I imagine that every sentence of this ICv2 interview with DC Comics co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee will be gone over with a fine tooth comb. I think it’s the first time the two have sat down for a somewhat frank interview in six months at least. And what a six months it has been! Certainly, from the scrum of New York Comic Con, the essential public personas come out, Lee, the glass half full cheerleader, DiDio, the without me the glass would break authority figure. Lee addresses the new demographics with a shout out to Batman editor, Mark Doyle, whose future—at DC in Burbank or leaving the company— is still very much up in the air:
7Lee: There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years. You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators (see “Two New Batman Ongoing Series” and “New Batgirl Costume”). It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience.
But then DiDio refuses to throw licensers under the buss on recent fluffs like those awful shirts:
Who approves DC licensed products with regard to those issues and are you happy with the way that’s going?
Didio: Actually, we are. We have a strong relationship with our consumer products division that runs those areas. You have to understand that they’re seeing tens of thousands of products that they’re proof-reading and checking for information over a period of time. We have departments that work very closely with them within DC Entertainment, and they’re constantly working the system to make sure they’re aware of our audience and presenting the proper material to that audience.
Lee hints that Vertigo has some big plans and may even be in a position to start competing with Image for creators:
If you look at what we’re going to do in 2015 (which I’m not at liberty to discuss at this moment), possibly first quarter next year, you’ll see that we’re going through a major effort to rebrand the imprint. That’s going to come about through the projects themselves.
We’re working on a hit list of the top creators in the business and we have some exciting news to unveil in the early part of 2015.
But then DiDio insists that everyone loves the new royalty plan….
When we created the original royalty plan it was based on a periodical model. We’ve grown from periodicals to graphic novels and adding a digital component, and now we’re working with different types of products combined with books, so we need a level of flexibility and this allows it. I think what’s important is the talent themselves can feel that they’re truly participating and receiving the benefit of the success of the property.
The response from the creators was positive?
Didio: Oh, yes. We’ve had a strong response and it was positive all the way through.
I can say that there has been a strong response from freelancers I’ve talked to, alright, but it hasn’t been all that positive—the net effect has a been a rather large drop in royalties for many folks.
Anyway, Lee and DiDio have overseen a very successful era at DC (whether you want to admit it or not) and the move to the West Coast is bringing many changes. Like…what comes after “Blood Moon,” the pseudo bridging event that is being run by temporary editors which the survivors of the great migration make their way west in a Green Tucson. Props to Milton Griepp for getting them to sit down and talk even if it is the last report from a world that will soon be forever a memory.
(Thanks to all of you who went me the link)
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.