DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, are used to running the show. But when the two joined Jonah Weiland aboard the world famous CBR Floating Tiki Room at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Weiland put them in the hot seat. Lee and DiDio talk about the recently announced "The Dark Knight III: The Master Race" and detail just how the project came about. Over the course of the conversation, the Co-Publishers also open up about an older crew of classic creators returning to DC, the upcoming titles spinning out of "Convergence" and the New 52, and tying the entire DC Universe together.
The Co-Publishers begin by describing the process of working with Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Andy Kubert on "Dark Knight III," what each creator brought to the table and what it's like working with comic legend on Batman with Frank Miller. Lee also addresses whether or not "All-Star Batman & Robin", the project he drew for Miller, will ever be lifted out of limbo and finished. They then discuss the lighter tone many of new DC launches have employed, veteran writers and artists doing new work DC and the responsibilities that come with being the head honchos of an entire universe.
On Andy Kubert's art for "The Dark Knight III: The Master Race":
Dan DiDio: Andy [Kubert] was really excited about the project and he's been nervous about it -- really nervous about it. He's been trying different styles and trying different things, but he sat down with [Frank Miller] and he said, "Listen, I want you to work from your style." So this is Andy interpreting Frank's work, but really bringing himself to the table. [Klaus Janson] coming on board really brings it all together too.
Jim Lee: And having worked with Frank before, I know exactly what that position is like, because you feel like he's constantly sitting there over your shoulder, watching you. But you do try to evoke some of the power that he brings to his storytelling and his figure work, so I'm sure that's had an influence on what Andy's doing. But it's still recognizably Andy's style. We're excited to have him, just because he's an awesome storyteller, has a dynamic style and he's a professional on deadlines, so that made a big difference.
DiDio: I was thinking about it, Jim. When you started "All-Star Batman & Robin," remember how you were really trying to experiment with different looks in the early days of that. I remember you struggling with that as well.
Lee: Sure, I'm a huge fan of Frank's. He's the guy that inspired me to get into comics that same year in '86. I was graduating college and "Dark Knight Returns" came out, and I said, "This is what I've got to do for a living." ... You can't help but be a little verklempt when you sit down and work on a project like that.
On Len Wein, Marv Wolfman and other older creators returning to DC:
DiDio: Part of what we're doing right now is trying to find the core conceits of the characters and try to move them forward. What these guys are doing is they're taking what we've built in the New 52 and examining what they brought to the character originally, identifying it and really polishing it up -- so we can still have it as part of the continuity moving forward, but really be something people can identify with in a strong way. There's another twist to this, which we mentioned, which is that we have a lot new editors and quite honestly, a lot of young editors. What we've done is we've teamed these books with our younger editors. And we're hoping through osmosis and through the working process, they pick up the craft that these men had. You've got to understand, when you have Len [Wein], Marv [Wolfman], Mike [W. Barr], Gerry [Conway], these guys aren't just writers, these guys are editors. They understand the construction of comics. They understand how to build strong storytelling. And through their stories and working with the younger crew, we're hoping to find a nice alchemy. We're able to bring a contemporary feel but also elevate the craft that we do in our books.
In the second half of their discussion, Dan DiDio explains the new DC You titles spinning out of the events of "Convergence," including "Superman: Lois and Clark," "Titans Hunt," and "Telos." Lee then jumps in to talk about the other new series: "Superman: American Alien," from writer Max Landis, and "Coming of the Superman" by Neal Adams, which provides a new take on the pre-52 Superman. DiDio also elaborates on the overall direction the company is taking DC's past and present, with plans on pushing it toward a cohesive future, saying they never wanted the New 52 to be divisive.
On the upcoming "Superman: Lois and Clark":
DiDio: This is what's coming out of "Convergence." We have three new series coming down the pipeline. The first one is "Superman: Lois and Clark." At the end of "Convergence," we took a number of characters that were from other, existing continuities and timelines and we moved them into the current timeline in the DCU. What you'll find is that this Lois and Clark that existed pre-"Flashpoint" world is now established and have been living on our world with all our other characters. And we're going to see where they've been, what they've been doing, how they stopped "Crisis on Infinite Earths," what they were doing when the Justice League formed at the start of the New 52, and where they've been and how they take part in that story.
On "Titans Hunt":
DiDio: Next one, we have "Titans Hunt." We're looking at the interpretation of the Titans that you might recognize from the very early days -- the ones in the '60s. And what you find out is that these are a group of kids who basically emerged right as the Justice League emerged because they had powers similar, and something terrible happened to them. They got tossed out through time and space, and there's a huge story that's going to play out through the entire DCU featuring these characters -- which, I think, is very exciting because you'll get to see characters like Lilith [Clay] and Malcolm [Duncan] and Gnarrk and Hawk & Dove, and some of the others that you might recognize as well.
On the post-"Convergence" DC Universe:
DiDio: The goal for us was to bring everything together. We never wanted the New 52 to be divisive -- never. We wanted it to be exciting and inviting. Now, we realize the only way to make it inviting is to make it all-inclusive. Where sometimes the message got lost was that we really wanted to move the universe forward while acknowledging the past. It's not about revisiting the past or going backwards, it's about going forward consistently. But now, we want to bring the past in with us, incorporate it into our storytelling and fill out our world we've created since the launch of the New 52. And I feel that with the talent in place, with the ideas in place. ... We're really ready to take the DC Universe and push it into new and greater directions.