If there's one thing that's clear, it's that DC characters like Superman and Batman are getting more attention from Warner Bros. these days. But Diane Nelson, the president of the newly formed DC Entertainment, said attention does not necessarily translate to creative control.
"There is a reason that I am not, nor could I, take on the role of publisher moving forward, nor do I intend to," Nelson told Newsarama Wednesday afternoon. "I'm not looking to stick my nose into an area where I'm not needed. What I'm hoping to do, and what this move by the company is about is taking DC as an entity and as a holder of wonderful stories and characters and focusing on it, prioritizing it, and working more effectively with it throughout Warner Bros. and Time-Warner."
Nelson joined Paul Levitz, former president and publisher of DC Comics, speaking with Newsarama about the news today that DC Comics will be part of a new division that will report directly to Warner Bros. Pictures Group. While Nelson will head the division, Levitz will become a contributing editor and consultant, as well as taking over as writer of the monthly "Adventure Comics" title featuring Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
"On the 'Legion', I have a lot of homework to do before I'm ready to hit the keyboard the first time," Levitz said, adding that he's going to have to do a lot of research.
Nelson said she's a person who has a great passion and respect for creators, since her husband is a writer and she's spent many years working directly with not only 'Harry Potter' author J.K. Rowling, but a number of other talent at Warner Bros.
"I will look toward the experts at DC that begins with Paul and continues on down through the publishing house, look to their expertise in those stories and characters," she said. "And then I think my role will be very much about working with the various content development and distribution areas of the company and figuring out how do we, with a renewed prioritization and focus, seed these stories and characters appropriately, carefully and effectively throughout our company. That's what this is about."
Nelson said the recent announcement of involvement, for example, by comic book writers like Geoff Johns, Marv Wolfman and Grant Morrison in the development of movies about DC characters is an example of what the company is hoping to continue.
"Cross platform, we have opportunity across all our businesses to not only take the most well-known and high-profile brands and bring them to life with the guidance of people who know them well, but to incubate new ones," she said.
Levitz added that Jim Lee's team at Wildstorm did a lot of characters design and modeling for the "Batman: Arkham Asylum" videogame, and comics/TV writer Paul Dini was involved as a writer of game.
"I think you'll continue to see that trend. You would have even without this, but I think the DC Entertainment move and Diane's efforts will accelerate that tremendously," Levitz said.
Nelson said that among the things that will be focused upon will be how DC's characters can be utilized in feature films, acknowledging that among them will be Superman and Wonder Woman.
"Of course they're priorities," she said. "But we'll equally be looking at other properties and stories that can be incubated. It may start in digital, it may start in television, it could end up being video games. There could be casual games that come out of properties that come from Minx.
"That's going to be the fun of it is making sure we look at all facets of the prism, and making sure we don't just look at it as a linear... 'here's theatrical, now what do we spin off of that' thing," she said. "That's not our goal. That's a piece of the puzzle.
"We will be putting together a much more, as I've been describing it, 'meat on the bone' presentation and look at what our content slate will be across all of our businesses in the first quarter," she said. "
Both Levitz and Nelson said the idea of marketing DC's characters through various platforms isn't exactly something new at DC. This initiative just gives it a renewed focus.
"We always benefitted tremendously by our ownership," Levitz said. "Warner Bros. was a company that was in the business of managing, marketing, creativity and in particular, was one of the companies in that business that believed in individual artistic freedom. It's probably regarded among the studios as being the most talent-friendly of the big houses. So that made it a good home and a good fit. Were they always watching what was going on in each issue of each comic book? No, because you can't."
"We're describing it as incremental. It's not that we haven't done it well up to this point in time, it's that we look forward to doing even better moving forward," Nelson said.
The new DC Entertainment president also said she hopes to explore digital comics more, mentioning motion comics as an example of a way that comics may move into a new digital medium.
"It's absolutely an area of focus for the future. There are no easy answers for the balance of how you protect the core business of the books with what the digital future will look like, but that would be our job with DC Comics, to figure that out and experiment and take some risks while always protecting the core business," she said.
Levitz looked back on his years as publisher with a positive attitude, saying: "I certainly enjoyed the hell out of it. I'm certain Diane will as well," adding that all the hubbub today has left him "exhausted."
"But I'm reading people saying kind things about me that I thought would have paid to have me dead. It's fun to show up at your own funeral," he laughed.
Yet Levitz is also looking forward to transitioning toward his new job as a writer of "Adventure Comics."
"I'm looking forward to seeing my old friends again and playing with them," said Levitz, who had a legendary run on "Legion of Super-Heroes" in the '80s. "I'm even more looking forward to seeing what I've got in me. I've been talking with writers about things about the changing world of the graphic novel and what the creative possibilities are."
For her part, Nelson thought it was funny that, given her history with the "Harry Potter" franchise, so many people were speculating about "Potter" comic books.
"I can't speak for Jo Rowling and what she wants to focus on next. Unfortunately that's not something that's been on the radar or in my head," she said with a laugh. "But hey, listen, if fans put enough of the idea out there, maybe it will become reality. She'll have to think about that, though. I'm just the facilitator."More on Newsarama: Marvel To Be Acquired By Disney for $4 Billion Stan Lee Calls Marvel/Disney Deal "Perfect" Geoff Johns to Produce/Co-Write 'Flash' Movie