CBR TV @ NYCC 2014: Lee & DiDio Push the Limits of Batman, Embrace Weekly Books & TV Synergy

DC Comics has big plans for 2015, and the company's Co-Publishers, Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, joined Jonah Weiland in the CBR Tiki Room during New York Comic Con to discuss what's in store. They discuss the changing face of the Batman line under editor Mark Doyle, how far those characters and ideas can be taken, and what fans can expect when "Batman Eternal" wraps next year. They also talk about expanding DC's presence on television via show's like "Gotham" and "Constantine," whether the former's Fish Mooney will follow in the footsteps of Harley Quinn and how much synergy there is between DC Entertainment shows and DC Comics. The duo then reiterate their commitment to weekly series like "Futures End," why fans are hungry for rapidly serialized stories and how they've avoided past mistakes with lenticular covers.

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On the new Batman titles and the fresh takes they're offering on that world:

Jim Lee: I think it's a continuing dedication or commitment to diversifying our line, not just in terms of the content, the characters, but also the voices we bring into the business. I think part of the credit has to go to editor Mark Doyle. He had specific ideas or visions of the characters. Those projects specifically, "Gotham Academy," "Batgirl," brought in some creators you wouldn't specifically see on books like that. I think at the end of the day, we want to grow the comic book business, and to do that you've got to bring in new people, new readers. So many people are familiar with the Batman mythology through media, games, what have you -- you can't necessarily assume that they are going to want to jump in on something that is very continuity driven that has a very hardcore fan base take on Batman. You can do different takes on this mythology and it can work. I mean look, "LEGO Batman" is huge, and then you have Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" also huge. Batman can support that, and it's great to see that kind of diversity and see audiences really eating it up.

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On how far DC can push the creative edge with the Batman line and beyond:

Dan DiDio: We are seeing a lot of initial success with these ideas and books, so as long as that happens, we are going to continue to try and push the lineup a little bit further. But, like Jim was saying, it's a little bit like loosening the continuity. It's allowing each book to take on it's own sensibility, its own style, its own voice. If you look at Scott [Snyder]'s Batman book, even if you look at the mainstream Batman books, the Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato Batman is a little bit different than Scott Snyder's, which is a little bit different Pete Tomasi's, which is a little bit different from what Jeff [Lemire]'s doing in 'Justice League.' So, what's good about it is, each feels true to who Batman is, but we're telling stories with different styles and tones and different sensibilities. I think that shows the broad appeal of the character and also the flexibility and just the reach of the character."

Lee: I think, without too many spoilers, I think you can kind of see that diversification beyond the Batman family into the line, going into 2015. I agree with you, "Gotham" is another great example. I'm fond of the show. It's awesome. I love the fact that they introduced a new character, Fish Mooney. I was kind of skeptical of that, but now I'm like, "No, this is good," because you don't know what her future is going to be, whereas other characters you have certain expectations, because you read the source material, but now there is this element of, "What's going to happen?" which is essential for ongoing periodic content. We'll take all the lessons we learn from "Batgirl," "Gotham Academy," seeing the audience reaction. We'd love to do that across the line even more so going forward, and bringing in more diverse voices and people you haven't seen touch our characters before. "

On whether there are plans to bring "Gotham's" Fish Mooney from TV to Batman's comic world, similar to the way Harley Quinn made the jump:

DiDio: It's a little too early right now. I mean the Harley Quinn stuff has just taken on a life of its own right now. It's just explosive for us. It's actually our number three book, and we couldn't be happier because of that. When they are introduced in another medium we watch to see what the fan reactions is, and the request from it. We had a lot of that during the "Smallville" days with Chloe Sullivan trying to get her into the books. So every once in a while there is a character that resonates, that's unique to the shows that the fans really latch on to, and when we see that, we try and bring them in.

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On the pressure of a weekly series and how DC has changed its approach to tackle the constant demand of "Futures End" and "Earth 2: World's End":

DiDio: It's really good, and what's good about it is, we were forging new territories, and fortunately you learn from the mistakes of the past. We have been able to change the process along the way to make sure it works. We have great talent involved, and they are all committed and working together. There's a relationship they share behind the scenes, even without editorial involved, they're constantly in contact, sharing ideas. And they're excited about it, and I think that's what's good. They are challenging each other. I think that's why you see this thing elevating. Plus, we are bringing new voices in. Daniel Wilson coming onboard with the "[Earth 2:] World's End" thing -- he is new to comics, but has a real fresh set of eyes in looking at our characters and really bringing an expansive sense to the story telling. "Futures End," I couldn't be happier with that book, couldn't have been happier with how it played into September, and now I just feel like it's kicking into the second act and kicking into high gear at the same time.

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