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Tuesday, December 02, 2014 

Power not used for the right reasons

The Hollywood Reporter brings up a list by Bleeding Cool of the 100 most powerful people in comics. But most of them sure aren't very appealing people. For example:
...executives make up the top ten of Johnston’s list, with the only creator visible — Geoff Johns, who also appeared on THR’s powerful comic writers list — present as much for his duties as DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer as his work on Superman and Justice League. For those who judge “power” solely as whether or not a comic series by a particular creator is selling well, the list may come as a surprise.
Not really. A man who doesn't deserve his position, yet DC gives him a top ranking position anyway, because the people on top are already as pretentious as he is, possibly worse. Two more undeserving writers appearing there are Brian Bendis and Mark Millar, and their influence in the medium has long proven itself a bad one.
“People in the comic book industry only see power as it affects them individually, rather than everyone else,” Johnston argues, remembering a discussion with one publishing executive who lobbied for another executive within her company to be included. “I pointed out that while they were important within the company she worked for, they had little or no effect on the actual comics that came out.”
Depending on the situation, that's bad. If he's talking about Diane Nelson, it means she either has no ability to influence their products for the better, or, she doesn't care. That's just one reason why DC's output has become so bad.
Despite what fans may think, he says, most creators have little power outside of the series they actually work on (“with notable exceptions,” he quickly adds. “Never underestimate the creator who everyone wants to work with and can suddenly call the shots”). “An editor-in-chief can affect many more [series],” he points out, “and when Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige decides to make an Inhumans and a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie, suddenly that affects half the books being published by Marvel.”
And depending on the situation, that's another serious problem. Most people outside of comics should be smart enough to know liberties can be taken with the source material. But editorial saw to it that alterations were mandated to make the X-Men costumes look as much like the movie's as possible for almost 3 years, yet it got them nowhere fast. And these changes aren't helping the other Marvel properties either. That's partly why their output's become so bad too.
Feige only comes in fifth on the Bleeding Cool list, however, with DC Entertainment co-publisher Dan DiDio, attorney Marc Toberoff, Marvel Entertainment publisher Dan Buckley and DC president Diane Nelson ranking higher. Nelson, Johnston says, takes the top spot this year for the impact of a decision made at the end of last year.

“It was her decision to move DC Comics lock stock across the country from New York to Burbank [3] that gave her the top spot,” Johnston explains. “It was a policy she had been pushing for, for a while, to bring everyone under one roof with Warner Bros, but had received massive resistance from the staff. This was the year that she decided that enough was enough and she was going to do it anyway.”
That sounds almost like Joe Quesada's decision to push ahead with wiping out the Spider-marriage in the worst way possible, via a faustian pact with Mephisto.
But is a cross-country move for one publisher enough to make her the most powerful person in comics? For Johnston, the answer is emphatically yes. “Most DC employees won't be going with the company, so it's a radical change not only to DC but the other New York comics publishers — and the other Californian publishers,” he reasons. “The balance of comics power has shifted, the flow of employees has shifted and none of the comics creators seem to have a clue what is going on. It's the biggest single decision in the comic book industry, she made it, and now everyone else is scurrying around like termites in a hill that's just been moved a few thousand miles west.”
Well good luck with that. Such a move doesn't guarantee improved sales, certainly not with the prices they go by today. It's not hard to guess the move has more to do with their movie and TV development than the comics themselves, and that's no way to run a publisher. In fact, what if they don't even reopen shop once the transfer is complete, and the executives decide to close down the publishing outfit before it even arrives? For now, it should be clear the move to California has little to do with their interest in marketing comics to a wider audience.

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Being one of the most powerful people in the comic book publishing business is just being one of the bigger fish in a very small (and evaporating) pond.

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