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.
Ted Adams, Treasurer
Ted Adams is the founder of IDW Media Holdings, which includes IDW’s publishing, games, and entertainment divisions. Adams was also the company’s CEO and Publisher for 19 years where he developed and oversaw the execution of IDWM’s strategic growth plans, including development of its key media properties, publishing titles, and licensing initiatives.
Since founding IDW Publishing in 1999, IDW has been awarded “Publisher of the Year” five times by Diamond Comic Distributors and dozens of Eisner and Harvey Awards. IDW titles have also been regularly featured on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Adams is the producer on a number of TV shows including Syfy’s Wynonna Earp, BBCA’s Dirk Gently, and the upcoming Netflix shows, V-Wars, October Faction, and Locke and Key. He has also written a number of comics, including the creator-owned Diablo House, drawn by Santi Perez.
Adams has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and also sits on the board of Traveling Stories, a San Diego Based non-profit that helps kids fall in love with reading by Grade 4.
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.
Jeff Abraham is president of Random House Publisher Services (RHPS), a division of Random House, Inc., the largest U.S. trade book publisher. RHPS is a leading provider of sales, distribution, digital and technology services to a broad portfolio of prominent independent publishers, including National Geographic Books, Rizzoli, Wizards of the Coast and many others. In the last few years RHPS has expanded its reach and established successful partnerships with Graphic Novel and Manga publishers, including DC Comics, Kodansha, Archie, and Vertical.
Mr. Abraham’s involvement in the publishing industry began in the mid 1990s as CEO & president of Optimedia, an electronic publishing solutions provider in the STM field, working with clients such as Oxford University Press, Elsevier Science, and the American Medical Association. Drawing on his deep experience in IT and innovative business approaches, Abraham also served as Executive VP of Sales & Business Development for AirSphere, an aviation technology company. He continued using his experience in the publishing industry as the Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group, a non-for-profit trade association dedicated to creating a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry supply chain for both physical and digital products.
Mr. Abraham is a graduate of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University.
Director and producer Reginald Hudlin is a pioneer of the modern black film movement, helming some of the most influential films and TV series of his generation. His most recent efforts include directing the legal thriller “Marshall”, starring Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall, with Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, and Sterling K. Brown. He also produced the revival of the series “Showtime At The Apollo” for Fox and produced the Civil War-era historical drama “Emperor”.
In February 2016, Hudlin was one of the producers of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ 88th Annual Academy Awards, for which he subsequently received an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Special Class Program. Additionally, he has been the executive producer of the NAACP Image Awards for the past six years (2013-2018).
In 2012, he was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award as one of the producers of Quentin Tarantino’s Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning film “Django Unchained”, one of the top-grossing Westerns of all time.
In his more than 30-year career, Hudlin has written, directed and/or produced numerous popular feature films including “House Party” (1990), “Boomerang” (1992) and “Bebe’s Kids” (1992). Hudlin was also an executive producer and writer of the animated TV series “Black Panther” and executive producer of “The Boondocks”. Along with the original founding members, Hudlin revived the beloved comic book company Milestone Media.
As Black Entertainment Television’s first president of entertainment (2005-2009), Hudlin shepherded some of the networks biggest hits and revamped the network’s news division, which went on to win more than a dozen awards during that period.
Hudlin has been honored by The NAACP, The American Civil Liberties Union, The United Negro College Fund, The Sundance Film Festival, The American Film Institute, The San Diego Comic-Con, The African American Film Critics Association, and many more organizations.
Hudlin is on the board of the UCLA School of Film, Television, and Theater; The Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
A card-wielding CBLDF member since the late 1990s, Katherine Keller started working for University Libraries, UNLV in 1994 as a student worker and took a full-time staff position in 2000. Her duties for University Libraries have included public service on the reference and circulation desks, as well as behind-the-scenes positions in technical services. Currently, she works at UNLV’s Teacher Development & Resources Library, which works closely with UNLV’s College of Education. Her duties for the TDRL include outreach and instruction about graphic novels and comics.
Katherine’s rediscovery of comics back in 1992 lead to her 1997 marriage to Ralph Mathieu, owner of Las Vegas’s award-winning Alternate Reality Comics. In 1998 it led to her helping to found Sequential Tart, an independent webzine by women who love comics and pop culture.
In 2007, when the CBLDF needed help to pay for the defense of Gordon Lee, she organized a fundraising membership drive that raised $5,000. She followed this in 2008 with another appeal that raised over $2,000 to help in the defense of Christopher Handley.
In addition to the CBLDF’s board, Katherine is currently on the steering committee for the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival, an event put on through the Clark County Library District as part of their effort to promote reading and literacy in Southern Nevada.
Paul Levitz was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1956, and entered the comics industry in 1971 as editor/publisher of The Comic Reader, the first mass-circulation fanzine devoted to comics news. He continued to publish TCR for three years, winning two consecutive annual Comic Art Fan Awards for Best Fanzine. His other fan activities included editing the program books for several of Phil Seuling’s legendary New York Comic Art Conventions. He received Comic-con International’s Inkpot Award in 2002 and the prestigious Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 2008. Levitz also serves on the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Levitz is primarily known for his work for DC Comics, where he has written most of their classic characters including the Justice Society, Superman in both comics and the newspaper strip, and an acclaimed run on The Legion of Super-Heroes, a series he’s recently returned to write. Readers of The Buyers’ Guide voted his Legion: The Great Darkness Saga one of the 20 best comic stories of the last century, and visitors to the site comicbookresources.com selected the same story as #11 of the Top 100 Comic Book Stories of All Time. Cumulatively, Levitz has written over 300 stories with sales of over 25 million copies, and translations into over 20 languages. As a DC staffer from 1973, Levitz was an assistant editor, the company’s youngest editor ever, and in a series of business capacities, became Executive Vice President & Publisher in 1989 and then served as President & Publisher from 2002-2009. He continues to contribute to their publications as a writer, as well as writing books about comics (Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel) and new comics most recently Brooklyn Blood).
Levitz also teaches Writing For Media at Manhattanville College; Comics & Graphic Novels and Transmedia in Pace University’s MS in Publishing program; Writing Graphic Novels at Pace and the American Graphic Novel at Columbia University.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Frenchy Lunning is a professor of Liberal Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, where she focuses on design, popular culture, and cultural theory throughout her work. She has written a book on fashion and fetish published by Berg Publishers in Britain and is currently working on two books: one on cosplay and the other is a book she began as a Fulbright Scholar in Japan in 2008 on the shôjo as a global and transnationally exchanged character. Lunning is the director of SGMS: Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, the only academic conference in the U.S. currently focusing on Asian popular culture. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Mechademia, a book series published by the University of Minnesota dedicated to Asian popular culture, manga, and anime. In addition to her work at MCAD, Lunning teaches seminars on anime and manga, is a co-founder of Anime Detour, and is a producer for Moving Walkway Productions.
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 fulltime 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.