyrus has, hampered by a down economy and the miscues of Disney expecting a large Hispanic contingent of fans. A critical error given that Hispanics consume Spanish Language media, most of it from Mexico (Telemundo and Univision).

It’s hard not to roll one’s eyes at someone who seems to think that “any” equals “too much” where entertainment for girls is concerned, but if you can squint between the blinds on the compound windows, there is some cogent analysis here.


  1. “Let these men explain to Nelson, who has worked with one of the most famous female fantasy writers in the entire world, how women don’t have the natural aptitude to edit and create comic books. ”

    I get the general point but it seems unlikely from the interviews so far that she’s going to be interested in small picture issues like that, surely that for the publisher to deal with/care about?

  2. No one wants Ai Yazawa or Charles Burns on corporate superhero fare. The problem with Levitz is everything DC said – he created the current sad state of American comics. There were several opportunities for things to really take off, but Levitz choked the market with the sort of fan fiction he wanted to see. Maybe now DC will start making Batman and Superman products kids will enjoy as opposed to ill conceived ideas like Batman vs an earthquake and who took Robin’s virginity.

  3. “* Valerie D’Orazio did another kind of happy dance:

    I am absolutely thrilled that the buck now stops with a woman at DC Comics. I am overjoyed – nay, almost orgasmic – that certain men will now have to regard Diane Nelson as their boss. It is karma working on the most basic level. ”

    Right, but isn’t HER boss the guy who thinks films with female leads shouldn’t be made?

    One step forward, two steps back.

  4. I figured there’d be a “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” war-whoop from Valerie’s direction sooner rather than later….though I suspect Nelson won’t be policing the hallways for errant glances and comments. Is there such a thing as a DC Human Resources department to complain to…or is that staffed by an all-oinking chauvinist staff as well? You’d think it’s a non-stop Shriner’s convention over there from the way people talk about it.

  5. People seem to be forgetting that Jenette Kahn was President of DC for twenty years. She was president when D’Orazio started working there and when you worked there, wasn’t she, Heidi? It seems the mere fact of having a woman in charge didn’t change the corporate culture then (even if she did preside over developments that I think brought a lot of women into reading comics, including myself — like the launching of Vertigo) — why should we believe it will now?

    Though I was heartened by Nelson’s reply to that interviewer who referred to her as a “girl.”

  6. “Let’s check out the Google earth view, shall we?”

    I’m going to be chuckling over that all day, not just because it’s funny, but gutsy, too. It’s the last thing I’d expect someone living in new york to post on this date… then again, having half my family be from New Your City, maybe I can see how you would. It’s absurd on so many levels.

    Oh, and I would like to point out that if you search the comments going back ten days… I TOTALLY CALLED THIS!!! :)

    It’s juvenile. I know, but I promise I’m being juvenilie with the lightest of hearts. Now it’s someone’s turn to be sarcastic. Your move Spurgeon. :) :)

  7. Is any of this really a surprise? When a company like Marvel starts cranking out hit movies, others start to see business opportunity. When the competition misses consistently, the ownership has to make a move and clean out a few offices.

    Both Marvel and DC need to get back to the roots of what made comics work. Cheap entertainment for kids. Keep the adult product going but remember why you picked up a comic book in the first place. Kids arent collectors nor do they care about any sort of variant covers. They want to see Spidey win, they want Superman to stop the bad guys.
    Both houses abandoned the kid market in absolutely every possible way. That’s a foolish move.

    Now, let’s make room for the Mouse and “The New Girl”.

    Winds of change are coming on strong. Grab a seat, open a beer because this is just starting to get interesting.

  8. Rob may want to re-count. In the past 10 years, DC-licensed films include Batman Begins, Catwoman, Superman Returns, Dark Knight, A History of Violence, Watchmen, V For Vendetta, and Constantine. (I’m leaving off Road to Perdition, as my understanding is that it the film rights were licensed from the creators, not DC.) I’m not claiming that list is complete, it’s the ones that come to mind.

  9. >> Batman Begins, Catwoman, Superman Returns, Dark Knight, A History of Violence, Watchmen, V For Vendetta, and Constantine. >>

    League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003

  10. Old proverb: “Judge a man by the reputation of his enemies.” I’d say Levitz is in good shape right now with Rob and Dirk going after him.

    I’ve heard too many freelancers, be it from Gold/Silver era to today say nice things about Levitz to think ill of him. Perhaps not every decision he’s made or was made under him was right but that can be said of anybody in his position.

  11. “They want to see Spidey win, they want Superman to stop the bad guys.”

    No offense, but I think you’re undervaluing the intellectual capacity of the young people who are reading these comics. I teach art to ages five to adult for a living (well, part of my living, but here’s the site… and the ones that do read comics LOVE today’s comics. They’re reading all the currant titles of X-Men, Spider-Man, (Ultimate and otherwise) Fantastic Four, the new Batwoman, and so many other of the modern titles. The younger kids love title like Bone, Owly, and all sorts of other progressive stuff. The point is, is they get it. There’s no need to drag them back to some “old days” that even though were good, were becoming past their time. Moving forward is a good thing.

  12. Man, it’s sad that the people quoted don’t seem to understand subject/verb agreement (“comics… allows”) or how to make plural possessives (“boys concerns”). People who write about writing should understand grammar.

  13. Hell, I write professionally and I know I could do better at it (spelling too… I’m dyslexic so I’ve had to come a long way with my spelling) but you have a good point. Even taking the time to check your own work, a few hours after you write it, is a good idea before you hit publish. Commenting on blogs doesn’t count though. :) We’re all guilty of our typos, they’re… I mean their… no I mean there. Yes, there.

  14. In Hollywood, accounting approaches Bistromathics… who made what is the stuff of legends and lawsuits.

    From a bookseller perspective, DC has had great success, publishing distinct, concise stories that get made into multimilliondollar commercials for the books and authors. (The Dark Knight movie adaptation even made the NYTimes BS list!)

    Marvel… not yet. (Kick-Ass due shortly.) Heck, Dark Horse has been more successful than Marvel at movie-tie-ins! The Dark Knight had no direct tie-in among DC’s graphic novels, yet DC moved a batload of books that summer (including an original hardcover!) Not so with Iron-Man.

    Marvel’s superhero titles do not sell as well online as DC’s. Marvel’s bestsellers? Dark Tower, Anita Blake, historical gift books. DC? Watchmen, Batman, Whatever Happened To…, Absolute Sandman, Joker, Killing Joke. [Observations from]

    Were I in charge of Marvel Studios, I would find the best story arcs and film them without having to explain origins. People read comics without a lot of background, and if they need to know more, they can read the original story. Marvel reprints Secret Wars or the Sinister Six or whatever, allowing for greater tie-in sales. Because books are just another piece of licensed merchandise, but all the money goes to the company.

  15. A few observations:

    Nelson paid considerable attention to the fans of “Harry Potter” because they were considered crucial to the commercial success of the franchise.. If the fans of DC comics can show that that they’ll contribute to the success of the DCE ventures and aren’t just noisemakers, Nelson will address their concerns as well.

    The high profile corporate reorg that produced DC Entertainment will also pressure carious people to show some results. If the DCE ventures don’t succeed, for reasons that aren’t immediately identifiable and fixable, the consequences could be severe, for the properties as well as executives. There seems to be little chance that DC will ever go back to the old days when their properties were primarily comic book characters.

    Nelson’s outsider status could easily be an asset in dealing with DC Editorial and creators. She won’t act on the assumption that comics amount to a boys club and could be more interested in material that will appeal to girls or to both sexes equally.

    Nelson certainly doesn’t mind having women as assistants. When Warner Premiere was initially staffed, back in 2006, three of the five vice presidents were women. In 2007, Davis and Schroeder became senior vice presidents.

    As for women’s talents:

    Diane Nelson, president of Warner Home Video’s Warner Premiere division, has been with the company for 10 years and has two children. Both times she was pregnant, she was promoted or given greater job responsibilities with the support of topper Barry Meyer.

    “I use that as a testament,” she says. “The fact that that tone is set from the top of the company is important.” [. . .]

    Execs are mixed over whether women bring different qualities to the job than men.

    “It’s the individual who brings their own special, unique qualities, regardless of gender,” says Pamela Kelley, NLHE executive VP of sales.

    But others believe women do bring different talents to the table.

    “Women are very good at multi-tasking, because we’ve been in that role in our lives,” BVWHE’s MacPherson says. “Most of us are mothers and daughters and executives, and so I think we’re used to juggling different things.”

    I’d bet money that DiDio won’t fill the Publisher slot. Given his position, if he were the choice, it would have been simpler to name him Publisher when the reorg was announced.


  16. Hank Kanalz and John Nee as candidates? Where do you get your info?!? The guy who heads up the joke imprint of WS as Publisher…too funny.

  17. Jenette Khan — that is so funny; although the always-stylish women could definitely give Riccardo Montalban a run for his money.
    (it’s Kahn.)

    Esteban: Wildstorm has rebuilt itself as a successful and profitable licensed publishing division. That’s the kind of thing that looks good on a corporate balance sheet.

  18. I love the logical fallacy (and sexist thinking.. making it a phallacy?) that just because she’s a woman means she is automatically going to be prejudiced against plots featuring violence towards women. D’Orazio might be (once again) projecting.

  19. When Deppey calls Levitz an “incompetent executive,” why is he an enemy? Can’t he simply not be a fan of the job Levitz did?

  20. What changes could Nelson make to DC’s comics that would make them worse? That’s assuming that any new products will have to sell well to be successful.


  21. It would be interesting to see a “report card”-type assessment of the success or failure of DC’s various publishing initiatives while Levitz was in charge. Here are descriptions of a failure:

    In a release, the publisher wrote: “DC Comics regrets to announce the discontinuation of its Humanoids and 2000 A.D. titles.

    “The company’s respect for the Humanoids and 2000 A.D. stories, characters and talent, however, continues unabated, and we hope both lines are welcomed by a U.S. publisher better able to find deserving audiences for these titles.”

    The alliances with the two publishers was seen as many as a bold move by DC, as well as one aimed at increasing their presence in bookstores, by looking to Europe, rather than exclusively to Asia for material to import. DC’s publication of Humanoids titles began in July 2004, while the publication of 2000AD titles began in September 2004.

    Speaking to Newsarama last April about the lines, DC VP of Sales, Bob Wayne said: “It’s safe to say that DC continues to have a very wide definition of what’s a comic book, and what’s an entertaining way to tell comic book stories. And we’re willing to go all over the planet to bring those different visions, and that diversity to the comic book market, just to make things available to the readers that have been with us for a long time, and to show them that there are other flavors of comics, much in the same way that we have the DCU, with Vertigo, and Wildstorm.”

    However, both the 2000AD and Humanoids lines – despite presenting some of the most acclaimed comics to come from Europe in the past two decades – failed to catch on both in the direct market, and more importantly, as Newsarama’s Brian Hibbs noted, in the bookstore market.

    In looking at the 2004 Bookscan numbers, Hibbs pointed out that of DC’s three imprints (Humanoids, 2000AD and CMX), only one title cracked the Bookscan list of top selling graphic novels for 2004, CMX’s Land of the Blindfolded. Hibbs said: “CMX, 2000AD, and Humanoids are all putatively ‘book store imprints,’ yet of all of the 2004 releases, only one makes the chart – volume 1 of Land of the Blindfolded with a, frankly, pathetic 1270 copies sold. These non-existent showings for these imprints is nearly worse than embarrassing – it’s nearly criminal. One imagines this is one of the reasons new Senior Vice President Stephanie Fierman was just brought in. The Direct Market bought 2602 copies of Land of the Blindfolded v1 – more than twice as many, and that number reflects no reorders. Clearly, DC is doing poorly with new publishing initiatives in front of the customers these initiatives were aimed at, and that should be a very scary thing for them.”