Diane Nelson Bw07 2006Rich Johnston reports the rumor that has been swirling around for the last few weeks from multiple sources: a new boss for DC, namely Diane Nelson currently president of Warners’ direct-to-DVD branch Warner Premiere. DC honcho Paul Levitz had been reporting to Time-Warner president and COO Alan Horn, after a period several years ago where he reported to Nelson’s boss, Kevin Tsujihara, currently president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group but then at a different, lower level position.

Nelson was responsible for handling relations between J.K. Rowling and Warners during the Harry Potter production process, a tricky task which won her many plaudits. Last year she was behind the WATCHMEN motion comics move, talking it up in this interview at Newsarama, so she’s clearly interested in the characters.

Time Warner typically has a very complicated corporate structure, and like does not necessarily go with like, as DC Comics’ distance from the publishing arm (Time, which Time-Warner is desperately trying to unload) and absorption into the movie studio arm shows. DC has usually come under minimal corporate supervision (Alan Horn seems to have bigger fish to fry) but an exception was Tsujihara, who implemented a number of key hires and initiatives at DC. Speculation is that Nelson, who was hired by Tsujihara, would be much more hands on as well.

The success of DC’s movie characters has put them back on the corporate map, but the studio surely is concerned about bringing those characters into greater play, especially with the tremendous success Marvel has had leveraging their characters, becoming the darlings of Wall Street in the process. Marvel’s revenue of $719 million is less than two percent of Time-Warner’s nearly $46 billion annual sales. Yet Wall Street values Marvel at approximately $3 billion and Time-Warner at $34 billion or nearly nine percent of the home of Batman. With the value of Time-Warner stock lagging for several years, it stands to reason that corporate would be anxious to unlock the value of DC Comics as effectively as the House of Ideas has their own IP.

Developing, as they say.


  1. Wow. So Time-Warner is becoming a paper-less media conglomerate. (Little Brown and Warner Books were sold to Hachette a few years ago.)

    Here’s the PR from her promotion to President of Warner Premiere:

    Most interesting:
    “Prior to her new position, Nelson served as Executive Vice President, Global Brand Management, Warner Bros. Entertainment, with the primary responsibility of working cross-divisionally and throughout Time Warner to maximize and optimize all the various windows and outlets available to the Studio’s signature franchises, brands and event properties on a global basis.”

    A Warner executive since 1996, previously worked at Disney.

  2. So, in the first four comments, two of them are about her looks? This – in a nutshell – is why comics gossip blows. Kudos for Torsten for discussing something important, like her background and executive experience.

  3. Didn’t say anything about her looks per se….just that the photo wasn’t the usual (more conservative) kind of corporate snapshot. Looks more like an actor’s file photo.

    But she is kinda hot.

  4. Drew, I have already once been on the receiving end of a Heidi Macdonald lecture. (And not only did I deserve it, not only was she right, but I also remember it to this day.)

    So, I know better than to discuss such things here (unless, of course, the Beatrix encourages such by posting images of Hollywood Hotties).

    (And y’all should take a look at the DC Masthead…)
    (Hey… where’s Karen Berger?)


    Her shirt is buttoned down to her wrists so she’s Koran friendly.

    If the photo looked like a candid snapshot you’d all be complaining that she looked unprofessional and ugly.

    Women just can’t win!

  6. Karen Berger isn’t on the masthead, but then, Vertigo isn’t mentioned on the masthead, either. Berger is, however, quoted extensively in this CBR piece:

    It’s already been stated but 2009 has established a real benchmark for Vertigo. Again, you had three books nominated for Best New Series, you’ve launched a new crime line, the “Fables” story just keeps getting bigger and bigger — how do you improve in 2010 and, specifically, are there some titles that you have some high hopes for as you prepare for next year?

    I think we look at each book as creatively trying to do the best job that we can on it. And we don’t try to single out one book going forward. When you are an editor, you realize you just try your best to work with a writer and try to bring their story forward. We obviously try to reach a large audience and we want everything to be good but not everything is going to be for everybody. We do have a high quality standard for our work and the people who work with us really produce some phenomenal work. The best work in the industry.

    As for rumors: Reporting on rumors circulating around the industry and mouthed by reputable sources is perfectly okay. It’s generating rumors and making false accusations or assertions that’s unethical.


  7. I think this is a very good thing.

    DC has lost way too much quality since Jenette Kahn left. Her presence is sorely missed and as president, she ushered in a golden era at DC that’s been all downhill since her retirement.

    The company could use a woman’s touch.

  8. I certainly hope she is more hands-on than her predecessor, like to the point of ordering Levitz to fire Didio and put an end to the annual mega-crossovers that have destroyed the DCU.

  9. Trocar–

    I share your disdain for mega-crossover events, but they are here to stay. When you look at the best selling books of the year, they are almost always the crossovers. Even the titles that are not a main part of the crossover gain sales from any small intersection with the crossover.

    Firing DiDio will not stop the mega-crossovers. DiDio doesn’t work for Marvel, but Marvel has the crossovers, too.

  10. >> But if Wildstorm can be listed on the masthead (and in the Vertigo masthead too), why isn’t Karen Berger, a SENIOR VP, listed? >>

    Because she doesn’t work for Wildstorm, apparently.

    The fact that Wildstorm is listed in the masthead does not mean that all imprints are; it means that Wildstorm is. Similarly, the creators of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Jack Knight get creator credits, but the creators of Green Arrow don’t. Is it because Jack Knight somehow outranks Green Arrow? No. It’s because that’s what the deals say.

    Getting listed in the masthead is likely part of the deal made when Wildstorm was purchased. Vertigo was not purchased, so there wasn’t any deal like that made. If it’s important to Karen, maybe she’ll make it part of her next contract negotiation. If it’s not, probably not.

    You’re assuming the masthead is a cataloguing tool, and that all things of similar status should be listed. It’s not.


  11. “Women just can’t win! ”

    Well, she just might be in charge of DC, so I’d call that winning. Men take their licks from women in other ways, so don’t despair. I can’t honestly tell how that photo is risque in any way, shape, or form, nor can I see any resemblance to J.K. Rowling. She looks like a normal, competent, person, in a high position, and I look forward to seeing if she can make some improvements. There’s always room for improvements.

  12. >As for rumors: Reporting on rumors circulating around the industry and
    >mouthed by reputable sources is perfectly okay. It’s generating rumors and
    >making false accusations or assertions that’s unethical.

    Who does that?

  13. Now this is where fact and gossip collide– because all it takes is a kernel of truth to move things along.

    When I continued the gossip thread at http://www.comicmix.com/news/2009/08/25/lets-gossip-about-gossip-in-the-comics-industry/, I made reference to an editor getting fired. Now, with DC putting a new boss at DC, people may think I was referring to Levitz. Torsten mentions Karen Berger not in the masthead, and others may think I meant she got the axe, and I did refer to a line of publications going down, but that could refer to either of them…

    See how this starts?

    For the record, I will say that the editor I was referring to in my example was neither Paul nor Karen, BTW.

  14. If Paul or Karen get fired, then it’s time for all DC staffers to update their resumes. DC has an impressive executive staff that knows what they’re doing. Fans may not appreciate it, mistakes might be made, but DC fails because they try. And sometimes, they succeed tremendously.

    Hey… I mention the masthead because it’s got lots of VPs on there, many of them behind-the-scenes, and I just wondered why an Executive VP who has worked at the company for thirty years wasn’t listed.

  15. Who does that?

    Follow American politics on the national level, and you’ll find that happening routinely. A right-wing pundit, mid-level (state or party) official, blogger, propaganda outlet (Fox News), publication, or something else will claim that Obama’s administration or the Democratic party has done, is doing, or is going to do something outrageous. The mainstream media (MSM) will ignore the claim for days, but when right-wing media and pundits repeat the claim uncritically, eventually the MSM feel obligated to cover the claim as news, and the result is often a “he says this, she says that” article that gives the claim undeserved validity. There are still Republicans in substantial numbers who think that Obama shouldn’t be president because he wasn’t born in the U.S.

    Of course, in the real world, companies with new products start rumors about them because they want some buzz; actors or entertainment publications will start casting rumors (e.g., IRON MAN 2); people wanting to move up corporate ladders will try to eliminate rivals via rumors.

    You have enough experience to know whether your sources are reliable.


  16. Good point Torsten. You don’t get to become part of the staff of one of the biggest comic book companies ever by not working and trying hard. If many of them were to get laid off, I would expect nothing less than a lot of them to get together and start a new company, with more freedom than they ever had before, and I’m sure that company would rock the world of comics.

  17. . . . and I just wondered why an Executive VP who has worked at the company for thirty years wasn’t listed.

    Berger is actually a senior vice president, and executive editor of the Vertigo imprint. It would be nice to know how many VPs of all ranks Time Warner has, from vice president to senior executive vice president, but finding that out would probably require searching through SEC filings.


  18. >

    Because Time-Warner is a publicly traded company, that information is public record. You can wade through SEC filings….or just call the company and get a stock prospectus. Any broker could do that for you, too.

  19. Come on peeps, no name calling, no matter how funny. It is never funny when someone loses a job. Can we please keep this thread grown up.

    Also, no more conspiracy theories over the DC masthead. It’s just a masthead!

  20. “Does this mean DC’s dreary universe will get less rape-y? ”

    If this means Judd “Let’s kill female sidekicks or give them AIDS” Winnick finally gets the boot from all DC titles, then I’m all for it.