Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

The New 52 -- The Fallout

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang, but a whimper.

When it comes to comic book editors in chief, for years, there seemed to be a horse race between Joe Quesada at Marvel and Dan DiDio at DC.  Both editors brought along a new model for producing comics born of your bottom feeders of the indie comic world.  The editors and publishers weren't interested in finding new talent or developing entertainment.  They sought two ends.  The first was to leverage what they created into spin-off media deals, realizing Hollywood with its continual fascination with comics could be a gold mine if only someone would pony up for an option.  The second was that editors sought talent as an extension of themselves.  They hired people who would make the comics THEY would make if they had the time and skill.  Quesada and DiDio brought this to the big time.

Quesada and DiDio both developed very bad reputations with the pros.  Injecting their thoughts, changing entire stories, and endless notes and rewrites (sometimes making the final product pretty much what it was before all the tinkering) became the words in the air as pros shared drinks.  It could be argued that they weren't as bad as Jim Shooter (the hatred for him is legendary.  Supposedly, at the Marvel company picnic, a certain penciler burned him in effigy.  My money is on John Byrne for that one).  Then again, in the Shooter days, you had a viable independent comic market, and people could take their talent elsewhere.  Not so anymore.  Diamond and The Bigs have done all they can to kill it off, and it is currently on life support.  I should know.  This is my home.  My convention experiences are like the guy in Airheads -- "You know what it's like to be on the bill and play for fifteen minutes and the only people there to see you are the other bands and their girlfriends?  Don't talk to me about rock and roll!  I'm out in the clubs and on the streets and I'm living it!  I am rock and roll!"

Jim Lee was one of the co-founders of Image Comics, and he eventually took his Wildstorm imprint to DC.  As the clock was ticking down on his deal, industry insiders started wondering who was going to get him.  Landing Lee for your company would be huge.  There were only two who could actually do it, Marvel and DC.  Yes, Lee was one of the seven creators who told Marvel to go fuck themselves.  But when you can bring in that much money, lots of companies will let the past be the past.  DC had the edge because Lee had been working with them through Wildstorm for so long.  Eventually, with Paul Levitz stepping down from DC, Lee was brought in as co-publisher with DiDio.  And the fruits of their labors are the New 52, the DCnU.

DiDio is flying high.  Warner Bros. loves him.  Justice League is on its fourth printing.  Comics are selling out.

And the very people who helped engineer this feat are getting ready to jump.

Not all of them.  But quite a few, including supposedly one huge industry name are using their newly puffed up reps to land gigs at Marvel.  No way it's Gail Simone, and I doubt it's Ethan Van Sciver, either.  Can't be JMS, he's probably still smoking from having Brand New Day shoved down his throat, followed by what he went through on Thor.  DiDio's reputation for micromanaging the books is the biggest whisper as to why (lots of us still think it was those "peek behind the curtain" posts that got Dwayne McDuffie sacked), but the late starts and deadlines at risk of their jobs also has a lot of people pissed.  No specifics, damned NDA's.  A lot of people don't like DiDio, and used his grand ambition to get a better gig.  (Note to those wondering, "With QUESADA?!?"  No.  Quesada was replaced as EIC at Marvel in January.  Axel Alonso is now the EIC.)

This means, in order to keep this going, DiDio needs to bring in new people fast.  But who can he get?  The Bigs' whole philosophy is, "Don't call us, we'll call you."  But with the indie field nearly a smoking crater, there's no awareness of any talent down here in the trenches because there's no way for others to see what we do.  Those who get attention make gimmick comics like Super Maxi-Pad Girl (no shit, it's an actual comic, and it's at least up to issue 3), and those trying to tell stories instead of attention whoring or hoping to become Hollywood types aren't noticed easily (and only then because we approach editors.  It's not like publishers know about Sound Waves).

So DiDio is going to have to choose from lessor lights who weren't part of the grand vision to begin with (read that:  learning curve, they won't hit the ground running) and are even more likely to use the gig as a stepping stone.  Or maybe leverage their own sweetheart deals.  "Hey, you need me to stay, right?  Well, I don't like the lack of job security because I might not hit my deadlines."  DiDio has based a lot of the New 52 on keeping Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison in the wheelhouse.  What happens with the rest of the boat?

This also supposes that the momentum of the New 52 can be maintained.  Replacement series are being readied.  DiDio, a former TV guy, has hired AC Neilsen to annoy people poll people in comic shops about the comics (Patton Oswalt, the funny comedian and voice of Remy in Rattatouie, was accosted by one and Tweeted he was quitting comics over it.  He changed his mind, he's only quitting DC comics).  DiDio and Scott Lobdell seem to have not noticed how popular the character of Starfire became because of the animated Teen Titans and have pissed off the fans.  There's still a chance that this whole thing will flame out.  And if it does, DiDio being the guiding light will be seen as him leading everything over the cliff.

I don't envy DiDio right now.  He's surrounded by people he might not be able to trust like he expected.  Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Tags: art, comic books, comics, portents of doom, this ought to be interesting

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