Editor’s Note: DC Comics President Paul Levitz returns to Blog@ with some thoughts from the road as he travels around the country.
by Paul Levitz
On the road pretty constantly the past few weeks, so it’s hard to offer a coherent theme. When you wake up in your fourth hotel room in eight days, “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Burbank…” syndrome sets in. Instead, let me offer a few moments from my travels and desktop:
* Get finished with a day spent with enough lawyers to fill a law school; hit the hotel and go on the net to catch up; find an event at Storyopolis, a unique cross between a children’s bookstore and art gallery, showing an exhibit of Will Eisner’s originals. Fast bucket of cold water over my head, and I get to have an unscheduled opportunity to see old friends Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, Denis Kitchen, thank Batton Lash for his correction on my Will Elder piece, meet James Owen and blush at some kind words he said about my writing, and sneak off to very late dinner with Michael Uslan and family. Get teased about my cameo in The Spirit and enlisted in Michael’s latest cause.
* Back and forth with Neal Adams, who asked me to do an introduction to our upcoming collection of his shorter projects for DC. Used excuse to play fanboy and hear his version of his earlier history, and perceptions of DC in the days before my time. Debate exactly how closed the doors of DC were to new artists in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s (can you say: very to absolutely?), and whether Mort Drucker bursting from the production bullpen into freelancing should count in the tally. Checked web and old schedules to verify chronological order of some of stories for a version of the intro I didn’t use, and discover Neal’s comprehensive website doesn’t list the use I made on cover of my fanzine Etcetera of one of my sketches. He lectured me on the difference between buying a piece of artwork and buying the reproduction rights after I used it, but I guess I should make a note to remind him to add it to the list.
* Couldn’t get to Boston to watch the first Julius Schwartz Memorial Lecture being delivered by Neil Gaiman at MIT, but heard from Neil and MIT’s Henry Jenkins that it was a sold-out hit. E-mails start flying about who to try to talk into the next lecture. (Smiled when I was on comics.org index site and saw the citations to Julie’s impeccable records we’ve been passing along. Do I get two out of three, Schwartz, for helping organize the lecture and preserving the records, or are you just growling ‘cause I missed the party?)
* On scholarly front, get invited to speak at a public conference Pete Coogan is organizing for the Met in conjunction with their Super Heroes: Fashion and Fantasy on June 22 (come to hear more interesting folks including Alex Ross and stars of the fashion world); to write an intro to a college textbook on comics being written by Randy Duncan and Matthew Smith (Randy claims to have written his doctoral thesis in part in response to an article I did for The Comics Journal titled “A Call For Higher Criticism” some 30 years ago … look at the onionskin carbons in my file and try to decide if I could have imagined a fraction of what’s happened in comics when I did the piece); best of all, watch my son Philip graduate Princeton with multiple honors and prize for best-written thesis in their Woodrow Wilson School (which graduation speaker Stephen Colbert describes as a school devoted to empowering graduates to “tell people what to do.” The other speaker was Dr. Paul Farmer, who is as close to a living super hero as you can get (read Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains for insight and inspiration). (Okay, the Princeton events have nothing to do with comics, but can’t a father brag?)
* Lots of stuff I can’t talk about—particularly this time of year as everyone seems to be preparing to announce everything at Comicon. But before Comicon, get to premiere Batman: Gotham Knight at Wizard World Chicago, an original anime/animation project that we’ve been working on for about three years, and that I almost got to contribute a script to, before circumstances made it impossible. Let me know what you think of it. Very proud of what we’re doing with the DC Universe Original Animated Film series with colleagues at Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video.
* E-mails, memos and call slips to catch up on: Random House reports opening hundreds of new accounts for DC graphic novels since taking on our book trade distribution, a good sign that we’re accomplishing some of the goals of that shift; calls out to a couple of writers whose bits made it into an upcoming project to invite them to the celebration; calls in from people making recommendations for our open legal executive seat; good results from our revitalized AIDS WALK NEW YORK team, a priority cause since DC has lost several folks to that plague; Final Crisis launched well. Stacks of comics to be read and filed.
Okay, time to close the door and get to the comics. The rack in the office is two weeks out of date and I only have a week before the next plane flight…