Comic Book nerds, your day has come. (I’m looking at you, Professor Levitz and the Comic Books and Graphic Novels class). PBS is airing a documentary special featuring comic legends such as Adam West, Lynda Carter, Michael Chabon, Jules Feiffer, and more and is hosted by Liev Schrieber. This documentary spans through the origin of comic books, starting in 1938 onto present day, and what the medium has left in its wake.
TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY (1938-1958)
During the Depression, the popularity of dozens of superhero characters opens the door for a new generation of artists and writers. World War II creates a patriotic fervor for star-spangled adventurers to represent the American spirit at war and on the home front, but in the 1950s, superheroes are caught in the fire of government scrutiny and regulation.
When the thrilling “Adventures of Superman” is broadcast on the new medium of television, America’s first and greatest superhero leads the entire comic book industry to renewed strength.
GREAT POWER, GREAT RESPONSIBILITY (1959-1977)
In the 1960s, a new breed of superhero emerges in the pages of Marvel Comics, inspired by the age of atomic energy and space travel and, in turn, inspiring the pop culture and Pop artists of the time.
Spider-Man, the Hulk, and others are the first to have “problems” with which an adult audience can identify, and contemporary social issues make their way into comic books. Black powerhouses such as the Black Panther and Luke Cage appear on the scene and the pages of “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” explode with relevant storylines, as comic books are forced to confront the reality of an increasingly complex world.
A HERO CAN BE ANYONE (1978-Present)
This episode captures the enthusiasm for superheroes as they are embraced in all forms of media and by all demographics, beginning with the historic “Superman” movie featuring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. In 1986, Batman is overhauled as The Dark Knight to reflect the nocturnal underside of his character, and Watchmen brings new sophistication to comic book narratives, illuminating a violent and politicized world.
In the burgeoning new millennium, superheroes have taken over popular culture with feature films, television shows and video games complementing a new generation of web-based comics that bring superhero adventures to every corner of the world.
Executives of the China Publishing Group completed their first week of professional development at Pace University. One of the week’s guest speakers was Mike Shatzkin (pictured left), founder and CEO of the Idea Logical Company and co-founder of Publishers Launch Conferences.
Mr. Shatzkin overviewed what he sees as drivers of industry change, among them the unbundling of the value chain, the diffusion of publishing capabilities into organizations of all kinds, and the emergence of businesses that specialize in a particular genre, market, or capability.
Those themes echoed in the presentations of other speakers–Paul Levitz of DC Comics, Clare Toohey of CriminalElement.com, Rick Joyce of Perseus Books Group, Dan Blank of We Grow Media, Boris Hughes of HP, and Jason Epstein of On Demand Books.
The week ended with a lively tour of DC Comics (including the offices of MAD magazine) led by Pace M.S. in Publishing alumnus and professor, Thomas Di Mascio.
Please note that this is a members only event. A student membership is only $20.00 and provides you access to a wonderful year of programing: panels, networking events and parties, and great opportunities like this one! To join go to: http://www.wnba-nyc.org/
This past week, Tom Di Mascio, the Director of Supply Chain Management at DC Comics and a Professor in the MS in Publishing program (and also a former student of mine), graciously gave my three middle-school children (and my husband who could not resist coming along) a tour of DC Comic’s New York offices. We were all excited to see where Superman, Batman and Catwoman (to name only a few), comic book characters were created and brought to life.
In some ways, the halls of the office is like a museum; filled with really cool art — covers from early comic books, a giant hook rug wall hanging of Alfred E. Neuman, the fictional mascot and cover boy of MAD Magazine and giant paintings of Superman.
One really great part of our visit was when Tom walked us through the process of making a comic book by using the 5 huge paintings that lined the lobby wall of the 7th floor ( Picture 3). It was so interesting to learn about all of the people involved in the process and to hear what they each did—who knew that you could be an “inker” as a job!
We met a lot of really interesting people; the MAD Editors, a lawyer with a really cool office filled with action figures and toys and of course we got to see Tom’s office which, given his title, is a dream come true for any kid or comic book fan. We also had a chance to see the Library where the librarian showed us some of the collection and told some great stories about what was there. We even got to hold a copy of a few first editions. It was a fascinating day for us we learned a lot about DC Comics and comic book publishing in general.
According to Prof. Di Mascio, for anyone interested in publishing,
“What is so cool about DC is that we are very active in: traditional publishing (Random House is our distributor); specialty (Diamond Comics is our distributor); subscription sales; newsstand sales; electronic books; collectibles (movie replicas, action figures, and statues)… We’ve got it all AND we save the universe from destruction every day.”
We had a great day-Thank you! Be sure to check out the DC Comics website. The blog is a good read.