With Valiant Entertainment deep into its second full year of publishing, company CEO and CCO Dinesh Shamdasani stopped by the CBR Tiki Room at NYCC 2013 to discuss the current Valiant publishing slate, as well as plans for the future. Not only did Shamdasani touch on the mission statement of Valiant, but also bringing back Priest and Bright’s original “Quantum and Woody” characters, why there won’t be a Valiant Multiverse anytime soon and Valiant’s involvement with the upcoming Winter Olympics.
On next steps for Valiant moving into its second year: We’ve been very cautious about the way we’ve grown the company: slow and steady, that’s our motto. We’ll be increasing the line, but we’re starting to see the line take the form that we’ve been building towards. Now we’re starting to get the line that we’ve set the groundwork for. That’s why “Unity’s” coming — it’s our Justice League, it’s our Avengers. You’re going to see us going to phase two of Valiant, and that’s us now having set the foundation try and break out of the norm of what people are used to for comic books, for the storytelling. We’re going to do a couple things that we haven’t announced yet that are going to take people by surprise. They may not all work, they may not like them all, but they’re all going to be new and different and exciting.
On why fans should have faith in the upcoming initiatives: That’s the only thing we can compete with. We can’t compete with the characters — Marvel has bigger characters, DC has bigger characters. We can’t compete with the budgets — Disney and Warner Bros. have bigger budges, we can’t compete there. The top creators in the business — the top two in each company are tied up. We can’t get Jim Lee to do any art. The only way we can compete is to tell better stories, and a way to tell better stories is to break new ground. The original Valiant did it, so we’re trying to do it now.
On Valiant’s approach to introducing new original characters: It’s a connected answer. For example, the Bleeding Monk appears in “Harbinger Wars” #1. That’s a character we love, that we feel very strongly about. The goal is not to out of nowhere say, “Here’s a new character, here’s a new #1,” but to slowly grow that character so you have an affinity for the character, and we’ll see which characters float to the surface. We are not smarter than the fans, we have to see what they react to, how the writers bring the characters to life and when that character feels like it’s the right time to put them out in the spotlight, we’ll do that. I’m hoping it’s the Bleeding Monk. He’s my favorite.
On the potential of a Valiant Multiverse: We’ve talked a lot about it and it’s not something we’re planning to do. We’re too young. The goal now is to set the foundation for the characters. We’re in 1963 — if you look at Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, that’s where we’re at. We’re telling the foundational stories, we’re still building supporting characters up, building the mythologies. What we’re doing with “Quantum and Woody” — it’s not something we planned on doing so early, but we couldn’t resist because [Priest and Bright] are immense talents, they built the house we’re living in now. It was just too tempting to have them come back to the characters they created, that they’re so well known for. They have a huge fan base and we’re just fans. We want to have that story told.