The most powerful person in the comic book industry?
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With great power comes…a great excuse to make power lists.
The latest is Bleeding Cool Magazine’s “The Top 100 Power List of Comic Books” which gives its top spot to Jim Lee, the 48-year-old co-publisher of DC Comics and the most celebrated superhero artist of the past 25 years. It’s a good choice, Lee is a powerhouse force of art and commerce and as the uber-art director for DC his design agenda and sensibility echo in the DC Universe in a profound way. To get a sense of Lee’s life journey, check out this reflective video visit to his home in San Diego.
At No. 2 on the list: Ike Perlmutter, the famously frugal chief executive officer of Marvel Entertainment and Disney’s third largest individual shareholder. (Perlmutter had been the second biggest shareholder but that changed a few weeks ago when Disney added Star Wars to its empire and handed George Lucas a compensation package the size of a small forest moon; and Disney’s top shareholder, by the way, remains the Steve Jobs Trust.)
The third spot on the Bleeding Cool tally went to firebrand Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead and a new model for the industry’s owner-creator possibilities after decades of work-for-hire heartbreak. Stan Lee, the only comic book creator who might be considered a household name, finished at No. 27, despite the jaw-dropping success of his namesake comic convention in Los Angeles and the fact that two of his signature creations, the Avengers and Spider-Man, scored hit films that finished first and fourth in domestic box office this year.
There’s strong Hollywood tilt to the list — Warner Bros Film Group President Jeff Robinov, for instance, finished one spot ahead of Stan Lee – but executives in the video game world are not in play. Women didn’t fare well, with none ranked higher than Karen Berger, the executive editor of DC’s Vertigo, who finished at No. 60. To add some gender insult to injury, that put the respected Berger one notch behind “the anonymous comic book store clerk,” cited as the faceless gatekeepers of potential piracy. There was one African-American in the tally: James Killen, the Barnes &Noble buyer who is a key retail gatekeeper, finished at No. 99.
The magazine is the new print counterpart to the BleedingCool.com and the list was compiled by the site’s founder, Rich Johnston — who ranked himself at No. 78. Some notable names who didn’t make the cut but would to seem to qualify by the stated criteria: R. Crumb, Neal Adams, Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke, Christopher Nolan, Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes, the Hernandez Brothers, Heidi MacDonald, George Lucas, Frank Miller, Stephen King, Steve Niles, Dave Gibbons, Gerard Way, Michael Uslan, Rob Liefeld, or Kevin Smith.