DC Comics' Sunday Conversation panels have become a fixture of the con scene over the past few years, eschewing the normal levels of new comics hype and project announcements that control the pace of other big publisher events. At this year's Chicago Comic-Con, DCU Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler led the festivities focused on talking about the fun side of comics, joined on stage by "Tiny Titans" creators Art Baltazar and Franco as well as a fan named Rene they'd met earlier in the show (accompanied by her mom). And though each Sunday Conversation hold its own feel, Sattler started this year's out with a new tract: not talking about comics at all.
"If I could, I would talk exclusively about football for this whole hour," Sattler joked after jawing with some fans about the recent trade of Jay Cutler to the Chicago before turning to the topic at hand. "This has been the best show in ages. I've had a blast at this show. Between how cool you guys have been and how great Chicago is and sitting in Artist's Alley with everybody, meeting fans of comics – that's really what this panel is about. How much we all love comics."
Most of the panel ran in the form of open questions for fans about what their favorite things about today's comics were, from specific titles and stories to memories of collecting comics of the past. The first question revolved around titles that the audience thought were flying under the radar, and while the assembled gave props to everything from Peter Tomasi's "The Mighty" to "The Last Days of Animal Man," Sattler's own personal pick was Tony Bedard's "R.E.B.E.L.S."
"The cool thing is that 'R.E.B.E.L.S.' is about to tie to the DCU a lot more over the next couple of months, and the stakes are going to get really high in that book," he said. "When you see the solicit for November and the certain colored ring that's featured, it's awesome. Tony's doing a great job on that book, and he's going to be coming out with more books in the future." Later, Sattler added that characters from the "Strange Adventure" series like Adam Strange and Captain Comet would become a part of the series on a regular basis.
A cheer rang up for Gail Simone's "Secret Six" series with Sattler previewing an upcoming cover to the front row of fans. The editor noted how much the book reminded him of John Ostrander's classic "Suicide Squad" and how a few years ago, while en route to see Radiohead in California, he'd purchased Ostrander's entire run from a comic shop in order to complete his collection. "It was like, walking around this show with a big brick of comics under my arm, and I said, 'There's the Doom Patrol special in here. That's hard to find.'"
Franco and Baltazar spoke of their most recent runs reading from their DCU comp lists, with the former noting that he usually waits to read stories in big trade paperback chunks, though once he caught up with previous "Green Lantern" storylines, Franco couldn't help but start in on "Blackest Night" even though waiting for more story was driving him nuts. Baltazar added, "My wife and I, we met Geoff Johns in San Diego because everyone hangs out and parties every night until 3:00 am. I'm a fan, and she knows I'm a fan, so we're talking and talking. Then afterwards, she gets home and tells me, 'You know, I keep dreaming about Geoff Johns.' So after I read ‘Blackest Night’ #1, I said, 'Read this, honey." And she said, 'Why?' And I said, 'Now you can have nightmares about the guy.'"
When a fan brought up appreciation of Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle's work on "Supergirl," Sattler mentioned the upcoming "World's Finest" miniseries where "every issue teams up a member of the new Batman cast with the new Superman cast. We start off with Nightwing from the Superman universe and Red Robin and end up with the first real meeting of Superman and Dick Grayson in costume. It's not one-shots. It's a continuing story they all get involved with. We've got huge changes going on in the Superman universe and huge changes in the Batman universe, and we wanted to say, 'Okay, now's the time to show that this is still the DCU."
Throughout the panel, Sattler returned to discussing his love of DC's '80s series "Wild Dog" joking, "How badly do you guys want to see us do a new 'Wild Dog' series?" When only one fan raised their hand, he added, "I'm going to need a few of you to lie for me because Dan [DiDio] doesn't want to do it, and I do. So I've been turning people against him." He then said he'd hired a viral marketing agency to convince the Executive Editor.
And speaking of viral campaigns, Sattler encouraged fans who want to see "Wonder Woman" return to its classic numbering with issue #600 need to start sending more postcards in as there are only about 15 which have been taped to DiDio's office door.
A fan in the audience asked whether or not DC would offer up fans a break from “events,” and Sattler said, "You can read 'Doc Savage' and other books that don't tie-in to events. If you look at our books, we'll have some crossover for 'Blackest Night' but the main part of 'Blackest Night' is in its miniseries if you want that. The regular line continued to run during 'Final Crisis.' We try to make our events manageable. I hear what you're saying, but for everyone who says, 'I don't want any more events' look at how many people in this room are wearing lantern corps t-shirts. We try to please everybody."
Someone asked after the status of "Superman/Batman" and whether or not it would change to reflect the current events in the lines of its titular heroes. Sattler promised, "After 'Blackest Night,' you'll see a shift in the focus of 'Superman/Batman' and it'll be really cool. It's not going to be a Superman/Batman Family book, but it will be different than it is now."
Another topic that gained some laughs came from a fan who wanted to know what the panelists thought would make for a dream team-up, himself suggesting Amush Bug and Psycho Pirate. Baltazar joked, "I'd like to see like the old 'Adventure Comics' with Plastic Man come back, but instead of like 'Brave & The Bold' [with Batman] have Plastic Man be the guy that teams up with people." Sattler said his would be Wild Dog and Superman, which would read like the Superman issue of "Hitman" but instead of being brilliantly written, "I only want shooting."
On the status of the sixth issue of Ambush Bug's miniseries, Sattler said that DC had toyed with releasing the issue with blank pages at the end as a convention giveaway as a joke, but instead pushed forward to wrap the book with contributions by some special guest stars including Baltazar and Franco.