Looking Back at the DC Offices Part 6
After a tumultuous year at Marvel, I was out of work in January 2002 and after a few months got a call from Georg Brewer, DC’s design director and the man overseeing the company’s collected edition program. He took me to lunch and invited me home, offering me a Senior Editor post with the group. By then, collections had become a major source of revenue and the line was growing by leaps and bounds but it needed not only someone organized but someone with a deep knowledge of the company’s library. That sounded like me.
In May, I walked into 1700 Broadway and started afresh. I was working beside Dale Crain, who was mainly focused on restoration projects like the Archives. We were up on the seventh floor, tucked into a corner, and were largely left alone although we often wound up down the hall with Vertigo’s team or a floor below to pick the brains among the DCU staff. It was like I had never left, just changed posts, and it felt great. There were still fun events such as Halloween costume contests and of course Thanksgiving. By then, Dan DiDio was in charge and he was a major fan so could bounce ideas around for older works to bring back to print.
Preparing for the semi-annual planning meetings was great fun as we all drafted wish lists and I compiled them into a master list for discussion, complete with potential contents. Sadly, one of my proudest editorial achievements, The Atlantis Chronicles, became the butt of jokes as it never seemed to make the final cut. Marketing even surveyed it several times and retailers just didn’t think it could sell despite my thinking it was a perfect crossover title for the bookstore market.
One particular thrill was being able to help shepherd some new formats. DC finally decided to match Marvel with black and white “phonebook” collections and I helped create the look and feel for the Showcase Presents line. It was fun actually drafting lists of titles that made sense (such as Green Lantern) and others that didn’t make economic sense in any other format (Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, etc.). It also allowed us to play with different genres with war, western, and mystery titles seeing the light of the day after years of neglect. Less fun was sifting through 500-plus pages of photostats for cleaning up and typo corrections.
When Paul Levitz licensed ElfQuest to come to DC, it made sense for me to edit the reprints since I had a long-standing relationship with Richard and Wendy Pini. Since the deal allowed for original material, too, I was granted a special dispensation to edit the new pages, which was a genuine delight. We also imitated the Managa package with The Grand Quest in the hopes of their readership finding the elves and their holt.
It was an adjustment being on the periphery of the company’s main activities. When we were on 7, we could trundle on down to Vertigo for a visit but the rest of the floor were execs who had gatekeepers so it was more at arm’s length than I was accustomed to. Soon after, we were moved to the third floor and were placed adjacent to Licensed Publishing so at least I could pop in and harass my buddy Paul Kupperberg or editor Chris Cerasi. But the rest of the floor was International, Legal, and Licensing and they all more or less kept to themselves so it definitely felt isolating. And after Bob Rozakis left the company dedicated fun was at an all-time low.
It was fine for four years but two back-to-back printing errors, one of which I most certainly should have caught, the other more iffy, led Georg to seek my dismissal so in January 2006 I returned to the freelancer’s life.
I’d continue to write for DC or do some legal research for them over the next few years. In 2010, I was deep into writing a brand new Who’s Who when Paul was retired and the management team turned over entirely. Dan DiDio put the project on hold, where it remains to this day. I’d continue to visit and try to drum up some work but it just wasn’t the same.
My final visit to the offices was in 2012 when I came in to record some commentary for the Batmobile feature being produced for The Dark Knight Rises DVD. The offices were just completing a restack, jettisoning the third and fourth floors as the slow migration west was underway. I obviously didn’t know it would be the final time I would walk those halls but even then, it felt like a vastly different place.
I will miss having a destination to visit whenever I hit Manhattan and will terribly miss those who chose to depart rather than move. Those who have made the trip west will no doubt adjust and thrive and I wish them all well.
An era has ended and a new one begins with a new generation of staff firmly in place to produce new stories for younger generations. I am rooting for their success even if much of the output no longer is aimed in my aging direction.