Earlier today, DC Entertainment ended months of speculation when it announced the members of its new executive team. Jim Lee and Dan DiDio were named Co-Publishers of DC Comics along with Geoff Johns (Chief Creative Officer), John Rood (Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development), and Patrick Caldon (Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration).
However, like any big announcement, the news sparked a whole new set of questions from fans and media regarding the the decision-making process and the effect the new team will have on both DC Entertainment and the new execs' pre-existing, hands-on involvement with Superman, Batman and the rest of the DC Universe.
MTV News went straight to the top and spoke to DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson about the announcement and the big questions on fans' minds.
MTV NEWS: Much of the speculation leading up to this announcement had pegged certain individuals for key positions, but few had anticipated this larger, team-based approach to managing DC Entertainment. Why go with a full executive team and co-publishers instead of the solo route?
DIANE NELSON: There are a few reasons for that. The easiest and most important one is that DC Entertainment is a bigger, broader company that requires a set of skills to run effectively, and I think we've achieved that in large measure. Again, I couldn't be happier about the people we have working together as part of this team. There's been a lot of speculation, you're right — and I'm aware of it. There were a lot of interesting people mentioned internally and externally, but the truth of the matter is that I and Jeff Robinov knew very early that this was the team we wanted to pursue.
As you can imagine, it wasn't easy to bring this group of people together — for a variety of reasons. I said internally as we talked to the staff members at DC today, sharing the news with them, that I hope at some level this team helps people understand why it took the amount of time that it did to make this announcement. It wasn't that I was sitting somewhere twiddling my thumbs.
If it had been a single person as a publisher and that was all I had to decide, maybe it would have been an earlier decision. But this was really about setting up the leadership and management of a much — not bigger, but more ambitious — company, and we needed to take the time to do that right.
MTV: You surprised a lot of people by keeping much of the team in-house rather than bringing in people from the greater Warner Bros. group or one of the other elements of the company that had some functional similarities without direct overlap with DC. Why were the more familiar faces chosen for the team?
NELSON: I said it in September, and it turns out I meant it. I said that there is a wealth of talent within this company, and this process — both the creation of DC Entertainment and this subsequent announcement — is about unleashing the talent that exists within DC.
Listen... The truth is that the team is a complement of people who have had connections to or a part in the DC organization or the DC family. In the case of Geoff Johns, it's a little more connection vs. actually being on staff, and in the case of John Rood, he had been with Warner Bros., and that was where I originally met him, but he spent the last 10 years at ABC/Disney and built up an incredible resume of experience.
This is about assembling a group of people who are enthusiastic and ambitious about what the future can bring while not disrespecting the continuity of knowledge and experience that exists within the company. I wanted to balance those two things, and I think we did that.
MTV: You brought up Geoff Johns, and a lot of fans are wondering how this position will affect his work on the many, many DC comics he's writing. He's one of the most prolific writers in the industry right now, so what does this mean for his work on projects like "Brightest Day" and other titles?
NELSON: As I've said internally here today, it's in the best interest of DC and the fans for both Jim [Lee] and Geoff to have the support to be able to continue to create. Whether they will create at the same level — whether their output will be at the same level as it was when they were independent — remains to be seen. They both made a very conscious decision to transition to running and building this company, and that's a key priority. It's important to me that the people at DC know that. These are not gratuitous or empty figureheads.
Again, it's in our interest to help them have time to create, but they are first and foremost executives running DC, and they are thrilled about the opportunity to do so.
MTV: Well, now that you have this big announcement off your shoulders, what's next? What projects or plans are next on the list now that "Pick DC's Executive Team" is crossed off?
NELSON: Well, it's not so much project-specific, but it's funny — Geoff and Jim and Dan and John and Pat and I have all talked about the fact that we are all four steps ahead of everyone else here at DC in terms of our enthusiasm, and even our broad-stroke plans for the future. So our immediate focus has to be helping everyone here at DC catch up to us in that excitement, and then we're all going to turn our attention to what we're doing to grow this company.
That's going to include figuring out on a variety of levels what "digital" means for DC. That's digital publishing, digital communication with fans and our consumers, and putting content plans together to share with the world — MTV Splash Page included — once we develop them with our Warner Bros. colleagues. The good news — and bad news — is that we have no shortage of things to focus on next. [Laughs]
MTV: You mentioned DC's digital future, so are there any immediate plans involving Zuda Comics? That's one area where there's been a lot of speculation since today's announcement...
NELSON: Zuda is, along with each of the column imprints, as important to us as all the others. This announcement today is about this team, and it's not about suggesting importance or lack of importance of any aspect of DC. Zuda has been an incredibly creative and innovative project initiative and we'll take a close look at it and all of the other parts of DC and figure out where we want it to go in the future.
"Digital" is one of those descriptors that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and my goal is to not try to create too narrow of a definition for what "digital" means — because frankly, we have to move into digital expressions of all parts of our business. Zuda will be a part of that and there will be a lot of other things we're doing in that arena as well.
MTV: Another area at the center of much speculation now is DC's future, location-wise. With most of the executive team based on the West Coast, it stands to reason that DC would move its offices across the country. Has there been any discussion of relocating DC headquarters?
NELSON: We have said very openly that we have not made any decision about that. The discussion of how we most effectively integrate DC with Warner Bros. is now going to be one that everyone here at DC participates in, and we're going to be careful and thoughtful about the right ways to do it.
No decisions have been and everyone will be a part of what we look at in that regard in the future.
MTV: All things considered, this must have been a much easier announcement to make, given how familiar the names involved are to everyone at DC. I know you've spent much of the day meeting with the crew at DC, so what's the reception been like?
NELSON: I think that it's been a great day. Everyone has been so welcoming to me since I started in September, and as you said, the faces we introduced today have been even more familiar than I was. It's been a great day. I feel like celebrating.
Keep it locked to Splash Page for more from this interview, including official word on several recent rumors involving DC properties.
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