It’s Easter Sunday at WonderCon in Los Angeles, and DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk the latest at DC, a day after a slew of “Rebirth”-related news — well, at least that was the original plan.
The first topic of conversation was DC’s new Talent Development Workshops, which Snyder is involved and helped develop.
“It’s been a real, real honor to be a part of this,” Snyder told the crowd. “The highlight of my week is teaching this class — outside of writing Batman, of course.”
“We meet two and a half to three hours,” the “Batman” writer continued. “What I see my job as, what I’ve always loved about teaching — I had writers that sort of teased my voice out of me. I want to see what stories you want to tell, what you’re passionate about. I’ll do it as long as they want to do it. It’s a joy to see.”
Palimotti said it’s a cool thing that so many comic book readers also want to work creatively in the business. “It’s not the same with music,” the “Harley Quinn” co-writer said. “I listen to music, but I don’t really want to sing.”
In the spirit of a “Sunday Conversation,” DiDio asked the panelist and crowds for early memories of their comic book fandom.
“I used to trade comics. In the early ’70s in Brooklyn, every barbershop had a ton of comics in them,” Palmiotti shared, along with “daddy books” like Penthouse. “I used to buy a brand-new comic from the candy store, and I’d go in and say, ‘I’ll give you a brand-new book for five of the old ones you have in the stack.’ They’d say, ‘Sure,’ I’d take five or six books and give them a new one.”
“You know you’re a geek when you go into a barbershop, and your goal is to get the comics, not the Penthouse,” Snyder joked.
DiDio asked if anyone in the crowd has been reading comics for less than a year. A couple have. Then five years, then 10 years, then 20, then 30. “We have more signs at 30 than we did earlier,” DiDio said. “The hands are coming up slower, though,” Palmiotti joked. The longest-tenured fan in the crowd? “Over 55 years,” according to the fan.
Next, DiDio asked if anyone in the room ever quit comic books. “I didn’t fully quit,” Snyder said. “Now that they’re digital, it’s so much easier to get them if you don’t live near a comic book store. When I went to college, I wasn’t near a comic store. My dad would send me comics from New York, but I lapsed. But ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ kept me involved.”
DiDio shared a “true ‘Infinite Crisis’ story” with the audience, which he asked them not to repeat elsewhere (uh oh…). It was centered on the scene where Superboy Prime kicks Krypto.
“What happens is that, [Geoff Johns’] script comes in and he writes [for Superboy], ‘You kicked my dog, you motherf-er,'” DiDio related. “I said, ‘Drop the F.’ ‘You mother.’ The book comes out and I get a phone call from Paul Levitz, who’s angry. We drop it from the collected edition. Low and behold, I’m the co-publisher one day — ‘mother’ ends up back in the book.”
DiDio said he was “extraordinarily nervous” about Saturday’s DC Rebirth announcements. “I honestly did feel we lost our connection, our contact, with our fanbase,” he told the fans. The Co-Publisher shared a story from early in his DC days, talking to the late Julius Schwartz, who told him, “Every 10 years or so, you’ve got to give the universe an enema!” “Why didn’t we call it that instead of ‘Rebirth’?” Palmiotti asked.
DiDio said that eventually comics companies can start to lose touch with readers, but singled out the Snyder-written “Batman” and the Palmiotti and Amanda Conner-written “Harley Quinn” as recent notable exceptions.
“They’ve kept us really honest,” Snyder said of the fans. “As far left as we go, the fact that you guys keep supporting us means a lot. We try to take some risks, but stay true to the character.”
“We’re putting out, between DC and Vertigo, all of our materials, somewhere between 70 and 80 books a month,” DiDio said of the challenges of running a comics publisher the size of DC. “A lot of moving parts. That’s why you have to really count on the people you’re working for you to execute properly. Sometimes you choose right, sometimes you choose wrong.”
Snyder said he’s matured a lot as a writer during his time at DC, and mentioned how he didn’t get along with artist Greg Capullo at first — which changed when they teamed up to push DC to get a specific page turn they wanted in “Batman” #5. “They let us do it because it was story-based,” Snyder said.
Palmiotti said he and Conner are hoping for an “Afterbirth” — parody of “Rebirth” — cover for “Harley Quinn.: “It’s Harley giving birth, pulling out the baby,” Palmiotti shared of Conner’s sketch. “I don’t want to ruin it, because if we get the OK, the fun is what they’re pulling out.”
On that note, the panel — and DC publishing’s WonderCon programming — wrapped.