Christina Merkler, President
Christina Merkler co-founded a small internet based company with her husband Cameron out of their home in 1999. Now, nearly two decades later Discount Comic Book Service is an ever reaching empire that handles the direct sales for comic book publishers like Image and Boom! Studios, plus several online domains to maintain their own distinct online presence.
Check out Christina and Cameron’s Discount Comic Book Service online at www.DCBService.com, but don’t miss out on DCBS’ sister sites offer discounted trade paperbacks and hardcovers at www.InStockTrades.com and digital content at www.MyDigitalComics.com.
Chris Powell, Vice President
Working in the comics industry for more than 20 years, Chris Powell is now the VP of Retailer Services at Diamond Comic Distributors. He was previously employed as the General Manager & CRO of Lone Star Comics / mycomicshop.com. Chris has served as the President of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and was a member of the Founding Board for ComicsPRO, the Direct Market comic retailers’ organization. He served on the Board of Moderators for the Game Pro Symposium, the Advisory Board for the Game Store Resource Forum, and helped launch the ComicsPRO Mentoring Forum for new and potential comics retailers. Chris wrote the column “Comic Sense” for Krause Publications’ Comic & Game Retailer magazine and presents regularly at industry panels geared toward retailers and fans.
Dale Cendali, Secretary
Dale Cendali is a nationally recognized leader in the field of intellectual property. She is a partner in the prestigious law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where she heads the firm’s Copyright, Trademark and Internet Practice Group. She has successfully litigated and tried numerous high profile cases and has argued before the United States Supreme Court. Her clients include myriad prominent individuals and companies who rely on her for her expertise in copyright, trademark, patent, Internet, trade secrets, defamation, false advertising, privacy and contractual matters. She has extensive experience representing clients in the entertainment, consumer products, and technology sectors. Managing Intellectual Property Magazine named her trial victory for J.K. Rowling in the well-known “lexicon” fair use case the “Copyright Trial of the Year.”
Dale has been repeatedly ranked as a “top tier” lawyer for Chambers USA, which describes her as “one of the best lawyers in the country” in her field who combines” intellectual acuity” with a “tough hard working attitude”. The National Law Journal has named Dale as one of “America’s Top 50 Women Litigators” and also as one of the “50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America.” Super Lawyers magazine named her as one of the top 100 lawyers in New York, and profiled her in the feature story titled, “Truth, Justice and the Cendali Way.”
As the title of the profile hints, when she is not trying cases, Dale is an avid comic book collector and fan and has been since she was five years old. She is a big believer in comics as an artform and is deeply committed to the arts since her days as President of the Yale Dramatic Association. Among her pro bono representations was the successful defense at trial of The Martha Graham Dance Center in a case that threatened the Graham legacy.
Dale writes prolifically on legal issues and has chaired numerous bar committees. She is also an adjunct professor at Harvard Law School, where she teaches copyright and trademark litigation.
She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.
Joseph Illidge’s career in comic books as a groundbreaking editor, writer, mentor, and long-time industry advocate for inclusion and diversity spans almost 30 years. Starting at Milestone Media, Inc., the company behind the innovative superhero universe of the award-winning animated series Static Shock, Illidge worked as a Batman editor at DC Comics and shepherded stories with iconic diverse characters ranging from the wheelchair-user Oracle to Cassandra Cain, the first Batgirl of color. In recent years, Illidge was a Senior Editor at Lion Forge Comics, Executive Editor at Valiant Comics, and Editorial Director for independent publisher A Wave Blue World. He has worked with organizations ranging from the National Down Syndrome Society to the Harlem School of the Arts and received a citation from the New York State Assembly for exemplary community service through career achievement. Illidge is now the Executive Editor for Heavy Metal, working with creators from around the globe.
Jen King is the owner of Space Cadets, a comic book store serving Houston, Texas, and is co-owner of the Comic Book Shopping Network. She is a strident advocate for retailers and creators, with a passion for promoting mentorship within the comics industry. As part of the Comic Book Shopping Network, her Facebook Live events attract an enthusiastic community of customers. To support other retailers, King recently shared her skills in CBLDF’s Remote Retailing Webinar.
“CBLDF’s willingness to go to bat for our community is so important to me,” King says. “My first shop in Midland, Texas, in the mid ’90s was Planet Comics, formed in partnership with the Oklahoma City shop at the center of an important First Amendment case that CBLDF represented. Although that partnership was severed to protect my business and my partners ended up not using the full abilities of the organization, I saw how much that case meant to the Fund. I have always wanted to be able to give back for all that they have done for me and for all that they stand for. I look forward to working with the rest of CBLDF’s team to protect the rights of creators, whose voices are so central to what makes this medium incredible, and my fellow retailers.”
Many people will recognize Pam Noles as a long-time volunteer at Comic-Con International: San Diego. A fixture on one of the restricted entrances to Hall H, she has interacted with some of the biggest names in comics and media. Noles also worked in the ACLU of Southern California’s communication department for several years.
Bob Wayne brings more than three decades of advocacy for comics retailers to his role at CBLDF. His storied career includes 28 years in the sales department at DC Comics, where he was instrumental in defining many business practices that would become industry standards. Prior to joining DC, Wayne sold comics at conventions starting in 1974 and operated retail stores in Dallas/Fort Worth beginning in 1980. As a writer, Wayne is the co-creator of the DC Comics series Time Masters and a contributor to George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series. He previously served CBLDF as a member of its advisory board. Wayne notes, “With over sixty years of reading and collecting comics, I believe the mission of CBLDF is of vital importance to protecting the future of comics.”
Gene Luen Yang
Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. As the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, he advocates for the importance of reading, especially reading diversely. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second Books, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints won the L.A. Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award Finalist. His other works include Secret Coders (with Mike Holmes), The Shadow Hero (with Sonny Liew), New Super-Man from DC Comics (with various artists), and the Avatar: The Last Airbender series from Dark Horse Comics (with Gurihiru). In 2016, he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. For more, visit www.geneyang.com.
Susan Alston, CBLDF’s first Executive Director (1993-1997) and former board member (1997-1999), is a development, marketing, and communications professional in western Massachusetts. Alston began her career as Assistant Director of Marketing at Bank of Boston, then as Director of Administration at Tundra Publishing, owned by Kevin Eastman. In 1993, Tundra merged into Kitchen Sink Press, whereupon Denis Kitchen offered her a part-time position overseeing CBLDF administration. Shortly thereafter, with the onset of the Mike Diana case and a large donation from Dave Sim, the position was moved to full time.
After leaving CBLDF in 1997, Alston took her interest in fundraising, marketing, and communications and honed them at positions with Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, VNA HealthCare, and Center for Human Development. In 2012, Alston earned her Master’s degree in Strategic Fundraising and Philanthropy from Bay Path College and will sit for the CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) exam in 2013.
Chip Kidd is a designer/writer in New York City whose body of work has been profoundly influential in the rise of the modern graphic novel. His book cover designs for Alfred A. Knopf have helped create a revolution in the art of American book packaging. He is the recipient of the National Design Award for Communications, as well as the Use of Photography in Design award from the International Design Center of Photography. Kidd has published two novels, The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners, as well as Batman: Death By Design, an original graphic novel published by DC Comics and illustrated by Dave Taylor. He is also the author of several books about comics and the co-author and designer of True Prep, the sequel to the beloved Official Preppy Handbook. A distinguished and prolific lecturer, Kidd has spoken at Princeton, Yale, Harvard, RISD, and a zillion other places. His 2012 TED talk has garnered over 660,000 hits as of this writing and is cited as one of the “funniest of the year.”
Jim Lee is a renowned comic book artist and the Co-Publisher of DC Entertainment. Prior to his current post, Lee served as Editorial Director, where he oversaw WildStorm Studios and was also the artist for many of DC Comics’ bestselling comic books and graphic novels, including Batman: Hush, Superman: For Tomorrow, All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, and Justice League. He also serves as the Executive Creative Director for the DC Universe Online (DCUO) massively multiplayer action game from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). For his next project, Lee will be working with writer Scott Snyder on a new Superman book in 2013.
Frank Miller is among the most influential voices in comics. His groundbreaking superhero work changed the tone of the medium in the 1980s, starting with a legendary run on Marvel Comics’ Daredevil and continuing with the classic graphic novels Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One for DC. In 1991, Miller fulfilled his dream of doing a straight ahead crime series with Sin City. He went on to produce seven Sin City graphic novels and later to co-direct an acclaimed film adaptation with Robert Rodriguez. His multi-award-winning epic 300 from Dark Horse was also brought to life as a blockbuster motion picture. Miller served on CBLDF’s Board of Directors in the 1990s and continues to be a force in advancing the organization’s work.
Louise Nemschoff is a lawyer in the Los Angeles area who specializes in entertainment, copyright, international law, video games, and other digital media. A long-serving member of CBLDF’s Board of Directors, Nemschoff aided dozens of creators on legal matters during her tenure with the organization.
Well known for his work illustrating Alan Moore in Promethea, Voice of the Fire and The Mirror of Love, José Villarrubia began his career in comics by coloring Jae Lee in Hellshock. He went on to color Lee in many other projects, including The Sentry, Fantastic Four 1234, and Captain America, and now he colors regularly for Marvel and DC Comics. He has worked with Ryan Sook in the new X-Factor Series and with Paul Pope in Batman: 100. Jose was born in Madrid, and now lives and works in Baltimore.
Denis Kitchen, Co-Chair
Dennis Kitchen founded the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in response to the arrest of a comic book store clerk who was wrongly prosecuted and convicted on obscenity charges for selling comics to an undercover police officer. Kitchen organized an industry fundraising effort to retain and pay for First Amendment expert Burton Joseph to wage the appeal against the conviction, which was victorious. Following this important win, Kitchen established CBLDF as an ongoing concern to protect against future prosecutions. For the organization’s first 18 years, he served as its President, and nurtured it from a volunteer effort, driven out of an office at Kitchen Sink Press, to a professional institution with a full-time staff.
Neil Gaiman, Co-Chair
Neil Gaiman advanced CBLDF’s work with extraordinary support in fundraising and awareness building efforts. Gaiman embarked on several reading tours and developed merchandise, special events, and partnerships that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Fund’s important work. He was also instrumental in building awareness for the organization with public service events, and he was a key mover in establishing CBLDF’s educational program. Most recently, the Gaiman Foundation contributed $60,000 to CBLDF to support the growth of its education program. Gaiman’s work has been honored with many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also earned Hugos, Nebulas, Eisners, Harveys, Locus Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, British SF Awards, British Fantasy Awards, Geffens, Mythopoeic Awards, as well as the International Horror Guild Award and the World Fantasy Award.