DC Comics has announced that Jenette Kahn, the President and Editor-in-Chief of DC for the last 21 years, will be stepping down by the end of the year from running DC Comics and Mad Magazine, focusing her efforts on new creative pursuits including the publishing of her first novel. The announcement was made by Barry M. Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. DC Comics is a division of Warner Bros.
In the statement DC said, “Kahn, who celebrated her 26th year with the premiere comic book publisher on February 2, was the driving creative force behind the growth of a small comic book imprint into the multi-billion dollar home of some of the most recognized iconic characters in the world (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, to name but a few). She joined DC Comics in 1976 as Publisher and five years later was promoted to President and Editor-in-Chief, a post she has held since that time.”
Unquestionably the most powerful woman in comics, Kahn has been a stable force at the top of the industry. While changes have been numerous at Marvel, Kahn has maintained her position.
“After more than a quarter of a century at DC Comics, we completely understand Jenette’s desire for a new venue to focus her boundless energy and visionary leadership,” said Meyer in the release. “While we will deeply miss her and her extraordinary contributions, we wish her only the best.”
“I feel I’ve accomplished almost all of the things I set out to do at DC Comics,” said Kahn in the release. “While I am eager to embark on new creative challenges, I do not leave DC without leaving behind a large part of myself. I love DC with all my heart, the values on which it stands, the medium it has pioneered, reinvented and helped transform into a legitimate art form, and, most of all, the people who are and have been members of the family. Luckily, my departure is lightened by knowing DC Comics will be in the hands of Paul Levitz, the most gifted of colleagues, and the best of allies and friends.”
“We all owe Jenette an enormous debt of gratitude, not only for her accomplishments at DC Comics, but also for her myriad achievements on behalf of social action,” continued Meyer. “Jenette leaves a legacy of riches at Warner Bros. that goes well beyond those that can be counted on a spread sheet.”
DC also provided the following details about Kahn’s history with the company.
Under Kahn’s guidance, DC Comics has grown to become the world’s largest English-language publisher of comics. Additionally, some ten blockbuster feature films, numerous live-action and animated television series, multiple direct-to-video titles, untold online entertainment and countless product licenses have been drawn from DC’s world-renowned superheroes. Beyond its perennially popular superhero comic book lines, the company has broken new creative ground in recent years with the launch of its adult-oriented Vertigo imprint and the acquisition of WildStorm Productions, a cutting-edge independent comic publisher. The revamped, still-irreverent MAD Magazine is also part of the DC Comics family.
Kahn is a noted leader on issues facing women and minorities, and a respected supporter of the arts and the embodiment of the values espoused by the legendary heroes she has lead for nearly three decades. Some of her many altruistic endeavors include having utilized DC Comics superheroes to help kids in third world countries learn how to deal with deadly landmines, (for which she received recognition from the Clinton White House, then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the United Nations and the Department of Defense) and the creation of a foundation honoring Wonder Woman’s 40th anniversary, which during its existence gave grants to more than 50 women who exemplified the inspirational characteristics of Wonder Womanótaking risks, pursuing equality and truth, striving for peace and helping other women. Further, the Reagan White House honored her for her work on drug awareness and the FBI for her contributions in the area of gun control. In 1997, in an effort to widen the accessibility and visibility of African American art, Kahn initiated and found funding for an exhibition of black film posters at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Kahn serves on the boards of Exit Art and Aaron Davis Hall, Harlem’s principal Center for the Performing Arts, and the advisory councils of The W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard and The Women’s Research and Education Institute. She is also a founder of The Committee of 200, a nationwide forum of key women in business. An honoree of the World Design Foundation, Kahn has just completed “In Your Space,” an illustrated coffee table book about the creative process that will be published by Abbeville Press this spring.
Prior to joining DC, Kahn founded a series of three magazines for young people. Her first was Kids, written and illustrated entirely by and for children. Published in the early ’70s, Kids was considered a pioneer in the field of children’s publishing, covering topics from drug abuse to animal protection to the environment. Her next publication was Dynamite, the best-selling children’s magazine in history. Following on the success of Dynamite was Smash, which, while still aimed at the young audience, tackled more serious themes through probing articles. At 25 years of age, Kahn was able to convince design legend Milton Glaser to art direct Smashówhich she considers one of the best creative collaborations of her life.
Kahn graduated from Harvard University with honors in art history, specializing in 20th-century art, and later held a fellowship at the Museum of Modern Art in New York before entering the world of publishing.
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