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DC Editors on the Relaunch: Cost, Female Costumes, and What’s Still in Continuity [Interview]

As everyone is no doubt thoroughly aware at this point, big changes are coming to the DC Universe in September, when their entire slate of comics relaunches with new #1 issues, all available simultaneously in print and digital.

But what does the double rainbow of this massive two-pronged announcement mean? Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Executive Editor Eddie Berganza spoke to ComicsAlliance to help fill in the blanks about which classic stories are still going to “count” after the relaunch, why the rumors of giving female characters pants were false, how they plan to hold the line at $2.99 for print and digital with most of their titles, and the fate of Jim Lee’s long-anticipated Dark Knight: Boy Wonder.

ComicsAlliance: With the 52 new titles that are coming in September, is DC going to continue holding the line at $2.99?

Bob Harras: Forty of our fifty-two titles will be $2.99 in September, and we’ve very dedicated to holding that line. It’s very important to us, and we’re very happy to continue to do so. [Editor's Note: DC confirmed that there will be "consistency of pricing" for digital sales as well, consistent with their previous pricing announcement.]

CA: Obviously a lot is going to be changing in September, but what storylines from the history of the current DC Universe are going to carry forward into the relaunch?

Eddie Berganza: It’s all built on characters. It’s the stories that mean a lot to a particular hero or villain — you have Death in the Family counting, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, The Killing Joke, Identity Crisis. These are important storylines that affected our characters’ lives, and that will be part and parcel of moving forward.

CA: Were the announcements about digital and the #1 relaunch something you considered separately, or were they always a package deal?
BH: It was something that had been growing for a long time; the intent was always to open this up to as many people as possible. In the world that we live in now, that would have to include digital.

CA: Where are you expecting most of the new readers coming from, for both digital and print? Lapsed readers, people familiar with the characters from TV and movies, or simply people who don’t live near a comic book store?

EB: I think they’ll come from all those places and even more. This party is for everyone. There’s no age limit. Just come on in… This is our way of getting to everyone.

BH: Again, we’ve got Superman, we’ve got Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern. We’ve got these characters, and this is an opportunity to open the doors and see.

CA: But in terms of the demographics of new readers, you aren’t anticipating gains from any groups of people in particular?

EB: I think it depends on the platform. Different people gravitate to different things. The fact that [these are] #1 [comics] will hopefully interest everybody.

CA: Do you see the new readers you plan to bring in through digital as being different from the readers you plan to bring in through the print market?

EB: It’s about getting them a story. It’s not whether they like comics or not, in some cases, they just don’t know where these [brick and mortar comics] stores are.

CA: Why now? What made this the right moment for DC Comics to make such a big move with the big relaunch and the new simultaneous digital distribution?

EB: I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we came into our new positions last year. We’re both fans of these characters, and one of the things we did when we came aboard was talking about how we could get people excited. We love these characters and we really want to create storylines and events that invite the largest number of people to this party that is DC Comics. It really came from that — that excitement about the characters.

CA: On the creative side, you’ve got a hundred-some creators involved in the relaunched books, and almost all of them are creators that are working on current books. What made you want to draw almost exclusively from your existing talent pool for the new status quo rather than pulling in more new creators?

EB: You don’t want us to use Jim Lee? [laughs]

BH: Well, we have some new creators coming on, and that was always part of our intent, but I think it is also the fact that we have great writers and artists here at DC. In some ways, we’re challenging them to work differently, to work together and talk in different ways, so we’re really playing to our strengths by using them moving forward. And again, we do have some new talent coming aboard our books, so I think we’ve got a nice mix. And we’re always looking for new voices.

CA: So editorially, how are you asking them to work together differently?

BH: I think organically what has happened is the artists and writers are talking much more than they used to. We’re really encouraging them to talk almost on a daily basis, and for the editors to organize phone calls with both writers and artists. Also internally, there’s a lot more back and forth about storylines. We have pizza lunches where all the editors get together to show what they have coming up in September and going forward. And what’s fun to see is that everyone’s excited, but also there’s a game of “Look at this, can you top this?” And that type of energy is flowing out from the office to the talent as well, and it’s exciting to see.

EB: They are trying to top each other. And the surprises are when you get something like Frankenstein [Agent of SHADE] or Animal Man, where we see pages coming in every day and we are just stunned by them. These books are getting shown at the editorial meetings, and people are going, “This is amazing. I want to do something like this in my book.” The competition is going to be a good thing, I think. And with Jeff Lemire [on Frankenstein and Animal Man], it’s almost like he’s competing against himself.

CA: I had heard a rumor that after the relaunch that all the female characters would involve pants, although the recent Supergirl costume change seems to debunk that. Was there any consideration given to changing the costumes, particularly in terms of the disproportionately large amount of skin exposed on female characters in comparison with male characters?

EB: We looked at every hero, analyzing what’s realistic within the realm of wearing a costume. Now, more and more people are being exposed to them on film. Look at what Green Lantern’s wearing. Really, the sky’s the limit. And that’s not limited to gender. It’s about what makes practical sense for a hero to put on.

CA: Sure, but I think that we all know that costumes for female heroes are significantly more revealing in terms of skin. Was there ever a conversation about have a more equal and proportionate approach to men and women’s costumes?

BH: All the characters were looked at… That was across the board for all the 52 [new comics]. So I don’t know where the pants thing came from because it was a very comprehensive look at what we were doing in September.

EB: And for Hawkman, we kept the shirt off.

CA: Are there any characters that you can guarantee fans will not be seeing in the new DCU?

VP of Publicity David Hyde: So far I think that so far there are no plans for Ambush Bug.

CA: Finally, is Dark Knight: Boy Wonder still on the schedule?

BH: I think that is planned for some time down the road.

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