From Bleeding Cool reporter Nick Kazden:
DC Comics has been having a great couple of months with the success of Rebirth and the excitement building around the upcoming Metal event series. Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, co-publishers of DC, had a lively conversation with the audience that touched on everything from Batman/Elmer Fudd to a few new Grant Morrison projects.
"We love the opportunity to come to Comic-Con, meet with the fans and hear what you love about DC Comics," said DiDio with his trademark smile.
While DiDio normally likes to start these panels determining who has read comics the longest in the audience, he did things a bit differently this time. In line with their focus on bringing new readers into the fold, DiDio searched the audience for the newest comic book readers ending on a few people who have been reading comics fewer than two years.
"We're in a constant struggle to keep people's interest, and I'll be honest with you sometimes it feels like excitement in comics fades every once in a while," said DiDio. "Rebirth is a way to bring that excitement back."
Both publishers spoke highly about the New 52 and how it provided them an opportunity to look at characters in a new light, but DiDio acknowledged they "might have lost something along the way, what the characters were about."
More than anything, the two of them asserted that their goal is to build on the success that DC Rebirth has afforded them. DiDio even said 2018 would be a transformative year for the company. Lee said Rebirth is geared towards the traditional 18-45 year old fan base, but that DC is working hard to expand that reach with more age-specific titles. With more kids discovering DC characters through games, television and movies than ever before, the publishers want the comics to become the premiere way kids discover these characters. One upcoming line of books will focus on six to twelve year olds while the other will target the 12-18 audience.
"It's a little departure for us," said Lee. "It's book publishing so it causes us to solicit information differently. […] At the end of the day we know the market place has changed."
For the adults, DC wants to release more books known as Evergreens. These are self-contained stories like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns that stand apart from the bunch to their accessibility and sophistication. It doesn't hurt that both of those books are still among DC's highest sellers either and Lee and DiDio want to recreate that success. Referencing creators who are interested in storytelling but not dealing with the monthly grind of comic creation, DiDio and Lee said they want to give a new level of support to writers and artists who want to "tell the very best Superman, Wonder Woman and Justice League stories."
Not only will DC have three new lines geared towards specific age groups, but each book will have different sizing to distinguish them from one another. They want to ensure that the experience of reading comic books constantly evolves, and that includes experimenting with things like page size to ensure the artists have more room to experiment.
Talk eventually turned to Metal and the upcoming Dark Matter initiative. DiDio called Metal a "big, crazy rock and roll story that is pure energy, pure excitement that just takes you on a roller coaster ride." Both DiDio and Lee said that the work coming in from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is top notch and shows their level of care and love for the DCU.
"Thank god it's finally coming out so Scott can stop pitching us," DiDio said humorously as he explained that Snyder had pitched the story multiple times in the past.
With Dark Matter, the publishers said their goal is to continually push the envelope. The two of them said the series has the feel of early Marvel, the history of classic DC and "the chutzpah and attitude of the early days of Image."
"We do not want to stagnate creatively, so we're going to find ways to add things to the DC Universe, add diversity to the DCU instead of changing existing heroes," said DiDio.
Not only will the series focus on existing DCU characters, but it will also introduce new characters. Lee, who was instrumental in a lot of the character redesigns from the New 52 and Rebirth, said it's been a fun exercise changing things up and working on these new characters as they interact with the DC characters we all know and love.
In what was perhaps a blow to Marvel comics, DiDio even said that they were leaning heavily on the artists.
"The reality is the visual representation of these characters is what draws people in. We love the idea of big, high adventure and double page spreads"
DiDio made it clear to the audience that there will be no variants for the Dark Matter books and that every book will hold the $2.99 price point. He said the price change to $3.99 actually cost the company money and resulted in fewer people buying the books.
"Nothing is more valuable than a single book that has something everybody wants and that's the way we're putting it out."
While there were a lot of great questions asked ranging from Wonder Woman's birth status (just another bastard of Zeus apparently, sorry clay baby fans) and Shazam's status in the DCU (there's a book coming once they get the right team together) to competition between DC and Marvel (it's a good thing for everyone!), I'm gonna highlight my two favorite.
One young fan asked whether or not Warren Ellis' snowflake view of the universe would ever cross over with the Multiverse. While there was no formal answer, Morrison still had something to say.
"I love that Warren's multiverse is a snowflake. For all us liberals out there it's perfect."
A woman who said she's been reading DC Comics for decades after she discovered Barbara Gordon asked if Snyder could go darker.
"Do you want to tie him up or something?" Lee joked.
"She's obviously never had a drink with him," DiDio said.