When Bill Jemas Met Paul Levitz At NYCC

For comic industry observers of the late nineties and noughties, the rivalry between Marvel and DC reached epic heights. After the Marvel bankruptcy, the company did all it could to lift itself out of the more, throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck. Which included an aggressive media prescence spearheaded, publicly at least, by Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada.

During that time a number of disparaging statements were made against DC Comics, alleging that the company, and Publisher and President Paul Levitz was responsible for mismanagement and not financially exploiting the success of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. Famously the analogy was made to national media, calling them AOL comics, of a porn star who couldn’t get it up. Other stunts included calling a meeting of subscribers to the Comics Code Association, and arriving with only ex-employees of DC Comics to make a point.

But what Marvel saw as the cut and thrust of competition, many at DC took personally. There were attempts to get Bill Jemas fired from Marvel. Even today after DC’s reorganisation and Jemas’ departure from Marvel, DC’s Bob Wayne has stated that the two companies wouldn’t work on crossovers while Joe Quesada was still at the company.

I am told that at a meet-and-greet for New York Comic Con I attended (but arrived too late for this moment), Bill Jemas and Paul Levitz met once more, a decade on. Bill decided to be magnanamous and go for it, very loudly and very publicly, telling Paul that after everything, after so long, it was good to see him again. Paul, in a very measured fashion replied “I wish… I could say the same.” And that was that for the evening, they stayed at separate ends of the room, and I talked to them both. Only finding what I’d missed from others in attendance afterwards…

Still waters run deep it seems.

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