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EARTH ONE: Frank and Davis speak

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Over at Newsarama, Vaneta Rogers interviewed Gary Frank and Shane Davis, the artists on respectively, Batman and Superman for the new EARTH ONE line.

While Frank (his greatly Langella-esque Alfred above) was greatly motivated by the desire to work with writer Geoff Johns — “if Geoff said right now that he was writing his version of Arm-fall-off Boy, I’d be throwing my name in the hat for the pencils”– he was also frank about the future:

But, you know, I think DC just wants to try something different. Times are changing and comics don’t sell what they once did. Every few years you hear people talking again about how the industry is on it’s last legs and, while Hollywood has been good to us in recent years, no one knows how long that will last. There’s an awareness that we all need to adapt in some way and I’d personally prefer to go this way than digital. Call me a dinosaur but I like paper.

On the other hand, Davis was just plain scared shitless:

It was pretty intimidating when [DCU Executive Editor] Dan [DiDio] first talked to me about it. His amount of faith in me scared me when he first talked to me about this. I knew this was a really important story, and I was really intimidated by it. I honestly wasn’t sure I was the right person for it.

I even said to Dan, you’ve probably got somebody else who can do this better than me. Whatever I’m doing, there’s somebody there who can do it better than me. But Dan thought I was the guy for it. And I fought that, even trying to get them to let me do a different project. I mean, this scared me a lot. I think that’s understandable.

Then I thought to myself long and hard for a couple of days, and I read the first 38 pages of the script, and I it dawned on me that I probably am the guy for this, simply because I’m in awe of the project. I’m the right guy because the character’s going to come before my ego and myself. And that probably is why I am the best candidate for it.

Just to wrap up internet reax to the new line, here’s Matt Maxwell

And oh yeah, comics retailers will be able to sell them too. Nobody’s debating that, though people will ask if the regular Wednesday crowd has any interest in OGNs featuring their favorite characters in a brand new continuity and universe. I’ve already seen complaints about Superman’s haircut, so I’m guessing that there won’t be widespread embracing of the form (but I’ve been wrong before.)

And Johanna Draper Carlson, with DC Launches Earth One; Reaction Not as Positive as Hoped .

  1. I am behind this concept 100%. In fact, I’ve often advocated this very kind of thing in suggesting that some of my favorite, second-tier characters, if they can’t support a monthly title, might be as successful as they will ever be in this type of format, where fans would be willing to pay a little more to see them in less frequent, but substantial, stories. Time, technology, and generational preference will inevitably lead to the demise of the monthly pamphlet. But I believe that this European-style format, perhaps catering to a smaller, more aesthetically refined (or maybe just richer!) audience, still has good legs.

  2. Hey… regarding DC OGNs based on established properties:

    The Sandman: Endless Nights sold VERY well as a HARDCOVER edition, flirting with the New York Times Bestseller list (back when the Grey Lady tended to ignore graphic novels on the bestseller list).

    Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall was also a success in hardcover.

    And remember Azzarello’s Joker? Still selling nicely in hardcover, a year after being introduced to tie in with The Dark Knight.

    So, DC QED. Take established mainstream characters, assign them to established and proven talent, write a story which is self-contained and original, and sell it for $20 – $25 in hardcover, $15 – $20 in paperback.

  3. Why name a line of new reader-friendly books “Earth-1”? I get the connection to DC’s multiverse, but right off the bat you’ve got new readers scratching their heads over the Earth-1 designation.

    Oh…and Geoff Johns and Gary Frank? We get it. You like working with each other. We know you would work with each other on anything at any time and probably split a banana split, cab fare, and a winning lottery ticket with the other guy.

  4. I guess the biggest problem I have with something like this is that it doesn’t seem to grow an audience to me. At least the Ultimate titles, for as many things as they got wrong, seemed equally well-suited to catering to the Wednesday crowd AND the potential new readers, with the possibility of turning those new readers into members of the Wednesday crowd. With this, though? If you want to build an audience, there needs to be a next step – “if you liked X, you’ll love Y” – and guess what? Even people who enjoy and buy OGNs are not going to wait for, or even remember, the next OGN in the series unless it comes out very quick. As it was, when I started getting my friends into the Ultimate titles (hey, I hate Millar’s writing, but I respect that my friends’ tastes are not my own), I was constantly fielding their questions about when the next TPB was coming out, because they literally couldn’t wait for it. If you think longtime online fanboys are insufferably entitled when it comes to the demands that they make of creators, then you’ve never tried to explain the realities of comics publishing to people who are completely new to the industry.

  5. I’ve been pressing for this for years, so you’ll hear no complaints from me…

    …except, if you’re trying to make Batman more friendly to a casual audience, why draw Alfred as Sean Connery when Michael Caine is currently in the role.

  6. Mark Engblom — Earth One, not Earth-1.

    And it doesn’t matter what DC called it, people would complain.

    K-Box — This isn’t aimed at the regular Wednesday crowd, it’s aimed at book stores. Comics shops will also sell it, but Barnes & Noble and the other big chain stores are the target.

  7. “And it doesn’t matter what DC called it, people would complain.”

    Yes, but in this case the complaint is a sensible one. Why name these books after a concept that vanished in, what, 1986? And apparently has nothing to do with the content of these books?

  8. “This isn’t aimed at the regular Wednesday crowd, it’s aimed at book stores. Comics shops will also sell it, but Barnes & Noble and the other big chain stores are the target.”

    You seem to have missed the point of my post entirely, which is that people who AREN’T part of the Wednesday crowd are even MORE impatient than fans for material like this to be followed up with sequels – as in, immediately – so unless DC plans on publishing these hardcovers with the same regularity with which they’d be publishing monthly issues anyway, then they’ve lost their new audience before they even GOT them.

    I don’t know how I could make this point any clearer.

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