Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Episode #118: MegaCon 2010: Day 3: Sunday Conversation With Dan Didio & The 2009 Project Fanboy Awards!
Note: This is the last of a series of blog posts about MegaCon, 2010, Day 2, but the audio podcast on MegaCon will be a single episode. I attended MegaCon, as I said in the Day 1 post, with Jeffrey Taylor O'Brien.
To see more of my photos from MegaCon 2010, click on the following link to go to my facebook MegaCon 2010 photo album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2033083&id=1239968992&l=c6f45bc404.
To read Jeffrey Taylor's coverage of MegaCon go to:
To watch the Project Fanboy Awards Panel go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMIeP_S-JNA
To read my reviews of the titles I bought at MegaCon this year, as well as a list of the comics I had autographed at the con: http://mypulllist.blogspot.com/2010/03/issue-83-megacon-2010.html.
Sunday morning happened to be the day that Daylight Savings Time took effect, and I forgot all about it for the first time in a very long time. So Jeffrey Taylor O'Brien and I got to the Orange County Convention Center about an hour later than we planned. We hurried to the convention hall. I thought I could walk fast, but Jeffrey is atround six feet tall and has very long legs. Now I know how my wife and grown son feel when they try to keep up with me on a brisk walk.
We got there in plenty of time for the first of the two panels we planned to attend, Sunday Conversation With Dan Didio. It has been a tradition Dan has carried on at various comic book conventions druing his tenure at DC Comics. This was the first one I had attended in person, and I plan on going to it in the future if he continues it now as DC's co-publisher.
Dan began by mentioning that his first convention after joining DC Comics was WonderCon in San Francisco. There were 60 people in the audience of that panel, and he noticed that there were not any young comic book readwers in the audiance. Dan thought, at the time, that when these guys die off, there might not be another generation to take their place.
The first question from the audience was from a comic book fan who asked if All-Star comics would be collected before he died.
Dan talked about the new DC Entertainment, whose prupose was to find a concise message across variou media.
He then said that he can tell when a person first read comic books by asking what is their favorite era of a certain character. One of the things that DC needed to improve on was a consistent tone to a character, he said. He noted that the tendency of a lot of writers was that they wanted to be the last guy to write the character. Artists often want to alter a character's look to put their own stamp on it. Dan wanted to find a balance: let creators create but be consistent with a character. He gave Superman: Secret Origin and the upcoming War Of The Supermen as examples.
Didio then asked the audiendce for their favorite Justice League era, getting a variety of responses.
Another question was about more girl friendly comic books. Dan said that frankly, girl friendly superhero titles don't sell very well, citing Marvel's Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (of course he would cite the competition for tht kind of comparison). He said that he felt DC's Vertigo line was very female friendly, which crafted a variety of material with a female ambiance.
Another question was about age appropriate labeling, similar to Marvel. Dan said that DC was seriously looking at it.
Didio then talked about how character aging can be a problem. He gave Dick Grayson as an example (who it has been said he wanted to kill off). If Dick continues to age, eventually he'll be older than Bruce Wayne.
Another aspect that DC wants to work on, according to Dan, was big stories with character moments, that show how characters change through their experiences.
Someone in the audience mentioned Krypto, and Dan admitted he hated the Krypto/Atlas story in Superman, expecially the Alex Ross Krypto cover.
One of the most important changes at DC that Dan mentioned was that death would stop being a revolving door. Character deaths as a concept has been beaten to death, Dan noted, and has lost its value. On the same subject, Dan thought that the death of Roy Harper's daughter LeAnn was a resonant moment. Dan said that death in comics not done well won't stick, because even the creators won't believe it. Their first question, even before the readers, would be, "When do we bring Character X back?" He then mentioned that the first character killed after the dead is dead edict was Kid Devil of the Teen Titans. Dan noted that Bruce Wayne does not contradict that edict because he never was killed to begin with, and, he will be coming back soon.
Another comment from the audience was about the $1.00 first issues published by Vertigo. The person liked Vertigo's low price point for first issues and asked if that practice could be expanded to the regular DCU.
Dan Didio said that Geoff Johns job in the new DC Entertainment organization was to avoid conflicts with characters across various media. He gave the example of the Flash TV show. At the time in the Flash comic book, Wally West was The Flash, but on the show he was Barry Allen.
His last question to the audience: What would you do if you were DC's Editor-In-Chief? Jeffrey said that he would fire any creator who was late. Dan;s response was, "What would you do if Jim Lee wanted to do Justice League?" Jeffrey said that he would solicit it as soon as Lee had it done. (When it comes to being late, I guess Jim Lee's name would be the first to enter the conversation with All-Star Batman And Robin.) Among the answers were: to feature Batman's army of allies, bringing back the Batman Family and Superman Family titles. Dan said he has always had a rule, to leave the fanboy in the hall. It is hard, because he considers himself a fanboy at heart. Another response from the audience was to establish creative teams on titles for extended runs. Dan responded that he would as wee. It would make his job easier.
He also said that anthologies don't do well, because readers don't think the individual stories matter, he's found. Another thing Dan said he has noticed is that the opinions voiced on internet forums don't match sales firgures. Dan said that comic books are easier R & D than movies. One thing that comic book publishers need to stop doing is to give reasons not to read books. Publishers have to engage readers.
Dan felt that digital media will not hurt traditional comic book publisheing, because comic collectors still exist. Late titles is another issue Dan said need to be addressed. Comics need to be consistently good and consistently on time. Dan felt it's important for comic books to crossover into other media, including digital comics.
Dan ended the panel by saying that comic books should just tell good stories and make characters relevant.
Dan was a lot of fun, and a great way to end the convention. Jeffrey noted that Didio has a similar charisma as former President Clinton. Like him or hate him, hew was able to draw you in. During the panel it was evident that Dan could work the audience. He gave frank commnets, usually about past comic books, and deflect criticism on other topics. I hope he continues next year if he continues to come to MegaCon.
I had originally planned to go to another panel with LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I had to make a choice. I decided I wanted to chat with some of the other creators I had met. I chatted witth Derrick Fish, who does the new independent comic book The Wellkeepers. He and his girlfriend were very happy with the response to his title. They had almost sold out of copies of issues #0 & #1. Derridck had also drawn a lot of sketches. I also spoke with Billy Tucci.
Jeffrey and I met again for the Project Fanboy 2009 Awards Panel, where Jeffrey accepted the award for Favorite Comic Book Fan website for the Superman Homepage http://supermanhomepage.com/. That was the main reason Jeffrey came to MegaCon. To watch the entire awards panel go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMIeP_S-JNA. My only disappointment was that noone from DC Comics came to accept the award for Favorite Publisher. There were very few poeple in attendance, just a few people covering the panel for a comic book website, and the award winners. It would have been nice to see someone from DC there regardless. The whole panel seemed to last fifteen minutes. It's a small thing, but so is the comic book industry in the United States. A little effort goes a long way with comic book readers. I realize an executive with a large publisher like DC or Marvel can feel pulled in a million directions by the fans, but taking a few minutes for something like this would make what comic book fans were there feel as if noone is too small for a big publisher to care about. Otherwise it was an enjoyable panel. Jeffrey and I even got our pictures taken with a Lois Lane cosplayer.
As we were leaving the convention I took Jeffrey by Billy Tucci's table. After talking with Billy about his book Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion, Jeffrey became so interested in the story that he bought a copy to read on the flight home. He later said that he enjoyed the sotry very much.
That pretty much wrapped up MegaCon for Jeffrey and I. We went home to have him fix an excellent meatloaf for a delicious meal he prepared for my family. I drove Jeffrey to Orlando International Airport Monday morning and extended an offer to stay with us if he desires to come back next year.
I certainly plan to be back at Megaon every year from now on. In the future I'll apply for a media pass so that I can cover the convention for this podcast and blog, as well as My Pull List blog. By then I hope to have a digital recorder, so that you won't just hear my talk about the comic pros, you can hear me talk with them, which would be an improvement for this podcast. My wife has said she would attend one day, probably Saturday, to see all of the costumes. My son, if he's here, even wants to go back. So I hope next year will be a family affair at MegaCon.
Next Episode: World's Finest Comics #71: Superman And Batman, Together Again For The First Time!
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