SDCC: DiDio And Lee Head DC's Meet The Co-Publishers

At the DC Comics Meet The Co-Publishers panel, part of San Diego's Comic-Con International, Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio took to the stage to answer fan questions and speak about the company and the comics.

Moderated by Head of Marketing John Cunningham, the three kicked the panel off by showing a slide of Superman's 75 anniversary and the announced "Superman/Batman" film. Speaking about the film, DiDio said neither he nor Lee had known it was coming and the film did not factor into the decision to publish Jae Lee and Greg Pak's "Batman/Superman" book.

"They're going to actually make a movie where the characters meet for the first time, live action? I'm ecstatic!" Lee added.

Speaking about "Superman Unchained," written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Lee, the Co-Publisher labeled the book one that, "makes you think." He then showed an image for issue #3 where Superman meets the new antagonist Wraith for the first time, and confronts General Lane.

"You think you know what the relationship is going to be between Wraith and Superman but Scott's turned it on his head," Lee said. "I love that Scott makes him not just super strong but super smart."

Flipping to penciled page of Superman smashing through Lane's military vehicles the hero literally says "pooey" to General Lane, according to a grinning Lee.

"'Pooey,' I can feel the tension on the page," DiDio laughed as the room cracked up.

Moving onto "Superman/Wonder Woman" Lee and DiDio told the room that the book was about the characters first, not their relationship and not a romance book.

"I think Tony is just knocking it out of the park, Superman looks amazing, Wonder Woman looks amazing, Faora looks great," Lee said of artist Tony Daniel's wrap-around cover for issue #1. The book is written by Charles Soule.

The room erupted into cheers and applause as Cunningham brought pages up from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Batman."

"In the month of November...we're having a series of titles that tie-into that time frame," DiDio said, adding, "Those particular books are flashing back to that particular moment."

Turning to "Trinity War," DiDio enthusiastically told the laughing audience to check the books in the event out, "especially Phantom Stranger!"

DiDio also showed the audience a copy of the Villains Month 3D covers, giving out a physical copy to an audience member and joking, "Now pass that around!"

Explaining that the technology was brand new, the Co-Publishers said that they were using an extraordinary amount of plastic for the covers. "We actually took all the plastic in one province in China so they couldn't make cups!" DiDio admitted with a laugh.

"Very thirsty Chinese people!" Lee added as the audience laughed.

Looking at the cover for "Forever Evil," DiDio praised David Finch's art on the series and explained Villains Month happens right at the end of "Trinity War" and moves into "Forever Evil," something that the Co-Publisher said would change parts of the DC Universe.

Cunningham then played a clip of the new "Necessary Evil: Super Villains Of DC Comics" documentary which releases October 25.

DiDio also took the time to plug Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's new Harley Quinn solo book. Answering the oft-asked question at the convention, "Who is going to draw it," DiDio said they were doing something different.

"Harley is going to audition eighteen different artists to draw the first issue...and she's going to critique each one," DiDio said, elaborating that every artist will have one page in the first issue, with Harley's comments written over them. He then added that it's set in Coney Island and features Harley, "Analyzing people to death."

Cunningham then brought up Warner Brother Home Video plans for a "Flashpoint" and an upcoming New 52-based animated DVD, showing a cover image from "Flashpoint."

"It feels like a whole 'nother universe!" DiDio said as he pointed at the "Flashpoint" image as the panelists groaned and the audience laughed.

"The part of the New 52 that felt real for me is when I saw the New 52 designs in Target...and I get five percent off because I have a card!" DiDio joked again as the room laughed and groaned.

Cunningham displayed an image for the "DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novel And Chronology" guide, which explained which DC graphic novels to read in what order, being given out for free at the DC Booth on the convention floor.

Speaking about their Digital First initiative Lee said the digital platform allowed them to take risks with non-traditional books like "Li'l Gotham" and they were happy to see that digital was no "cannibalizing" the print market but was simply adding to it as digital readers often became print buyers.

"Tom Taylor is coming onboard to take over 'Earth 2,'" DiDio announced, explaining that the Australian "Injustice" digital writer was also good friend with permanent "Earth 2" artist Nicola Scott.

Looking at the Digital Squared technology in "Batman '66" Lee said he was proud of the work the creative team was doing and excited for the potential of the technology.

"They're going to be doing the Batusi, you just tap and it goes," DiDio added, demonstrating it to audience laughter and applause.

Flipping over to Vertigo, the room burst into cheers and applause as the panelists showed an image for "Sandman: Overture." Lee told the audience that Vertigo and Gaiman changed the entire face of comics, taking it out of the "pop culture ghetto."

"It really just shows you how far we've come and I want to thank Neil Gaiman and all those [Vertigo] creators," Lee said to whistles and more applause.

The Co-Publishers also praised "Overture" artist J.H. Williams III, Lee asking aspiring artists in the crowd to raise their hands and told them that Williams colorizes parts of his artwork in photoshop and that they were thrilled to have him on that book and on the ongoing "Batwoman" monthly series.

The room laughed as the panel brought up the cover for "MAD Magazine" that showed Alfred E. Neuman going down an increasingly yellow water slide.

"Oh my god, he's peeing! I just realized that!" Lee laughed.

"And your name is on the masthead!" Cunningham told him as the room cracked up. The three also highlighted the "MAD Magazine" blog, Lee explaining that MAD was originally an EC Comics publication, "And to me this is the origin and roots of DC Comics, it's something that inspires us every day," Lee said.

The group also ran a teaser for "ScribbleNauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure," Geoff Johns and Jim Lee narrating the game elements as they try to make a brand new hero in the game named Steve.

Lee jumped back in to add that the very first twenty-three issues of "MAD Magazine" are available on comiXology today, the three then opening the floor to audience questions.

A comic book collector for thirty years and an expectant father of twins asked if there would be any thought to digital packages or subscriptions on comiXology. "I've got twins coming, I can't keep dropping money!" the fan said as DiDio and Lee cracked up. The two then said it was something they had been toying around with, adding that the idea of a discounted bundle was still under discussion so there was nothing they could announce now.

A fan who loved Vibe breaking the fourth wall in his book asked what the Co-Publisher's favorite New 52 scenes or characters were. "For me there are more great moments than bad moments," DiDio said, adding that his favorite moments in books were when things he didn't work out in the script turned out to be great in print. Lee told the room his favorite book in the New 52 was "Wonder Woman."

"When you see Neptune, this big fish comes out of the Thames and it's just awesome because it's so awesome, it's so unexpected, and that's what we want in the New 52," Lee said.

"For me it goes back to 'Detective Comics' #1 with the Joker's face hanging on the wall," DiDio said, explaining that it was a last minute addition to the book, put in right before it shipped. Lee then gave the fan a "Superman Unchained" variant with a 3D cover that were given out to retailers as promotional items only.

A "Legion Of Super-Heroes" fan pleaded with the panel to bring the book back from cancellation before asking why the New 52 went with the younger versions of the Teen Titans rather than Donna Troy, Wally West and the others. DiDio told him it was because the universe had been aged down sot there was no logical way to get those older characters into the comics.

"If Wonder Woman is in her 20s how old is Donna Troy?" DiDio said, continuing that they didn't want to tell the same stories with Wally and Barry, so they stuck with Barry and used Bart in the "Teen Titans" book instead. "At some point we may want to revisit them, but at the right time," he added.

A Superman fan asked when the red shorts are coming back. "There's really no plan for that; if you're doing something like the New 52 you have to keep moving forward," Lee said. "I know where talking about the trunks but there's still a ton of merchandise and stories featuring them...for a new generation this will be their version of Superman."

The last question of the panel came from a fan who wanted to know how they were collecting the Digital First, to which DiDio told him they were collecting them in published trades. The fan then asked if they would do new "Wednesday Comics."

"We talked about that...it needs the right teams at the right time," DiDio said, the three bringing the panel to an end amid fan applause.

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