As of May 3, 2023, Jim Lee is the president, publisher, and chief creative officer of DC Comics!
As announced by Pam Lifford, Warner Bros. Discovery’s president of global brands, franchises, and experiences, Jim Lee is basically the guy, the name associated with DC Comics.
According to multiple news sources, he’s continuing his primary duties as publisher at DC, leading the creative teams at the company. He’s also running the efforts to integrate DC’s portfolio of characters and stories across all media while also supporting Warner Bros. Discover’s family of brands and studios. Lee will report to Lifford moving forward.
In other words, he’s going to help DC get their characters into as many forms of media as possible. Hopefully, this will end up in maintaining and even possibly increasing comics sales.
He holds the all-time sales record for single-issue sales for X-Men #1 from Marvel. His distinctive style strongly influenced the “New 52” event at DC.
WHAT EXACTLY WILL THIS MEAN?
In order to prepare to write this column, I read a LOT of news stories about Lee’s promotion to undisputed head of DC Comics. Nearly all of them had the same information—lots and lots about his early career through Marvel to Image to DC.
What I wish I had seen was something, anything about moving DC into the future. Again, he’ll be working to take DC characters into all forms of media, but I can only speculate that this will end up in more sales for the comics.
I mean, I enjoy his art. I particularly enjoy his portrayals of Batman, my favorite character. (Just to be clear, my all-time favorite artist remains George Perez, who passed about a year ago.) He adds an energy and a vibrance to the heroes and villains that I like.
What I worry about is that, as an artist, he’s great at creating and overseeing the development and production of art. Does that mean he is the person DC (and even the comics industry) needs to embark into an uncertain future?
As much as I like the guy and enjoy his art, I’m not at all certain about that.
COMICS ARE AT A TURNING POINT
I truly believe that the comics industry is at a place where the future, and planning for it, are vital. We need people who can not only make a great comic, but who can also look ahead and see what comics need in order to survive and even thrive in the years, hopefully decades, ahead.
Comics are facing challenges of all kinds—videogames, movies and TV, as well as new forms of entertainment we are just beginning to discover. I’m not at all certain that looking back is going to be helpful. We need to look ahead, figure out what needs to happen that is best for the industry and us, the fans. It will be great if we can see Batman and other DC icons everywhere we look, but will that help comics?
Granted, collectors are often pointed to as a group that will help the industry in the years ahead. I have seen fans/collectors who literally bought boxes of an issue of a comic in order to be sure they would have enough copies in primo shape to add to their collections. I’ve talked with creators who literally consider them first before other fans because they can make or break a comic. We have to keep them happy.
But the rest of us, many of whom buy just one issue and read it to enjoy it, are important as well. When the day comes in which collectors, who often bag and board issues without cracking them open to read them, are the primary focus of the industry, we’re in big, big trouble!
What is Mr. Lee doing to address comics and their influence as we enter the 2040s, the 2050s, and beyond? I’d sure like to hear him address that someplace!
HE BRINGS A LOT OF ATTENTION AND INFLUENCE
His name alone adds importance and attention to DC. He’s even pretty well known outside of the industry, among the art communities and others. Having him in such an influential position (or three) does help DC and even Warner Bros. Discovery since he is known for high-quality and appealing art, among other things.
But I still have to wonder—is he the best choice when it comes to moving DC ahead? He can certainly draw and generate art that will help fans and others notice what’s going on. But is he providing the direction and focus that DC, and other comics creators, need as we try to make comics as important as we feel they should be?
I have friends who tell me that having an artist in charge is great because, after all, fans buy comics initially because they love the cover art and even the inside artwork. The story is what brings them back for more, they say. So art is king! Having a high-power artist in charge will inspire everyone to make high-octane comics!
I certainly hope that’s true! I’ll be watching Mr. Lee and DC closely in the coming months, praying I see the leadership and vision that the comics industry needs so that we can enjoy “the books” for years and years to come!