THE FIRST LADY OF COMICS
I have never seen such consolidation of major talent in the comic field as what DC is currently doing. Evidently DC, helmed by Jenette Kahn, who has been the publisher and Editor in chief and indeed cheerleader for DC Comics for over twenty years, is taking a page out of Microsoft's book.
Given her history I shouldn't be surprised by how well DC is doing. Jenette Kahn took a company (DC) that at the end of the seventies was on it's last legs, brought her distinguished background in publishing to it, and has not just survived the drout in the eighties, not just published the most critically and publicly acclaimed titles in the world, not just changed the face of comics, not just actively fought for her properties on both the small and big screen, but has poised her company here at the end of the old age and the beginning of the new to lead the medium, poised her company and her properties to be major players into the next century.
She doesn't get the press that the more flamboyant Stan Lee does, if you do a search for Jenette Kahn, you will find virtually nothing, no interviews, no sites, no bios, which really surprises me considering she is the most powerful woman in comics, and arguably the most important person in comics. But regardless of her lack of publicity her success speaks for itself. She's still the Editor in Chief, she's still in the game, and DC comics, long the awkward brother to Marvel, is number One.
I remember Lawrence Fishburne was in an interview about his role in MATRIX, and he was talking about being on a plane a few years back, when Jenette Kahn came over introduced herself and handed him some copies of the Sandman, a property DC was currently working on getting onto the big screen. That impressed me, that shows gumption, that is a publisher. That is an editor in Chief. I have respect for people who put their neck on the line, and Jenette Kahn has done that consistently. Who step out from behind the desk... and get in the game.
Her acquisitions, investments, and expansions into new creator owned and Independent markets are definitely reaping benefits as you can tell from the list of my recommended books. I think the steps DC has been making are good for the industry, I think a little consolidation might be just what the industry needs, a dominant player to bring the quality books to the masses. I've followed comics for over twenty years, and more I've followed the history of comics, and what we are watching here is history. It is a renaissance, a golden age that you would have to go all the way back to the early days of Action Comics, Tales to Astonish, and EC comics to get anything close to. Never in the history of comics has this many quality books been produced. Now DC has the books (in some cases two many books, click here to get my take on multiple titles of the same character), they have to work on getting the books to the readers. Without a strong distribution and direct market and publicity campaign we are not going to get old readers, and we'll fail to attract new ones. And without support this Renaissance, like so many before it... will die.
But as long as there are people like Jenette Kahn, who are passionate about the medium, and in positions to shape the medium, I think the readers will come back. Sooner or later people always come back for the best.