"You guys are the troopers," DiDio said of the Sunday afternoon attendees populating his panel audience at New York Comic-Con. He then explained that the "Conversation" was designed to talk about what fans - including DC staff - love about comics.
A fan who had only been reading comics for a few months said he thought it would be too hard to start reading comics, but he started with "Avengers Disassembled" and "House of M," and is now reading "52."
Following up on the fan’s comment about the perceived difficulty of following continuity, DiDio said that every real person has continuity, but that regular people can still interact and make friends. "That would like saying you can't meet any friends unless they've just been born."
"But what about when Golden Age Dan Didio met Silver Age DD?" Carlin joked.
DiDio then asked the audience about the first comic they had read, with one fan indicating an issue of "Battletoads." Bob Wayne, Vice President-Direct Sales for DC, said that the earliest comic that stuck with him was "a Superman story that involved Kal-El crashing to Earth and being adopted by a crime family." But what made the comic memorable was something different: "It had the sluttiest woman I'd seen in comics to that point."
Carlin said that he received a copy of a Superman annual in the hospital, when he and his mother were having their tonsils out together. A fan who had been reading comics for 25 years said that his first issue was "New Teen Titans" #1, and that comics helped him keep in touch with his father after his parents' divorce.
Sattler asked if anybody remembered getting comics from a vending machine, and one fan did. "The two of you, that's why they don't have them anymore," DiDio laughed.
At this point, Marvel’s Tom Brevoort joined the panel, and said that his first comic was "Superman" #268, which he bought at a 7-11.
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. So I was fifteen minutes late to school, but I had the comic."
When DiDio asked for a show of fans of readers who had lapsed from comics at some point, Brevoort quipped that he "lapsed Thursday." A fan said that he had returned to comics fairly recently, but that it was "52" that finally got him into the store every week.
DiDio also asked if anybody came into comics through other media. "Superman, the TV show," said Bob Wayne. "I thought you'd go with radio, Bob," DiDio replied to laughs.
What’s the most ridiculous story in comics? "I just need to see who's in the room first," Wayne said, looking around. Then, "’Brother Power: the Geek’ and 'Prez.’" He went on to say that he’s had requests to reprint "Cancelled Comics Cavalcade," a book that was produced to secure copyright on titles that had been produced but were not going to be published, due to the "DC Implosion" of 1978. "Joe Simon doesn't deserve to have more Green Team stories told," Wayne said. "He's a better man than that."
DiDio added "NFL Superpro" to the mix, and Wayne suggested "Street Poet Ray."
"We were expanding readership of comics," Brevoort said in defence of "Street Poet Ray," which was a promotional comic. "To recyclers?" Wayne replied. "Any sale's a sale, Bob."
Continuing on the theme of weird moments, Jann Jones said she was once asked why there would be a photo of Black Widow in Daredevil's apartment when Daredevil is blind. Carlin then recounted a memory of a Daredevil comic in which the hero is unmasked, and is wearing the sunglasses underneath.
Paul Moore’s choice for comics insanity was "Green Arrow" #97, in which Ollie Queen takes down a zeppelin by spitting broken teeth from his mouth.
"One of the most popular answers, is an issue of 'Marvel Team Up,’ Hercules and Spider-man pulling Manhattan back into place without worrying about tunnels and bridges," DiDio said. He also mentioned the recent episode of Superboy-Prime pushing a planet. "How do we know it’s Superboy-Prime? His handprints were on the planet!"
The mention of "Superman faces the xylophone of doom" got a lot of laughs, though Sattler said, "that was a serious threat!" "At least Superman won," Carlin replied.
There was a good amount of applause for the Hostess cake ads. "They’re stories about a little kid, and you think I could be that kid saving the day with that Twinkie," the fan said. "I am that Twinkie," Carlin quipped.
Someone in the audience asked for an explanation of the Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill. "Do I look like I've been anywhere near a cosmic treadmill?" Carlin replied.
Changing the subject from weird moments, DiDio asked for favorite stories that really stuck with readers. One fan mentioned "Judas Contract," while another recounted an issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" during Peter and MJ’s separation, in which the couple kept trying to reconnect but just missed meeting each other.
Bob Wayne said he loved "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" #76, in which Speedy was discovered to be a heroin addict. "Also, I love mentioning to Denny O’Neill and Neil Adams that I rode my bicycle to go buy this."
Schaefer said that she remembers when Rogue and Gambit finally kissed, and that she drew the moment all over her school notebooks.
Possibly slipping back into weird moments, DiDio said he liked an issue of "Avengers" in which Daredevil leads the de-powered team against Dr. Doom’s castle. "A bomb goes off, and while they’re flying through the air Daredevil says to Captain America, 'Don't forget to relax your body so you do not break your bones - What am I saying? Of course you already know this. Please ignore this fool!’ And Captain America says back, 'a fool you will never be, my friend.’ And I think, how long are they falling for?"
Someone near the door said his favorite comic was "any issue of 'Time Masters,’" the Wayne-penned series that has just been collected in trade. DiDio handed the fan some money, and Wayne gave him a signed copy of the book.
"What do you want to see in a comic?" DiDio asked. "There are something like 300 comics out every month, maybe 50 aren’t 'Secret Invasion’ tie ins - what are you looking for?"
Continuing on a theme, one fan indicated he liked crazy scenarios, such as the recent issue of "All Star Batman and Robin" in which Batman painted himself and everything else yellow to protect himself from Green Lantern, and offered Hal Jordan a glass of lemonade. "I first read that in black and white," DiDio said. "I had no idea what was going on"
There was applause for creative teams that stick around for more than the first trade, including from Carlin.
One member of the audience said he’d like to see more Keith Giffen. "Believe me, we can only take so much of Keith Giffen," DiDio said. "Jann, how’s 'Ambush Bug’ coming?" "I'm probably going to get fired," she said.
Covers were also mentioned as enticement to try a new series, with the fan mentioning Adam Hughes’s covers on "Wonder Woman." DiDio asked him how he felt about another artist doing the interiors. "It doesn't bother me, really," the fan said. Talk of Curt Swan covers with Frank Robbins or Wayne Boring interior art followed, with shudders from almost everyone on stage.
Near the end of the discussion, DiDio thanked those in attendance for coming to the con, saying that he respects fans who come out to the cons to enjoy their hobby rather than complaining on the internet. "You make the attempts to be here, to come to the panels," he said.
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