Jim Lee and Dan DiDio Named Co-Publishers of DC Comics

by Jeff

gbagdc Jim Lee and Dan DiDio Named Co-Publishers of DC ComicsMedia Release — DC Entertainment, founded in September 2009 to unleash the power of the DC Comics library of characters across all media platforms, has named its executive management team, including new co-publishers of DC Comics and a Chief Creative Officer, as well as heads of Sales/Marketing/Business Development and Finance/Administration. Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment, made the announcement today.

The new senior executive team includes Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, who have been named Co-Publishers of DC Comics, and Geoff Johns, who will serve as Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment. Additionally, John Rood has been named Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Business Development, and Patrick Caldon will serve as Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration. Each of these executives will report directly to Nelson.

“DC Entertainment’s new executive team is a creative ‘dream team,’ with accomplishments and talent unrivaled in the business,” said Nelson. “This announcement continues and underscores DC’s legacy as the ultimate destination for creators. We’ll benefit enormously from the deep experience this team represents, while re-energizing the direction and focus of the company. I’m excited and honored to have each of them with me at the helm of DC Entertainment.”

“With this new leadership team, Diane will be able to fully and respectfully integrate DC’s brand and characters, not only as key content drivers in the film division, but across all of the businesses of Warner Bros. and Time Warner,” said Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “I am very proud and excited about the accomplished executives who are charged with expanding this powerful library. They each have a diverse and complementary skill-set and are deeply committed to contributing to the DC Comics legacy.”

Prior to his current post, Lee served as Editorial Director, where he oversaw WildStorm Studios and was also the artist for many of DC Comics’ bestselling comic books and graphic novels, including “All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder,” “Batman: Hush” and “Superman: For Tomorrow.” He also serves as the Executive Creative Director for the upcoming DC Universe Online massively multiplayer action game from Sony Online Entertainment.
Lee is an award-winning comic book illustrator/creator/publisher who started his professional career at Marvel Comics where his work on the X-Men continues to hold the all-time sales record for single issue sales at eight million copies sold in one month. At Marvel, he also drew the Punisher and co-created many characters, the most popular being Gambit, featured in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” feature film. In 1992, he started his own production company, WildStorm Productions, and co-founded Image Comics, an independent comics company which quickly grew to become the number-three North American comics publisher. His most notable creations, “WildCats” and “Gen 13,” saw life beyond comic books as a CBS Saturday morning cartoon and as a direct-to-video animated movie distributed by Disney, respectively. In 1998, he left Image Comics and sold WildStorm to DC Comics.

DiDio most recently served as Senior Vice President and Executive Editor, DC Universe, overseeing the editorial department for the DC Universe imprint, including the ongoing adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and scores of heroes and villains. He also worked to develop new titles with the industry’s premier writers and artists. At DC Comics, DiDio has spearheaded such bestselling projects as “All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder,” “Identity Crisis,” Green Lantern, Teen Titans and The Outsiders.

Before joining DC in 2002, DiDio was with Mainframe Entertainment, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President, Creative Affairs, overseeing the development, distribution, marketing and promotion of all Mainframe’s television properties. Prior to that, he served as Executive Director of Children’s Programming for ABC, where he was also a publicity manager, having started his television career at CBS, working in a variety of positions.
Johns builds on his current role at DC from being one of today’s most prolific, popular and award-winning contemporary comic book writers with this new executive role. He is a New York Times bestselling author who has written highly acclaimed stories revitalizing Green Lantern, Superman, the Flash, Teen Titans, and the Justice Society of America for DC Comics.

Johns began his comics career creating and writing “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.” for DC Comics while at the same time working with film director Richard Donner. After acclaimed runs on Flash, Teen Titans and the bestselling “Infinite Crisis” mini-series, Johns co-wrote a run on Action Comics with his mentor, Donner. Johns has also written and produced for various other media, including the acclaimed “Legion” and “Absolute Justice” episodes of Warner Bros. Television’s “Smallville” and Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” and “Titan Maximum.” He also wrote the story of the DC Universe Online massively multiplayer action game from Sony Online Entertainment.

Rood returns to Warner Bros. after 10 years with the Disney ABC Television Group, where he most recently was Senior Vice President of Marketing, ABC Family. While at ABC, he also consulted for ABC News during the recent transitions at “Good Morning America” and “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.”

Prior to Disney, Rood worked for six years at Warner Bros. Consumer Products, negotiating promotional deals with national advertisers using Warner Bros.’ properties, including the DC Comics characters. He has also worked in promotions for Equity Marketing on the Burger King account and in advertising for Leo Burnett on the McDonald’s and Miller Brewing accounts.

Caldon most recently served as Executive Vice President, Finance and Operations of DC Comics and MAD Magazine. Before that, he served as Senior Vice President, Finance and Operations, and his other posts at DC include Vice President, Finance and Operations, and Controller, the position in which he joined the company in 1985. Prior to joining DC Comics, Caldon spent a decade at Warner Communications in corporate accounting and as Senior Vice President and CFO of the Cosmos soccer team (owned by Warner Communications at the time).
DC Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, is charged with strategically integrating the DC Comics business, brand and characters deeply into Warner Bros. and all its content and distribution businesses. DC Entertainment utilizes the expertise the Studio has in building and sustaining franchises to prioritize the DC properties as key titles and growth drivers across all of the Studio, including feature films, television, interactive entertainment, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products. The DC Comics publishing business is the cornerstone of DC Entertainment, releasing approximately 90 comic books through its various imprints and 30 graphic novels a month as well as continuing to build on its creative leadership in the comic book industry.

A note from Patrick Caldon

I don’t blog. Never have. Never intended to do so. I’m a behind-the-scenes guy. A numbers and systems guy.

Way back in 1985, I joined DC Comics as the company’s Controller. Obviously, a lot has changed in our industry in that time. I’ve seen our staff grow from less than 100 employees based in New York to over 275 employees located nationwide. During that time, the company’s internal systems, from manufacturing to inventory management, have gotten more complex. Distribution has diversified. Deals have been made by my team with thousands of world class artists and writers. New readers are discovering comics and graphic novels and our characters. The DC Universe has even gone from infinite worlds to 52 universes. (At least that’s what Jim and Dan tell me.) Heroes have died and been reborn.

My point is this–change is a constant in comic books. But continuity is, too.

Today’s announcement signals change, but change that comes with continuity. Familiar faces (Dan and Jim and Geoff) and familiar people behind the scenes (like this onetime blogger) are joined by new faces (Diane and John). It’s a dynamic team, one with an eye on the future and an appreciation for the past. You’ll be hearing more about our plans for the future in the weeks and months to come.

But before we get there, in appreciation of the past, I’d like to offer a public tip of the cap to my longtime colleague and boss, Paul Levitz, as he returns to his writing roots and to the adventures of the 31st Century. Under his leadership, DC Comics has been an industry innovator and I’m proud to have been part of the magic of these past twenty five years. Thank you, Paul.

Here’s to your future—and the future of DCE and DC Comics.

–Patrick

A note from John Rood

I’m a suit.

At more than one Comic-Con, someone from the crowd has complimented my performance as a session moderator by saying “You’re pretty cool…for a suit.” At least I think it was a compliment…

It’s this suit’s extreme pleasure to join the DC sales, marketing, and business development team. I’ve known Cheryl and Steve for years (partly from my first tour of duty at Warner Bros a decade ago), and am so impressed with all they and their talented colleagues have accomplished. It’s an exciting new age for DC Entertainment, across all media and lines of business.

For 20 years, I have had the good fortune of working only on stuff I’m very passionate about – from commercials to television to movies to websites. And for classic brands that refuse to rest on their laurels – from McDonald’s to Miller to Disney Channel to ABC. It’s great to be keeping these streaks alive – back again at Warner Bros., back again in the DC Universe. I am told I was hired because of my experience in entertainment marketing – to kids and families, to young women, to the urban market, across multimedia, with trade partners, with a limited budget, etc.

I have already been identified as an insider fan with an outsider POV. So here’s my POV – there is so much going so well for so many things across DC. An unequaled collection of characters and stories. A commitment to quality content that’s nothing short of inspiring. I see no publisher serving the needs of the Direct Market better, and no publisher with a more extensive catalogue of books and trades in the mass market channel. These imperatives are not possible without our cherished retailer partners, with whom I look forward to working most closely.

What has kept me from a good night sleep so far is the issue of Balance – balancing what’s best for the traditional business channels with what will be best for the future of the business and the art form, balancing what superserves the current superfans with what will serve an entirely new generation of fans, balancing promotion with profit, etc.

At Disney/ABC, I had a fun 10 years in the Digital space, working on some exciting web, social networking, promotional, and multiplatform windowing strategies. One of my missions is to work with the new executive team to take DC storytelling and promotion to the next level. We see it as a sacred obligation to you – to unleash our characters and stories and news across all platforms that matter to you. You’ll soon see us at DC Entertainment making big news in Digital, in the short- and long-term, from mobile strategy to a suite of publishing products. Digital is a dialogue, so I look forward to keeping in touch with you during this crucial evolution.

I hope you feel the passion across all of our blogs today. What an inspiring and accomplished team Diane has assembled in Jim and Dan and Geoff and Patrick. They formed a rock supergroup, for whom I look forward to being the roadie. I jumped at the chance to work for Diane, in whom all DC fans should put their trust wholly. Our talks to-date have been so fearless and exciting – just you wait.

Thank you all very much. See you in the stores and at the Cons.

A note from Geoff Johns

“WOW.”

That’s the first thing I said too when I heard about the team Diane wanted to form to guide DC Entertainment both in and out of the comic book pages and into the not-so-distant future. That not-so-distant future being today.

And in the words of my Tiny Titans collaborators, “AW YEAH, DC COMICS!”

The second thing I said to Diane was, “Um, what about writing? I love writing. I can’t stop writing!” Diane smiled and said, “…writing’s part of the job!” Right away, I knew I was in. This was a dream come true. So what am I going to be doing besides writing Green Lantern, The Flash, Batman: Earth One and Brightest Day? What’s “Chief Creative Officer” even mean? It sounds like a suit job…thankfully I’m still wearing my t-shirts. Even in the blizzards here in New York. But before I get into what new things I’ll be doing, I want to tell you why I’ve decided to jump into DC Entertainment full on, as if it wasn’t obvious already.

1) The People.

I’ve worked with Dan and Jim over the years and, honestly, there are very few people I admire more in my life, inside or outside of the comic book world. Dan’s leadership, endless energy and devotion to pushing boundaries is infectious and Jim’s pure talent, enthusiasm and dedication to exploring the outlets of the future inspiring. In the short time I’ve come to know John and Patrick, I feel a sense of progression and history forging together, both of which make DC what it is.

And now there’s Diane. Someone whose passion and understanding of the value of the creative process is undoubtedly going to lead DC Entertainment into an incredible new era for all of us fans, soon-to-be-fans and fellow creators – the writers and artists who create the lifeblood of this industry. I can’t wait for you to meet Diane. Her warmth and sincerity has made me feel like I’ve known her my entire life. Just like DC Comics. Which brings me to the second reason this totally rocks.

2) The Mythologies.

There is no place on Earth that has a more diverse and deep universe of characters and worlds. From Atrocitus to Y: The Last Man. My love for DC started when I first saw the Flash take on Captain Cold in the Challenge of the Super-Friends. I never ate my Honeycomb that fast. It when I bought my first comic books in 1985, including Crisis on Infinite Earths, alongside my Super Powers figures and only grew over the years until I broke into the industry myself.

So what does a “Chief Creative Officer” do? Well, I still wear t-shirts and write and go to conventions, but I’ll be doing a whole lot more too.

Under the leadership of Jim and Dan, I’ll continue writing and giving my creative input as I have been in comic books. But expanding onto that, Diane’s asked me to take our comic book world, embrace it (as I do) and use it to lead the creative charge on bringing it all to film, toys, television, video games, animation and beyond. The Justice Society appearing on Smallville was only the beginning.

Let’s all let this sink in a little more: Martin Campbell of Casino Royale is directing Green Lantern. And over the last few months, I’ve met with Ryan Reynolds to talk all-things Green Lantern, I’ve worked closely with Green Lantern producer Donald Deline and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg on the script (Aw yeah, Kilowog!) and I’ve realized that the Green Lantern comics and film and everything growing out of them (wait until you see what!) is only the beginning of what DC Entertainment has coming our way under Diane and Jeff Robinov’s leadership. And I have to say something about Jeff too. He’s made Warner Brothers the most successful and artist-friendly studio out there and that will carry over into DC Entertainment. He knows what we know: the potential of DC is infinite. We couldn’t be in better hands on that front. Expect the characters we love, the A-list and the ones even you and I might barely know, to be shepherded into the “outside world” with respect, care and unbridled energy. They’ll be plenty of Batman and Superman, but there are a whole lot of characters from the DC Universe, Mad, Vertigo and Wildstorm waiting to be unleashed.

They might say, “The sky is the limit!” at other places when looking at the new opportunities ahead. They think too small. We all know the sky isn’t the limit at DC. The universe isn’t even the limit. There isn’t one.

I was going to close this out with one of my favorite phrases from Blackest Night – “All Will Be Well!” – but I think another one can sum up DC Entertainment and the people and creative teams behind it.

“Beware Our Power!”

Aw.

Yeah.

Geoff

A note from Jim Lee and Dan DiDio

Change is in the air.

It can sound a little bit scary, but really, what is change? It’s about reinvention. It’s about redefining. It’s about re-energizing.

And when you think about it, change is and always has been the vital life force that has made DC Comics the premiere publishing powerhouse that it is today. From DC Comics ushering in the Golden Age of Superheroes in the late 1930’s, then boldly reinventing them for a new audience in the Silver Age in the 1960’s, to the launch of the critically acclaimed Vertigo imprint and the acquisition of WildStorm three decades later and now, the creation of DC Entertainment, this enterprise has always been about building the very best home for creators to come together to tell the most diverse, enduring and entertaining stories possible.

But you can’t just change everything, simply for the sake of change.

And that’s where we come in. With our respective experiences and history with DC and our relationships with the world’s best writers and artists, our mission is to reinvent DC Comics to prepare it for the challenges and opportunities in this quickly changing world. With the Co-Publisher structure, it’s going to allow us to be in many places at once, both literally and metaphorically; to better position DC as one of the great creative engines which fuels and defines so much of our world’s Pop Culture while making sure we continue to address and redefine what makes DC’s characters so great. Thankfully, we already have between all the talented, hardworking staffers that comprise DC, Vertigo, WildStorm and Mad—one of the greatest, most experienced editorial teams one could hope for to do just that, and we look forward to working with everyone to propel DC to new heights.

Given how long we have known each other and how well we know our individual strengths and skill sets, there’s going to be some easygoing but frank, healthy discussion about how we can accomplish these goals, especially as we get into the specifics of what reinvention means. We look forward to sharing the results of that dialogue with you going forward into the future. Till then, we would like to pause at this moment in DC Comics’ tremendously rich and storied history to simply state not only how honored we are to be chosen to carry forth its legacy but how excited we feel about the prospect of adding to it. Former DC President/Publisher Paul Levitz has been the driving force behind much of that legacy, and we owe much to his prescient guidance and steadfast professionalism. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants–thank you, Paul.

We are equally as beholden to new DCE President Diane Nelson for her faith in the all-star team she has assembled. In very short time, Diane has demonstrated to each of us through her intellect, her insight and her leadership that she is the right person to take DC to the next level. She has a tremendous vision for what DC Entertainment can be and her passion and enthusiasm have been truly inspirational; we couldn’t be any prouder to be leading the charge with her. And while DC will continue to grow, evolve and change–at the end of the day, it will always be about the words and pictures, no matter the medium, and the incredible people who craft them into art. Given our passion for this unique and wonderful art form, know that that much will always remain a constant.

Jim and Dan

A note from Diane Nelson

Well, we’re finally here. The announcement so many have been waiting for – and a few of us have been waiting anxiously to make. I’m very happy to present the new leadership team for DC Entertainment, including our new Co-Publishers of DC Comics!

I simply couldn’t be prouder or more excited to be working alongside these amazingly talented gentlemen. And I couldn’t have more faith in the promise of the future for DC and its deeply talented employees.

Before I share a few thoughts on each of these leaders, I’d like to acknowledge some of the rumors that have understandably been swirling around in the days and weeks leading up to today.

First, what we announced in September was the creation of DC Entertainment as a company and my role running it. We also shared the fact that Paul Levitz would continue to operate as Publisher of DC Comics until his replacement was announced. Paul has continued to operate as Publisher of DC Comics over the past 5 months, as I took time to learn about the organization, consider how I want to structure the company for the future and who I want to run it with me. He made sure the business kept working and people knew someone was on the ground with them, looking out for their interests.

I thank Paul for that continuity and commitment to me, Warner Bros. and the DC business and team. I know it was not an easy time for him or for the employees at DC – and I’m thrilled that he can now turn his full attention to writing; something I know he is excited about, as are fans.

In terms of possible alternate candidates for the Publisher role, some very qualified names have been talked about and raised. Each have tremendous merit in his or her own right, but none other than this team were approached or considered seriously. Jeff Robinov’s and my interest in this specific combination of people – with their highly complementary talent – has been in play since very early on in this transition period. And our decision to pursue assembling this specific team was made as early as mid-November. Anyone who looks carefully will see that it can’t have been easy or quick to make this team happen. But equally, people must see how compelling it was to try.

It has been my observation that business partnerships – actually, any partnership, really – are rarely effective unless the partners choose each other. This partnership – both Dan and Jim as Co-Publishers and Geoff, John and Pat as executive partners with them – was a very organic and natural one. And this team is brimming with respect for one another and excitement at what this combination can achieve.

And so, a word or two about each:

– Jim Lee is one of the top artists and creators in the business. But he is also an astonishingly smart and experienced businessman. He has a calm, confident and reassuring leadership style that will be enormously valuable to every member of the DC Entertainment and DC Comics team. He is fully adept and experienced at building a publishing program on his own, and will partner with Dan in doing so, but he also brings an affinity and passion for digital that will help the DC Comics business move aggressively into the future.

– Dan DiDio is one of the most passionate and energetic leaders I have ever seen. He cares deeply about these characters and stories, and equally about the people who bring them to life at and with DC Comics. He knows how to manage the day-in, day-out mechanics of the publishing program, with his own strong creative sense, and he has great experience from prior to DC in adapting stories for other platforms.

– Geoff Johns has an unparalleled creative mind and a huge heart. He brings a level of enthusiasm, passion and optimism to every discussion I have with him that is so motivating. He will be instrumental in establishing the tone and culture of creative risk and business growth that we intend for DC Entertainment. And he will ensure the integrity of how we bring these characters and stories to fans across every entertainment platform.

– John Rood is a long-time colleague and friend. I have been looking for a way to work with him again ever since we met during his first stint at Warner Bros. 10 years ago. John was smart and accomplished then, but he has built and grown his professional experience in his 10 years at ABC Family in a way that makes him uniquely qualified for the job I envisioned. John will be a passionate, innovative marketer of the DC Comics publishing program, while he helps us build DC Entertainment and its library with internal divisions across Time Warner and Warner Bros. He will treat our retail customers and our consumers like the superheroes they are. And we’re lucky to have him on this team.

– Pat Caldon. What can I say about Pat that people don’t already know, particularly inside DC Comics? He is a rock. He is deeply knowledgeable and much more creatively passionate than he lets on. He cares about everyone and everything associated with DC and he will be an instrumental partner to all of us in building the company for the future.

At some point during the September announcement flurry, Paul and I were talking about what I was taking on as President of DC Entertainment. He pointed out to me that I was about to step in to the greatest job in the world at arguably the greatest company in the world. The last 6 months, while anxious and difficult ones for all of you at DC Comics, have demonstrated to me how true Paul’s words were.

Among the many incredibly fun experiences I’ve had over this period, was a recent one week stint in which I had the honor to have dinner with Neil Gaiman one night and Grant Morrison and his awesome wife, Kristan, the next. That fact alone should be enough to illustrate my point about the greatest job in the world. But during each of those conversations, we touched on the crossroads at which DC finds itself.

From Neil came the eloquently concise assessment that what I was talking about for the future of DC Entertainment was “no fear”. So true; my job, with this team of amazing executives, is to support and create a safe environment for creative risks and business innovation.

And from Grant and Kristan was the observation that we’re at the starting point of the next era for DC Comics and DC Entertainment. Preceded by so many interesting, passionate, talented leaders, we are continuing a legacy and building upon it – together.

Let’s have fun and work hard to make this next era the best yet and thank you to everyone at DC for your patience and professionalism with me as I take the time to make careful, thoughtful and meaningful changes that set us all up for success.

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