DiDio: appearance of turmoil at DC is caused by social media

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DC is holding four “retailer roadshows” over the next few weeks to boost retailer confidence and tell them what’s coming up. If you were wondering why there was such a DC news dump on Monday, this is why: projects like JLA 3000 and Superman/Wonder Woman were unveiled to NYC area retailers on that day and a roomful of retailers is about as likely to keep secrets as Justin Bieber is to teach driver’s ed.

One such attendee, Roderick Ruth has written up a fairly detailed account of the event, complete with a video of the new lenticular covers for Villain Month—these are costly to print, so DC is actually taking a loss on each issue. Attendees got a lenticular SUPERMAN UNCHAINED #1 and a Trinity War poster (Above).

Much was made of DC’s foray into tying in with video games—Injustice: The Gods Among us is only one of the successful tie-in titles.
There was also a look forward to Zero Year tie-ins, according to Ruth:

After that, Dan Didio continued to discuss Forever Evil, which will arrive in October and shifts the focus of the DC Universe on some of it’s most notable villains.  There’s also another Green Lantern event in the works titled Lights Out in October.  He also touched on the crossovers that will be happening from the Zero Year arc in Batman.  Didio informed retailers that these stories were not manufactured as crossover titles just for the sake of crossing over and spreading out the success of Batman, but that these writers and creators had expressed a genuine interest in writing a story that occurs at the same time as Zero Year.  It seems there will be crossovers in Action Comics, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Corps, Batgirl, Nightwing, Batwing, Catwoman, Detective Comics, and Birds of Prey.

And then there was that cranky retailer who asked uncomfortable questions:

After that, one retailer expressed her concern over the promises that were made by DC two years ago and her difficulty in instilling confidence to her customers with so much inconsistency over creative teams at DC.  Co-publisher, Dan Didio gave a boisterous speech about admitting that DC’s “new 52″ had only been planned up for a first act, and they had all been surprised that the “new 52″ would have garnered so much momentum two years ago.  He also confided that with any raising momentum, there inevitably a decline in momentum and DC is now prepared to unveil their second act.  He also addressed that creative changes are common place in the business of comic books and the seeming severity of it now is only much more apparent due to social media.  Didio’s admission and affirmations had re-instilled confidence amongst the retailers, but only time can officially tell how successful this “second act” will be.

One of the retailers present at the event told The Beat that DiDio said he had looked at old Comics Journals between 1978 and 1983, and creative teams changed all the time. (It should be noted this was right after the Famed DC Implosion, and a time of terrible sales and general floundering for the company.)

If this was a movie, the scene of Dan DiDio looking at old Comics Journals and taking notes of the news sections would definitely be accompanied by that chugging string music all superhero movies use as the hero peers into a microscope and fiddles with a laptop to get the formula right.

My collection is in storage, but maybe someone else can enact a similar research project.

According to another report on the meeting, DC plans big events every September—last year it was the Zero month, and now villains. It’s a good idea to keep the news coming if, as the above paraphrase seems to indicate, The New 52 has moved on.

Future roadshow dates:

Thursday, June 20, Orlando, FL
Saturday June 22, Burbank, CA
Monday, June 24, Portland OR

Of course we’d love to hear the thoughts ay any attendees at these events. You know the email: comicsbeat at gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    I’d do the research, but there’s only so much time…

    Methodology:
    1) Pick a month at random. (Avoid the launch month of the New 52, which will distort the data.)
    2) List all ongoing monthly titles published by DC that month, for each year. (Start with 1980, end with 2012/2013)
    3) Using the Grand Comics Database, research the creative teams for each issue. Check the preceding and following months, to account for fill-in inventory stories due to missed deadlines.
    4) Note writers and pencilers/inkers/artists.
    5) Publish the year-to-year comparisons.

    You could do a subset:
    Take all New 52 titles and chart the changes in creative teams over the past two years. Which title wins the “revolving door” award? How many have stable creative teams (Green Lantern, Action, Wonder Woman…)

  2. There is no unrest in Turkey. It’s business as usual. All that social media is making it seem a big deal.

  3. I wish there was a direct quote from DiDio about the creative changes because the summary makes it seem like he’s saying, “Things have always been crappy for creators — you’re just finding out about now because of twitter/tumblr/facebook.”

    Which is probably true. But pretty ballsy to put out there.

  4. Yes, there were a bunch of creative team changes back then. However, if we remember the BEST runs of that era (New Teen Titans, Legion, Swamp Thing, JLA…even Fury of Firestorm, All-Star Squadron, Warlord, Flash, etc.) the teams were extremely consistent. On the titles that were more shlocky, not so much.

    Editors (not “editorial”) also seemed intent on creating a little more consistency within each title. At least that’s my recollection.

  5. I remember that period of time, mostly because I was alive, breathing and reading comics then. That was 35 years ago. A longer, and older period of time that the targeted audience DC is trying to reach today. The books published by DC that I read were pretty consistent. Marv Wolfman and George Perez on New Teen Titans and Crisis On Infinite Earths; Roy Thomas on All-Star Squadron. I think Rich Buckler was the penciller with Jerry Ordway doing a few issues here and there. Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo on Batman and The Outsiders. Alan Davis took over for a while when it became just The Outsiders. I seem to remember much more turnover in creative teams after 1983. That seemed to be the start of the celebrity-status of writers and pencillers, like the creators that would go on to found either creator imprints or self-publish. Even in the ’90′s, I think Roger Stern stayed with Will Payton and James Robinson stayed with Jack Knight until both Starman books ended.

  6. mpneeb says:

    “He also addressed that creative changes are common place in the business of comic books and the seeming severity of it now is only much more apparent due to social media. ”

    We have always been at war with East Asia.

  7. ‘It’s OK, we’ve never known what we were doing!’

  8. Might seem like a non sequitur amongst all this “Is there a plan?” chitchat, but one item stood out to me from this report:

    “[...] the new lenticular covers for Villain Month—these are costly to print, so DC is actually taking a loss on each issue.”

    As a (nearly) digital-only DC reader, I suspect something more insidious (to me) than simply taking a loss– I, the digital consumer, am subsidizing the cost of the paper product for *other* consumers.

    Obviously there are costs associated with the creation of digital product– creative, editorial, “distribution” via Comixology, and whatever else goes into making the sausage. But there is no printing and no physical object distribution. There is absolutely no reason I should have had to pay the (quite large) print cover price to read Superman Unchained last week in advance of Man of Steel.

    Well, yes, there is a reason: because I am a chump, I guess. Each week I pay so much for digital products–especially now that DC has tacked a second month onto the “shave one dollar off” plan–DC makes me a chump.

    Which is kind of a bummer.

  9. Someone should have told Dan that few will feel sorry that DC will take a loss for all those crappy lenticular covers that nobody asked for.

  10. If it’s true that there’s always been more creative team chaos than consistency at DC or any other comics publisher, I think the important thing to note isn’t that it happens a lot, but that the best comics (whether you want to define “best” by critical acclaim or sales or both) tend to be the ones with the most stable creative teams. Look at DC’s best-sellers at the moment, and you’ll see their most stable creative teams (Even JUSTICE LEAGUE, which has had a relatively large number of art teams for such a short amount of time, has at least had a single writer).

  11. When I was drawing for DC in the 90s, I was the regular penciler for ST:TNG from issue 19 to 51, and Power Of Shazam! from issue #1 until I left after issue 41. There were some fill-ins, but that’s hardly a record of creative turnover. I don’t think my experience was unusual for DC at the time.

  12. Steven says:

    Perhaps if Didio was actually RUNNING the company instead of spending all his time kicking my ass on “Angry Birds”, DC would be so
    much better than it is currently.

  13. AndyD says:

    Of course there were fill-ins and changes back then, but the good books, the ones which made the then new DC, were very dependable. Back then I was a marvel guy, but when writers like Wolfman and Moench went to DC, I took notice. And bought a lot of books I didn’t buy before. From New Teen Titans, Legion to Swamp Thing. No comparison to todays frantic shuffling of teams.

    Of course your average Teen Titans (or comparable books) had more story in it then 6 issues of todays books and even managed to keep one artist over a long period of time.

  14. “Of course there were fill-ins and changes back then, but the good books, the ones which made them thr new DC, were very dependable.”

    You mean like Snyder and Capullo on Batman? Johns and Mahnke on Green Lantern? Morrison and Burnham on Batman Inc?
    It seems that nostalgia is coloring a lot of the comments here. Are there a lot of fill-ins and creative switch ups these days? Yes. And we’ll remember them just as well as we remember the ones that happened when Wolfman and Perez were doing New Teen Titans. Which means, not at all.

  15. Simon Jones says:

    It’s slightly off-topic, but I will mention it anyway as Peter Krause is on the thread. For those of you not wishing to be bilked on the price of digital comics by the big 2, Insufferable by Peter and Mark Waid (and many other wonderful comics) are available on Thrillbent.com free gratis. Insufferable is also available on Comixology (with added extras).

    I have no connection with Thrillbent, other than I’m a fan. I read issues 1 to 8 on Comixology last week and loved them. Give them a try if DC’s digital policy is annoying you.

  16. I really think it’s too late for Didio to say it’s all smoke, there is a fire. It is burning pretty bright. Now with the reports, not sure how valid they are, of the 3D covers are losing money, and the only reason they are doing it is for attention. A tramp stamp of sorts.

  17. Justin Jordan says:

    “As a (nearly) digital-only DC reader, I suspect something more insidious (to me) than simply taking a loss– I, the digital consumer, am subsidizing the cost of the paper product for *other* consumers.”

    The paper consumers have been and are subsidizing the digital readers the rest of the time, so there’s that.

    No, really. If most of these comics sold just what they sell in digital, they wouldn’t make enough to recoup the creative and editorial costs. So the people buying them in paper are still making up the difference.

    Beyond that, paper and transport costs are trivial. I don’t know how much it cost to print, say, Superman Unchained. I do know that with a tenth of the print run, it costs less than a quarter to print and ship an issue of Luther Strode.

    If digital comics were reduced by the price of the physical object, you’d be saving at best ten percent of the cost.

  18. Thank you for mentioning our little venture, Simon. Glad you’re enjoying it.

  19. Scratchie says:

    DC’s commercial and artistic triumphs speak for themselves.

  20. Daryl Tucker says:

    ^And what would those be exactly? Stealing superman from Siegal and Shutser while they were away defending our country? Going out of their way to ensure that Bill Finger died penniless? Suing Fawcett to death and picking over it’s corpse to round out it’s own stable of other stolen characters? Pissing in Alan Moore’s face while simultaenously milking every word he ever gave them for future storylines (*coughcough* Blackest Night*cough*).

    Or perhaps you are simply refering to Electric Superman? Or The League of Exraordinary Gentlemen movie (y’know, the one that was so awful that it made Sean Connery quit movies)? Or Superman 4? Or the Jonah Hex movie? Or the rape of Sue Dibny? Or Justice League Detroit? Or All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder? Or Before Watchmen? Or running Vertigo into the dirt?

    My, what a storied pedigree. You’re right, DC’s “triumphs” do speak for themselves and what they say specifically is “We are stupid greedy assholes that give not four-fifths of a fuck about our talent or our readers. Fuck you and buy our shitty comics so we can know which ones to make shitty movies out of”.

  21. Actually, it’s Siegel and Shuster.
    Calm down.

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