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DC’s new gay character will be ‘major,’ ‘iconic’ — and apparently male

Although readers will have to wait until sometime in June — perhaps not coincidentally, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month — to learn which established DC Comics character will be reintroduced as gay, we already know at least two details: It’s a major character (better luck next time, Doll Man), and it’s a guy.

“One of the major iconic DC characters will reveal that he is gay in a storyline in June,” Courtney Simmons, DC Entertainment’s senior vice president of publicity, confirmed to ABC News following the weekend revelation by Co-Publisher Dan DiDio that the formerly heterosexual figure will become “one of our most prominent gay characters.”

With those 18 words, Simmons drastically narrows the list of candidates, eliminating such popular guesses as Vibe (he’s neither a major character nor an iconic one) and Hawkgirl (she’s a … she). However, Simmons’ quote also raises the question of just what DC considers “major” and “iconic.”

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DC Comics to reintroduce established character as gay

Less than a year after Dan DiDio indicated that DC Comics wouldn’t alter the sexual orientations of existing characters in the New 52, the co-publisher revealed Saturday at the Kapow! Comic Convention in London that he’s changed his position.

When asked by a fan during a convention panel why race or age could be changed in the relaunch but not sexual orientation, Bleeding Cool reports DiDio responded that a previously established heterosexual character will be reintroduced as “one of our most prominent gay characters.” Bob Wayne, senior vice president of sales, added that like President Obama, DiDio’s stance “has evolved.”

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Before Watchmen is ‘a love letter’ to Moore’s creation, Dan DiDio says

Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 variant cover by Jim Lee

Just as the initial reviews of Before Watchmen begin to trickle in, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio takes to The Guardian to defend the sprawling prequel, which he calls “a love letter” to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and to respond to the writer’s scorching criticism of the project as “completely shameless.”

“Honestly I can understand why he might feel the way he does because this is a personal project to him,” DiDio tells the U.K. newspaper. “He has such a long and illustrious career and he’s been able to stand behind the body of work he’s created. But quite honestly the idea of something shameless is a little silly, primarily because I let the material speak for itself and the quality of the material speak for itself.”

He reiterates that DC won’t “shy away from the controversy on this – as a matter of fact we’re embracing it because we have belief in the strength of the product and stand behind it.”

DiDio also dismisses assertions by Moore that DC is “still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago,” saying that, “all the characters in all the universes and all that we do in comics, we’re constantly building on other people’s lores and legends. […] Realistically some of Alan’s strongest works at DC outside of Watchmen were built off of characters like Swamp Thing which was created by Len Wein, Superman, Batman, so many of our great characters he’s worked on and they helped build his career.”

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BuzzFeed offers a look inside the DC offices

Dan DiDio's office

Earlier today Kevin linked to all those images of Before Watchmen that BuzzFeed had posted after their visit to the DC offices, but if you’re less curious about the project and are more curious as to what the inside of Dan DiDio’s office looks like (spoiler alert: comics!), they took a bunch of pictures of DC’s working environment as well. Click on over to see the reception area, the giant mural depicting several DC characters by different artists, and the offices of Will Dennis, Mark Chiarello and DiDio.

Dan DiDio and Jim Lee address Chris Roberson’s DC departure

Fairest #3

Spurred by DC Comics’ upcoming Watchmen prequels and its prolonged legal battle with the heirs of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, iZombie writer Chris Roberson announced last week he would end his relationship with the publisher following the release of his Fairest arc — only to have the company decide his “services were no longer required” for the Fables spinoff. The developments triggered substantial discussion, and debate, online, so it’s perhaps to be expected that Roberson would be brought up over the weekend to DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee during the Before Watchmen panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Asked by moderator Geoff Boucher how, as a creator, Lee reconciles Roberson’s comments about DC’s position on creators’ rights, the Image Comic co-founder replied, “I don’t know the writer, Chris [Roberson], and so — you know, it certainly would have helped if I could have talked to him or if he would’ve reached out to me. It seemed odd to me — as a creator, I would not publicly state I have a problem with the company that’s paying me to do work for them and I’m going to quit after I finish this one project. It would seem wise to me to wait until you finish that project to voice that complaint.”

DiDio was more terse in his response, saying, “As far as I’m concerned, he made a very public statement about not wanting to work for DC, and we honored that statement.”

“See,” Lee joked, “now that’s the line that’s going to run.”

Visit Comic Book Resources to read complete coverage of the Before Watchmen panel.

Grumpy Old Fan | Tradition, expectation, and message

Metamorpho, not a joiner

The great strength of DC’s superhero line is its heterogeneity — that is, its history of bringing together different genre-based roots and different storytelling approaches. However, as the shared-universe model came to dominate superhero serials, DC’s various high sheriffs have tried to impose various kinds of order on these disparate perspectives. Starting in the Silver Age, the infinite Multiverse organized characters broadly, for example by generation (Earth-Two), publisher (Earth-X, Earth-S, Earth-Four), or special category (the Crime Syndicate’s Earth-Three, the Zoo Crew’s Earth-C). Crisis On Infinite Earths consolidated a lot of that, The Kingdom’s Hypertime sought unsuccessfully to reincorporate it, and 52 compromised with a scaled-back set of parallel Earths. Today, the New-52 setup still has a Multiverse, but the main DC-Earth has scaled back its superheroic history dramatically.

Details aside, though, each of these cosmological structures is an attempt to bring some deeper meaning to DC’s superhero line. Put simply, for a long time DC’s superhero books weren’t about something, whereas Marvel presented a “world outside your window” in which superpowers came with their own sets of problems. Thus, from the post-Crisis 1980s until the end of Flashpoint last summer, DC was arguably “about” superheroic legacies, and had no small success putting new faces with old names.

And again, those details are not especially germane to today’s post. Instead, I want to talk about the nature of DC’s various traditions, the extent to which those traditions should guide the publisher, and whether DC’s superhero books can, collectively, ever really be “about” anything.

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Comics A.M. | Creators, publishers speak out against SOPA, PIPA

Neil Gaiman

Internet | Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman joined with Trent Reznor, Aziz Ansari, OK Go and 14 other members of the creative community in signing an open letter to Congress against the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. “We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services – artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result,” the letter states.

Warren Ellis and Fantagraphics have also come out against the bill, while Peter David, who is against the bill in its current form, takes aim at those who “endorsed the piracy, supported the piracy, enabled the piracy, felt their own actions weren’t piracy, and now refuse to accept the consequences of their own actions.” ComicsAlliance has posted an editorial against the bill and rounded up webcomic reactions to the blackout. [NeilGaiman.com]

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Comics A.M. | De Guzman leaves SLG, Powell joins Diamond

Jennifer de Guzman

Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman announced that, after 10 years, she has left her position as editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing: “My decade SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere. I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)” [Possible Impossibilities]

Retailing | Chris Powell, current general manager and chief relationship officer for Texas-based comic chain Lone Star Comics, has accepted the newly created position of executive director of business development for Diamond Comic Distributors. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member will start his new position in March. [ICv2]

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Is Justice League #5 the first late book of DC’s New 52? [Updated]

During the promotional push for DC Comics’ “New 52″ relaunch, executives stressed steps were being taken to prevent late-shipping titles. We’ve already seen evidence of that commitment in the use of fill-in artists and some creative assists, but now it looks as if one of its titles is missing a beat — and it’s the biggest title the company has.

Justice League #5 was scheduled for release Jan. 18, according to the Previews catalog as well as the publisher’s own website, but recent information from Diamond Comic Distributors suggests it won’t make that date.

Issue 5 isn’t among the titles the distributor has scheduled to ship Wednesday … or the week after. Robot 6 emailed DC comment and a revised release date, but has yet to receive a response.

Although a late title clearly isn’t unheard of, this one is intriguing for two reasons: first, because it’s the flagship of DC’s “New 52,” and second, because the creators involved, writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee, are also company executives who, at least indirectly, oversee the line editors whose responsibility it is to make sure books ship on time. It’s important to note the reason for the lateness can’t be connected to Johns or Lee; the blame could fall on any step of the production chain.

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Future doesn’t look bright for Wally West

Art by Joshua Middleton

Peppered with questions over the past few months about the status of Wally West in DC’s New 52, The Flash collaborators Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have professed a fondness for the character, and even teased that he would crop up at some point.

But in a just-posted interview with Comic Book Resources, the co-writers revealed they’ve submitted a Wally proposal to DC. The problem is, the publisher doesn’t seem to be in a rush to reintroduce the former Kid Flash turned Fastest Man Alive.

“The pitch is on Dan [DiDio’s] desk,” a laughing Manapul tells CBR. “Let’s see if he finds it! That’s really all there is to say!”

However, when contacted by CBR, a DC representative said there are no plans for Wally West at this time.

Buccellato addressed the Wally Question on his blog in August, shortly before the relaunch: “We often get asked that very fair question, and we wish we had an answer that would satisfy. But the simple truth is we don’t. Our book is about Barry. We are focusing on Barry. And there is nothing we can say to put Wally fans at peace. Sorry, guys. I really am. And we are not bothered when we are asked about Wally. It’s okay to ask us … I’m glad there are people out that that feel so strongly about The Flash. Unfortunately, there is no new information to impart. I can’t tell you why there is no Wally.”

He did offer some speculation, though, centering on Wally’s origin being dependent on Barry Allen, and Warner Bros.’ interest in a Flash movie featuring the latter version.

Check out the CBR interview with Manapul and Buccellato for details of their plans for The Flash.

Comics A.M. | Persepolis airing sparks protests in Tunisia

Persepolis

Crime | About 50 protestors were arrested in Tunisia for an attempted arson attack on the offices of Nessma TV after it screened Persepolis, the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s celebrated autobiographical graphic novel. The protesters claimed the animated movie offends Islam. All political parties in Tunisia, including the country’s main Islamic party Al-Nahada, have condemned the attack and expressed their solidarity for freedom of the press. [Variety]

Digital comics | Warren Ellis looks at the current options and sees webcomics as a broadcast, out there for free and bringing in new readers through notifications, links and solidarity, whereas digital comics services like comiXology (or even Marvel’s subscription) service are closed systems, more like a shop with comics on the shelves. That makes a difference in building an audience and also in the pacing of the comics, because webcomics can better accommodate the more decompressed storytelling that Ellis prefers. Lots of interesting nuggets among the ramblings. [Warren Ellis]

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DC’s Crisis crisis: In New DCU, those major events never happened

Crisis on Infinite Earths #5

DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio triggered a minor crisis of his own Saturday when he announced on Facebook that, “after further review, there have been no Crisis events in the New DCU.”

The proclamation sent blogs and message boards into overdrive as fans grappled with the ramifications of no Crises — no Infinite Crisis, no Final Crisis, and no Crisis on Infinite Earths, the 1985 “maxi-series” whose impact was so profound that DC history became defined by “pre-Crisis” and “post-Crisis,” comics’ answer to B.C. and A.D.

But clearly in the universe of the post-Flashpoint New 52 there was a Final Crisis, as Bruce Wayne “died” — or, rather, he was hurled back through time — and was temporarily replaced as Batman by Dick Grayson. There are undoubtedly other loose threads that are best not picked at, but that’s the one that springs immediately to mind. It’s one of the pitfalls of leaving the continuities of some characters, like Batman and Green Lantern, essentially intact, while sending dozens of others back to square one.

Noting the tumult his announcement created, DiDio returned on Sunday with clarification. Sort of: “For those in crisis over Crisis, let me clarify. The topic of Crisis was much discussed among the editors and talent working on The New 52. With so many characters and histories restarting, major events like Crisis are harder to place when they work for some and not for others. (that was one of the problems coming out of the original Crisis). While we are starting aprx five years into our heroes’ lives, we are focused on the characters present and future, and past histories will be revealed as the stories dictate. Yes, there have been “crisis” in our characters lives, but they aren’t exactly the Crisis you read before, they can’t be. Now, what this means for characters seen and unseen…… well, that’s the fun of The New 52, infinite stories, infinite possibilities, with the best yet to come. […] P.S. that’s the last time I try and answer a Facebook question before rushing out for dinner.”

That should clear things up! Right?

(via DC Women Kicking Ass)

Quote of the day | Dan DiDio on recap pages and accessibility

“Somebody asked me if we’re going to use recap pages. I said, ‘I don’t know, if we’re just on issue one, if we need a recap page we’ve probably screwed up our mission.’ My goal is never to have recap pages, but I understand the people’s desire. I always call the recap page lazy writing, because I always felt that it always gave someone an easy way to do an essay about what’s going on in the book, rather than what’s going on in the storytelling. So I think we’d rather try to find a way to make our stories as dramatic as possible, so we don’t have to rely on things like that. That being said, if it does make sense for the particular time, if you’re building to something major, then we’ll use every tool at our disposal to make these books as accessible as possible.”

– DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, discussing the approach to characters and storytelling
in the company’s heavily promoted line-wide relaunch

Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk numbers — specifically, 52

DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee sat down with the folks at ICv2 recently for a wide-ranging interview about the state of DC. With DC’s New 52 launching Wednesday, the interview comes at a particularly auspicious time. Here are some highlights:

Comics sales: DiDio says overall sales in the direct market are flat, but periodicals are softening, because people are shifting to trades, converting to digital or falling out of the market entirely because of the lack of interest or money. Lee brings up piracy as a possible factor as well. On the other hand, despite the problems at Borders, mass-market graphic novel sales are up.

Prices: DiDio’s take on rolling back the cover price to $2.99:

While we didn’t show increased sales because of it, I believe that we didn’t have the level of erosion that would have occurred if we had decided to push our books to the higher price point.

So, it didn’t make things better, but they would have gotten worse without it. Lee chimes in that $2.99 is a better price for bringing in new readers, and he adds an interesting point:

… the history of comics has been one of price inelasticity, where fans could not be induced to buying something at any price, and yet were willing to pay a very hefty price for books that they absolutely love. It’s not necessarily the best or healthy approach for the industry. We should really have a situation where being able to hold the price points down should show benefits in sales.

I think what he’s saying is that they can’t force people to buy something they don’t want, even if they price it cheap.

The New 52: Really, this topic has been beaten to death at this point, but if you’re just back from a vacation at the North Pole, DiDio provides a nice, quick summary of why they are bothering: The characters were dated.

Event fatigue: Are readers sick of complicated multi-series crossovers? DiDio sticks his fingers in his ears and says, “I can’t hear you!” Well, not exactly:

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DC’s mainstream push for New 52: ‘Even the haters are curious’

DC Comics: The New 52

Ahead of the release on Wednesday of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1, signaling the beginning of its line-wide relaunch, DC Comics has kicked off a promotional assault in the mainstream press to sell “The New 52″ to a broader audience. While USA Today, with a circulation of 1.8 million the second-largest newspaper in the United States, looks to be the hub for coverage, DC has also reached out to publications like the New York Daily News, the New York Post and the Boston Herald. Here are the highlights so far from the 11th-hour push:

• A spoiler-heavy preview of Flashpoint #5 in USA Today lays out how the dystopic, casualty-strewn world depicted in the crossover got that way.

• USA Today takes a broad overview of the relaunch, talking with DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, and a couple of retailers. “There are plenty of angry customers over this,” says John Robinson, co-owner of Graham Crackers Comics chain in Illinois. “I’ve heard the usual ‘I can’t believe they’re doing this,’ ‘They’ve betrayed us,’ etc. I’d say about 60% to 70% of those protesting the loudest will still end up buying the stuff. There’s just too much hype and interest — even the haters are curious.”

• The newspaper also hones in on the publisher’s new same-day digital strategy, which debuts Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET when Justice League #1 will be available for purchase digitally. Hank Kanalz, senior vice president for digital at DC Entertainment, acknowledges the challenges of getting the initiative off the ground: “Some books are working really far ahead of schedule, some are down to the wire, and it’s just a matter of coordinating and about overcommunicating. We have to make sure it goes off without a hitch, which is why we’re not sleeping right now. We’re going much wider to a mass audience than ever before, so it’s a matter of making sure we have everything ready to go.”

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