Talking To Dan DiDio About DC Comics, With A Few Of His Friends And Family

With the rain eased off, Sunday at New York Comic Con 2017 brings one of the final DC panels, titled a Sunday Conversation with Dan DiDio. What exactly that entailed, well, that follows.

An interactive panel where DiDio will talk directly with the fans and guests, including Rob Williams, Ben Percy, Cecil Castellucci, John Semper, Yanick Paquette, and Keith Giffen. He also brought up to the stage a young girl named Michele DiDdio, his niece, so that there's a DiDio on the stage.

Williams says the first comics he ever read were a Justice League issue with Adam Strange in it, and a lot of British comics. His aunt helped support his love of comics by saying if he's reading, it didn't matter what he's reading — just that he is.

Then Josh Williamson and Tom King joined the room.

Talking To Dan DiDio About DC Comics, With A Few Of His Friends And Family

Percy grew up collecting Warlord, and he still has all those ragged, dog-eared comics that he picked up from a spinner rack.

Weirdest place a fan bought a comic book? One person said a glove manufacturer in 1994, and a Slobo cosplayer said simply the Canadian wilderness. Another said a yard sale at a barn had a decent number of Fantastic Four issues there. DiDio says the strangest one he ever heard was a girl told them of a guy who sold cigarettes and comic books behind a church.

Castellucci's first book was an omnibus of Batman and Superman, because she was a massive fan of the Batman TV show. Asking Tom King, he said Adventures of the Fantastic (maybe? His mouth was full of food) and he swore then he'd be Marvel for life.

The first book that blew King's mind and made him fall in love with them was Legion 2: Five Years Later by Giffen.

Semper says his mother had to take him to work so to keep him occupied gave him a stack of comic books, and first one he remembers was a Dennis the Menace book where the character went to Hawaii. His first DC book was one where Jimmy Olsen was trapped in Kandor; no action, all soap opera. The first hero he fell in love with was Spider-Man, because he was the same age as he was when he started reading. He used to get all his comics in the subway kiosk on his commute to school.

DiDio talks about passing a local candy store on way to school, saw a Superman comic he needed, jumped off the bus to get it, and spent his travel money — so he had to walk the mile to school and was late.

Talking To Dan DiDio About DC Comics, With A Few Of His Friends And Family

Paquette says his first comic and the weirdest place he ever got one were combined: it was in the garbage, it had no cover, a French translation, and it was a John Byrne X-Men comic where the team were stuck in a circus. The level of drama fascinated him, as there was no equivalent in Europe at the time, that he knew.

Then, getting everyone's hands in the air, we find that the panel is filled with quite a few long-term readers — two fans, along with Semper, have been reading comics for over 50 years.

DiDio then gave King a present: a Mister Miracle christmas stocking.

Craziest job they ever did that wasn't in comics? Williamson was a PA for TV shows. Williams used to be a magazine journalist, even writing horoscopes and hair tips. Percy was a gardener at a National Park. Castallucci was an elf at Santaland at Macy's. Semper doesn't get crazier than writing animation. Paquette was a bike courier on a big mountain in Montreal. And Giffen inadvertently killed animals? He explained:

He used to work for a major pharmaceutical firm, and while he was hired through the mailroom, it turned out he'd be delivering things to the chemical farm. Picking up a fair-sized crate and noticing air holes in it, he asked what was in it. It was a monkey. As they couldn't get the vehicle closed up with the crate full, they had to take the monkey out of the crate — who must have had a bad flight, as Giffen said: "I've never seen a more pissed off monkey in my life." After a period of animal cruelty by the air freight foreman, the monkey in a cage was stuffed in the car and Giffen was stuck with an angry monkey right up to his seat back.

The story kind of rambles on, entertainingly admittedly, but impossible to follow along and type at the same time. The comeuppance of the story was the monkey finally screaming in the Lincoln Tunnel, and then fish-hooked Giffen with a shit-covered monkey arm, causing him to cause a traffic incident in the tunnel. Giffen spent the rest of the day in the Port Authority Police custody, while his employers came down to try and extricate Giffen and prevent smuggling charges. Giffen has no idea how they did it, but he bets they probably sold it on him being "slightly retarded."

DiDio gets Williamson to tell the Sweaty Flash story about his pitch meeting with DiDio for which he was late and covered in sweat. He'd been running, he was really pumped up and excited and determined to land The Flash, and he must have looked completely mad to DiDio. When it was all over, he realised Scott Snyder had been in the room the whole time at the door, looking completely shell-shocked. DiDio does not recommend this as a way to break into comics.

Williams jokes that his worst-ever pitch could be coming to DiDio tomorrow, he then also jokes that it's always worrying when the pitch includes "I want to send them into space." This sends Williamson and DiDio into hysterics, and they reveal Williamson's first-longest conversation with DiDio was that disastrous pitch — his second was last night, where he pitched sending some characters into space.

DiDio jokes about the panel at San Diego where he asked six people about reading comics, only for all of them to say they don't currently read comics. "Do you know what that's like going to a comics panel and no one reads comics?"

Castallucci then tells everyone about how all she really wants to do is a Lois Lane book, and that she's going to keep on saying Lois Lane to DiDio until he makes it happen.

DiDio gets Giffen to announce his new series Inferior Five, which leads to an excited gasp, but Giffen quickly points out that it's not that Inferior Five. Instead, it's like Stranger Things meets Twin Peaks. It's more of a horror, and odd book. Originally Dan DiDio was going to write it, but then Jeff Lemire kept on coming out with better ideas, and that's how he got on the book. The book will be pencilled by Giffen.

A fan says he'd love to see Seven Soldiers of Victory book, another says Booster Gold, another with Secret Six. Someone says Ambush Bug (Giffen: "No.") Another interesting idea: an Alfred one-shot of him just doing chores around the mansion. "Grace Choi," someone says — and DiDio says they're looking at that character, actually.

What about the creators? Williamson says he'd love to do Aztek, but every character he wants to do Steven Orlando manages to sneak them into JLA.

What has Williams snuck past the editors that he's proud of? Williams says he can't say, because he doesn't want to get in trouble. Castallucci says she and her Shade co-creator snuck a picture of Solas from Dragon Age: Inquisition into the book.

Semper says he'd love to do Space Ghost. Paquette wants to pitch a wordless comic about a prehistoric-era Swamp Thing.

Fave characters? Williamson: the Flash. Williams: Superman. Castallucci: Death. Semper: Cyborg. Paquette: Swamp Thing, just above Ambush Bug.

About Joe Glass

Joe Glass has been contributing to Bleeding Cool for about four years. He's been a roaming reporter at shows like SDCC and NYCC, and also has a keen LGBTQ focus, with his occasional LGBTQ focus articles, Tales from the Four Color Closet. He is also now Bleeding Cool's Senior Mutant Correspondent thanks to his obsession with Marvel's merry mutants. Joe is also a comics creator, writer of LGBTQ superhero team series, The Pride, the first issue of which was one of the Top 25 ComiXology Submit Titles of 2014. He is also a co-writer on Stiffs, a horror comedy series set in South Wales about call centre workers who hunt the undead by night. One happens to be a monkey. Just because.
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