Monday, September 10, 2007

Kemosabe’s Dispatch From Baltimore Comic-Con—DC Universe Panel

(Pictured is the assembled DC Universe Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con. Center is Former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief and newly announced Legion writer Jim Shooter—to his left is Mark Waid and DC Editorial Coordinator Jann Jones. Other panelists included DC Editor-in-Chief Dan Didio, comic writer Sergio Aragones and artists Jim Calafiore and Willie Tucci.)

Scheduling conflicts and a malnourished wallet prevented FanBoyWonder from attending the Baltimore Comic-Con this past weekend. Fortunately, FBW’s best pal and all around Kemosabe John Micek had no such restrictions and he made it out to Charm City.

Newspaperman that he is (we current and former newspapermen stick together you know), Kemosabe filed this dispatch from the show.

BALTIMORE—DC Comics will launch a third, weekly series at the conclusion of the upcoming Final Crisis series, DC Editor-in-Chief Dan Didio told a crowd of about 100 comic fans who gathered for an annual convention here Sunday.

Didio did not reveal the name of the new series, nor did he name a creative team, saying it would only be a "different frame-set" from the current Countdown to Final Crisis, a weekly series that launched earlier this year.

"We'll be changing the way it's written," the shaven-headed editor said. "We've completely reinvented the way we do it."

The one-hour-and-forty-five-minute discussion with Didio and other comic creators came on the final day of this year's Baltimore Comic-Con at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The massive convention attracted comic creators, comics dealers and fans from across the country. Fans spent hours combing through bins of back issues, searching for that one comic to make their collections complete. The trade show was complimented by seminars with artists, writers and other industry professionals. Sunday's "DCU Session," was held in a third-floor conference room.

DC broke new creative ground in 2006 with the launch of its weekly series 52, which imagined what life might be like in DC's fictional universe without such iconic figures as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Lesser-known characters such as the armored hero Steel, the rubbery Elongated Man, and the mysterious Question, stepped into the breach. The series also made national headlines with the introduction of a new (and lesbian) Batwoman.

This spring, DC launched its second, weekly series Countdown, which is apparently intended to serve as a place-setter to the epic Final Crisis in 2008. The series has been less well-received among fans and has prompted criticism of Didio's stewardship of the storied comic book company, which is a division of entertainment behemoth Time-Warner.

Didio was joined at the question-and-answer session by comic writers Mark Waid, Sergio Aragones and Former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief and new Legion writer Jim Shooter, artists Jim Calafiore and Willie Tucci, DC Editorial Coordinator Jan Jones and the company's Vice-President for Sales, Bob Wayne.

Details may have been scarce on the new weekly series, but that didn't mean the session was short on news.

Spanish artist/writer Aragones, best-known for his satirical drawings for Mad Magazine, will take the helm of The Spirit monthly now penned by writer Darwyn Cooke and drawn by the artist J.Bone. Didio did not a name a new artist.

"I grew up with Eisner," Aragones said, referring to legendary comic writer Will Eisner, who created the masked vigilante in the 1940s. "He was translated into Spanish. Every time The Spirit came out ... I would skip school to get the magazine. I was fascinated by his writing."

Waid, who now writes the team-up book The Brave & the Bold with artist George Perez, confirmed that the current creative team will stay together through the book's twelfth issue.

"He's working away on issue nine," Waid said. "He still wants to do stories set in the past and stories set in the future. Brave & the Bold [issues] 9 and 10 have a couple of short stories in them, which gives George the opportunity to do one of his favorite things, which is to draw every character you've never heard of."

Also revealed Sunday was that Waid, who also writes Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes, will pass the writing chores of the science fiction-themed monthly to Shooter, an industry legend, who created The Legion in the 1960s, while still in his teens.

Shooter drew cheers and laughter when he revealed that the book will simply be titled The Legion of Superheroes with the removal of the teen-aged Supergirl from the cast.

"Can I tell them Supergirl is gone?" Shooter asked Didio.
"You just did," Didio quipped back.

Shooter told fans that he'll be reintroducing old characters, even as he preserves the continuity set up by his predecessor. He also hinted at a new creative direction.

"The Legionnaires are all about preserving life," he said. "I like the idea of them going out and doing that. Because, in comics, there's a tendency to hang out at headquarters until someone attacks you. I want them to go out and be real proactive."

Didio, who has drawn fan criticism for the current Countdown series, behind-schedule books and other perceived fan slights defended his vision for the company.

"It doesn't affect me at all," Didio said of the fan criticism that has prompted some die-hard comic followers to print up "Dan Didio Must Die" t-shirts. The shirts are a play on storyline in the Countdown series involving newspaper photographer (and Superman's pal) Jimmy Olson. "Everything we do is a learning process ... we keep selling comics and we do what we can," Didio added.

As to the company's past publication problems, he said, "We've gotten the schedule back on track again, and we're getting some good momentum going."

In other developments from Sunday's DC Universe session:

--Artist Tucci shared sketches from his upcoming Sgt. Rock series, and said the comic will be based on historical events from the European theater of World War II.

"This will be the most authentic and moving war comic ever," said the artist, who described the book as "a dream project of mine."

--Jones said the company will be launching three new titles for its Johnny DC line for younger readers, including a Super Friends title tied to a new line of toys from Mattel.

"These are books that can by given to any child, and you won't have to worry about angering parents or angering teachers," Jones said.

FanBoyWonder editor’s note: When not playing the part of Kemosabe or when not playing with his band Milkshake Jones, John Micek covers Pennsylvania politics for a major Keystone State newspaper—read his political blog Capitol Ideas Thanks again pal.--FBW.


Blogger FBW said...

Thanks again Kemosabe,

Ok…so DC is launching a third weekly series….AFTER Final Crisis because the first two have been so competently and effectively executed.

By DD’s own admission, it’s all been a “learning process”….that we’re paying for.

Here’s a couple of suggested names for the new series—“Highway Robbery” or even more apros “Promises, Promises."

>>>>>>>As to the company's past publication problems, he said, "We've gotten the schedule back on track again, and we're getting some good momentum going.">>>>>

In other words, oh baby, I promise this time will be different.

Also, it’s nice to hear about the Johnny DC titles—something we can share with Brianna the Girl Wonder without worry.

One last thought, Kemosabe’s picture is a little fuzzy but guy in the jacket and tie is Jim Shooter, a marked contrast to the other “pros” on the panel.

Yeah, it’s a weekend convention but still, there are comics professionals and there are PROFESSIONALS—just a thought.

5:05 PM, September 10, 2007  

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