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for Monday, February 22, 2010

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DC Entertainment names its new executive team last week and, as annoyingly usual, I got several calls and e-mails from friends, readers, and reporters asking for my opinion. These folks need to update their contact lists because, not only am I out of the comics industry loop, I'm so far out of the comics industry loop that I'm not even sure where the loop is. Here's my best shot.

Jim Lee and Dan DiDio are the new Co-Publishers of DC Comics. Geoff Johns will be Chief Creative Officer at DC Entertainment. John Rood was named Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Business Development. Patrick Caldon will serve as Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration. When announcements such as these are made, at any comics publisher, I always hope they result in the same two things:

1. Better comic books.

2. Better opportunities and rewards for, and treatment of the freelancers (writers, artists, etc.) who are the ones who actually make the comic books.

If the movies, cartoons, and TV series help achieve these two things, I'm delighted. If they don't, well, while they might well be fun to watch, they don't mean that much to me.

I've met Jim Lee once. Two brief conversations at a Detroit convention. The first was about a scene Lee did in an issue of the Image Fantastic Four that I liked a lot. The second was to recommend a young man for employment. Lee was pleased I liked the scene and the young man went to work for Image for several years. I doubt Lee remembers either conversation. In any case, Lee is a tremendous creative talent and clearly has the business chops he'll need in his new position.

I almost met Dan DiDio once - several years ago - at the last Comic-Con in San Diego I attended. One of the very best writers in comics tried to introduce us. DiDio reacted in what looked to me like abject fear and dashed off without acknowledging me. Maybe he suddenly remembered that he'd left the water running in his home. Who can say?

Regular readers of this column know I've been critical of the DiDio reign. Whether that changes likely depends on his new duties as co-publisher and how the job will be divided between him and Jim Lee. Former publisher Paul Levitz appeared to be pretty hands off the editorial end of things, but I suspect that won't be the case with DiDio. Time will tell.

One of my more savvy industry pals told me the "co-publisher" bit never works. Maybe it's like Thunderdome. Two men go into the room and only one comes out.

That brings us to Geoff Johns. Whose writing I have praised on numerous occasions and with whom I have exchanged a fair number of e-mails over the years. Last I heard, he still wanted to buy me a drink if we're ever at the same convention. And he named a cop after me when he was writing Hawkman. I think the world of him and any promotion that makes use of his creativity and talent is a good move for DC Entertainment. I don't know how involved he will be with the comic books - he is on the West Coast, after all - but I hope he is involved with them to an ever greater extent than he is now. I suppose that's one of the things we'll find out once the job descriptions are sorted out.

However, I was amused by the notion, quickly, wisely dismissed by the brass, that Johns being part owner of a comics store could be some kind of conflict of interest. Do they want the "new guy" to be as oblivious to what's happening on the street level of the business as have been too many past hires? Or do they fear Johns might indulge in some sort of insider trading, such as ordering big on the forthcoming issue of Green Lantern wherein Sugar and Spike are revealed to be Tutti-Frutti Lanterns?

A true conflict of interest - and we've seen it so often it's almost industry standard - is when editors and executives assign themselves work that could and should have gone to the freelancers. I have no problem with Johns and Lee doing such work; they are two of comics' top talents and DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson has stated the company wants them to continue writing and drawing. It gets a little dicey when a mediocre wordsmith like DiDio or some of DC's other editors and assistant editors do such work. I might be into "eye of the beholder" territory here. When the comics are good, I'm okay with editors and executives are writing or drawing them. When the comics aren't good, it bothers me.

All I know of John Rood is what I read in the press releases. He's been working for ABC, most recently as Senior Vice President of Marketing, ABC Family. The only show I can recall watching on ABC Family was The Middleman, which was far too brilliant a show to run only one season. Assuming that wasn't Rood's fault, I hope the guy does great for DC.

As for Patrick Caldon, I plead similar ignorance. I have seen his name on hundreds, likely thousands of DC Comics comic books and books over the years without ever really thinking about what he was doing for the company. Whatever it was, I hope he was terrific at doing it and, whatever his new duties, I hope he's even better at doing them.

Aside from the occasional cloud or two, I'm a blooming ray of sunshine today, aren't I?

Whatever my personal history with DC Comics, I'll be happy for the company's success as long as those two things I mentioned back at the start of this column happen.

If you're a reporter looking for my thoughts on these events, just read the column, okay? That's all I got.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 02/19/2010 | 02/22/2010 | 02/23/2010 >>

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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