Farewell, traveller

Farewell, traveller 150 150 Paul Levitz

If you came to love DC comics first in some faraway place, say a thankful farewell to Phyllis Hume today. Phyllis had one of those jobs invisible to the general public, unacknowledged on any masthead, but vital to changing the world’s comics culture. She began her involvement with DC as a paralegal in the corporate trademark department, but really made her impact in long decades managing DC’s international rights. She travelled relentlessly for decades, building partnerships and true friendships across the globe, and working to get comics published by people who loved comics.

A tough little woman from Brooklyn Heights, Phyllis helped make possible some of the first truly beautiful editions of American comics, long before DC (or any American comics publisher) was ready to produce oversize hardcovers, or art book-quality volumes. Titles from WATCHMEN to ancient classics like CAPTAIN MARVEL AND THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL happened on her watch, and with her support.

Sadly, she had a rough parting from DC when the international markets changed and she and her then-supervisor saw different paths ahead for the company. One of my regrets as an executive was the occasions like this when I couldn’t bridge gaps between good people and manage to keep both on the team. But those circumstances didn’t detract from my great respect for Phyllis, or appreciation for the work she’d done.

The world of comics is better for the efforts of many largely anonymous people behind the scenes, connecting the creative talents with their audience. We’ve been lucky to have folks doing this who don’t treat it as a job, but as a responsibility to both the talent and the audience. Phyllis Hume was one who made the world of comics larger by making distances, cultures and languages smaller gaps, and for that I’m grateful.

  • Having Phyllis as “my” paralegal back in the WCI corporate days was a joy. She not only got the job done well, but was a supportive friend and sympathetic ear when I needed one. She had a healthy cynicism and a wicked sense of humor. I am glad we stayed in touch for these many years.

    Thanks for acknowledging her contributions, Paul.

  • Well said, Paul… Phyllis and the team were selling rights when some international folks were still waiting on line for food and distributing comics from their day-job vans. When it comes to comics, there are no borders or even language barriers as is the way with love and passion. It wasn’t about money; it was giving those fans what they wanted and making it as affordable as possible.. as the world grew smaller it was no longer possible. So many memories… the rich Arab’s daughter “Daddy I want Batman!”; the Turkish agent spilling her owed royalties in cash out of her bra along with the traditional Turkish delight. Phyllis’ love of dancing; the Scandinavians know she could Lombada like no one else… too many memories but now those memories have to comfort us. Thanks, Paul.