DC Creates new division; Levitz resigns as President and Publisher of DC Comics
In a tactical business move possibly inspired by the Disney/Marvel buyout last week; Time Warner has created a completely new division to their company, DC Entertainment. DC Entertainment will be responsible for "fully realizing the power and value of DC Comics brand and characters across all media platforms." The new addition to Warner Brothers will be responsible for strategically integrating the "DC Comics business, brand and characters deeply into Warner Brothers." What this means, essentially, is that DC Comics and its characters will become even more deeply rooted into Warner Brothers, essentially allowing Warner to further capitalize on and build more prominent platforms for franchise building in all areas of entertainment.
Paul Levitz, who up until today held the title of President of DC Comics and overlooked all of the DC books has officially resigned and will return to writing for the comic book company. According to a press release from DC Executive Editor Dan Didio, Levitz's first venture into writing will be Adventure Comics, which he will take over for current writer Geoff Johns. Levitz, who has been a staple in DC Comics for over 20 years as both a writer and editor will return to his roots now that a President of DC Comics no longer seems necessary. Levitz will also be called upon as a contributing editor for the comic book company, meaning he will freelance on certain titles for DC Comics.
Heading the new division is Diane Nelson, the new President of DC Entertainment who has been working for Warner Brothers for over a decade first as Vice President of Global Brand Management and more recently in 2006 as the President of Warner Premiere; a studio based production company which develops and produces direct to consumer DVD. Nelson is no stranger to working "cross divisionally," either. Her experience is that of a marketing executive, and while she clearly has experience in working "cross divisionally and throughout Warner," to "maximize and optimize all of the various windows and outlets available to the studios' franchises and brands;" she does not necessarily know anything about comic books. What this means is that, while Nelson may have zero knowledge and experience in the understanding of what Superman's weaknesses are; she knows exactly how to profit from him as a marketing tool. As the head of Global Brand Management, Nelson oversaw many highly lucrative and successful properties including Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Harry Potter.
What we saw with Marvel last week was a business move that would hopefully lead toward greater distribution of Marvel characters and its properties through The Walt Disney Company. This deal, however, seems to be removing the President of DC Comics; longtime comic book writer Paul Levitz; and essentially replacing him with a highly successful marketing executive who has experience in making dollar signs for Time Warner. This is the sort of business deal that may put fear into the hearts of comic book fans and readers and is often what happens when a company that thrives on the passion of art and creativity, goes corporate.
There is no question that Ms. Nelson has a massive amount of experience in business; but does she actually know anything about comic books? Up until today, Paul Levitz had held the position of DC Comics President and Publisher, with Dan Didio at the helm as Senior Vice President and Executive Editor. With the resignation of Levitz, will Didio become the new President, or will he remain the Senior VP and answer directly to President of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson? According to the press release, DC Comics publishing division will be the "cornerstone of DC Entertainment." This reads to me as DC being a small part of a larger money-making machine led by Ms. Nelson. Let's take a step back, shall we? If Didio must answer directly to Nelson, how will this change the type of content that readers are exposed to in the actual comic books? Will Nelson have influence and authority on the type of content that we read in DC titles?
The establishment of DC Entertainment could mean a greater amount of exposure and more franchise building for DC as a company. This could mean we might be seeing a Justice League live-action film, maybe? However, I am hesitant to jump for joy so quickly. For a long time, DC had been a division of Time Warner and the content was, for the most part, left alone. If Nelson will be heading this new division, and the executives (Didio) at DC Comics must answer directly to her; then I would imagine that she would have some creative control or influence on what happens in the actual comic books as well as what we could see transcend to all areas of entertainment.
Only time will tell if the reconstruction of the company was a good or bad thing. The good news? We might see a Superman movie after-all. From what you know, what do you think of the deal?