CBR TV welcomed DC Comics co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio back to the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International, and the always entertaining DC duo had plenty to see about what’s planned for the rest of 2014 and beyond. They discuss the raft of new titles announced, and what new blood and new titles mean to DC and the New 52. They also discuss if there’s a Netflix-like model that makes sense for DC’s publishing slate, whether the always-on news cycle affects choices made by editorial and the role diversity plays in their decision making process.
On whether the pre-show announcements signal a time of change for DC and the New 52: “We’re at a position right now where we’re going to have some changes in staff, we’ll have a change in location [from New York City to Burbank, CA], and also there’s a changing audience all around us,” said DiDio. “You see that in the books that are being created and the ones that seem to be breaking out in a very crowded marketplace right now. If you look at the overall market there’s about 400 periodicals coming out on a monthly basis from all the companies — a lot of work, a lot of material, a lot of creators. In order to really get a sense of where this is all going, we want to put different styles of product out there from different creators, new voices and find which way the direction of the market’s going and hopefully build around that.”
“People ask, ‘What does an editor bring to the table?’ and in that situation it’s Mark Doyle, who was brought over from Marvel to head up the Batman group,” said Lee. “Mike Marts headed it up before him, did great stuff, but Mark has different sensibilities and so he brought in these creators to really kind of diversify the line — the talent, the tone, the look of the characters. It’s interesting because we’re in about Year 4 of the New 52 and I think when we launched we had a very set game plan, and obviously over time you’re gonna evolve and the creators are gonna take the characters and branch off and go in different directions. I think that’s what you’re seeing. It’s an organic evolution of the line.”
On how they took the positive and negative reactions to Meredith and David Finch on “Wonder Woman”: “Personally I think you stand with the strength of the content,” said DiDio. “I think we’ve got better content coming together with Meredith and David Finch together. The great part about it and the difficulty we have with characters like Superman and Wonder Woman is they’ve transcended just being characters and become stand-ins for ideals and sensibilities. They become iconic in [their] own right and it makes it difficult to tell stories with them because they become representations rather than than characters. As long as we’re telling stories they have to be characters first. That’s something that [the Finches] are focusing on and that’s something Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang brought to ‘Wonder Woman.’ A sense of character, a sense of person, there’s a supporting cast and there’s a great, rich history that’s been created with Wonder Woman since the launch of the New 52.
“When Meredith came onboard with David, what she did is she reached out with Brian and they spoke, and this is a continuation of the stories that Brian and Cliff are telling,” DiDio continued. “David absolutely loves the character and can’t wait to get involved in this. The fact that the two of them are working together, I’m super excited about it. When they pitched this to us we couldn’t have been happier because it’s an incredibly tough act to follow in Brian and Cliff but I think we’ve got a new style and a new take — and again, a freshness to a character that’s been around almost 75 years.”
On the thinking behind DC’s weekly titles: “The goal for weekly comics is very simple,” said DiDio. “It’s to bring people into stores every week. To give them a destination book. I know that I love to go to the comic shop every week, but you’re not sure what might be out or what’s not out but you’re looking for an excuse. So the weekly comics sort of give people an excuse to go in there. You know you have that book, and while you’re there you can see what else is out there and grab it. Like I said, there’s so many books out there. Nobody comes into a comic shop, at least not that I know of, that goes in and buys just one comic. They go in and they see one and they find something else and they buy a bunch. So now what we like to do is it gives them a reason to come in, buy your weekly book, and then hopefully they find the other stuff that we’re putting out that week as well.”
On how much a desire for diversity plays into the hiring process versus the best available talent: “We wrestle with that all the time. A lot of times I just see names, I have no idea who’s who, you know, you’re looking for the best work there. But what’s interesting is that, and it’s an interesting cart-and-horse thing going on, we talk about the situations where you see a much more diverse crowd at conventions or you hear about a more diverse crowd buying our books,” said DiDio. “I think we’re starting to see the effects of that. And what I mean is that we’re starting to see a more diverse talent pool. Meaning that the diversification occurred first in the fanbase. They came in, they found the books, they liked the books. And because they enjoyed them so much, now they want to create the books. Now we’re getting more choices, more opportunities to find more of a diverse crowd because there’s more people out there who want to participate in our medium and they have more opportunities to do that. So now it’s our job to find them. Before it’s almost like we had to create a talent pool, but now the talent pool is out there. They’re doing digital comics, they’re doing independent comics, and now our goal is to find the best ones for it and bring them to our characters and make them part of our line. That’s what you’re starting to see with what’s going on right now.”
“I’ll tell you, using ‘Harley Quinn’ as an example, that was a book that we thought would do pretty well given the popularity of the character, but it really has surprised and exceeded our expectations in terms of the sales,” said Lee. “Again, it’s just a very different type of book than what we normally publish across the line. What you’re going to see is a further stratification of the line of things that, again, are part of the same universe but have very different tonality and I think that’s great. It’s more representative of our fanbase, it’s more representative of the real world around us and we welcome that change.”