Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Panel Review: DC Nation

DC Nation Panel
Panelists: Dan Didio, Bob Wayne, Paul Cornell, Gail Simone, Scott Snyder, Bill Willingham, Gene Ha

Dan Didio (co-publisher) started the presentation by mentioning that he was a bit rusty, and hasn't done a DC Nation since last October. The format of the DC Nation panel has always been something of a "Town Hall Meeting", so there wasn't much format to the panel so much as there was a freedom from the audience to shout out and ask questions at will.

In order to "keep him in line", Didio began to present his panelists, who in turn ran through the crowd to the front of the stage, a la "The Price is Right". First up was Bob Wayne (Sr VP Sales), followed by Paul Cornell (Action Comics, Knight & Squire) running at full speed. Scott Snyder (Detective Comics, American Vampire) followed in tow, and "because every panel needs class”, Didio presented Gail Simone (Secret Six, Birds of Prey). Didio stressed that now that DC is more compartmentalized, he wanted to give the same amount of attention to Vertigo writers and stories as well. Bill Willingham (Fables) closed out the initial panel. Didio mentioned (without further explanation) that Willingham would be his butler all day tomorrow. 

In order to "round out" the panel, Didio called upon the audience for a volunteer to sit up top with the other panelists, and chose an individual named "George".

"The last time we did this, the last person had a Spider Man shirt on," Didio joked.

Explaining the panel,  Didio stated that he loves feedback, and wants to know what people think on the feedback. Didio mentions the “Hold the Line at 2.99” campaign, and asked if its something people want, to loud applause.

“The goal is to sell as much of it to you as possible." A very honest statement, if nothing else.

Didio asks how the letter pages are faring, referring to the latest marketing strategy from DC that brought back the "Letter Columns" from the 80's and 90's which allowed readers to send in their thoughts to be displayed at the backs of each of their favorite books.  “How many people here read comments when there were letter pages?” After hands raised, Didio asked if individuals had ever written letters. One audience member had a letter posted in almost every book available, was asked to stand and give a bow.

The first topic of conversation, Brightest Day, popped up on the main screen. Didio asked who liked each character, to varied applause. Didio asked who liked Outsiders, a book he himself had been writing for several months (and is set for cancellation).  A gentleman in the back screamed he loved it, to which Didio responded by meeting him in the center of the room for a power embrace. “For a while I wondered who read that comic, now I know.”

Another running joke of the panel was a dinner conversation between Dan Didio and another executive at DC that had been recorded and put on the internet some months ago. It was never fully explained what the conversation was regarding, but the panelists (as well as the audience) made reference to it several times (I can only imagine it was about killing Dick Grayson...)

War of the Green Lanterns was then displayed. Sticking to the tried and true formula that DC keeps when discussing story arcs, Didio kept things simple. “All I can tell you is there’s a bunch of GL’s and they go to war.”

Gene Ha (Green Lantern, Flashpoint) arrived in silence during the course of the panel, and sat behind "George" for almost half of the panel before Didio noticed him. when introduced thunderous applause.

  • Speed round. Flashpoint coming up. Who’s the breakout character from Flashpoint? Wait and see. Is Flashpoint only happen on New Earth or is it the multiverse? As many as DC wants. How far along is Kubert on the book? He’s gettin’ going I guess. Why should I read Flashpoint? No answer, “Go Sox” is said to cheers and boos. Do we get to see all the rogues or just Citizen Cold? No comment. Any teasers on long term effects or plans for characters? Bill Willingham - Snow White has a big cameo.
  • Gene Ha arrives in silence, when introduced thunderous applause.
  • Where do we stand on Flashpoint? Lots of gibberish to say that things happens. Audience member asks if it’s like Zero Hour, and is given a free Flashpoint T shirt.
  • Didio compares that Flashpoint is a throwback to Elseworlds, since they’ve received a lot of requests to bring Elseworlds back. 
  • Audience member brings up the teams that will be working on the books. Didio mentions that there are a lot of people working on the regular books and finding fantastic teams that aren’t currently working on other things. 
  • Bob Wayne mentions that Free Comic book day will include a Flashpoint preview in the Green Lantern issue.
  • Thanks for bringing back Andy Lanning, any more work? Yes.
  • Are you going to help me co-sign a loan so I can afford Flashpoint? You can read the main series by itself you can, the other minis don’t affect the main story directly. Fan said he’s not going to buy it because he can’t afford. Didio says that he wants to bring as many books as they can that are of high quality, so that its a tough decision to buy books as opposed to not buying any.
  • Fan says thank you for Batman Beyond to applause
  • Anymore with Arkham? Snyder: More with Arkham, character-wise he can’t say anything else.
  • Anymore Shazam? Didio (who has heard this question at every DC Nation panel forever): "I don’t know. Stay tuned. Who likes Shazam?" Cornell and Simone say they do, Paul maniacally nodding his head.
  • Will wonder woman keep her pants on? Yes.
  • Fan complains about the length of time on waiting for paperbacks. Didio: It’s all about selling, they need to make profit so we have to pace them differently.
  • Another Wednesday comics? Didio - Yes. If given the opportunity, what would the panelists write? Gail would do Batman, Cornell would do Captain Marvel. Gene would do Elastic Man for format purposes (an interesting idea). Willingham would do Detective Chimp (to huge audience applause). Snyder would do Wonder Woman (no pants). In a hilarious moment, when prompted as to what he'd write, "George" said Blackest Night. The crowd grumbled and hissed derisively, as well they should have.
  • More biweekly comics? Didio stated he was a fan, but its extraordinarily taxing on the systems, so there is nothing planned in the near future.
  • Any comics reaching 900? Didio brought up Action Comics, which has been out consistently since 1938. Cornell, the current writer on the book, mentioned how honored he was to be on the book Among the perks of the 50 page issue are backup stories from other authors, the conclusion to the "Black Ring" Lex Luthor story, the return of Superman to the book, and a "battle royale". 
  • A Fan praised Robo-Lois from the Action Comics book. Is he going to take a break to do Dr. Who? Didio - “He doesn’t need to take a break to do that.”
  • Didio polled the crowd with the question, "Who has Fables 100?" A fan replied, standing and saying it was a "really awesome old school magic battle." Did anyone play the board game?  Willingham - We’re gonna have robo-snow white.
  • Didio praised Vertigo for some of the talent that’s come out of that. Didio brought up American Vampire, to massive crowd applause. Snyder brought up an original ad that collaborator and penciller Rafael Albuquerque created that read “I don’t fucking sparkle”.
  • Didio brought up the comics code, which DC no longer uses. DC has since instituted their own ratings system in the same way the Marvel instituted a few years back. Didio's reasoning behind the change was to make everyone aware that it doesn’t change the product but "it was a request from fans and they want to make it accessible to as many people as possible."
  • Any possible future Fables novels? Willingham - Yes. Possibly.
  • Any possibility of an ongoing Deadman series? Any possibility for more Batmen in Detective Comics? Snyder - It’s one of Grayson's strengths is team-builder, so there will be more coming up in regards to team-ups. 
  • Any 100 page issues with the main story and then re-prints, any more of that? Didio - Reprints in the 100 pagers has been ongoing, they're going to continue that process.
  • Any more Teen Titans Go? Didio - No, we’re doing Young Justice now.
  • Brightest Day has great heroes, but they can’t sustain their own books. Any more Showcase books? Didio - We’re looking at Adventure comics as a showcase book. Legion right now, but the lead may change soon. The point of BD is to help support these characters for ongoings.
  • How is Borders’ bankruptcy affecting trade sales? Bob Wayne - Market share isn’t affected by stores closing, because the size of the pie may shrink but not the percentage. As for how it affects the sales, it hurts the impulse buys but they hope people will migrate to local comic shops or other locations.
  • I really want to buy Batwoman, when is that coming out? Didio - Several issues are in the can, but delayed because they wanted to have it come out when it would have a stronger impact in the market. 
Didio interrupted the Q& A format to make a point that has been plaguing the DC line for close to a year, which is the consistency (or lack thereof) of their books. He mentioned a quote from a year back,“We’ll keep selling late books if you keep buying them” to which people then just stopped buying them. "We have to build that reader loyalty again, it’s the heart and soul of what comics is all about. When you walk into a store to look for a book, it should be there."

  • With Jack of Fables ending soon, anything to fill its void? Willingham - There are plans in place, no details from the table.
  • Assuming Wally West survives Flashpoint, will we see more of him? Didio - Next question.
  • When will we have the greatest super heroes back in JLA? Didio - So, Wally West! Bob - Isn’t he going to be the newest Nightwing?
  • Anymore Earth One books? Another Superman, Batman Earth One coming soon.
  • Preacher books? Bob - Collecting Preacher in hardcover, more coming in hardcovers soon.
  • Is Barbara Gordon getting a new name after Oracle? Gail - Big things coming up in ’11 for Birds of Prey, so stay tuned.
  • Is Paul staying on Action Comics? Paul - We don’t know at the moment (to which Didio agreed).
  • A fan asked where Didio would be eating dinner that night, to loud applause.
Didio concluded the panel recapping that there were big things to come after Flashpoint, and urged the crowd to hang in there a little longer. With that, the panel concluded and I got my picture with Gail Simone...


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