Dan DiDio, DC Comics former co-publisher who parted ways with the company earlier this year, gave his first major public interview Thursday night during a Facebook livestreamed chat with faculty at The Kubert School.
The conversation lasted roughly an hour, covering DiDio’s past in both comics and animation, what he looked for when he hired young artists (not just style, but also speed and consistency!), his thoughts on the coronavirus crisis roiling the comics industry, and his plans for the future.
Dan DiDio, as industry watchers surely recall, parted ways with DC Comics roughly a decade ago…or at least that’s how it feels now that the entire world has been upended since it happened. Turns out, DiDio only left his job five weeks ago! Crazy. We’ve just all aged lifetimes since. Anyway, when it came to discussing his time at DC, DiDio didn’t really break much new ground Thursday, talking about what did and didn’t work with the 2011 New 52 line-wide launch, how he got into the business, price points, and an array of other topics he’s pretty frequently discussed at cons and during media interviews through the years.
What was, perhaps, a bit more interesting (or at least newer) was his thoughts on the current financial crisis facing down the comic book industry, relating to how the coronavirus pandemic has forced comic stores to close doors, Diamond Comics Distribution to stop shipping weekly books, and publishers to wait out a period of unplanned and near-total lockdown.
DiDio has long been a vocal leadership figure within the industry due to his former spot at the top of a top two publisher in comics as well as his larger-than-life style of dictation, and many have wondered in recent weeks (myself included) how his leadership would have influenced what’s currently happening with the distribution stall in the industry.
And while Dan DiDio didn’t unveil some magic bullet plan Thursday night, he did have a take, which was that while we don’t know what the industry is going to look like when the coronavirus threat is over, we do know that it will not be the same as it was when this started, that things will not just return to business as usual. Retailers, publishers, and creators, must do whatever it takes to stay solvent during the crisis, while at the same time seizing on potential opportunities for growth, innovation, and improvement. Comics will be here when this ends, but the distribution system might be totally altered.
“This is a hard time for everyone, and everybody is struggling just to stay solvent,” DiDio said, noting that being on the sidelines this is just his personal opinion. “That’s the big issue and that’s the big thing you have to understand. If people are making decisions, they’re being motivated by preservation.”
As for himself, DiDio is holding up okay. When Kubert School chat moderators Anthony Marques and Fernando Ruiz asked what he was up to, he quipped “trying to take up golf.” Before noting that he’d hoped to travel a bit, but those plans have been scuttled for obvious reasons. He also said that he’s been spending quite a bit of time watching 1970s Filipino horror films while bagging and boarding his comic book collection (we are the same, he and I).
As for what’s next…DiDio said he may look to his past and return to animation, where he was involved with formative computer animation shows (at least from my youth) Reboot and Transformers: Beast Wars.
“Ironically, I wanted to take some time and be at home,” DiDio said. “Little did I know I’d be locked in.”