Dan DiDio interview (April 2006)

April 25, 2006 | Interviews


The Women Of Comics took centre stage at the Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon in 2006, but that didn’t mean they didn’t let the men come out and play.
There was an all-star list of dozens of creators, including Greg Rucka (52, Checkmate), Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows), Michael Lark (Daredevil), Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) and Dave Sim (Cerebus) and featuring guests of honour David Lloyd (V For Vendetta) and George Perez (Infinite Crisis).
But one late addition is a coup for event organizers: DC Comics vice-president and executive editor, Dan DiDio, who took time out of his busy schedule to talk to JPK about why he just had to be there, what he thought of Infinite Crisis #7, the weekly series 52 and the DCU One Year Later and the love of the DC Nation.

JPK: So what was it that made you want to come up and do this event in Toronto?
DiDio: “First, we have a lot of exciting things taking place at DC right now and we’re trying to get out there are ring the bell as loud as we can. There’s a lot of great momentum and great excitement about our work … and I like to go out and meet them face to face and get a chance to talk to them about what’s going on.
“The fans’ enthusiasm is infectious. The more excited they get, the more excited we get about the work that we’re doing and we want to do even better.
“Second: A lot of my top creators are actually in the Toronto area so it allows me the opportunity to see a lot of my guys up there. We have such a strong talent pool in town that it’s good for me to get a chance to sit down face to face with them about new projects we’ve got going on.
“The third thing is that I absolutely love the city of Toronto. In my old job I used to work for a Canadian animation company out of Vancouver and that used to bring me to Toronto about once a month for about six years. I haven’t been up for a while, so it’s going to be fun getting up there again.”

JPK: What’s are your impressions about Toronto as a comic book town?
DiDio: “Every time I went to Toronto I was always surprised to see the number of comic stores in the area and how well they were frequented by the fans. I always got the impression there’s a real strong base of comic fans up there.
“I also always felt that the fans there had a real sense of the current, of what trends are going on. I really got a good taste of where the industry is going and what might be breaking soon by what’s working well in Toronto.”

JPK: What can fans expect from your DC Nation tour?
DiDio: “A lot of silliness. The whole purpose of the DC Nation tour is to create something that is fan-centric and interactive with the company. Over the last year and a half we’ve felt a lot of support and a lot of good will from our fans, but to get out there and meet them face to face and to talk about comics, not just to get them to ask us questions, but for us to ask them questions about what makes them love the comic business and what they’re really excited by. That whole interaction is what built the whole industry of comics — that sense of community.

JPK: Any big announcements this weekend?
DiDio: “Probably not. We’re getting up there less than a week before the final issue of Infinite Crisis hits so I’m sure we’ll be able to tease a couple of bits and pieces from that story, hopefully without giving too much away. And we’re just two weeks from the first issue of our big epic, 52, going on.”

JPK: Infinite Crisis has been one of the biggest and most successful comic projects in years. Do you think the payoff is going to be worth the buildup?
DiDio: “I was just going through the final proofs for Infinite Crisis #7 and it exceeds all my expectations. I’m pretty cynical about this book after being so close to it for so long, but it’s everything I thought it would be in the end. That’s a great feeling.
“I didn’t turn one single page and say: ‘Oh I wish we did this.” It’s all there.”

JPK: Any fears about doing a weekly title with 52?
DiDio: “Tons of fears. Everything’s build on a schedule so it’s just a matter of keeping schedule, but also maintaining a level of quality that’s essential to bring back readers on a weekly basis.
“We’re pulling out all stops to make sure that book exceeds all expectations.
“The interesting thing about 52 is that it challenges the reader because the pacing, the style of storytelling, the amount of story that goes on in a single issue is completely different that what people have gotten used to.”

JPK: As we’re midway through the second month of One Year Later in the DCU, what’s caught your attention so far?
DiDio: “The thing that’s been most amazing, as least from the fans’ side, is that I thought people would take a chance to sample a book or two here or there — it might have been an interesting point to see what’s going on in a particular series or with a particular character — but I’m hearing that a lot of people are sampling the entire line of One Year Later, which couldn’t please more. It shows that it has really created a level of interest in DC that we haven’t seen in a very long time.
“Part of what I wanted to do is try to create different levels of change throughout the whole DCU line and we’ve achieved that. Some books have drastic changes, some have minor changes, but when you look at the whole you really feel the DC Universe has been pointed and refocused in a new direction and hopefully an exciting direction that people enjoy.”

JPK: You’ve spent your first four years at DC building towards things. First it was Identity Crisis, then Infinite Crisis — you’ve said that you don’t want to do another big crossover project for a while, so what’s going to keep readers motivated and interested without that unity?
DiDio: “One of things we hope is that throughout all the crossovers and events taking place is that people got vested in our characters — they care about what’s going on. If they’re vested in the characters then my goal was to make the best books possible with those characters in them. Part of what we got out of One Year Later is that we were able to shake up a lot of the teams and hopefully improve, not only the storytelling but the art and the whole package of what we present.
“We shook everything up and I think there’s a level of freshness and new energy in each one of the series. Now we’ve got the chance for each of the series to really stand alone and to shine on their own. You can’t just go from event to event because then it becomes about the event and not about the characters that inhabit the world.
“Now we’ll see which books stand and which books fall, see which characters really capture people’s imaginations and which don’t and from the strongest that come out of this we’re going to build new stories and new directions for the DC Universe.”

JPK: DC’s got a lot of new titles coming out this summer. What project has you the most excited?
DiDio: “Brave New World is a lot of fun for me because it’s cheap. It’s a thank you to the fans for their investment in what we’ve got going, so it’s an 80-page book for just one U.S. dollar.
“There’s some exciting new series that are spinning out of that, there are some drastic changes to some of our existing characters, which I think will either excite or anger our fans — so we’re guaranteed to produce some kind of emotional reaction.
“From my standpoint, I think what excites me most is not the pieces, but the whole — the fact that you feel there’s a new tonality and a new direction for the DC Universe and you feel that it’s all coming from a single collective continuity and that all these characters inhabit the same world, which is something we were hard pressed to pull off before.”

JPK: A question for the Canadian fans about the issue of cover prices — do you monitor the exchange rates and are more changes coming?
DiDio: “We’re always looking at the adjustments in rate and I think we lowered the Canadian price once already.
“Believe me, that’s something that everybody’s very aware of. We know we’re asking people to make a huge investment and that’s not something we’ll just turn our backs on. Unfortunately the only thing I can do is put out the best value in the books as possible. If somebody’s paying the extra dollars for a particular title, they’ve got to feel like they’re getting their value for it — that they’re worth the read.”

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