ICv2 sits down with DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee and asks them sensible, hard questions. The whole thing is a must read, of course, and triangulates nicely with Diane Nelson’s interview in The Hollywood Reporter. Here are Part 1 and Part 2. Some takeaways:
• Business, as we keep hearing, is great.
• Variant covers don’t really move the needle all that much, Lee says.
In fact, the numbers are pretty dismal. It’s only when you do something special with a variant, whether it’s something clever like the 50 flags of the United States, or what we did with the throwback designs from Superman Unchained where we had a different Superman cover based on every era of the seven and a half decades that he’s been published, or if you look at the three motion covers that we’re doing for villain’s month–all unique propositions–that you do see a reaction from the marketplace because it’s a great way of promoting what you’re doing.
• Lee has a nice metaphor for the rise in discovery and new readers via digital readers: “With the advent of the iPad and all the tablet devices, we now have a little comic book shop in everyone’s home. It’s been the Holy Grail of the industry for many decades: how do we find new readers?”
• When asked about the creative shuffle, DiDio suggests, as he has in recent interviews, that it’s less than it was in decades past, and Lee suggests that every crisis is unique:
Lee: Without getting into the specifics, from the outside looking in, it might look like there’s a string of changes that point to one common theme, as you suggest. But from the inside looking out, you’ll see that each one has a different set of circumstances and conditions that ultimately led to the conflicts or the resignations or changes in creative personnel.
To me it’s the normal course of business in that not everyone’s going to agree creatively what to do with a book. The company has to reserve the right to control the destiny and the futures of the characters, and the creators have to decide if they’re willing to work in an environment where they’re telling their story but in the framework of a universe that has continuity and you have to work with all of these other different creators and editors that would want to control the directions of the characters.
• New WB head Kevin Tsujihara is very much on the case with DC, and the company is “on his radar.”
• Dan DiDio can’t wait for The Walking Dead TV show to end so more DC books will be on the BookScan charts. But graphic novel sales remain up overall as with all the other channels.
• Something big is happening with MAD, which is, after Batman and Superman, DC’s oldest, most trusted brand.
All you Kremlinologists can go read it for yourselves and then we can meet back here. My own takeaway? I heard a lot of rumors about “Changes at DC’ at San Diego and a lot of them seem to be mostly wishful thinking. But, it’s pretty clear from the sudden level of transparency that DC honchos suddenly have that a new mandate has been given for the West Coast, at least. Kevin Tsujihara is a digital guy and DC’s digital is doing pretty good (although a bunch of digital first comics were canceled recently, mostly under the radar). Also, if you have two awesome brands sitting around like Vertigo and MAD (and even kids’ comics, the fastest growing segment of the industry) maybe giving them a little goose is a good idea.
I think Lee and DiDio’s comments pretty much cement the view of “corporate comics” that I’ve been tracking here at The Beat over the last few years. I mean, that was a no-brainer. (The term even was used in the NY Times the other day.) But as Lee points out, there are more options than ever, even if there are fewer options for a DC-sized page rate.