Editor’s Note: DC Comics President Paul Levitz returns to Blog@ to discuss how one person made a difference on DC’s sustainability efforts.
by Paul Levitz
Indicia fans will have noticed a new symbol popping up in the fine print of some DC comics in recent weeks, a green emblem proclaiming compliance with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. (Okay, I concede that it may be overstating things to call anyone an indicia fan, but we know some of our readers pay attention to every aspect of our publications.) It’s a good thing, and a useful example of how one person’s focus on an issue can move a large company.
Alison Gill, DC’s Vice President-Manufacturing, is a woman of strong passions: her love of comics led her from the tiny London offices of Marvel U.K. in the 1980s to running production for Marvel Comics in New York, and then uptown to our digs almost a decade ago. Along the way she had to relegate her passion for soccer and find an American sport that could give her a comparable outlet. It’s only a rumor that she personally ripped the seats out of the Montreal Canadians arena that now decorate her office, but however they got there, it’s evidence of serious hockey fandom. She picked up a husband from her Marvel service (like so many of us who found our spouses at the office), and a pack of friends who gathered recently to toast her birthday in the Village. As our manufacturing has grown steadily more complex, with increasingly varied print formats, more rapid turnaround requirements to keep titles in print, overseas plants put to work on DC Direct and some hardcover titles, and rapid cost escalation of raw materials, she’s had plenty to do. But Alison can always find time to talk about paper.
In the past year, she’s had major victories in improving the karma of our company. After years of investigation, negotiation and experimentation, she was able to switch a number of our kids’ titles to a recycled newsprint paper stock, made from 85% post consumer waste and most of the Vertigo line to a recycled hibrite paper that is made from 40% post-consumer waste. And now, she’s in the process of getting our titles to conform to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, a program that ensures that participating forest harvesters, paper manufacturers, printers and publishers are using paper which comes from forests that are being managed in a sustainable way -that is, harvested and replanted in a way that ensures they will be there for the future, without damage to the forest’s ecological balance (at least as best it’s currently understood). While many people at DC and our parent companies are committed to environmental issues, this progress is largely Alison’s own. She reacted to concerns raised by environmental activists, did the homework, and found the way to move DC to a better standard of behavior. We still have a long way to go, but she’s working on it…
And if you’re the rare, sharp-eyed reader who noticed the two degree brighter stock we had to substitute on our Vertigo titles this month during a supply glitch, you can thank Alison for that. (If you couldn’t tell the difference, thank Alison for that, too-that was the idea.)