FW Presents: Didio Out, Podcasters In

They say nature abhors a vacuum, so when DC Comics showed Dan Didio the door, Ryan Daly assembled a virtual roundtable of Siskoid from the Fire and Water Network, Dr. Anj from the Supergirl blog, and Michael Bailey from the Fortress of Baileytude to discuss what they would do if Warner Bros. made them Publisher. Check out this exciting episode of FW Presents to find out what changes they would make, which books they would push, which lines they would overhaul, and which people they would fire (maybe).


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Intro: Gene Colan interview from "The Men Without Fear"; "The Vampire Hunters" by Wojciech Kilar.

Additional music: "Be A King" by e-dubble.

Thanks for listening!

30 responses to “FW Presents: Didio Out, Podcasters In

  1. Very interesting discussion, gentlemen. I have mixed feelings about Didio myself.

    While I don’t disagree with everything he did during his tenure at DC, I strongly dislike the overall tone of the main DCU under him as well as the abandonment of any semblance of continuity.

    And I got banned from the “Back Issue” group on Facebook when I posted a gif about him using the Wizard of Oz song “Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead”.

  2. Really enjoyed this episode with you all. Much like Ryan, I really immersed myself into the DC Universe during the Dan Didio period; however, I actually latched onto the legacy characters more than the big guns at DC

    I gravitated towards books where I felt as if I wouldn’t be bogged down by the main continuity of the over all universe, as wrong as I was most of the time. I would read Nightwing, Birds of Prey, Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl, and other, what I would have called back then, peripheral characters.

    Again, I really enjoyed the discussion, and I agreed with much of what you all had to say. Perhaps you lot can come together again once all of this is sorted and you can add your thoughts about DC’s direction after Dan Didio.

  3. The nice thing that I’ll say about Dan Didio is that he worked hard to keep as many people employed in a dying industry as possible.

    Hi. I’m Diabolu Frank, human ice bucket challenge, and I’m here to point out that the comic industry will be dead soon. Admittedly, people have been saying that since at least the end of World War II, and it’s been on near constant deferral since the ’70s, but seriously, we’re about done. This is an industry largely supported and maintained by baby boomers who are running out of time and disposable income. Generation X also does its part, but probably not enough to maintain without the Boomers, and we’re not getting any younger ourselves. Millennials are notoriously poor (though there may be some job openings coming up finally) and Z never really took to stapled papyrus entertainment. The audience is aging out of supporting the industry. Shops often operate on razor-thin margins that will be disrupted for weeks if not months. Publishers’ media overlords are taking one gut punch after another with under-performing or delayed offerings, and will be looking for places to tighten the belt.

    Listening to this podcast in this environment feels like a gathering of pulp fans in the 1970s figuring out how to get Doc Savage and Shadow novels into the kids’ hands. We have the benefit of our heroes having translated extraordinarily successfully to other media. Their media of origin probably won’t survive the next recession. Make peace with its end.

    But I still wish I’d gotten to do the year long weekly maxi-series telling the earliest stories of the Golden Age DC/Quality/Fox retroactively-shared universe icons as a relaunch point.

  4. Excellent episode, gentlemen. I enjoyed all of the interesting ideas that you guys threw out into the ether for us to ponder. I personally wouldn’t be opposed to seeing monthly comic book issues go digital, and then releasing hard copy collections of those issues. Though, I wonder how a change like that would affect LCSs? I’m also a fan of seeing more graphic novels that tell complete self-contained stories. My daughter and I both like what DC is doing with their young adult and middle grade graphic novel lines. My daughter has become something of a Cassandra Cain fan thanks to Sarah Khun and Nicole Goux’s Shadow of the Batgirl graphic novel.

    1. The comic book stores are taking a hit regardless. My own LCS keeps its head above water thanks to Magic the Gathering. It’s lucrative enough that they had a break-in a couple years back and the malefactors only stole Magic cards.

      That, and the owner is a believer who doesn’t care about the profit margin, so long the store doesn’t present a deficit.

  5. I was hoping to be involved in this episode, but scheduling wouldn’t allow it. I think there were some very interesting points and ideas shared here. And I definitely appreciate the non-DiDio bashing, even though I was guilty of it over the years as well. I think the guy really did love the DC characters (overall, he still hated Nightwing for some insane reason), but he could never translate that love into something that seemed to appeal to others who loved it just as much.

    The one idea I had is kind of similar to what Michael said NOT to do (which tracks given our infamous Superman/Superman II disagreement years ago). I would hire industry veterans like Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz, Steve Englehart, Marv Wolfman, Paul Kupperberg, Alan Brennert, etc, to write a series of “classic”, non-continuity-burdened comics, that were accessible to all ages. Keep the continuity light. It’s basically the Bronze Age in the DCU. Hire artists like Jerry Ordway,Dan Jurgens, Graham Nolan, etc, to do the artwork. Make JLGL (PBHN) the art director of the line. Keep it to the core main DC heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, JLA and Teen Titans.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Chris, you’re just trying to recreate your own Golden Age of comics, the early 80s”. Well, true, BUT, that was the era where the characters had been fleshed out with real dimension, but were still completely accessible to ALL ages. The stories and art had matured, but there was nothing you couldn’t hand to a young child to read either. It was in many ways, the characters as their creators had still envisioned them, at their zenith, in my opinion.

    And I would hire these creators because 1) They deserve to have more work and 2) They know how to write compelling, compressed stories, that would not hinder someone casually picking up the book and buying it on a semi-regular basis. AND 3) they know how to tell engaging stories WITHOUT breaking the toys, which is a lost art it seems. They wrote under editors who WERE the stewards of the line, who wouldn’t allow a creator to crap all over a concept, since they still had to put out lunch boxes and coloring books, etc.

    You could even make the 100 page, $5 line like this. Take those titles and go in this direction with them. Sell them like crazy at Wal-mart. Put them in the toy aisle as well as next to the books, trading cards, etc.

    Either that, or just give everything to Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Rich Fogel, etc. But they should have done that decades ago.


  6. I read somewhere an idea like Ryan’s and Chris Franklin’s, where there is a specific line that is based on the icons and has its own sort of continuity, but is basically “all ages” but not Dark. I would buy those and read them and give them to my friends’ kids so that they can enjoy the same characters I grew up enjoying.
    Oh, if Luke Daab and I were in charge and ran an imprint of that line….. Thanks for thinking of us, and complementing our abilities in such a nice way. I appreciated it.

    PS, I now feel challenged to write a Red Tornado story that Ryan and Siskoid don’t hate. 😉

  7. Well, that was an enjoyable show! As regards DiDio’s time in charge, I disagree with Siskoid that the varied approaches across the publishing schedule were a sign of his not knowing what to do, I see that as him trying to make sure there’s something for everyone. And yeah, throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

    And I’m with Anj, DC You brought some really great books – as well as Batgirl and Starfire, there was a terrific Jimmy Olsen book co-starring Bizarro, Midnighter, Omega Men, Dr Fate, Lois and Clark and more.

    Anyway, some great ideas for the future, there, especially the different formats – sign me up for the Superman Family-style books right now. My least favourite/please God No! Is Ryan’s notion to get rid of almost DC’s entire publishing history. I agree, a slavish adherence to continuity has been damaging at times, but continuity has also led to some wonderful, rich sagas. And when has a New Universe ever took? It would never hit that four-year mark, readers would desert in droves.

    If I were in charge I’d pay big bucks to bring in Paul Levitz and Roger Stern (or guys of similar stature) to train up the editors – didn’t DC used to have weekly training sessions? – in narrative structure, character and the like, plus the importance of hitting those deadlines. So many of DC’s problems over the last few years seems to come from individual editors who don’t spot holes in stories, or don’t crack the whip with their writers – I’d relax the overall holistic editorial hand and give the editors more power to actually be the boss of their creatives. Have the big creative retreat annually to get everyone on the same page as far as general direction is concerned, but if good ideas come up along the way, they can be incorporated.

    I’d look back to the golden period of FF when Stan and Jack gave us, in short order, the Inhumans, Black Panther, Galactus, Silver Surfer and more and challenge creative teams to come up with new concepts and spins that have as much potential, but introduced in the existing books – I want what Ryan wants, fresh characters, but throwing the super-baby out with the bath water is a non-starter.

    Again, though, this was a great listen, thanks for putting it together, Ryan, and to the boys for taking part.

  8. If I were in charge…

    Firstly, I’d cancel every book. No more monthlies. Like Siskoid, I would move to book formats. 4-6 issue length stories plus back-ups teasing other upcoming stories with similar characters.

    The Superman problem: Apologies in advance to Michael Bailey, but Superman has a big perception problem amongst creatives and audiences. Fans seem I’d put him in a cooler for a while and treat him as Disney treats Mickey Mouse. He’s the figurehead for the company that has special releases every now and again, but isn’t a perennial. It would be a BIG DEAL when a Superman book comes out. I’d see how this works out for a couple of years.

    Continuity: Let’s not do this. Crossovers would be a big deal, but no company crossovers. Not for at least 3 years. And if there is a company crossover, it’s Endgame level. With an ending.

    Multiple Earths: Yes, of course. But we’re telling stories on a single earth. No more earth-2 only books. At least not for a while.

    Scholastic: I’d license out the characters to Scholastic. Have you seen how many Dogman books sell a million copies? And they’re small hardcovers for only $10. This company can spot talent to create content for an elementary audience – which is the future of these characters. If anyone can make Cave Carson or Metal Men or any of those wackier concepts work, it’s this company.

    The customer: Well, I heard a lot about these books not reaching the CW audience. It seems to me the target for that network is tween girls with a side focus on courting LGTBQ+ kids. The problem with this audience is there’s a very narrow window get them in the door as they quickly age out these shows. I get that there are older men watching these shows, but these aren’t the people to woo. A line of hardcover books reflecting the tone and sensibilities of the show, without ever contracting them, should be available at the beginning, middle, and end of each show season with a strong push for the summer months. It’s the tail wagging the dog, but it would potentially keep these characters alive. Also, make download codes for a free chapter available for a show viewer. More thoughts later.

  9. More DAG thoughts:

    The Editorial staff: I’d steal who I could from YA lines and scholastic. I’d put YA author Iva Marie-Palmer in charge of everything. As for artist, I’d look at animators – people that could handle all creative aspects of the book (with the probable exception of lettering)

    For the Old Guard: I’d do reprints in stores. Digest size softcovers with the old stuff.

    And as Frank notes, yes this may be an industry on its deathbed. But it’s been on that thing for years.

        1. I’d move away from floppies straight to trades and smaller sized hardcovers. You can keep your market share by selling a stray line of trades.

      1. I just don’t think fiddling with the characters is the publisher’s job. Now if you said I was an editor of a line of books, well then, that’s a different matter.

  10. Almost forgot – I’d do a silver age style reboot where I would take the names of the characters and change them to reflect a more diverse audience. That means characters would be from different age groups, etc. And no multiple Robins or nonsense like that. No more genetic ties to WW2 characters – that dates everything.

        1. I’m not arguing your point by somehow saying Tangent was that idea. I’m asking if that’s the general gist of what reusing old names could be like.

          I quite liked a number of characters from that universe.

  11. Lots of good ideas here. If it were me, I’d give creators back their copyrights and trademarks, and abolish work for hire. That’s step one.

    Step two, Jae Lee and Steve Lieber draw whatever they want!

    1. We still tried to act like we were living in the real world, where the evil WB would never have let the copyright thing pass (well, except Ryan), but yes, if I’m reforming the whole kit and kaboodle, people in the comics industry suddenly have protections, rights and benefits.

  12. This was a fascinating discussion and comment section. I have no suggestions or insight. I love the medium of comics and would like to see it continue, some how.

  13. Another great convo. I’m surprisingly blasé about DiDio leaving. Under his watch, I’ve pretty much dropped all DC books and at this point I don’t see them doing anything that’ll entice me back. I only even look at their solicitations to see what reprints and collections they are doing.

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