It was the shout heard ’round the world. In the opening minutes of DC’s very first daily “New 52″ panel at the San Diego Comic-Con last Thursday, when Co-Publisher Dan DiDio turned to the audience and asked what DC would have to do to change the minds of those skittish about the impending relaunch, one man yelled “Hire women!” The number of women creators working on the DC Universe, he added after audience applause, had dropped with the relaunch from 12% of the total to just 1% (i.e. Gail Simone, and Amy Reeder if you count the later Batwoman launch). DiDio’s response was to turn the question back on the questioner and ask him whom he thinks DC should hire. The move raised some eyebrows, to be sure, given that an audience member isn’t in the kind of position to assess all the professional comics talent available to be hired that the brass at a major publisher would be in. Still — and I’ll just quote myself here from another time this topic came up — “I think it behooves those of us who argue for the inclusion of non-white non-straight non-male people in a creative team or superhero team or panel or article or exhibit to have candidates ready to hand,” so turnabout is fair play, I suppose.
Comic-Con International in San Diego hasn’t officially started yet—tonight was Preview Night—but the news has been rolling in. So let’s take a look at today’s announcements
• Dark Horse announced three new projects earlier this evening. They will publish a comics adaptation of The Strain, the sci-fi/vampire trilogy by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The comic will be written by David Lapham with art by Mike Huddleston.
• They also announced a series written by Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello with art by Scott Hepburn. Orchid is about a 16-year-old prostitute in a dystopian future “becoming the Spartacus of whores.” Each issue will come with a music track by Morello.
• And finally on the Dark Horse front, they will publish comics set in the young vampire world of P.C. Cast’s House of Night novel series. It will be co-written by Kent Dallan with art by Joëlle Jones. You can see a trailer promoting all three new books on YouTube.
Warming up for a grueling Comic-Con International schedule, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio held a virtual convention panel last night on Facebook for fans who can’t make it to San Diego. Highlights from the Q&A include:
• DC no longer has the rights to Archie’s Red Circle superheroes.
• Stephanie Brown will remain part of the DC Universe following the September relaunch. However, DiDio won’t reveal where she is just yet. “Sorry, but we are keeping some secrets,” he wrote, “and one of them involves Stephanie.”
• He’s sticking by his earlier remarks about the status of the Justice Society, saying “the official answer on JSA is that ‘They’re resting’.”
• When can we expect the release of Dark Knight: Boy Wonder, the planned six-issue conclusion of Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder? “Probably when he is The Teen Wonder.”
• Asked whether we’ll ever see the new version of Who’s Who in the DC Universe announced in December 2009, DiDio replied, “the question is not who’s who but when’s when.”
DiDio’s first actual Comic-Con panel, “DC Comics — The New 52,” kicks off at 2 p.m. Thursday in San Diego.
Publishing | DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio talks about the gay and lesbian characters appearing in the company’s books come September, including Batwoman and WildStorm imports Apollo, Midnighter and Voodoo: “When we looked at trying to incorporate some of the characters that inhabited the WildStorm universe Apollo and Midnighter are two characters that have always popped out. Not because of what they represent, but they’re just strong characters in their own right and [they] were able to represent a story, a style of character that wasn’t represented in the DC Universe. There’s more of an aggressive nature with those characters that will interact interestingly with other characters and allows us to tell more and better stories.” [The Advocate]
Publishing | Todd Allen, Tom Foss and Graeme McMillan react to the list of changes to the “younger, brasher and more brooding” Superman who will inhabit the DC Universe following the September relaunch. [Indignant Online, Fortress of Soliloquy, Blog@Newsarama]
DC’s big shakeup this fall not only denotes which characters and titles they’re emphasizing, it also shows the creators they’re putting trust, faith and support behind. Back during the 52 era the informal top tier of writers were Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid. Both Morrison and Johns remain in heavily use on DC’s top titles, while both Rucka and Waid have segued away for their own reasons.With these new titles on the horizon it gives us fodder to think who’s controlling the DCU; in other words, who are DC’s Architects (to borrow Marvel’s term)?
Looking at the full slate of 52 titles set to begin this fall, the busiest writers are Geoff Johns and Scott Lobdell with three titles each. Johns’ role as CCO and long-time primary writer leaves his place in this top spot as a no brainer. Lobdell had done work before at DC, but with the ascension of Bob Harris to DC’s editor-in-chief spot, it seems their long-time partnership at Marvel is continuing across town. Joining those two at the DC brain trust table are, without a doubt, DC Co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan Didio. In addition to being on the top tier of the office staff, they’re both working as creators (on JLA and OMAC respectively).
Beyond those initial four, Morrison is probably still sitting at this table even though he’s only writing one of the 52 titles announced (Action Comics) for relaunch because of the promised return of Batman Inc. down the road as well as the long-promised Multiversity event series speculated for a winter 2011/2012 launch.
If you’re looking for sixth candidate to be part of DC’s top tier of writers, it’d probably be a knock-down drag-out between the 10 writers who each have two titles to write under DC’s Fall 52. They are: Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, Gail Simone, Judd Winick, Kyle Higgins, Peter J. Tomasi, Tony Bedard, Peter Milligan, Jeff Lemire and Paul Cornell. Of them all I’d place my vote for Gail Simone because of her unique voice and long track record of well-written books. If not her, my money would be on Scott Snyder; he’s really blossomed under DC’s watch with Detective Comics and his amazing work with American Vampire. DC’s decision to give him the chance to redo The Swamp Thing is no small gift, so one would assume DC sees a lot of promise in the novelist.
Fans and retailers awaiting the final, polished pitch for DC Comics’ sweeping line-wide relaunch may be interested in “DC: The New 52,” a video presentation snagged by Bleeding Cool.
The two-and-a-half-minute video has closing arguments from Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, Executive Editor Eddie Berganza and Action Comics writer Grant Morrison, all backed by sweeping shots of the cover art from many of the new titles. As you might expect, they ratchet up the excitement in their pitches, using “new” at least 14 times, “opportunity” four times, and “fresh” three times, focusing on the relaunch and same-day digital as a chance to attract new readers.
But Lee, who comes across as genuinely excited, is by far the most quotable of the five, with comments like, “This is a moment in history, for fans and retailers alike,” “We’re looking to grow the industry” and “We’re going to give them something that’s the mother of all events.”
Watch the video after the break.
“It was in DC’s core DNA to protect and serve physical comics stores. To the point where every 18 months or so they’d pay for a hundred comics retailers to attend a special DC conference, where the retailers could moan at them for two days and then go home and order more Marvel comics. (In broad and crude terms, DC were the attentive suitor, while Marvel Comics treated retailers mean to keep them keen.) Now, there is a fascinating situation where DC will polybag special issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 with a digital-comic download code, a book that will cost an extra dollar. Comics are done on firm sale. Which means, as far as I can see, that the retailer is being charged extra money on each copy of that edition too. Maybe I’m wrong, and comics retailers aren’t being offered a reach around while getting a mild pegging. But it’s an interesting kind of support. DC are offering support to retailers in other ways and are making sympathetic noises, but other quotes from this roadshow — one from Bob Wayne, DC’s head of sales, boiled down to ‘if you’re not selling enough of our comics you’re not doing your job’ — tend to suggest that someone at the company has realised that the comics retailers already have a girlfriend and never liked DC anyway.”
“The legacy of his artistic storytelling and abilities played a key role in cementing the enduring popularity of characters like Daredevil, Iron Man, Howard the Duck, Blade and Dr. Strange, and garnered him praise and fans the world over,” columnist George Khoury said in an obituary on Comic Book Resources this morning.
In lieu of flowers, Colan’s friend Clifford Meth is asking folks to contribute to a scholarship being set up in Colan’s name for The Kubert School. Details on how to donate can be found on Meth’s blog.
Fellow creators, fans and friends of Gene Colan are sharing memories. Here are a few; as always, click through to see the entirety of what they have to say about one of comics’ legendary artists:
Clifford Meth: “I knew this day would come but it came too quickly. It’s been a rare pleasure working with Gene. He knew who he was—how valuable his contributions to the world of comic art have been—how prized it remains by so many. Yet he never felt less than grateful to anyone who’d even read a single panel that he’d drawn. Until he was too weak to hold a pencil, he put his whole kishkes into everything he drew—whether it was a $5000 commission or a small drawing for someone’s child. And he was never satisfied with his artwork but always eager to learn a little more, do a little better, try something new. At 84.”
DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio has all but confirmed that one of the effects of the publisher’s line-wide relaunch will be the end of the marriage between Superman and Lois Lane.
“Let’s just say it’s being reexamined,” he tells NBC New York’s PopcornBiz blog, “because it’s something that I think is something that is so valuable to the character’s story that you really want to explore all facets of it. Not just as it exists currently.”
Rumblings of the dissolution of the 15-year-old marriage began on May 31, even as the company announced it will debut 52 first issues in September as part of a sweeping overhaul designed to introduce “a more modern, diverse DC Universe.” Among the changes to characters and continuity, Bleeding Cool contended, would be a clean slate in which the big 1996 wedding never happened, apparently freeing Superman to have a relationship with Wonder Woman.
The marriage, depicted in the one-shot Superman: The Wedding Album, was a major media spectacle — it was even billed as “The Event of the Century” on the cover — that coincided with the episode of the popular ABC television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in which the characters tied the knot.
Fifteen years later, a relaunch of Action Comics — the title whose 1938 debut introduced both Superman and Lois Lane — by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales promises “a new chapter” for the Man of Steel that attempts to “refresh some ideas that have maybe become so well known that people think they’ve got it all figured out.” One of those ideas, it looks like, is his marriage to Lois.
“I think what you’re going to see is a lot of big changes for Superman,” DiDio tells PopcornBiz. “We really went back to the core of the character. And more importantly, we got somebody in Grant Morrison, who’s really taking the character and reinventing him so you feel a real contemporary tone, a really contemporary time, but still staying true to the core. I think it’s so important for us to make sure Superman stays as relevant today as he did when he first was created back in the ’30s.”
One of the many questions surrounding DC Comics’ line-wide renumbering centered on the absence of Justice Society of America, a title that in recent years had undergone its own high-profile reboot and spawned two spinoff series. The Justice Society, with a sprawling membership that includes Golden Age characters (or their namesakes) like The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern and Hourman, reached deep into DC, and comic-book, history, forming the very first team of superheroes.
But Justice Society wasn’t among the 52 books rolled out by the publisher last week. Neither, for that matter, was Power Girl, whose title character has been closely associated with the JSA since her debut in 1976. And the solicitation for Mister Terrific #1, featuring a new take on “the world’s third-smartest man” — and two-time chairman of the team — makes no mention of the group. Then came the unveiling on Friday of Action Comics #1 which, as Robot 6′s J.K. Parkin pointed out, refers to “a world that doesn’t trust their first Super Hero.”
If all of that isn’t enough to signal the end, or non-existence, of the world’s first team of superheroes, official word came over the weekend from Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, who wrote on his Facebook page, “As for JSA, we have decided to rest this concept while we devote our attention on the launch of the three new Justice League series. As for other characters and series not part of the initial 52, there are plenty of stories to be told, and we’re just getting started.”
As with any demise in superhero comics, this one is probably only temporary (heck, the JSA itself has been put to “rest,” only to be resurrected, a handful of times over the past 60 years). However, when the publisher is pushing a “modern” and “contemporary” take on its superhero universe, grappling with graying characters so firmly rooted in World War II will undoubtedly prove problematic.
Retailing | Tacoma, Washington, store Comic Book Ink, a seven-time nominee for the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award, could close as early as August because of mounting debt. In a plea to customers, owner John Munn attributes the store’s dire financial situation to a combination of the economy, relocation costs, an unresolved dispute with the previous landlord, the move by Diamond Comic Distributors to “call in short-term notes” in the wake of the Borders bankruptcy, and “personal trials.” In the extremely frank letter, he lays out what steps he’s taken (payment plans, using his salary from an outside job to cover payroll), and what he hesitates to do (fire staff, close the nearly nine-year-old store and declare bankruptcy): “I have juggled as far as I can juggle. I have kept a constant vigil on our shop, but currently it is resting on a house of cards and not a strong foundation (yet) that could go at any minute. [...] I need your help. This week is bad … Very bad.”
Munn asks that customers pick up any special orders or pull-list titles, purchase gift certificates, make a short-term loan or buy shares in the store. “I think we can make it,” he writes. “I wouldn’t have sent this message if I didn’t. I did not want to write this letter. I did not want to ask for help. All I ever wanted to do was to create a place where people could come and escape for awhile. A place that would invest in the community, and its organizations, that surrounded it.” [Comic Book Ink]
Politics | Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean has apologized for calling Neil Gaiman a “pencil-necked little weasel,” but contends the author and comics writer should return the $45,000 fee he received in May 2010 for speaking at the Stillwater, Minn., library (Gaiman donated the money, minus agents fees, to charity). Dean’s original remarks were made during a discussion of how the state’s tax-generated Legacy funds for the arts are spent. He was quoted as saying that Gaiman, “who I hate,” is a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.”
Now, however, the Republican lawmaker has dialed back the rhetoric while standing by his underlying criticism. “My mom is staying with us right now,” he tells Minnesota Public Radio. My wife’s out of town, and she was very angry this morning and always taught me to not be a name caller. And I shouldn’t have done it, and I apologize.”
Gaiman, who responded to Dean’s initial comments early Wednesday on Twitter, has since expanded on his remarks on his website, writing in part, “I don’t like the idea that a politician is telling people that charging a market wage for their services is stealing.” [Minnesota Public Radio, Underwire]
Comics | A psychologist has been brought in to a Houston elementary school after a group of fourth-graders created a comic book allegedly depicting them holding a gun to the head of one of their classmates. [My Fox Houston]
Wow, DC Comics has returned from the holiday break with a vengeance. On its multiple blogs and here on CBR, the publisher has unleashed a veritable avalanche of announcements and initiatives for 2011.
Topping the list is the announcement, first mentioned by DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson and then expanded upon by Jim Lee, that DC will be holding the $2.99 price point across its line for all standard format ongoing series from both the DC Universe and Vertigo.
Meanwhile, PR guru David Hyde unveiled the return of letters pages to DC’s comics, presumably in the place of the current DC Nation column. Letters will be collected from both snail-mail submissions and messages submitted to the publisher’s new DCLettersPage.com website.
The announcement on Thursday that DC Comics will eliminate co-features as part of an effort to lower cover prices left many wondering about the fates of stories like the well-received Jimmy Olsen adventure in Action Comics and the upcoming Jim Gordon serial in Detective Comics.
In DC’s press release, Co-Publisher Dan DiDio pledged that “some of these characters will find a new platform,” but he didn’t offer any additional information — at least until Friday’s “DC Nation” panel at New York Comic Con. There DiDio told the crowd that the newly launched Jimmy Olsen co-feature, by Nick Spencer and R.B. Silva, will conclude as a one-shot. Other backup stories may get their own specials or miniseries.
According to Comic Book Resources’ panel report, DiDio and Jeff Lemire “strongly suggested” Lemire will write an Atom ongoing series. The character now stars in an Adventure Comics co-feature by Lemire and Mahmud Asrar.
DC will lower the price of all of its standard-length ongoing titles from $3.99 to $2.99 beginning in January, and cut the number of story pages from 22 to 20 in 32-page comic. The move will also mean the elimination of co-features in eight titles: Action Comics (Jimmy Olsen); Adventure Comics (Atom); Batman: Streets of Gotham (Ragman); Detective Comics (Jim Gordon); Doc Savage (Justice Inc.); Justice League of America (Cyborg); Legion of Super-Heroes; and The Spirit (The Spirit: Black & White).
The one-time editor-in-cChief of Marvel Comics has been selected to reprise that role for the Distinguished Competition. Robert Harras has been named Editor-in-Chief, VP, DC Comics, overseeing editorial for DC Comics, DC Universe, MAD Magazine and Vertigo, and reporting directly to Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. Harras had been serving as group editor, Collected Editions for the company.
The move comes at a time when DC is still feeling its way forward following the announcement that many of its non-print divisions will be moving to parent company Warner Bros.’ home turf of Burbank, Calif. — with up to 80 employee layoffs and relocations in the offing — while its struggling WildStorm and Zuda imprints are shutting down entirely. Of course, Harras is no stranger to tough times at a Big Two publisher, having presided over Marvel during its late-’90s bankruptcy.
DC had been without an official editor-in-chief since the departure of Jenette Kahn in 2002. As executive editor, Dan DiDio was mainline-DC’s de facto editor-in-chief, and the absence of such a figure since DiDio’s promotion to co-publisher was a much-noted aspect of the year since Diane Nelson was brought aboard as president of DC Entertainment.
As CBR’s Kiel Phegley notes, the announcement bears additional interest in that it appears to be the first time that “DC Universe” has been used by the company to refer to an imprint akin to Vertigo. DC’s shared-universe titles are obviously an institution dating back decades, but the newly official-seeming nomenclature may serve to distinguish these mostly-superhero titles from books that the DC line has inherited from WildStorm and Zuda.