MARTHA THOMASES: I’m Dreaming of… Paul Levitz?
Androids may or may not dream of electric sheep. Lately, however, I dream of Paul Levitz.
No, not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter. Yeesh.
Having said that, it’s still a disturbing experience.
I’ve known Paul since the late 1970s. He was my boss’s boss for the ten years I worked at DC Comics in the 1990s. His daughter is around the same age as my son, and sometimes we would both bring our kids to a convention and watch them work the booth together. I don’t see him very much these days, but our relationship has never been worse than cordial.
That’s not why he’s prowling through my sub-conscious.
In my dreams, I’m back at DC. The only problem is, no one else knows it. No one has actually hired me. I’m sneaking into an empty office, unpacking my Rolodex, and booting up the archaic IBM computer.
I’ve secured a space, and now I need to start doing my job, so I can justify my position. When I had the job, I’d go and talk to editors to find out what we were publishing, whether it was a newsworthy storyline or an interesting creative team. This technique worked pretty well for me. I got stories into gossip columns (e.g. the Lois and Clark engagement, the Death of Superman), and I got writers and artists interviewed by mainstream magazines (e.g. Neil Gaiman in Details).
Now I have to sneak around, crawling into offices to snatch photocopies of upcoming books. And then, I find out that Warner Bros. is going to make a Justice League movie. This fills me with fear.
Why? What does this mean?
I was one of the last people to actually get my own computer at DC, so clearly, my sub-conscious wants me to assert territorial rights. The crawling means my self-esteem is low, hardly a news-flash.
But a Justice League movie?
During my tenure, it was policy that any time there was a story involving a character scheduled for television or the movies, my work had to be approved by Warner Bros.’ publicists in Burbank before I could contact any media. This was cumbersome but doable when the only character involved was Batman. For the most part, corporate was reasonable.
The most frustrating exception, from my point of view, was when Chris O’Donnell was promoting a Batman movie on the Letterman show, right across the street. I wanted to send over a copy of a Robin comic, maybe get a picture. I was told I couldn’t, because Chris didn’t like to promote “licensed” products. My attempt to say that the movie was licensed from us was not successful.
A Justice League movie would mean that no character could be promoted without corporate approval from Burbank.
And everything would have to go through Paul. I have to keep myself a secret, but still be spectacularly successful to keep my nonexistent job. In my dream, Paul is the logjam. I must simultaneously perform a miracle and get the credit I deserve, while acting like I’m not really there, just visiting.
At least I kept my clothes on.
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman