DC announces DiDio and Lee to take over as publishers; Johns named CCO

Sometimes, the bluebird of happiness was within your own backyard all along — WB has ended its search for a new publisher right in their own backyard, with Dan DiDio and Jim Lee named co-publishers. Geoff Johns has been named to the new position of Chief Creative Officer. Pat Caldon, a long-time DC veteran, will serve as Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration. The one new member of the executive team is John Rood, who has been named as Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Business Development. Rood was most recently a SVP of marketing at ABC Family, but prior to that worked at WB in consumer products.

All five will report directly to Diane Nelson.

The announcement ends months of speculation over who would be brought in to run DC Entertainment — while many expected some Warners outsider to be named to the post, the names DiDio and Lee had often been in consideration, with Caldon, known for his business and administrative acumen, a dark horse. Rood comes in over the marketing team led by Steve Rotterdam.

Stuff unknown — with at least two of the new executive team (Lee and Johns) located on the West Coast, this will do little to allay the rumors of DC moving at least of some of its operations to Burbank.

More later.

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.

Comments

  1. Synsidar says:

    My initial reaction is that the co-publisher arrangement won’t work out. Eventually, one of the two men will leave and won’t be replaced. Practically anybody who’s a corporate executive wants to wield authority and dislikes having that authority encroached on or diminished. As time passes, the variety of material published and licensed changes, and multimedia ventures come and go, the responsibilities of the co-publishers will change and one will become superior. The inferior one will depart.

    I suspect that other people who were approached about the position wouldn’t take it as offered.

    SRS

  2. Woah. So, despite the new position, is the “Chief Creative Officer” position (for all intents and purposes) the Editor-In-Chief position…with Johns now becoming the “public face” of DC Comics (like Didio was for DC and Quesada continues to be for Marvel)? Or is it a more behind-the-scenes position?

    My guess in the latter….since Johns is nowhere near the gregarious showman/huckster Didio is….and the kind of personality you arguably *require* for such a position. Perhaps Didio will continue in that role….since I can’t imagine the soft-spoken Geoff Johns doing the same kind of spiel on the convention circuit.

    Oh…and the “co-publisher” thing with Didio and Jim Lee? Uh…yeah….I don’t think Didio does “co” anything very well….so I expect Jim Lee to be as invisible in this position as he’s been the past several years. Must be some kind of contractual obligation that brought Lee into the mix…since I can’t for the life of me figure out what he’s going to bring to the table (other than drawing skill). God knows his Wildstorm line isn’t exactly a resume’ enhancer.

    An odd mix of people for a rather nebulous-sounding executive team.

  3. RE: Didio and Lee: As any fan of The Office should know, the “co-manager” thing doesn’t really work


  4. Wow.
    Kinda disappointed that WBE didn’t find someone from the publishing industry.

    So how will Didio and Lee split duties?

    Does Didio give up is EVP role?

    As EVP, Didio did not have any input into other imprints. As Publisher, what influence will he have on Wildstorm and Vertigo?

    As CCO, will Johns take over the responsibilities currently held by Didio? (This might be a shrewd move on DCE’s part, negating most of the criticism currently hurled at Didio.)

    How long will the co-publishers co-exist?

  5. If this means Johns will be writing significantly less, BOOOOO.

    If it means his comics writing output will be about the same, plus he’ll chart the course for the DCU line, huzzah!

    From a business standpoint, so long as internal management divides co-publisher responsibilities with a clear line, do we really foresee a problem? This is no Jim Halpert/Michael Scott/Dunder Mifflin situation here. Assuming strong direction from the new boss, the gents’ obviously differing skill sets would seem to indicate where their responsibilities would naturally divide.

  6. Congrats to Dan and Jim. But it reminds me of another Jim who shared co-manager positions with Michael on the Office. Didn’t work out to well. :)

  7. Kinda disappointed that WBE didn’t find someone from the publishing industry.

    I think the rebranding of the company made it pretty clear that Warner doesn’t think of DC as a publishing company anymore. They’re a brand management operation that happens to continue to publish comics as a side venture as long as they bleed money out of it (i.e. break even with it). These moves just continue to solidify that idea.

    So how will Didio and Lee split duties?

    The press release posted on DC’s blog makes it sound like Lee is doing the “digital” arm and Didio is doing the day-to-day publishing. Which means either Lee is doing “special projects” and this move is just for contractual reasons or Lee is actually seriously working on moving DC’s comic publishing online. The latter would be a good move for DC, but the cynic in me suspects it’s the former.

    And I have to say, I love marketdroid speak in press releases:
    DC Entertainment, founded in September 2009 to unleash the power of the DC Comics library of characters

    Unleash that power DC. Don’t hold back. It sounds like they’re marketing a protein shake or a breakfast cereal or something.

  8. Great, just what they need, yet more executive inbreeding. Looks like the new DCE makes decisions just like the old one, that is they DON’T.

  9. WB: What Boobs.

    Still, there is hope!

    With Jim Lee’s influence, one can only pray that Didio’s best ideas will be like Jim Lee’s comics from the past seven years and never make it to press.

    PS. Congrads to Geoff Johns, the one promotion that truly is well deserved.

  10. Tommy Raiko says:

    An actual, perhaps-more-relevant-than-a-sitcom example of co-publishers might be Yen Press, which had co-publishing directors for the frist few years of its existence.

    I believe there’s only one pulisher in place now, but I can’t recall if that happened as a result of the positions’ evolution as Synsidar notes, or as a result of a larger corporate restructuring (which I seem to recall Yen’s parent company underwent around that time) or any other reason.

  11. Feels like a missed opportunity. Not the kind of people who strike me as having fresh perspectives on ‘mainstream’ comics or have a real track record at bringing in new readership. But like Jer mentioned, maybe that wasn’t the point of their hire. Ho hum.

  12. This is not what I expected. I pretty much fell for the “change” rhetoric, but this appears to be a strong vote of confidence for full steam ahead in keeping things the way they are.

    So who’ll be the first to quote Pete Townshend?

  13. It seems Johns has been “Chief Creative Officer” for the past several years, and perhaps this is only an official way of acknowledging the obvious (while rewarding Johns with a fat salary as well).

  14. Jim Lee is now a big cheese at DC? Ya, he was one of those big “radicals” (with no clue about artistic proportion) that were gonna shake things up and send the Big Two packin’ a few years ago. Whatta buncha fakes!

    This just in – Rob Liefield named new head of Marvel!

    Haw! Haw!

  15. kidbaron says:

    I’m curious about Pat Caldon’s and John Rood’s roles. Names I haven’t heard much.

    But yeah, here ya go…”Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss.”

    Without new blood on the creative side, you pretty much know what to expect story-wise from DC, which, personally, really hasn’t been that compelling for a long time. But I’m the minority. I think.

  16. joshfitz says:

    First, loving all the Office comparisons to this all over the net, because really we know that nothing is more realistic than Michael, Dwight, Ryan, Jim and Dunder Mifflen. Sorry for the snarkiness but comparing real life to a quasi-satirical show well it doesn’t pass muster.

    As to how this pans out, it will be interesting to see, it could succeed or bomb only time will tell. But hey they kept it “in house” which says something. So now the interweb can stop prognosticating about who will publish, and hold their collective breath waiting to see who leaves or is terminated first. Let the games begin.

  17. Tommy Raiko says:

    Ed Gauthier sez:
    Jim Lee is now a big cheese at DC? Ya, he was one of those big “radicals” (with no clue about artistic proportion) that were gonna shake things up and send the Big Two packin’ a few years ago.

    Jim Lee left Image and sold to DC something like 12 years ago. If you want to criticize him for being some sort of corporate sell out, go right ahead, but you’re really over a decade too late…

  18. Please pay no attention to Ed Gauthier’s bizzarro rantings. Ed, I owe you a couple but if you overstep your bounds here you WILL be banned!

  19. There aren’t “co-managers”. They all (repeat: ALL) report to one person: Diane Nelson. She is the boss and they are her team.

    It appears that Geoff Johns will take over DiDio’s role as the driving creative force behind the DCU, but without running the day-to-day office stuff. I would say this is a huge upgrade. He also will be the DC guy on the various adaptations to other media. That is role that is badly needed.

    DiDio will continue making sure the trains run on time in New York. He probably isn’t breaking down story beats anymore. Given the strained relationship DC has had with creative recently that is probably a good thing.

    Jim Lee is the wild card. He was a very smart and creative exec in his Wildstorm days, but that has been a while. He, Johns, Nelson and I assume Rood are West Coast based. It is hard to imagine that the Big Decisions won’t be made in LA.

  20. Jim Lee is the wild card. … He, Johns, Nelson and I assume Rood are West Coast based. It is hard to imagine that the Big Decisions won’t be made in LA.

    This is why I wonder about his role in the “digital” area. If DC is really serious about moving into online comics, it looks like the West Coast office is the future of DC while the New York office is managing the remnants of the “comics-as-magazines” publishing realm. And even if they aren’t serious about moving into online comics, the West Coast office is still where both the licensing AND content decisions are going to ultimately be made if they’re serious about Geoff Johns’s “Chief Creative Officer” tag.

  21. Synsidar says:

    Here’s a description of the “chief creative officer” position in various industries. Quesada is Marvel’s CCO.

    A creative director is a position usually found within the Fashion, advertising, media or entertainment industries, but may be useful in other creative organizations such as web development and software development firms as well. The job entails overseeing all aspects of product design. [. . .]

    In other industries, such as videogames, a creative director is responsible for the design, vision and direction of the product, which is a different role to that of a producer or project manager. Creative directors are sometimes also called lead designer or chief creative officers depending on the specific company in question.

    A creative director is ultimately responsible for the quality of the final creative work. For this reason, they get the lion’s share of acclaim when their team’s efforts win awards, but conversely, the creative director shoulders the negativity (and the blame) when a project goes wrong, response falls short of expectations, or an important individual on the client’s side dislikes or vetos an idea.

    From here on out, when an event is badly designed or the publishing of an event’s issues is mishandled, the blame should be directed at Johns at DC, and Quesada at Marvel.

    SRS

  22. “Chief creative officer” is whatever they define it to be.

    Johns says on the DCU blog that he’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.”

  23. Synsidar says:

    “Chief creative officer” is whatever they define it to be.

    Yes, but unless he’s credited as the CCO with respect to a particular series, event, or other DC product, who will know what he’s doing? Remember that one of the tactics a CEO uses to pare down levels of management is to bring in executives and demand that they justify their roles at the corporation. If someone can’t say what his day-to-day responsibilities are, if he’s just used for certain projects, he’ll be canned, the corporation will eliminate that position, and they’ll use consultants in the future. Since Johns is DC’s star writer, the title might be more of an honorific than a position. People will have to see how often the chief creative officer is mentioned in PR.

    SRS

  24. “He also will be the DC guy on the various adaptations to other media. That is role that is badly needed.”

    So maybe think of Johns’ role as similar to the one Ari Arad had with Marvel for many years….as the Marvel representative who’d shepherd various properties through Hollywood.

    Should be interesting, to say the least.

  25. Whoops!

    Ari = Avi

  26. From here on out, when an event is badly designed or the publishing of an event’s issues is mishandled, the blame should be directed at Johns at DC, and Quesada at Marvel.

    As opposed to the current status quo, where Didio gets the blame at DC and Quesada gets the blame at Marvel…

    Actually, though, I don’t think that’s completely right. It sounds more like if an event is badly designed Johns gets the blame, but if the problem is on the issue publishing side, Didio still gets the blame. Jim Lee’s just going to have to find some way to acquire blame from somewhere else, I guess.

  27. mark b says:

    First reaction is that this is the end of my DC reading. Those who enjoyed the last few years will be very happy about the future but for the larger percentage of readers this will mark the end. Its a change alright. If it fails, its going to be very public and very loud now that they are no longer about publishing comics.

  28. Alan Coil says:

    “As any fan of The Office should know, the “co-manager” thing doesn’t really work”

    Let us remind the Court of Public Opinion that The Office is fiction. It’s a story. Made up. Not real. Doesn’t pertain to reality.

  29. Geez…
    Did the fans complain this much when Crisis on Infinite Earths was announced?

    Sometimes I wonder, would it be such a bad thing if the fans stopped reading DC comics? Might that just cause DCE to completely revamp and retool and rethink the stories they tell?

    Here’s what I think:
    The responsibilities of running DC Comics is too complicated for one person. DiDio manages the comics side of the business, while Lee handles the digital initiatives and other opportunities. Neither affects the creative or editorial aspects directly (that is the responsibility of each group editor or VP).

    It will be interesting to see who fills the executive editor position, and if the DCU is spun off as a separate imprint. What of the Zuda and .com staff when DC goes digital?

    Exciting times…

  30. Steely Dan says:

    First off, I’m speaking only as a reader. I have no idea how profitable DC Comics has been, so for all I know the projects that DC has released since Dan Didio started at the company may have been very financially successful. I don’t own stock in Time-Warner, though, so that angle is completely irrelevant to me.

    Second, I’m sure Mr. Didio, Geoff Johns, and Jim Lee are all very nice people, so I have nothing against them personally.

    But in the last decade, I believe the only DC comics that I’ve bought have been the various books that Darwyn Cooke has done for them, plus a few reprint editions of much older material from the 1980s and early 1990s (the hardcover “Killing Joke,” and “Absolute Ronin,” the hardcover of “Worlds’ Finest” by Steve Rude). I don’t care about the interlocking continuity of the DC Universe. I detest crossovers. I can’t stand the Image-influence “house style” of art that dominates most of DC’s books today.

    What I do like are good stories. I like self-contained stories. I like stories that are drawn with a classic sense of draftsmanship and design. I like Darwyn Cooke and Steve Rude and Bruce Timm and Alex Toth.

    These appointments today celebrate everything that I dislike about 99% of the comics that DC publishes. It’s rewarding ineptly-made comix and the people who made them. With the exceptions that I listed above, the books that they publish don’t appeal to me at all. I do buy a lot of indie comix and art comix and classic comic strip reprints, but I’m not a snob about it. I willingly admit to having great affection for DC’s characters (even though I can’t stand the comix they publish today, I very much liked the recent versions of Superman and Batman, and really enjoyed Bruce Timm’s DC Animated Universe), so I want to give them my money if only they would publish stories for someone like me: someone who wants self-contained stories with beautiful artwork (Mark Chiarello has said in numerous interviews that he has lobbied for DC to publish a book of all the comix that Alex Toth did for them, but they refuse to do so). But they don’t publish books like that. And this appointment suggests to me that they’re even less likely to do so in the immediate future.

    I wish them well. I hope they prove me wrong.

  31. ephraim says:

    this is my favorite so far:

    “First reaction is that this is the end of my DC reading”

    please go to dictionary.com and look up “solipsism.”

    please.

  32. I’m now even more impressed by Paul Levitz. It took 5 people to replace him!

    But seriously, it looks like DC spent 5 months looking for somebody and couldn’t find anybody they fully trusted to do the job, so they hired a number of potential candidates to do certain tasks.

  33. Rick Cardy says:

    Re: Co-Publishers

    Many Hollywood studios have had co-Presidents head their production divisions in that last 15 years or so. Warners may have even been the first studio to do it with Billy Gerber and Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

  34. Ray Benton says:

    Jamie
    “I’m now even more impressed by Paul Levitz. It took 5 people to replace him!”

    Sometimes a corporation will bring more people in to replace one because the way it was being done was antiquated and inefficient. They may also bring in additional people when the company is ready to evolve into something that will hopefully be bigger and have a wider reach. In other words they want to accomplish more than was being accomplished before.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] legate ad aspetti più strettamente manageriali, sono ben sintetizzate in questo articolo del blog The Beat: Pat Caldon, a long-time DC veteran, will serve as Executive Vice President, Finance and [...]

  2. [...] things about the news. I could link to them all, but Heidi at The Comics Beat has done a great job; here, here, and [...]

  3. [...] Changes at DC: Didio and Jim Lee as Publishers, Johns as Chief Creative Officer [...]

  4. […] came on board in 2010 as part of Diane Nelson’s five person executive team. He made his mark at DC over a wide variety of sales and marketing issues, including the New 52 roll […]

  5. […] came on board in 2010 as part of Diane Nelson’s five person executive team. He made his mark at DC over a wide variety of sales and marketing issues, including the New 52 roll […]

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