DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee Explain the Future of Wildstorm [Interview]
Following yesterday’s big announcements that DC Entertainment will be moving to Los Angeles and that the Wildstorm imprint will be going to be closing down at the end of December 2010, ComicsAlliance had a chance to speak with not only DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, but also the two Co-Publishers of DC Comics, Dan DiDio and Jim Lee.
The longtime Executive Editor at DC, DiDio was promoted to Co-Publisher in February along with Jim Lee, an A-list artist turned executive who has helped spearhead DC’s digital initiatives. Lee, who originally founded the Wildstorm imprint, currently resides in Los Angeles while DiDio will remain in New York CIty.
ComicsAlliance spoke with the two men about how the decision to close down Wildstorm got made, whether characters from Wildstorm will make the jump into the DC Universe, and what digital initiatives DC has on the way.
CA: Jim, you founded Wildstorm, and obviously you’ve been an important part of Wildstorm over the years; how involved were you in the decision to close the imprint?
Jim Lee: As part of the senior executive team, I was very involved. You have to set aside whatever personal feelings you may have about it and look at the company from a global, big picture perspective. And what we decided to do with the Wildstorm universe and characters makes creative sense for the characters, allowing them to settle and then bring [them] back in a reenergized fashion. As far as the business components at Wildstorm, we really analyzed the businesses we were in and how we could build the engine that we want to set up in Burbank. And that’s really the discussion we’re engaging the employees with this week.
CA: One thing that occurred to me was the fact that the Wildstorm universe has already been established as Earth-50 in the DC Universe, so it does already have that connection to the multiverse.
JL: That’s right. Sharp-witted, eagle-eyed fans would pick that up. That said, not every Wildstorm/DC universe storyline has fallen with that paradigm. So I wouldn’t be rash, but at the same time that would make logical sense. Again, Dan [DiDio] and Geoff Johns and myself have big plans for the characters, and we look forward to the day that we can unveil that.
CA: What are your plans for the characters currently under the Wildstorm imprint in a creative sense? You’ve said that they’re going to be moving under the DC banner; does that mean that they’ll be entering DC continuity as well?
JL: We have some big plans for the characters, and it’s all currently under wraps at this point. If and when they come back, they’ll be infused with a new level of excitement and energy and uniqueness that will hopefully match the intensity and excitement they generated when they were first introduced in the world of comics.
CA: Wildstorm has also featured a lot of non-universe comics like licensed titles for video games and kids comics. Am I right in assuming that regardless, there are going to be some Wildstorm comics moving under the DC banner that are not in DC continuity?
Dan DiDio: Yes. As a matter of fact, what we’re going to do is continue publishing Wildstorm books through December, and the licensed books will continue being publishing in January under the DC banner.
CA: When I heard about the Wildstorm imprint moving under the DC banner, I couldn’t help but think about the recent decision to move many of the DC-owned Vertigo characters into the DC Universe. Were the decisions about Wildstorm and Vertigo made in concert?
JL: Absolutely. I think [it’s] the streamlining of all the different flavors that we publish every month. You’ve got Zuda, you’ve got Wildstorm, you’ve got the DCU, you’ve got Vertigo… and MAD magazine of course. And I think when you get that striated you lose some intensity, and we really wanted to put the value back into the DC brand itself. That’s why you’re seeing a little bit of this consolidation.
DD: One of the things too is that we realized DC Comics is the most recognizable name, but we also have a lot of strength in regards to the Vertigo [brand] and MAD magazine. When you say Vertigo and you said MAD, you clearly understand what each other brands and imprints stands for. And we’d rather build each of those to be even stronger, with a stronger message.
CA: What titles are you most excited to see brought under the DC banner?
JL: That’s a tricky question… There’s a number of them. A lot of Wildstorm books used to sell in the top ten; there are a lot of fans, and I hope this galvanizes this community so that they’re clamoring for the return of their favorite characters. We want to pay up on that demand.
DD: I’m going to go one step further with that because so many of the Wildstorm characters have sensibilities and powers and ideals and stories that are unique to them, and really don’t overlap with anything that’s currently produced in the DCU… When these characters were first introduced, these were best-selling books. And what we’re hoping to do after the period of time where we rest the characters is reintroduce them and see the same level of success.
CA: Jim, you’ve been working very closely with the digital end of DC Comics, and your statement with Dan mentioned that there’s more to come on that front. Should we be expecting to hear any announcements about digital or the iPad in the near future?
JL: I can’t really elaborate on that; it was left very vague for a reason, but obviously there’s a lot of excitement and turnover in that space as new devices are introduced. New platforms mean new opportunities, and we’re on top of all those advances. As they’re ready to come to market, that’s when we’ll be ready to announce it.
CA: Will the bicoastal restructuring have any impact on the way that the digital side of things runs?
JL: I think in a general way, Wildstorm will have a big part of that, but I can’t really get into the granular details because I’d rather discuss them one on one with the various employees that are impacted this week.
CA: You’ve been working as Co-Publishers from the two different coasts for some time; how do you see the restructuring affecting your day to day, if at all?
JL: I’m pretty used to traveling back and forth and dealing with Burbank, so I don’t see it changing much day to day, honestly. Dan and I have developed a good rhythm in terms of how we work together, and he comes out to the west coast and I go out to the east coast once a month. We really share a vision about print and digital comics. There shouldn’t be a schism between them because of the delivery mechanism, and that’s really been our motto and the driving force behind DC publishing in general.