DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee gave a talk to comics journalists a few weeks back during the Burbank talent conference, and CBR has a round-up and in June, it’s all about the diversity! And less about…*gasp* nitpicking fans who only want their Aquaman! There’s also some news: Bobbie Chase, who is moving west, will be promoted to VP of Talent Development. And May will see that month’s final Convergence titles include e-page previews of the New Direction DC books. Speaking about the conference, I’m told that every other word was “Batgirl.”
Here’s some of DiDio and Lee’s flag planting talk for going forward:
Lee: I’ll just use one example — there was a tweet I saw, someone complaining about “Throne of Atlantis,” the DVD adaptation of the comic book. The complaint was, “Superman and Wonder Woman don’t breathe underwater. You failed.” Maybe the continuity proves that right, I don’t know — I’m pretty sure I’ve put Superman under water, and he was fine, and he’s been to outer space, same with Wonder Woman — when those things start overshadowing the story, and the emotional beats, I think there’s something wrong with what’s going on in the marketplace. That’s my perspective.
Heresy! HERESY I SAY!
And what about that NEW AUDIENCE I keep hearing about? Have you heard about that?
DiDio: But we also recognize there’s a massively changing audience going on here. There’s new readers coming in. Anecdotally, we pick up from the fact that we hear it from our talent — they see it at the different shows, they’re getting a level of contact that’s not just the traditional audience that we’ve seen up to this point. It’s for us to try and find out where the growth is, and who the audience is, by casting the net as wide as possible, with as many ideas as possible, as many tonalities as possible. Jim’s right — when we did the New 52, it was different genres, but all the same flavor. Now it’s the same genre, in multiple flavors. But I think we have a better chance to grow it that way, because we might be attracting different people. And once you get a fan, you want to be able to hold onto it, and through that one book, find other books. That’s the same way we came in.
Lee: Lee: I think a big part of the June launch was really a recognition that the audience has changed. It’s more fragmented than it was before. The original direct market was perceived as a monolithic fanbase. You see a lot more women that are into comics, at comic book shops and conventions. Our own studies have shown there’s a lot more people that are looking for a lot more flavors and diversity in our line than we’re currently doing.
We’ve been pretty good about putting out a lot of female-led books, we’re really good about tackling new issues within the pages of the comic books, but I think June is a real line of the sand, in which we’re basically say, “Hey, this is the new DC, and this is just the first of many steps that we’re going to be taking, trying to address these new audiences, and find ways to grow our business.”
And finally, now that the New 52 is in the rearview mirror, DiDio offers an assessment:
DiDio: There are so many of these series right now that are coming out that I feel was the original intent of the New 52. It’s a lot of that openness and freedom and storytelling that we originally planned. But because when we launched, it was so pressed up against this hard-driving continuity for so long, people had a hard time recalibrating and rethinking how to approach our characters. So they started to fall back into old habits, and looking in the past, of where they were going to get their ideas from. Now I can tell you that we’ve changed it. We’re actually looking to the future for where our ideas are. It’s not about re-telling an old story with an old version of a character, or picking my favorite Superboy from 1965, and giving it a new light. It’s more about figuring out who we are today, and using these characters to tell the story of today’s society.
There’s more in the piece on Midnighter and Batgirl and so on.
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.