HeroesCon: The DC Comics Panel

Senior DC Editor Ian Sattler set an engaging tone for the DC Universe panel at HeroesCon on Friday afternoon. As a few fans decked out as the Joker strolled into the Charlotte Convention Center room right before the opening of the panel, he called out "Jokers, how are you?" as if he was a Wal-Mart greeter. A minute later, as the microphones were being set up for the panel and someone humorously suggested singing into the mike for a test, "Supergirl" artist Jamal Igle broke out singing a ballad in perfect key--simultaneously taking the room aback and impressing the audience for a moment. Rather than treating the attendees to a pep rally/hype fest, the hour long panel was more like a chat about the creative process with the audience, Sattler, Igle, "Batman: Streets of Gotham" artist Dustin Nguyen and Brian Cunningham (DC editor on "R.E.B.E.L.S.," "Titans," "Power Girl," as well as being involved in the "Blackest Night" event).

In talking to Nguyen and Igle, Sattler conceded that there had been some "big changes to the worlds they (Batman and Supergirl, respectively) occupy". Talking about the new Batman and Robin that he was drawing, Nguyen's face lit up as he noted: "Grayson has a different fighting style (than Wayne)--Issue 2 has a great aerial fight scene." Nguyen made it clear also why he enjoys working with writer Paul Dini: "I grew up on his Batman, so it's easy to interpret what he wants."

Igle was as equally effusive about writer Sterling Gates' approach to Supergirl. After talking about issue 43's "Guilding Day" (where Supergirl celebrates her birthday on New Krypton and has to choose a guild), Igle mentioned in passing that something major would happen at the end of "World of New Krypton" #5 that "sets everything off" for the four-part "Codename: Patriot" storyline. In terms of Gates' writing, Igle said: "I feel like Sterling is going to be the next breakout star ... because he puts so much action and emotion into the script. I only hope I get that across with the pages. [Issue] 42, which just came out this past Wednesday, was in many terms a quiet issue, but a lot happens... It also gave me a lot of opportunities with body language and facial expressions/emotions. The same things I read in Sterling's scripts I try to get on the pages--I hope that I'm succeeding."

Before Cunningham could start talking, Sattler asked who among the crowd was reading "R.E.B.E.L.S.," which was greeted with a positive response. Admitting a clear bias (as the book's editor), Cunningham said only partially in jest "It is one of DC's better books." Teasing about the upcoming developments in the series, Cunningham explained that readers will meet the "real" Starro the Conquerer ("We've never met the real Starro the Conquerer--he's like a cosmic Frazetta nightmare.").

From there, Sattler opened the floor to questions, again setting a different tone than your average panel. Before an audience member was allowed to ask a question, Sattler frequently asked them "How are you doin'?" The gesture seemed to put the audience and panelists (both who were already pretty relaxed and glib) even more at ease.

One early question to both artists focused on how they got the look of the characters on their respective books. In answering the question, Igle described designing Supergirl's room on New Krypton with "a mixture of Kryptonian furniture and human furniture..." This description prompted Sattler to summarize it as "Kryptonian IKEA"

When a female fan in the audience thanked Igle for giving Supergirl shorts under her skirt, Igle conceded: "I have never seen an article of clothing cause such division." Sattler revealed that he had not heard anything about the debate between fans ("a dividing line between Supergirl fans on the DC board," as Igle described it).

Sattler's and Cunningham's passion for "Blackest Night" came up at several points in the panel discussion, and in an effort to try to show he was not just hyping it out of company loyalty, Sattler offered to take "my business cards out of my wallet" while praising the project. Later on in the panel, Sattler said that what he appeciates about "Blackest Night" is "how gut-wrenching a chunk of the book is...it's emotionally draining. One of the things that's going to end up being interesting is that a lot of the rules are going to change with 'Blackest Night.' About the DCU, about how things work, and about who stands where and who does what, and go toward what the mission statement is. It's really specific in that sense."

As much fun as Friday's panel was for both audience and panelists, Sattler left the crowd wanting more, encouraging them to come back for Saturday's DC Nation panel for more details on the upcoming "Wednesday Comics" project as well as info on the new JLA creative team of James Robinson and Mark Bagley.

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