Two excellent views of Paul Levitz

Marv Wolfman recalls his friend of nearly 40 years:

If you are into comics, you already know Paul Levitz is stepping down from his position as President and Publisher of DC Comics. I’ve known Paul since he was 13 and consider him one of my closest and dearest friends. For years now, Paul has talked about retiring someday soon and returning to writing, his first love. For that reason alone I am so happy for him because I know that’s what he deeply cares about and has been wanting. As readers, we are in for some major treats.

I can also say, without fear of rebuttal by anyone who is in the know, Paul is probably the best, the smartest, the most creative and the most moral Publisher the business has ever seen. Most fans have no idea how important Paul is, not only to DC, but to the entire industry. I have often said, and mean, that without Paul there very well might not be a comics industry today. I am not speaking in hyperbole. I am being literal; I mean exactly what I wrote.


And Kurt Busiek wins with a comprehensive summation:

Paul has been at the forefront of just about every industry development of the last couple of decades, and has been key to how the industry’s shaped itself over those years. Shifting from a periodicals-only business to a strong backlist-oriented business with trade paperbacks and hardcovers, adding imprints like Vertigo, creating new opportunities for creators and for creator ownership, seeing that DC gave a fair (or at least fairer) deal to the creators who originated the concepts that turned up in DC-based movies, from Arkham Asylum and Lucius Fox to Robin’s motorcycles (yeah, because they called Chris O’Donnell’s ride the “Redbird” in one of the movies, Paul Levitz saw to it that Chuck Dixon got money) and more, Paul was an important part of a huge number of changes that DC’s seen, and that the whole industry’s seen. Some of them big changes everyone’s noticed, some of them behind-the-scenes stuff few people know about.

And some people have been impatient that Paul was cautious, and wanted him to move faster, to leap into new things instead of easing into them. But in an industry where many publishers throw money into the latest cool thing, only to find themselves overextended and floundering, Paul was always careful that growth and change should be sustainable, doing things like building a backlist of trade paperbacks slowly, so the revenue from the existing books would fuel the addition of new ones, and a large library was built over time. And often, when other publishers’ precipitous actions had made things unstable, DC Comics provided a backstop, a stability that let the comics industry ride out the rough waters and get to the next safe haven. To mix metaphors shamelessly.

Paul is one of a very few people who’ve been absolutely key in shaping the comics industry from what it was in the mid-Seventies to what it is today. Staggering changes, built slowly over time, so that DC (and the companies that adopted DC’s innovations) could build from strength to strength.

Comments

  1. paul levitz has more integrity, honesty, vision, , and creativity (and a love for comics and the creative community) in his little finger than the majority of entertainment execs have in their whole selves. this is a huge loss to the comics industry, but maybe, in the end, a welcome change for paul who can now have the time to share with us his considerable writing skills. i salute his many contributions to the industries, pray that somehow they’ll last, and wish the best for paul!

  2. Nate Horn says:

    I’m still really curious what Alan Moore would have to say about Levitz.

  3. Jimvanhise says:

    The backlist. Important to comics as old titles are reprinted as trade paperbacks and even hardcovers. This is something the rest of the book industry ignores as only bestsellers are reprinted as they go after BIG sales instead of medium sales. Even in Science Fiction, where classics used to be a big part of the market, now they’re all most non-existent. Only a handful of titles by Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein can be found, but what about Doc Smith? Even Harlan Ellison’s huge backlist is OP and he’s still alive! Every book ever written by Edgar Rice Burroughs was in print in the 1980s, but now just a handful. I still think that if a publisher came along which specialized in mass market paperbacks reprinting classic science fiction (like The Forgotten Planet by Murray Leinster) that they’d have very respectible sales.

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