The Comics Beat is live at the DC Comics Meet the Publishers panel here at New York Comic Con. It should be an interesting hour as co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio take the stage to answer pressing questions from fans about their favorite heroes as well as the real world politics that surround the company’s practices.
We started off the panel with some nice stats from the Rebirth rebranding. 21 of the titles have gone back to press, 60 titles have sold more than 100,000 copies, 11 titles have shipped more than 200,000 copies, and 14 million total issues were shipped this past summer.
DiDio and Lee spoke a bit about the lessons they learned over the year leading up to Rebirth. As they’ve stated in the past, they found that fans missed the relationships between characters and the nature of the shared universe. DiDio said it was difficult in the wake of the New 52 to do big shared DC universe events because there were multiple interpretations of each character running around the same universe. Now though, since Rebirth has resolidified the nature of the company’s characters, they can start doing big events again such as the upcoming Justice League vs Suicide Squad crossover coming soon.
The conversation then moved into a talk about Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary. They mentioned the Wonder Woman forever stamps released in a collaboration with the US Postal Service, the unveiling of which The Beat covered earlier this week on Periscope (check out @waxenwings for the recording).
DiDio took the microphone to announce the Kamandi Challenge, a series of oneshots done by a roundrobin of creators in celebration of Jack Kirby’s contributions to DC Comics. Each of the 12 issues in this book will be done by a different creative team. The goal of each issue is this: the creators will tell a story and then at the end put their leads into a cliffhanger situation designed to “screw” the next team. That team then has to write their way out of the corner they find themselves in. The caveat: DiDio needs to see how the first creative team would write their way out of the situation themselves.
Artist John Davis Hunt (Clean Room) and Warren Ellis are bringing back the Wildstorm universe. There are 6 issues already written for the main series with 3 other series to come out of it. Lee characterized this return as a “pop up” imprint similiar to Young Animal and will continue as long as Ellis remains involved.
The conversation turned to the Young Animal imprint being headed by former My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way. Lee hinted that in 2017 and 2018 the imprint would be doing things considered weirder and more experimental. Both publishers expressed gratitude to the fans for a warm reception to the first few titles from the line.
Lee announced The American Way: Those Above and Those Below, written by John Ridley of Twelve Years a Slave fame and drawn by Georges Jeanty. The book serves as a sequel to the original The American Way Vertigo series published ten years ago. It’s a “story about race, about superheroes, about American history,” said Lee. It focuses on an alternate America that sees the government create superheroes and villains and pit them against one another in a “sham” of a conflict.
Dan and Jim announced a parody book, Goodnight Batcave. Written by Dave Croatto with art by Tom Richmond. The book is presented under the MAD magazine imprint. DiDio characterizes it as the first of a long series of parody DC titles.
Hannah Barbera’s lineup found a new member with the Jetsons, drawn by Amanda Conner. Jimmy Palmiotti will be working with her on the book.
Garth Ennis will be writing Dastardly and Muttly, another new Hannah Barbera title.
DiDio announced “DIrect Currents,” a new magazine designed to keep readers informed about the latest from DC Comics as the Rebirth initiative goes into its second phase.
Pete Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez are the new team on SUPER SONS.
The first Q&A question addresses the continuity issues created by the return of the Wildstorm universe. During the New 52, the wildstorm characters were folded into the main DC Universe. MIDNIGHTER AND APOLLO in particular is front and center in the lineup now. Lee said that they wanted “to have their cake and eat it too” so Ennis’ Wildstorm work would remain in a separate continuity from the New 52 Wildstorm characters. They would be on “Earth M.”
Another audience member asked about the possibiity of a Milestone imprint return. Lee said that he was in conversations and that there was progress– the return is on its way.
The next Q&A questioner asked when Captain Marvel/Shazam would return to the limelight of the DC Universe. DiDio said that a return for Shazam is planned but that they didn’t want to roll every character out at once. We’ll see more of him in 2017.
The next questionner asked about the veracity of a rumor that DC might be publishing Harry Potter books. DiDio claimed the rumors were false though he’d love to work with the property at some point.
The next commentor characterized the Vertigo panelists at NYCC as “old white guys” and asked when we might see the diversity of the creators match the diversity of the audience. DiDio said that while certain imprints may not be as diverse as others, the company as a whole has a goal to be “as diverse as possible.” Lee took the moment to mention the Talent Development Program at DC Comics, which is designed to find people internationally with “new voices” to add to the company. The first wave of these talents is currently being curated and was characterized as a “broad spectrum” of people.
The questionner after that asked Lee about the role he plays in character designs in the DC Cinematic Universe. He said he doesn’t work directly, or “collaboratively” with the studio himself, but the creative teams in the film division “pick and choose what they want” out of the 75+ years of DC superhero content. Lee said the movies are not a “direct translation” of the comics material but rather a version of the material.
The next commentor asked why the Watchmen appeared in DC Universe Rebirth #1. DiDio said that it was a twist designed to “shock and awe” but that they would not have done this if they didn’t have a story in place. DiDio said we “place the characters on a pedestal, and rightfully so,” but that they want to use these characters “respectfully” and “judicially” moving forward.
DC Currents, coming out quarterly, will focus on Rebirth rather than Young Animal, Wildstorm, or Vertigo, but if there is extra room they will insert other material.
After being asked by a questioner, DiDio said that Helena Bertanelli is designed as Scicilian Italian. Dan DiDio said she might be bi-racial as the particular island she hails from is known to have been settled by people of multiple races.
Another questionner asked whether the inclusion of Watchmen characters would open the door for other Alan Moore characters to appear in the DCU. DiDio said “no V for Vendetta–” the company is focusing on the Watchmen brand. DiDio said he wasn’t sure who came up with the Watchmen twist in Rebirth, but he knew it was a good one once he saw it.
The penultimate questionner asked about The Legion of Superheroes. DiDio said that their story “will be told, just not yet.”
The last questionner asked about the return of Talon. Again, DiDio said he will return. He hinted at a return in Detective Comics, written by Talon writer James Tynion IV.
Thanks for joining us, everyone. That concludes our liveblog.
Alex is the Managing Editor of the Comics Beat. He is also a freelance comics editor with previous credits at Papercutz. He is your go-to fella for creator interviews, conversations about comic book structure, and general DC Comics nerding. Currently geeking out over movies, too.