NYCC: A Sunday Conversation with Dan DiDio

Welcome to Day 3 of CBR's live coverage from the New York Comic Con. DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio hosted his regular Sunday conversation at NYCC's concluding day joined by editors Ian Sattler and Mike Carlin, with more guests arriving throughout the panel.

"I've been going to cons since 1970s, and the idea of mixing it up, chatting with the talent, has always been that great appeal," DiDio said, and thanked fans for sticking it for Sundays.

He said he was nervous about this as the first convention of the year, with the rough economy and the nature of DC's experimentation with different projects and stories throughout the last year. "But I was going to make damn sure 'Final Crisis' #7 was out!" He also reminded fans that, all said, the series only ended one month late. "'Legion of Three Worlds,' that's another story."

DiDio then went over the concept of the panel, which is to chat with fans about what they like or what they don't like, whether it's at Marvel or DC. He also described the panel as an opportunity to not lose touch with fans, since working in the industry can be insular.

His first question was a show of hands of how long fans had been reading. When he got to those who'd been reading comics for 40 years, he asked those remaining to stand up. The last standing had been a comic fan for more than 50 years.

DiDio then asked for names of first comics, and noted that fans could remember the issue number. "That's the great thing, you know what issue it was."

Carlin said that his first comic was "'Superman Annual" #1, and when asked what was in it, he said, "well, I just had my tonsils removed, so they might have been in there." He explained he and his mother had had their tonsils removed on the same day, and she bought him a stack of comics. "And then I had ice cream!"

DiDio said that, when comics raised in price from 15 cents to 20, he dropped one out of every five titles to save money. "Six months later, I was in all the back issue bins buying those books!"

DiDio then recounted an early experience from his own fandom. "There was an issue of 'Captain America' I was missing - 152 - and one day I was on my way to school and I spotted on the spin rack as the bus was going by," he said. "To give you an idea how crazy I was, in my head someone was going to buy it while I was at school, because everyone was looking for it. So I got off the bus, bought it, and then realized I didn't have the money to get back on the bus." Last year, when Marvel editor Tom Brevoort heard this story, he sent DiDio a copy and told him to "stay on the bus."

He also asked about cover preferences, in terms of having the same artist on the cover and interior, and whether fans liked story covers or iconic covers. No consensus was drawn, but one fan explained that he liked the same cover artist to work on a full arc or miniseries.

Sattler said his favorite cover that he's seen is a Brian Bolland cover for the upcoming "Last Days of Animal Man," which features a take on the iconic Animal Man image with the animals running, "but all of them are skeletons."

Dan Slott and Tom Brevoort then joined the panel. "Dan Slott is here to explain 'Final Crisis' #7," DiDio joked.

DiDio went down the panel for exciting cover choices. "I like a symbolic cover," Carlin said, after joking that he likes "covers where everything is spelled correctly--as the editor who spelled Metropolis wrong on a cover..."

Brevoort said he was most excited by the cover of "JLA/Avengers" #3, which featured every Leaguer and every Avengers. George Perez apparently sold the art almost immediately, and requested Marvel to send him the art back. An intern, however, packed a Xerox. "George called back, his voice was three octaves higher!" Brevoort said.

"I remember working on 'JLA: Classified,' and my first shot for poor Dan Jurgens was 'establishing shot: everyone on Earth," Slott said. He also recounted a story of Sam Keith drawing an entire page on the inside of a FedEx box. Keith's explanation was that he was out of paper. Sattler added, "Sam Keith is the coolest dude ever."

Slott said that he and Keith were discussing doing a project, and Slott asked the artist what he'd like to draw, meaning a character or a scene. After a long pause, Keith replied, "I'd always like to draw a fish with wooden teeth." Slott also recounted the reason for Wolverine appearing naked in Sam Keith's mini. "It didn't say he had clothes on," Keith reportedly explained.

Slott then told a story of a "top name artist" who, when Marvel editors phoned about late pages, replied that he was "talking to you on a Bat-phone! DC gave me a Bat-phone! It's got a button, and now *I can talk like this*," entering a Bat-voice. This unnamed artist was too excited to address the issue of his late pages.

DiDio went around the room asking what fans like. Candidates were self-contained stories, long-term creative teams, and "regularly scheduled unpredictability."

A fan, explaining his reasons for downloading comics, said that he was a Marvel fan in the '90s, at which Sattler interrupted, "So you feel entitled?" "No, I feel betrayed!" the fan said, to general laughter. The fan went on to say that he felt newer stories did not hold up ("they suck"), but DiDio let him explain his position, "because that's what this panel is about." One of the fan's complaints was the plethora of events.

Though the editors repeated the often-cited fact that, despite complaints, events sell very well for the publisher. Slott sympathized, though, and told a story about his college days, when he was a poor student but really into DC's "Millennium" and Marvel's "Mutant Massacre." "To buy those, I was eating peanut butter and top ramen," but he felt burnt by the conclusions of both stories and didn't read comics for a year.

DiDio asked what fans did like in events, and story came out on top. One fan said his favorite was "52," which DiDio found interesting because he didn't consider it an event comic.

"From my point of view, the event book is only half the story," Brevoort said, asked about how to follow up events. "We're always planning what's coming after, where these things lead."

Carlin said that he had considered "Death of Superman" a story rather than an event, "but the world made it into an event." "The fight was just a fight--'Funeral For a Friend' and 'Reign of Superman' was the cool stuff we wanted to get to." He did say, though, that the widespread attention pushed DC to make the follow-up bigger and better.

DiDio asked fans what they would do if they had his job for a day. One said he wanted a story in which all the Flashes came together for one big adventure. "That's 'Flash: Rebirth' right there," DiDio said. Another said he would "sign Geoff Johns to a lifetime contract." One suggestion was to publish "Blue Beetle" digests for the school book trade.

Slott said, "I'd have Marvel/DC Crossovers again!"

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