ICV has a good interview with Paul Levitz that has a number of interesting points. sharp readers of the blog will remember that I called Levitz out for the decision to not keep marshall rogers on Detective Comics back in the 1970's. He's done some good stuff since then.
Among the intersting things:
Q: We were just talking about the relative readership sizes of the graphic novel and comic format--could you elaborate?
Levitz: It smells to me like the number of human beings who are regularly reading graphic novel formats in this country is now larger, or about to be larger than the number of human beings regularly reading the periodical formats. I think that's a very interesting transition, because that has never been true before.
Levitz: I've had a propensity over the course of my career when I thought there was a logical compass point to move in, to try to find solutions to the opportunities. The graphic novel format that we've ended up with for collected editions of comics is the third try that I've made in my career. From the first time I was in a position of any kind of responsibility, I wanted to do something to make the great old stuff available because, as a comic fan, I just thought it would be cool.
The first one was modeled on the European album and lasted for about 2.5 seconds and didn't work. [It was] an experiment with Roger Slifer on Manhunter in '79 or '80. Then we tried a program with Baxter reprints of some of the great series like Green Lantern, Deadman and Swamp Thing in '82 or '83, where the brilliant idea was, 'We can't keep stuff in stock, but maybe every three or four years we can go back, have good negatives, and re-reprint these things in serial form a little thicker.' That was a lead balloon. Then we went to the beginnings of the graphic novel format with Dark Knight in '86. Although it didn't become a viable business of scale for many years, it was a relatively viable business model from early on and happily has found the answer.
Interesting that he was behind the two earlier attempts go get the graphic novel format off the ground. I remember each of these tries. His problem was, back in '80, that their "european format" simply didn't pass the smell test. It was unsophisticated material, and the reprints later on smacked of trying to simply repackage material and steal some market share from Marvel.
The reality is that you needed to create new material and make it more sophisticated, more up to the art books that the european ones that Catalan and the other publishers were bringing over. Full painted art? Sure, Heavy Metal came to that back in the late 70's. Lynn Varley's colors for Dark Knight at least told audiences, "Hey, this says Batman, but its not the Batman you remember. Trust me." Amazing how long the marvel and DC editors were stillplaying around with FLEXO coloring. Good God.
it's nice to see that Levitz recognizes the change in format, and hopefully will move with that to but some of DC's (and AOL Time Warner's) considerable resources behind material worthy of the adult format.