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AICN COMICS SDCC 2013 Q&@: Ambush Bug has his yearly pow wow with DC’s Dan Didio!

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Q’s by Ambush Bug!

@’s by DC’s Dan Didio!!!

Ambush Bug here with interview six from the floor of the San Diego Comic Con. Every year since before the New 52 releaunch, I’ve sat down with Dan Didio to talk about the state of DC Comics. This year is no different. Here’s what Dan had to say when I caught up with him at the Con…

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Okay, well we are back at San Diego…

DAN DIDIO (DD): Yes, we are!

BUG: I’m here with Dan Didio at the DC booth. It’s been a year since I’ve talked to you. It’s been an exciting year for you guys at DC. How’s the con going for you this year?

DD: It’s going well. It’s pretty exciting for us, and actually goes with SUPERMAN’s seventy fifth anniversary, and we had great cooperation with the folks over at Warner Brothers Films in bringing over some of the costumes and the level of reaction that we got to that really gets us all excited, because it reminds people about how long Superman has been around, not just in comics, but in all the mediums. When you look at all the different costumes and you think back, you realize that he’s been around for seventy five years as comics, but he’s probably been around for almost seventy five years in other media, between radio and cartoons and television and film, so it just shows the strength of our characters and the longevity of our characters.

BUG: And you guys have the big events coming up here with FOREVER EVIL as well as THE TRINITY WAR right now. You’ve been a part of that with PHANTOM STRANGER, so what’s it been like to be a part of that, this big thing that Geoff Johns has been…

DD: Geoff and I have been talking about this for a while, and we were thinking through THE TRINITY WAR really from the Free Comic Book Day comic two years ago and from our standpoint, this is something we’ve been building to, but the reality is that TRINITY WAR is really, for all intents and purposes, is a very strong crossover from the JUSTICE LEAGUE books and almost a prequel with what’s about to happen with FOREVER EVIL, which is a real big event. FOREVER EVIL will be our first major crossover across the new 52 and that’s exciting, because for the first two years with the New 52 we’ve been spending all of our time and energy trying to really build up the individual franchises and make sure that these books can stand alone, these characters you have a clear understanding of who they are, which stories they tell, and once we felt we had a strong foundation there, that was the point we wanted to bring them all together in this event. If you tag on top of the villain’s month, for me that’s really exciting and also nerve-wracking. We are trying something that’s never been done before. We are doing 52 villain month books, 52 one shots with villains, but also each of those books will feature 3D motion covers, which is a brand new technology. It’s only been tried out once before and we are trying it across 52 books at the same time, so it’s exciting.

BUG: So what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of coming up with this type of crossover? 52 books, that’s a huge deal.

DD: Well it’s interesting, because part of the challenge of the crossover is really to see what’s going on in the individual stories and bring them all together and then figure out continuity-wise how it all falls together. So one of the things we first laid out was the fact that we knew that FOREVER EVIL was running in September, ending in March of next year, and what we are doing is we told the regular ongoing series that your series run through, so therefore any sort of ramifications of fallout will occur at the conclusion of the FOREVER EVIL series, not during the stories they are running. But that’s not to say we won’t have some series tying into FOREVER EVIL during the course of the series. SUICIDE SQUAD, TEEN TITANS, the two JUSTICE LEAGUE books will all be involved in a lot of the events that are taking place in FOREVER EVIL, so they will be running concurrently in FOREVER EVIL. There are three other support series dealing with Arkham, Argus, and the Flash Rogues. Those also will be running through it, so you will be getting a good feel of FOREVER EVIL across the line every month, plus the other stories will be continuing, and then once we bring it up to the big conclusion for FOREVER EVIL, you will feel the whole line come together in an exciting direction following that.

BUG: About THE PHANTOM STRANGER, which is a really cool book, you’ve been able to do some really fun things with the character.

DD: You know, I had a lot of fun. I love these peripheral characters in the DC Universe. I can’t help it, that’s why I gravitated to OMAC and to PHANTOM STRANGER, but in capturing the spirit of the new 52, I wanted to find a new way of moving forward and with PHANTOM STRANGER. What happened was that, for all intents and purposes, he was a supporting character in his own book. He was more of a host than really the star, and the only way you could really make him the star is to create a story for him, a backstory and who he was. A lot of people wrote me and said “You’re removing the “stranger” part in the Phantom Stranger.” The reality is, no I didn’t. Every character inside the books has no idea who he is. We, the readers, are in on the joke and aware of it, and that makes it so we can empathize with him more. I think that was important, and once we set up the parameters of who he might be and where he might come from and his road to redemption, I think that’s something that people can root for and follow along with.

BUG: Bringing in his biblical ties, was that something where as it was being thrown around it was debated at all?

DD: No, that was there from day one. That was always going to be the plan. That was the heart of the story and it was interesting, because one of the things that we did is when we set up that Free Comic Book Day comic we knew what the story was with Phantom Stranger, we knew what the story was for Pandora. We haven’t revealed the story for The Question yet, and that is in place. It’s not exactly what people think it is, because they are going to make assumptions based upon what happened with Phantom Stranger and Pandora that you can figure out who he is, and you couldn’t be further from the truth.

BUG: Sounds good. I can’t wait to find out. That’s been my question from day one, “What’s The Question going to be? How does he tie into all of this?”

DD: What you will see in FOREVER EVIL and PHANTOM STRANGER and a lot of the TRINITY books is that The Question also is a character who’s created an identity for himself in normal life as well, and because he doesn’t know who he is, he’s become a bit of a detective and he searches mysteries, but also the biggest mystery is his own identity. That’s going to come to a level of conclusion during the course of some of these stories going forward, which launches him on his next adventure. He has a lot of animosity towards The Phantom Stranger and we went out of our way to do that. Ultimately he knows his creation was around the same time that Phantom Stranger’s was, and he blames Phantom Stranger for it and does not realize that Phantom Stranger was actually a person who was as much of a victim as he was.

BUG: Great. What else is going on that you’re excited about with DC here?

DD: Well there’s so much going on, because right now we feel like we are getting a lot of things moving. I was so excited to see what happened with Robert Venditti coming aboard THE GREEN LANTERN. Those are big shoes to fill and they stepped in with a very fearless attitude with a long term story, and they were very understanding about what came before and were very beholden to it, but they were able to launch their story into their own direction, so that’s great news. When you see Scott Snyder and Greg doing such wonderful work on the BATMAN books right now with this ZERO YEAR and you see Tomasi with following the DEATH OF DAMIAN storyline, that’s exciting to see. The launching of the Superman/Wonder Woman book, this is something that, again, is the centerpiece of the New 52. The Superman/Wonder Woman that didn’t exist before and we went out of our way to use that as a touchstone for us to say “we are taking our characters in in directions and now we are building an entire series around that.” We are moving in a forward direction and not looking backwards.

BUG: How much pressure do you feel to retell some of the bigger stories that are wiped out of continuity right now?

DD: You’ve got that pressure every day, and there’s a natural fallback position that every time you’re being pushed that you almost want to do it and you almost want to fix it. There’s this weird energy behind the scenes, an unspoken word amongst writers about “I want to be the guy to bring that back.” What we always do and why it always stops is that everybody always wants to bring it back, but they have no story past that, and I always say “Listen, we are always open to hear where you want to take these characters, but it has to be a long term plan, not to bring it back to say you did.” Once you do that, you waste an opportunity and that’s what we don’t want to do. If the only reason to bring it back is to bring it back is because you can, then that’s the reason not to do it. You only bring it back because it’s going to add value, scope, and depth to the universe as a whole, and right now we have a lot of belief in the characters we have on the table and I’m much more interested in new than revisiting at this time.

BUG: You spent a lot of time establishing the main DC universe. Is there going to be more elaboration on some of the multiverse?

DD: We’ve been talking about this for years now, but it’s actually finally reaching fruition. Grant Morrison’s MULTIVERSITY series is scheduled for next year, and he’s going to visit a number of the worlds in the multiverse too, and I think that’s going to help bring some of that breadth of the DCU and it’s also a way to address some of those character questions you brought about too.

BUG: Sure, okay. What about outside of DC here? What are you excited about here at the con? Are you able to go check out any of this stuff?

DD: The only thing I’m really excited about is GODZILLA. (laughs) I can’t help it. And Jim’s trying to get me tickets to go see the GODZILLA exhibition, so if it’s ever a good year to come here as a publisher, this is a good time.

BUG: Very cool. Yeah, I’m excited to see that as well. Is there anything else you want to tell the guys at Ain’t It Cool?

DD: We have a lot of great things happening right now. Like I said, it’s the Superman seventy fifth anniversary. I think in some ways it’s a kickoff for us for SANDMAN OVERTURE, Neil Gaiman’s return to Sandman. That’s important for us as well, and again it’s the continuation of the strength of the new 52 that always gets me going, and the fun part is that when we come to conventions like this and get a chance to meet the fans face to face with the level of excitement for the New 52, and all this is really invigorating to me. What’s really invigorating, you feel the crowd getting bigger and younger. There’s a lot of new readers coming in and new people saying that they came in because we gave them a spot to actually join in and become part of our universe. There’s no better feeling than that.

BUG: And you survived the experience of the BEFORE WATCHMEN thing. None of the death threats came true.

DD: No, you know, it’s all fine and good. Peoples’ reactions are peoples’ reactions. All I can really tell you about is how the books did, and the books themselves have exceeded our expectations. I am so excited by the quality of the work that was done, and when you look at that body of work and you see what it is, you understand it was worth the time and energy. The fact of the matter is, when you see the first two WATCHMEN books premiering on the New York Times graphic novel best seller list as number one and number two, it tells us we’ve got something going here.

BUG: Definitely. Are there plans to revisit that down the line?

DD: I really want to let these ones breathe for themselves right now. We have a lot of great stuff happening, and more importantly we have game plans for next year, and we have another couple ideas down the road that could actually fill that same void. For us, I think we want to let that body of work stand for itself. Those guys worked extraordinarily hard and we are extraordinarily proud of that material. I think it’s good that we give it the proper platform at this time.

BUG: Is there a character over the next year that we should be watching or looking out for?

DD: You know, this one gets me in trouble, but it’s true: Nightwing.

BUG: Nightwing? Great. Always a controversial subject.

DD: Yeah, me and Nightwing we go way back. (Laughs) If at first you don’t succeed…

BUG: Cool, well thank you so much for taking the time out. I know you’re a busy man, so I’ll let you get back into the mix. Thanks a lot. Take care!

DD: Absolutely. You got it, man! Thanks so much.

BUG: You can see Dan’s writing every month in THE PHANTOM STRANGER from DC Comics!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel through Hermes Press). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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