ECCC: DC Nation

The DC Nation panel at the Emerald City ComiCon was a lively affair this year, with many interesting announcements and a lively question-and-answer session that provided insights to DC Comics and the overall comic book industry. DC was represented in Seattle by a large group of panelists led by Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler. Other participants included editor Michael Siglain, artist Philip Tan, and writers Eric Trautmann, Greg Rucka, Kurt Busiek, Gail Simone and Jimmy Palmiotti.

Ian Sattler began by plugging DC's new blog, The Source. Recently, the blog revealed two new "Blackest Night" teaser ads, a "Flash: Rebirth" preview (a title which, Sattler noted, has since sold out), and a preview of Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams' upcoming run on "Detective Comics," complete with a bonus page.

Rucka then jumped in and told attendees that "even if you hate my writing; even if you hate having the word 'woman' following bat-; buy this comic" because the art by J.H. Williams is "unbelievable." He mentioned how fortunate he is to work with fantastic artists, and offered his "The Question" co-feature with artist Cully Hamner as another example of his luck.

"Co-feature" became a recurring refrain during the panel, as everyone - panel members and attendees - were reminded not to call DC's upcoming back-up stories as, well, back-up stories, but to instead call them "co-features." Ian Sattler then added he was fined a quarter for every time he said "back-up."

Rucka also teased fans about his upcoming "Superman: World of New Krypton" #4, saying that the book would include some guests with glowing green rings. He then quickly moved on to "Action Comics" and talked about all the trouble the character Ursa is causing in that book. "There is something really vindicating about writing Ursa throwing other Kryptonians around like they are made of tissue paper," Rucka laughed.

Sattler then moved on to Palmiotti, who said he's been keeping busy with "Power Girl" and "Jonah Hex," both of which he co-writes with Justin Gray. He told attendees that they can look forward to Jordi Bernet art in "Jonah Hex" #42, Paul Gulacy art for #43, and then a six-issue story beginning with #44 with art by Cristiano Cucina that "pretty much puts every Hex character we've had in the book to work. It's the first time we've done a six-part story, and in order for us to do it we felt we pretty much had to blow up the world.

"It's basically Hex vs. Turnbull from the original series in the 70s. It's one of Hex's main bad guys and is actually what the film is using. We do it first before the movie, so we can ruin the film for everyone."

Palmiotti then jumped to the topic of "Power Girl" and mentioned the book's artist Amanda Conner, who also happens to be his wife. "Amanda was perfectly made for Power Girl. The love is on every page," he said.

According to Palmiotti, Executive Editor Dan DiDio said he wanted "a big superhero book and we gave it to him. Unfortunately, Amanda had to pay for that." He indicated it wreaks havoc on his home life when he writes things as labor-intensive as "...and now Power Girl has to pull Manhattan out of the ground."

Palmiotti also let everyone know that he and Connor will be producing a "Wednesday Comics" story about "Supergirl with a couple of little furry friends." "Wednesday Comics" is the oversized weekly anthology that will follow the weekly "Trinity" when it concludes later this year. As for the "furry friends," panel members and attendees laughed and were curious if the phrase was some kind of double entendre. Palmiotti assured them all that his and Connor's story featured "no donkey sex."

Palmiotti said that if there was anything in it that readers didn't like, it was DiDio's fault. He then added that DiDio to blame for everything readers don't like at DC Comics, and instructed panelists to say "It's Dan's fault" for anything attendees complained about. Sattler happily complied with a "Dan's fault!"

It was then brought to everyone's attention that Dan DiDio was seated in the audience. "I'm sitting with the people I like!" the editor shouted.

Sattler then joked, "But he told me he was going out for cigarettes three years ago."

Gail Simone was next on the microphone, and she began by talking about "Secret Six." She said issue #8 will contain the appearance of "Tiny Sixers" - the Secret Six drawn in the vein of "Tiny Titans." This would be followed by a "Battle for the Cowl" issue featuring Catman and Bane. She then mentioned that Jeanette - a character she created with artist Nicola Scott -- would be very busy in an upcoming arc. "We have some very scary, disturbing stuff with her coming up," and added, "If you thought Junior was bad, forget it. We have stuff coming that's so much creepier and scarier, you won't even remember Junior."

Kurt Busiek then took a turn and talked about the coming to the end of "Trinity." "We knew going into it that by the time we got to the end we'd be making the deadlines by the skin of our teeth, but we're doing it."

As for how the book ends, Busiek said, "I will tell you that we're going to destroy the world, but we're going to destroy the world in issue #49...and that's how we're making the deadline on the rest of the book."

Busiek told fans that if there was anything they didn't like in "Trinity," he was the one to blame. Although Sattler tried to get Busiek to use the "Dan's fault" mantra, Busiek said there were only two things DiDio had requested for the book. One involved Busiek wanting to use Barry Allen for a plot point, but he was asked to use Wally's dad instead. And the second item is in issue #52, so he couldn't reveal that to attendees.

Eric Trautmann then briefly talked about his upcoming miniseries, "JSA vs. Cobra: Engines of Faith." He said one of the biggest challenges was writing the huge cast that makes up the Justice Society of America. Trautmann also indicated that DC was allowing him to "push the envelope with this series," although "there is no donkey show."

Sattler then turned to Busiek and asked him if that particular act was the secret of "Trinity" #52? Busiek replied, "It's not a donkey..."

The panel was then turned over to the fans for questions, the first first of which being one that nobody saw coming. A reader pointed out that he had just read the Absolute Edition of "Watchmen," which was printed in China; a Premiere Edition of "JLA," which was printed in the United States; and a monthly DC title, which was printed in Canada. He then asked that in light of the current economic situation in the U.S., would DC Comics consider printing all their books in the United States?

While Sattler tried to think of a response to this question, Greg Rucka jumped right in and said that they should look to General Motors for a solution. "Instead of making cars, GM will make comics."

Sattler then pleaded, "Stop reading the indicia."

The next attendee had a more typical question and asked Rucka why the Green Lanterns would be sent to New Krypton in issue #4 of his "World of New Krypton" series. Rucka played out the way the Guardians of OA might react to a new planet full of people with the powers of Superman. Essentially, they'd yell, "JORDAN!...and bring back-up."

Rucka then said that Green Lantern Hal Jordan would go to New Krypton, and that his companions would consist of John Stewart and Sodam Yat - the Daxamite Green Lantern. Rucka then explained how Hal might try to talk to his old friend Superman: "Everything's cool, right Kal?" And while Zod would want to know more about the appearance of Green Lanterns, Kal would be begging Zod not to embarrass him in front of his friends.

Next it was asked if the "World of New Krypton" would intersect in any way with the "Blackest Night" event. Rucka's only response to this was to say that "Superman's on Earth in August."

Continuing with the questions about New Krypton, an attendee wondered if Superman's new setting meant the possibility of a new love interest for the Man of Steel. Rucka responded, "No, he's married." When the fan tried to explain further why a love interest might be an interesting possibility given Superman's new set of circumstances, Rucka replied, "He's married. This is not Marvel."

Another fan asked Rucka if anyone from New Krypton would be getting a power ring from OA. "What are you trying to do? Unbalance the DCU? It's bad enough a Daxamite has one," Rucka laughed.

Busiek followed that up with, "There goes my plans for Hal-El..."

A question was then asked about Free Comic Book Day, which occurs on May 2 this year. Sattler answered that DC's free book will be "Blackest Night" #0, an all-new original story written by Geoff Johns. This was followed by the fan requesting Johns' presence at the con next year, which received an enthusiastic response from audience members. "Geoff is actually in our offices right now, and the door is locked. We left a bowl of water out and one light on. But we'll try to bring him next year."

The recently announced "Wednesday Comics" was the next topic queried. Busiek said he is writing a Green Lantern story, and Sattler expressed his enthusiasm for the pages he's seen, particularly a Kamandi story that is being drawn by Paul Pope.

Another fan asked, "Where's the second half of 'Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?'" Palmiotti interrupted, "I just downloaded 'Wolverine' - it's at the end of it!"

When the chuckles died down, Dan DiDio took a turn at the microphone. "My first question is for Ian: why did you tell me the panel started at 4:30?" This received a burst of laughter from the fans, considering the panel's 3:30 starting time.

DiDio next mentioned the fact that Aquaman was heavily discussed and pitched at last year's ECCC, so he wanted to know the status of Aquaman. Sattler, in turn, asked fans if they saw the most recent "Blackest Night" teaser ad, which showed a black-and-white picture of the deceased Aquaman seemingly come back to life as a scary zombie-like creature. Attendees responded positively, to which Sattler said, "So there, Dan."

This prompted DiDio to ask Sattler for some "Blackest Night" spoilers. Sattler reminded the room about the three-issue miniseries beginning in August: "Blackest Night: Superman," "Blackest Night: Batman," and "Blackest Night: Titans." He then announced an addition three 3-issue series beginning in November: "Blackest Night: JSA," "Blackest Night: Wonder Woman," and "Blackest Night: The Flash."

With this, DiDio seemed content and allowed the next attendee to the microphone. However, this fan's question provided one of the more awkward moments of the panel. "Why didn't you give Superman to Mark Waid?" he asked.

Rucka quickly jumped in and said, "Mark didn't take it. I'm serious."

"Well, he's the one that told me to ask," the fan countered.

"I gotta tell you, I love Mark dearly and he's a friend, but Mark didn't take the job," Rucka said, closing the door on the subject and then "shooing" the attendee from the microphone.

The next query that followed wasn't any easier to answer, but provided some interesting insight to showbiz. A fan mentioned the new writing "deal" Marvel Studios is offering, and how the studio will be using comics writers to write their films. He suggested that DC might do the same. While DC doesn't have any official say in Warner Bros.' (their parent company) decisions regarding films, Palmiotti quickly jumped in to clarify the points of the fan's statement. "(Marvel) is not saying that they're taking Marvel guys who write comics and making them write movies, what they're doing is making a group of writers write all the Marvel movies."

"They did say that Marvel writers can be considered for those jobs," Busiek added.

"Yeah, if they want to take a pay cut," Palmiotti countered.

Simone looked at him surprisingly, to which Palmiotti said, "I'm serious."

"I'm just in charge of getting the books out," Sattler said. "Even if it means calling China every day."

The audience responded in laughter and the panel then concluded.

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