On Sunday, July 29 at Wizard World Chicago, DC Comics hosted its last scheduled event of the convention, a panel called DC Sunday Conversation: For the Love of Comics. DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio was joined by Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, the "Tiny Titans" team of Art Baltazar and Franco, Senior Coordinating Editor Jann Jones, writer Jai Nitz and Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne.
The panel was very loose, with DiDio walking the floor and interacting with the fans. DiDio said the idea for the panel, which DC has been holding at various conventions throughout the year, stemmed from similar discussions they have after a long, stressful week at their New York offices.
Why on Sunday, the last day of the convention?
"You're the die-hards," DiDio told the audience.
DiDio's first question to fans was how long they've been reading comics. He asked for a show of hands for fans that had been reading for just one year, then a show of hands for two years, and so on in that fashion until only one hand was up, that of a fan who's been reading comic books for fifty years.
DiDio then asked where attendees bought their first comic and if they could remember what it was. Naturally, answers were all over the map. A couple of fans purchased their first comics at grocery stores, while one person said a comic book vending machine. The specific comics ranged from DC mainstays like Batman and Superman to G.I. Joe.
DiDio then asked the panelists what their first comics were, and they answered as follows:
Art Baltazar -- "The Dark Knight Returns"
Franco -- A George Perez "Teen Titans" issue in which the Titans searched for the Doom Patrol
Jai Nitz -- "Marvel Team-Up" #126
Bob Wayne -- An issue of "Superman"
Jann Jones -- The Jean Grey/Cyclops wedding
DiDio -- "Amazing Spider-Man" #40
DiDio admitted that from 1998-2002, he was tired of the gimmicks, covers and bad product being put out in mainstream American comics. When he got his position at DC, he said he went back and found a lot of good stuff from that era, naming "Starman" as an example.
With comics prices the way they are now, DiDio said DC understands that people don't have money for everything on the stands. With that in mind he asked, "When you buy comics what's the first thing you're looking for?"
"As long as the story is good the art could be stick figures," one fan answered. Most agreed that writing and story were the most important thing in getting them hooked.
Art Baltazar said he liked when characters "do cool stuff," especially throwing cars. He also said that he prefers heroes in costumes. "Give Luke Cage his shirt back," he joked.
Jann Jones said she wanted something that makes her laugh.
The discussion turned to continuity. "We have to take it seriously, but how seriously is the question," DiDio said. He talked about three levels of continuity: the immutable (Bruce Wayne's parents getting killed), things that add to the lore, and left hand/right hand (things that people write just to make monthly books that aren't essential to the character).
A fan asked about characters dying and if DiDio felt that DC used death too often. DiDio said DC doesn't kill off characters haphazardly. He then referenced the recent, maligned "Death of the New Gods" miniseries and the dust-up over the story among fans and creators. DiDio said that DC killed off the characters because they knew Grant Morrison was coming in with a new interpretation of the characters in "Final Crisis," and added that DC thought it might alienate Jack Kirby fans if his versions weren't given proper closure, so they tried something to bridge the gap.
The last question posed to the audience was about the silliest comic they've ever read. A fan shouted, "One More Day," to applause. Another yelled "Countdown" to a mixed reaction. Art Baltazar said it was an issue of "Justice League" in which Batman and Superman had to face off against the Sportsmaster in a series of sporting events.
One of the last fans to answer said it was a more recent Nightwing story, "Brothers in Blood," in which Jason Todd murdered eight people but was forgiven by the end.
"Never happened." DiDio responded to laughs.
Just before the panel let out, Dan DiDio saw Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort coming in and had the first fan repeat his "One More Day" comment - with rousing applause from the DC faithful.
Now discuss this story in CBR's DC Comics forum.