While Dan DiDio serves DC Comics as co-publisher alongside “Justice League” artist Jim Lee, he’s also writing a new series as part of September’s New 52 initiative in the Keith Giffen-illustrated “O.M.A.C.”
And while Lee and his creative partner Geoff Johns no doubt have a surefire hit on their hands — to which the title’s announced 200,000-plus pre-sold copies can attest — DiDio and Giffen will have a much steeper hill to climb in terms of personal success.
CBR News spoke with the DiDio from the floor of Fan Expo in Toronto this past weekend, asking the always candid executive what sort of leeway, if any, DC Comics is granting niche titles like his own, which perhaps exist outside the traditional mainstream audience, in terms of sales figures, market share and shelf life.
While DiDio can at times be considered a one machine army corps in terms of his excitement when it comes to promoting DC properties, he is also quite sincere in his enthusiasm for what the publisher has planned for the weeks and months ahead, truly believing each of the 52 new titles has a chance at finding not only a readership but one that is strong enough to exist within the ever-increasingly difficult comic book marketplace.
DiDio also shared his personal thoughts on which titles he feels readers should consider beyond the heavy hitters like “Justice League” (in stores and available digitally today) and Grant Morrison’s “Action Comics.”
CBR News: Mr. DiDio, welcome back to Canada on what has become an annual pilgrimage to Toronto’s Fan Expo. What keeps bringing you back?
Dan DiDio: When I come to Fan Expo, I get all kinds of funny-flavored potato chips. That’s what happens when I come to Canada. Actually, it’s a great show. In my previous jobs, I used to come up to Toronto a lot and I’ve always enjoyed coming up here. The fans are great. They’re knowledgeable. They’re exited. They want to know more about what we are doing and they’re deeply involved in so much of what’s going on. It gets you reinvigorated. When you’re working on things, sometimes you are isolated and you’re working in groups and you’re wondering how the world outside is affecting it or getting excited by it. When you come to a convention like this, you feel that all the energy and time you spent on it is well spent. They seem genuinely excited.
I spoke with Yanick Paquette earlier today about his and Scott Snyder’s “Swamp Thing,” which is a title I am really excited about but as I head over here to speak with you at DC’s mega-booth, the giant posters are for more traditional superhero titles like “Justice League” and “The Flash.” With 52 new titles coming in September, is it feast or famine? Because while I’m sure you don’t expect fans to pick up all 52 series, how do you gauge success early on for titles that are perhaps on not quite so high a profile?
The great news is that a lot of people are buying in on at least the first issues on the pack of 52. We didn’t really expect that, but we’re glad it’s happening because what it does is, it gives a sampling to the more eclectic books that might not picked up as easily as “Justice League.” From my standpoint, that’s great. We never expected everybody to buy all 52, to be perfectly honest. That’s why we built the lineup as we did. We have war books, we have westerns, we have horror, we have science fiction, we have superheroes. We have a real nice mix of product. Why we did that is, we’re not looking for everybody to buy one book. We’re looking for a lot of people to buy a lot of different books.
So we can expect the titles that don’t sell 200,000 copies like “Justice League” will be permitted some sort of grace period while they find their niche in the marketplace?
Oh, yeah. We’re supporting each one of these series for the first six months to see if they get a foothold or see if they develop an audience, and then after that, we’ll be doing evaluations. You know what, I shouldn’t say that. We’ll be doing evaluations of the book as they’re developing, but for the most part, every book is really going to get six months to find its legs, and if it proves to be strong, we’ll continue with them. But we’re also working on other series that we can replace them with later on down the line, if necessary.
It’s the joy of the 52. We have no idea how people are going to react. Every day, I hear something different of what people are looking for. Even amongst ourselves, everybody who has read them inside the company, I can’t find two people that have the same Top 5 list. That’s a good thing.
You actually have one of the new series, as well, so I guess you’re on the hot seat too.
Some exciting news out this weekend is that your book, “O.M.A.C.,” will be tying into Jeff Lemire’s “Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.” somewhere in the near future.
We actually had lunch the other day and we figured out a crossover between “O.M.A.C.” and “Frankenstein.” We are looking for things that naturally have some level of crossover. For me, I’m a big fan of the “Frankenstein” book, so this is going to be fun to get involved with Jeff and make the story work for both of us, together. We’re having fun with it and I think that’s the important part.
Up here in Canada, everyone is gearing up to draft their fantasy hockey team for the upcoming season. I guess that’s what it’s been like in the DC offices these past few months, putting all the players and titles up on the big board and figuring out, which title fits where and with whom at the helm?
Yeah, we went through it. A lot of it, obviously, was that we knew which writers and artists were really excited about particular characters, so we tried to put people with characters they were really motivated to do and felt ownership towards. That was important to us.
When we started, the lineup of 52 titles wasn’t the same as what we actually wound up with. Some fell off the scale, some fell apart and some books jumped out because the creators said they wanted to do that character instead. We had a lot of movement along the line, but when it all settled out, we felt we had the best people assigned to the best projects.
“Justice League” #1 kicks things off this week, which no doubt will do massive numbers with Geoff Johns and Jim Lee leading the world’s greatest heroes into action, but what are some of the titles you think fans should look out for that they may not be considering at the moment? Sleeper picks, to keep the hockey pool references going.
You’ve already mentioned a couple. I think Jeff Lemire did a brilliant job on “Frankenstein” and “Animal Man.” Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette did a wonderful “Swamp Thing.” There are some really fun, crazy books. “Demon Knights” has a different flavor. “All-Star Western” takes Jonah Hex and moves him a new direction. We have a lot of new, great stuff going on and that’s the joy of what we’ve got here. We’ve truly got something for everyone.
In closing, give us a quick pitch on why readers should be picking up your first issue of “O.M.A.C.”
What the fans can expect from my book is that I get a chance to work with Keith Giffen again. Quite honestly, he’s truly one of the great creators in the comics business. He’s brought an energy to this book that is unlike anything he’s done in years. It’s some of his best art, if not his best art to date. He captures all the energy and excitement of the original [Jack] Kirby series, and it ties in nicely into DCU. It’s probably one of the quirkiest books of the bunch, and that’s why I am having fun doing it.
“O.M.A.C.” #1, written by Dan DiDio and featuring art by Keith Giffen, is expect in comic book stores on September 7