At WonderCon 2012 in Anaheim, California, DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee took to the convention stage for the DCE: Meet The Publishers panel to speak directly to fans about DC Nation, the New 52, "Before Watchmen," and other projects coming out from DC Entertainment in 2012.
Moderated by Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne, the panel began as DiDio jokingly introduced Wayne to a dedicated crowd of DC fans and readers. The audience cheered as Wayne then more formally introduced DiDio and Lee, beginning the panel by bringing up the Warner Brothers DC Nation block of animated shows and shorts.
“Which short did you like so far?” DiDio asked as the audience unanimously called out “Animal Man!”
“For us it’s really exciting to see that block being branded as DC Nation,” said DiDio, adding, “To see representation of Green Lantern and all the characters the general population doesn’t know, to hear people cheering ‘Animal Man’ is I think what makes DC Nation great!”
Lee then moved onto the new DC Comics website, saying that fans will see a lot more of the new DC logo, which looks “really cool when it’s animated!” said Lee.
“It really highlights the main franchise’s characters,” added Lee, saying that they believed the website now served as the gathering point of everything “DC Entertainment related,” including Vertigo Comics and MAD Magazine.
The two co-publishers then showed off the cover for DC’s “The New 52” Free Comic Book Day issue, showing an image of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and new character Pandora holding a gun.
“She’s got a really interesting back story being tied into other characters in the DCU,” said Lee, labeling her a very “cosmic character” who uses “mystical guns.” The FCBD comic will also lead into stories coming out in the next year.
“Jim’s being modest, there’s a centerfold colored four page full spread with a lot of characters from the comic book,” said DiDio, adding that there will be new characters, one redesigned character, and returning characters to the DCU showing up in the spread.
DiDio then told a fan who called out from the back row there will be a place for character Jefferson Pierce in the DCU “fairly soon!”
Wayne then brought up an image of the Vertigo adaptation of “Girl With a Dragon Tattoo,” Lee telling the audience that they felt the adaptation will help bring in a wider audience and reach those who may not normally read comic books.
Wayne then showed the image for the cover of the Free Comic Book Day “Green Lantern/Young Justice” comic book, based of the animated WB shows.
“At the end of May we’ll have a one-shot magazine for DC Nation,” added Wayne before bringing up a logo image for “Before Watchmen.”
“I love doing the panels on Sunday because we’re at the end of the show, you’re exhausted, you’re broke, you haven’t eaten, so what I appreciate is the loyalty and support you show us,” said DiDio before asking the audience how they felt about the “Before Watchmen” prequels.
Calling on a man in the front, the fan told DiDio and Lee that he felt the comic was “unnecessary” though he admitted he would probably buy an issue.
“We knew that going in, and that’s why we wanted to hear you say that,” said DiDio, saying that concern was why they assembled the high-caliber level of creative teams on the book to entice readers adding, “When you see the books come out, hopefully, any concern will be gone.”
Addressing another fan’s question about whether Adam Hughes will be able to finish his book on time, Dido assured him that they will meet the commitment of releasing the books weekly.
“And Adam’s stuff looks great too,” said Lee.
DiDio then brought up Lee’s variant cover for “Nite Owl” as the audience applauded, Lee explaining that he hoped to capture the “vigilante” quality of the book.
“On this I dialed it back, shrunk the shoulders....tried to make it look more realistic than I normally do,” said Lee, explaining hat he wanted to stay close to the original look of the book.
“He said he was going to do an over sized Dr. Manhattan though!” joked DiDio, adding with a wink, “I wonder what’s going to be in the middle!”
“Very big -- ankles,” joked Lee as the audience laughed.
Bringing up an image for the hardcover collection of the first six issue of “Justice League,” the book Lee does art for, Lee and DiDio showed fans sketches of Cyborg that will be included in the collection.
DiDio then laughed as he brought up his Challengers Of The Unknown story in “DC Universe Presents,” telling the audience “When we decided to redo Challengers we wanted to do it as a reality show.” DiDio then joked that it didn’t get the attention of “Justice League” and pretended to plead with the DC Entertainment people for PR.
“That’s what that lunch was for?” Wayne joked as the audience laughed.
The three then moved onto “Smallville Season 11,” which will be released as digital comics first before the print edition.
“We knew that if we went out in the 99 cent price point we could get those who would buy things for 99 cents,” said Lee, pointing out that they also hoped to bring in more casual readers and non-comics fan for the digital initiative.
“We’re really seeing that when we go out to digital consumers it’s not the same consumers who are going out to the comic book shop every Wednesday,” added Lee, labeling the initiative a “success.”
Lee then moved onto the “Arkham City” video game related short digital comics, saying, “We’re very happy with how they’ve done.”
“We sold out in retail the first day,” Wayne said of “Batman Beyond Unlimited,” whose first issue went back for a second printing.
Bringing up an image of writer Scott Snyder’s “American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares” miniseries and Anthony Bourdain’s “Get Jiro” graphic novel DiDio and Lee highlighted the Vertigo imprint, as well as telling the audience that “MAD Magazine,” will be doing a special “Batman” issue of the comedy magazine a few weeks before the next “Dark Knight” film comes out.
Lee then highlighted the DC “We Can Be Heroes” initiative to create awareness and fight the hunger crisis in Africa.
“I’ll admit, it’s something that we hear about off and on over the years and it doesn’t have the same sex appeal as Kony or some of those other campaigns, but it is a problem,” said Lee.
Aiming to raise two million dollars over two years for three carefully vetted charities working in Africa, Lee encouraged fans to text HEROES to 80888, saying DC would match whatever contribution fans make.
Throwing it to the audience DiDio asked the audience of how many books of the New 52 they were reading, the majority of people reading about ten to fifteen books. Continuing onto twenty-five books, DiDio began asking fans to stand up as the audience applauded. Dido then kept going up until only one fan remained standing, the only one in the room reading all 52 books DC publishes.
“Ok, what happened in ‘Black Ops’ number four, page eight?” Lee jokingly grilled the fan as the audience laughed.
Opening the floor to audience questions, the first fan to the microphone asked if there were plans for DC and WB to do feature-length animated films.
“We’re not involved with that but I’m happy they release as many as they do,” said DiDio.
The next audience member asked Lee what his vision for the Superman suit is as every artist working on the New 52 hero has drawn the costume slightly different.
“It’s Kryptonian in origin so to me it was something other worldly,” said Lee, saying that he initially imagined the suit like a beetle’s armor, tough and sleek and shimmering.
“It’s a thing we’re constantly working on,” said Lee about the various artist’s interpretations of his designs, adding, “People tend to revert back to the norm and we’re really trying to keep pushing the new direction.”
Another fan asked if DC would do something similar to the Marvel Digital Library program.
“We’ve been focusing on a couple of key partners, ComiXology is one and Amazon is the other,” said Lee, telling him they were not sure the “all you can eat” approach to the browser-based and flash digital reader would be profitable or better for the company.
A red-headed fan then asked if readers would see Wally West in the New 52 and if there might be a Flash movie with Wally West.
“We’re not saying if Wally exists or doesn’t exist or if he still has red hair or not, but we are saying we are in the early stages of the New 52 and anything can happen,” said DiDio.
A female fan then demanded to know where her Dex-Starr Valentine's Day comic was.
“I’m going to say, I’m going to do something big for Valentine’s Day next year,” said DiDio.
“Are you going to propose?” Lee asked as DiDio and the audience laughed.
Another fan wanted to know if Ralph and Sue Dibny would be returning.
“Everybody has a favorite that they haven’t seen yet,” said DiDio, telling the audience that anything was possible and that they wanted to roll out any new or retuning characters slowly.
DiDio then told the audience Kieth Giffen will be doing pencils on a book fans “will be extraordinarily excited to see.” DiDio then said that three of the segments of “Multiversity” are currently being drawn.
“We want to make sure we have enough issues in the can before it rolls out,” said DiDio, saying the tentatively hoped to put the Grant Morrison comic out this year.
A “Wildstorm” fan then wanted to know if Lee would show the old “WILDCats” cartoon in the DC Nation block as an April Fool's Day joke, to which Lee laughed and said probably not.
A young boy in the audience wanted to know why they changed Superboy’s powers from strength to telekinesis.
“It’s actually the telekinesis he’s using that gives the impression of super strength!” said DiDio.
The very last question was from a fan who asked the co-publishers to get WB to bring out more animated movies of characters other than Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and to make a feature-length “Justice League” movie.
“It’d be awesome to see an Justice League movie,” said Lee.
DiDio then thanked the audience again for reading the New 52, ending the panel with a round of applause from the audience.