DC offered a breakfast panorama with bacon – although normal bacon this time – and the the state of the DCU with publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee and host Tiffany Smith to keep Jim and Dan from going off topic like they did last year.
DIiDio kicked it off: “We have a lot of moving pieces and that’s why there’s a Rubik’s cube.” Yes the symbol of DC’s many new initiatives is a hard-to-solve puzzle! But when it does fit together it looks great!
The general tone is that, guess what, comics need new markets. “Instead of hoping people will find out books we’re actively searching for ways to excite them and engage with product,” says DiDio. “And I also get to find out when Jim’s been up to.”
DiDio says both Lee and Geoff Johns have changed roles within the company and we’ll hear what’s up with that.
Lee spoke to the comics business being a mature business and ways to combat that and bring in new readers. “When you think about this Rubik’s Cube and all these different imprints it’s a huge global strategy to push out characters out. The content we produce for the core might not appeal to pockets of audiences.”
“These characters aren’t set in amber,” said DiDio, “we should always try new things, And all the things in the YA line are new.”
Well, we long time DC observers call this “World Without Wayne – Bob Wayne.” Anyway some highlights!
- Heroes in Crisis starts in September. Best work Clay Mann has ever done! The heroes must find a way to heal. A murder mystery that expands to the whole DCU
- Witching Hour is a team up between Wonder Woman and the mystic characters – a natural fit. James Tynion doing a great job.
- The Batman Who Laughs was the breakout from the DC Metal. “We realized fans loved the character so we’re bringing him back. He has an ulterior plan although he’s being kept prisoner in the hall of justice.”
- Electric Warriors is an old video game. “You love Fortnight so we should do Electric Warriors.” Lee joked.
- Grant Morrison on Green Lantern. Lee: “We have these odd conversations. I said to Dan it would be great for Grant to do GL, but he would never do it” and Dan says “Oh, I’ll get him to do it.” It seemed like an odd fit to Lee but it’s “Cops in outer space,” and touching on the notion of justice. “We presume they use the US system of justice in outer space” but what if they don’t? DiDio did his Grant Morrison imitation and tragically no one had a tape recorder running.
- Kelly Sue DeConnick is taking over Aquaman! Lee says “She spoke for 40 minutes at a retreat and it was spellbinding. She pitched in front of Abnett and Johns and She killed it.” It’s a re-examination of who the character is. It’s “Born Again” or “Batman Year One” – he has mother issues, because of his human mother. He can command the sea, but not his mom. Later Aquaman washes up on a mysterious island and doesn’t who he is. He meets other mysterious, unusual people on the island who turn out to be sea gods who have been thrown out from the very angry ocean. “
EDITOR’S NOTE: SOLD
- DiDio addresses about Ink and Zoom the YA and kids lines. “We need to bring in people who do the market best,” he says of the great line-up of proven kids/ya authors. “The storylines in here deal with sexuality, child trafficking, things of that nature that have some real weight and meaning. The writers are so well versed in these topics, and as YA books it allows us to speak in a true voice to the readers we’re trying to reach. We talk about the Murderer’s row we put on our main line we did the same with the kids line.”
- “We don’t have a north star with this.” says Lee, meaning doing books for the kids marketing is outside what DC has done traditionally. “The YA audiences has a lot more diversity with how they tell stories.” They brought in editors who were well versed with YA/Kids materials and “they helped us learn the sensibilities.” These books will experiment with different looks in format and packaging.
- Wal-Mart!!!! – DiDio says it was another part of reaching NEW audiences. Part of building the line was finding stories that are accessible. “We didn’t want impenetrable continuity. “I always go back to Batman Hush – you get a dynamic sense of Batman” but it’s also an intro. “We had to find intro for very particular characters.”
- Lee tells the story of the pitch! “Dan had to hand pitch the Wal-Mart comics directly at their headquarters. They weren’t excited by this idea, so we had to hand sell this. There was pushback, but at the end of the day we convinced them of the format, the cadence of the frequency and the history of look.” The reprint stories are intentional and planned, as well as the new material, to be new reader friendly. “It took some doing but by the end they were convinced. We have to grow the business we have to put comics in front of where people are.” He shouted out The Beat’s piece on how it was only four books. I hate being called out in front of other journos. Oh well.
- DiDio says “I brought my own comics with me. My old 80 page giants and 100 pagers. Flash and told them how these books brought me into the DC universe.”
- If you ever wanted the image of Dan DiDio pitching Walmart with his own beloved old comics, you’re welcome.
- We’re excited to have the Vertigo stuff and the new writers. Tom Fowler, Kat Howard on Books of Magic, Tim is a young boy again. Picking up here he was left back in the day. This sounded expensive, but the numbers came in high.
- New stuff at Vertigo is very very contemporary and very current. It reflects a different tonality. Lee: “One thing we did is go out and find people who had a creative vision that showed what Vertigo should stand for but new people who have a lot of value. We’re hoping we can strengthen the Vertigo base again. We went to smaller number of books we’d rather get it right than put too many books out.
- Black Label is for the greatest freedom for stories and the greatest formats. Says Lee: The original OGN books were wider and a little taller and they are very panoramic in scope so let’s bring in the best writers and artist possible and give them the most freedom possible. They can do more mature content out of continuity, knowing full well if its amazing, people will start using it in continuity. We were able to get a tremendous amount of buy in from corporate. Lisa Gregorian of the TV group made the trailer. They have become very involved in marketing the DC brand and characters and creators. As you know DC WB is huge they have so much more access to technologies.”
- The breakfast wrapped up as it was announced that Action Comics #1000 will be one of the best comics sold in 2018. And then a guy from the Guinness World Records came out to certify that it had set a record for the for longest running superhero title with 80 years and 1000 issues. DiDIo and Lee posed with eh placard as Lee noted it was his second record. ZING.
Tomorrow: Tom King on a boat!
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.