Pace University Adjunct Professor of Publishing, Paul Levitz, entered the comics industry in 1971 as Editor/Publisher of The Comic Reader, the first mass-circulation fanzine devoted to comics news. He continued to publish TCR for three years, winning two consecutive annual Comic Art Fan Awards for Best Fanzine. He received Comic-con International’s Inkpot Award in 2002, the prestigious Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 2008, and the Comics Industry Appreciation Award from ComicsPro (the trade association of comic shop retailers) in 2010. Levitz also serves on the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Professor Levitz is primarily known for his work for DC Comics, where he has written most of their classic characters including the Justice Society, Superman in both comics and the newspaper strip, and acclaimed runs on The Legion of Super-Heroes. Readers of The Buyers’ Guide voted his Legion: The Great Darkness Saga one of the 20 best comic stories of the last century, and visitors to the site comicbookresources.com selected the same story as #11 of the Top 100 Comic Book Stories of All Time. DC Comics has issued a new hardcover edition of Legion: The Great Darkness Saga in 2010, which made the New York Times’ Graphic Books BestSeller List, as did his recent Legion of Super-Heroes: The Choice.
Cumulatively, Professor Levitz has written over 300 stories with sales of over 25 million copies and translations into over 20 languages. As a DC staffer from 1973, Levitz was an Assistant Editor, the company’s youngest editor ever, and in a series of business capacities, became Executive Vice President & Publisher in 1989 and then served as President & Publisher from 2002-2009. He continues as a Contributing Editor, but is now concentrating on his writing.
His current writing projects include Taschen’s 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking, published for the 2010 holiday season. This book won the comics industry’s Oscar, the Eisner Award, as well as the United Kingdom’s prestigious Eagle Award and Germany’s Peng Award.
During the Fall 2012 semester, Prof. Levitz will be teaching PUB 615, Comics & Graphic Novels. During the Spring 2013 semester he will be teaching a new course, PUB 619, The Future of Publishing: Transmedia, and he hopes to see many of the Pace M.S. in Publishing students in one or both of these classes.
In the piece below, Professor Levitz shares a few of his thoughts on the skills publishing professionals need in an era where media is rapidly changing and converging.
If you told me when I first sat down at an Assistant Editor’s desk that I’d be trading in my typewriter, rubber cement and rubdown Letraset for a computer more powerful than the multi-million one that filled the publishing company’s basement, I would have accused you of escaping from one of the science fiction comics I wrote. So I hesitate to predict what technologies the current Pace Publishing students will end up commanding. But I am convinced that the core competencies of managing creative people and processes will remain vital to our society, and as media change and converge, the need for publishing skills will continue. With that in mind, the new PUB 619, The Future of Publishing: Transmedia, was shaped to give students an overview of how to think about managing content as it travels across different forms.
Part of the joy of my years running DC Comics was looking at my calendar, and seeing my day move from discussions with writers and artists to directors, animators, video game creators, television showrunners, and even people experimenting in media forms that didn’t really exist (yet). It’s an experience that will be shared by more people in the future, as media collide, converge, and become increasingly reliant on each other. With numberless channels to choose from, and all of our centuries of creativity becoming available in the cloud, brands and curators become more important, not less, and many future guides through this confusing time may come from our halls.
So let’s look backward, and examine how and why Baum’s OZ lived on in forms as varied as THE WIZ and WICKED, and whether losing Kansas helped its survival; consider the commonalities of POKEMON, Harry Potter, and…oh…perhaps the ADDAMS FAMILY, to deduce the qualities that enable properties to prosper across media; talk about our roles working with talent in the varied structures that unique forms demand; and imagine together what the future might be like.
There’s got to be a certain pleasure in a class where the instructor comes in admitting he not only doesn’t know all the answers, he’s not sure what the questions are going to be, right?”