Monday, July 9, 2007

Executive Oversight

A while ago, it seems, Eric Moreno of The ComicBloc talked to DC Comics executive editor Dan Didio. Didio has been in charge of the publisher's mainstream line of superhero titles since 2002. While it's seen a tremendous amount of growth during the first four years under Didio's guidance, the past year worth of books hasn't been as successful.

The interview mostly consists of the usual gushing and high-fiving, but there are a few interesting bits in there - such as when Didio outlines what his job description means in practice.
[W]e are in a position right now where we have a direction in what we are trying to do for the DCU [DC Universe -Marc-Oliver] and we have an overarching story that we’re trying to tell. I’d say about 75% of the concepts that are being created are editorially driven. And realistically, at that point, we are trying to figure out bringing in the best people for the job. One of the tougher aspects of the job is waiting for people to pitch you ideas, you know?
Italics mine. Of course, none of this is news, if you've been following DC's direction over the last few years. Still, it's curious to see it being acknowledged so openly, given the stigma that's usually attached to editorially-driven books or to stories plotted by committee. I guess the success of 52 may have loosened them up a bit, in that regard.

Wrongly so, mind you - a successful comic by Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid and Greg Rucka speaks precisely for those creators, not for the idea of committee writing. Later on in the interview, Didio points out that his role with 52 was rather more hands-off than with its follow-up Countdown. According to Deseret, meanwhile, he admits that Countdown sales are lower than those of 52, which seems at odds with the expectations he voices - presumably at an earlier point in time - at The ComicBloc. ("[...] Countdown should be the summer blockbuster; 52 is the Academy Award-winning movie at the end of the year.") While the two facts obviously don't have to be related, I'd say it's a possibility that seems worth looking into, at the very least.

What I'm wondering, now, is whether creators are finding the prospect of breast-feeding ideas and concepts worked out by DC editorial particularly endearing. Indeed, looking at Didio's current talent pool, there don't seem to be many names capable of reserving the publisher's major titles a consistent spot in the Top 25. If you're singling out those capable of doing it on a monthly basis, you're down to Geoff Johns, and his next job is The All-New Booster Gold.

Quite possibly, a more hands-off editorial approach may not just make the audience happier and more willing to give DC a shot, but the creators as well.

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