The announcement of the new executive team at DC Entertainment- Jim Lee and Dan DiDio (Co-Publishers of DC Comics), Geoff Johns (Chief Creative Officer), John Rood (EVP, Sales, Marketing and Business Development) and Patrick Caldon (EVP, Finance and Administration), sure wasn’t just made and then glossed over. Both The Beat and Comic Book Resources have already had some informative interviews with these folks over their new duties, the directions they envision and the future of DC and it’s properties. DC Entertainment is, of course, the owners of MAD Magazine. Naturally those who work for and with MAD want to know what it all means to the future of our beloved rag. The articles linked above mention MAD specifically a few times:
From The Beat:
Q: How will Vertigo fit in with the new structure?
Nelson: All of the imprints are equally important key parts of the business. Geoff will also be involved in shepherding them in the future. With Vertigo, the importance of creator owned properties, creator generated properties, as an expansion and supplement to what we do, is a huge part of what the DCU is moving forward. Vertigo is enormously important and Dan and Jim’s mandate is to give it the same business parameters and goals as each of the imprints have. Geoff Johns will be looking at it with Karen to make sure we’re using the library to its fullest. The same will be true of MAD Magazine. We have a very deep and broad library.
Jonah Weiland: So all three of you guys are going to be driving the editorial direction of this company?
Jim Lee Correct.
Dan Didio: And let me back that up for a second. i don’t want to diminish Karen Berger‘s role because she is the voice and direction for Vertigo, and while we will be involved in overseeing that, she will still be so integral to everything that goes on there. And that runs the same at WildStorm with Hank Kanalz and at MAD Magazine with John Ficarra.
Geoff Johns: I am competitive in a way where I just look at competition in terms of making better products and getting our characters out there more. I’ve always believed that the DC Universe has more potential, and DC as a whole is a more diverse publisher than any other company out there. That’s what is great about it. I spent most of my years in the superhero world, but DC has Vertigo. It has MAD. It has all these other things that make it, quite frankly, better than any other company out there. And I think everybody’s extremely competetive in a very healthy, aggressive way – including Warner Brothers.
So what does all this mean for MAD?
There had been meetings between the new forces behind DC Entertainment and the editorial team at MAD prior to this announcement, and what I’ve heard echo the sentiments expressed above… MAD is considered a valuable part of the DC library and a valuable asset. Maybe it doesn’t have the feature film potential of Green Lantern or the more traditional superhero fare (although don’t count out a “National Lampoon” like foray into MAD branded comedy films… “Up the Academy” notwithstanding), but MAD has plenty of assets and potential in other areas of media. DC Entertainment once again holds the rights to a MAD television show now that the license with FOX’s “MADtv” is over. MAD‘s web presence is a blank slate, and there has been virtually no foray by MAD into social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. There is so far no MAD iPhone app or other type of phone/PDA portal. Lots of possibilities exist.
Personally I think many of the naysayers who believe MAD‘s time is over are not taking into account the whole picture. If the profitability of the sale of actual comic books was the center of the business of comics, then companies like DC and Marvel would have been out of business a decade ago. The best selling comics today sell at circulation levels that would have seen them canceled as failures in the heyday of the medium. Comic books themselves have become the development vehicles for “properties” that then translate into other media that generate real revenue: movies and TV shows that then in turn sell toys, tie-ins, advertising, etc. The new people in charge at DC Entertainment seem to understand MAD has similar potential.
It’s not as simple with MAD as it is with Superman or Batman… MAD is unique. In a way MAD is less like a “title” for DC and more like a little comic book company of it’s own. It’s got a lot of “titles” or properties of it’s own with the potential for branching out into other media. For example Spy vs. Spy has already been a revenue generator for DC with it’s licensing for the Mountain Dew commericals, video games, etc. Other properties from the MAD family, either existing or new ones, could see development under the MAD brand. That’s one of the reasons why the magazine itself is valuable whether or not it actually makes money itself.
Comic book writer Mark Evanier put it best on his blog back when MAD announced it’s switch to quarterly publication:
MAD will not go away. It’s too valuable a brand name to ever disappear. (National Lampoon is still around. It just hasn’t been a magazine since around 1988.) Today’s announcement probably translates as follows: “We need to keep the name alive and to keep key staffers and contributors in the family. But it’s losing money and we’re going to scale it back and minimize those losses while we figure out what to do with it.” Its new configuration is not a long-range plan…and maybe that long-range plan, whenever they arrive at it, will restore MAD to its former glory in some venue.
Exactly. DC receives revenues from MAD via licensing of the name and format to other countries for their own version of MAD. There are advertising and other revenues from MAD properties coming in as well as the value of reprinted material from the nearly 60 years of MAD‘s existence. MAD just needs to make the transition from mom and dad’s magazine to a property the new generation will recognize and embrace.
The new team at DC seems to recognize the potential of MAD as an asset to the company and it’s future. It is exciting to be a part of what hopefully with be a re-energizing of the magazine and it’s continuation far into the 21st century.