A Little Semi-Fisking Of Dan DiDio And Jim Lee
Yesterday, ICV2 published a two part interview with Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. They asked some hard questions, but it seemed more of a questionnaire, only a few answers were followed up, a few intriguing threads were left hanging and I think some were too easily evaded as a result. But it's a good piece and you should read them both, but here's what I'd have also asked if given the opportunity.
I think we can see why I wouldn't have been given the opportunity.
DiDio: It's interesting to us to watch as the other companies are being very aggressive in a good way, and I think it builds a very strong competitive market and makes sure we're on the best of our game.
Is that another way of saying Marvel has won the marketshare you gained in the New 52 back from you?
DiDio: I'm always concerned about variant covers, primarily because if retailers are purchasing a hundred books to get one cover that they're going to be able to sell online or somewhere else, and those hundred books don't go on sale or aren't sold to anybody else, it's just limiting the number of people that are actually reading our material.
Then why do it?
On the Oscar Scott Card issue…
Lee: We're searching for an artist to work on that story so it's been tabled until that happens.
But not cancelled, you're still going to do it?
Just not searching that hard. A senior DC exec told me never to expect it to be published. ICV2, ask the question next year when it still hasn't been published….
The first Before Watchmen trades are coming out. Did the periodical side meet your expectations?
Didio: Absolutely. Realistically, when we went out there we had a certain expectation and it exceeded those expectations when it first launched. They maintained strong numbers all the way through. We had a little slippage at the end when the schedule started to slip, but for the most part, everything did better than expected.
Then why cancel the previously announced Before Watchmen Epilogue? And what exactly happened with Len Wein on Crimson Corsair?
On editorial changes and creator walk-outs
Didio: I think it's actually been a little bit less in the last decade than it's ever been.
Lee: To me it's the normal course of business in that not everyone's going to agree creatively what to do with a book. The company has to reserve the right to control the destiny and the futures of the characters, and the creators have to decide if they're willing to work in an environment where they're telling their story but in the framework of a universe that has continuity and you have to work with all of these other different creators and editors that would want to control the directions of the characters.
It's not for everyone all the time. If you look at it that way, you'll always have people coming in, doing work and then maybe they've reached a threshold where they want to have more control over their project and do something more creator-owned.
Then why do a number of them just move to Marvel? There is something specific to DC at this time which is problematic, and it's not just the normal editorial changes or requests, from creator to creator the common tale is I hear of repeated requests for changes, or changes back on the same issue, time after time after time often after the stories had previously been approved. And that because of these issues, at a creative summit a promise was made that the approval process would be respected. A promise that was broken a few days later.
And yes, I hear similar stories from other publishers. Recently I heard a couple of complaints about Marvel that will probably be an article shortly, but nothing like the scale of DC. The firing and rehiring of Gail Simone on Batwing, the walking off of Action Comics from Andy Diggle, and most worryingly the walking off of Joshua Hale Fialkov after he was asked to kill off John Stewart… other companies haven't had these equivalent tales of late, it's peculiar to DC, and DC right now.
Lee: We're super happy with the creative teams that we have on the books that we're publishing.
Does that include Justin Jordan on Superboy? Easy shot, but this is not an isolated example.
Dan DiDio: The one thing that we all have to acknowledge is the strength of The Walking Dead. There was one point, between the hardcover and softcover lists, where ten to 12 of the 20 slots were The Walking Dead alone. It's an incredible accomplishment by Kirkman and team on that book. Once that series has ended you'll see that wind down and you see everyone creep back into the schedules again.
You know, you guys also have a popular TV show, Arrow. And you had Smallville for ten years. Why hasn't that translated into similar comics success for you?
Dan Didio: This is a huge priority for us and with the release of Sandman: Overture, and not just Sandman, we have The Wake and Trillium. We have a lot of things in the pipeline for Vertigo. You're going to see a big resurgence in the attention and sales for that line.
I've had Vertigo creators looking at recent sales and doing the maths for how much more they'd have earned at Image…
Of course, it's a lot easier for me to snark a continent away. In the presence of Dan DiDio's charm offensive, I'd probably be asking "So, Dan, tell us more about how the 3D covers will help my sex life" and I'd never want to say anything that might hurt the feelings of Jim Lee… he just looks so nice. So fair play, ICV2, I'd have probably just have been asking which kitten was the cuter.