Things got interesting over at Newsarama! Check out the full article here.
Not long ago, Mark Waid gave an interview in which he said Dan DiDio hated “52” as it was coming out. He said DiDio called Countdown “52 done right.” Now, if this is true, it goes a long way towards explaining why so many of DC’s books are crap. Because Countdown wasn’t even crap done right.
Anyway, Dan answers 20 question from time to time over at Newsarama. And to my utter amazement, they asked him about Mark Waid’s comments. More amazing still, DiDio answered the question! Here’s an exerpt:
In terms if rumors and folks talking about DC from a not very complementary side of things, this hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for DC. In an interview with Ain’t It Cool News, Mark Waid said some very specific things about your editorial approach and your editing of Countdown and 52 and other such projects…
DD: Let’s just discuss the role of the editor for one second. One expression that I find humorous is “editorial mandate.” I feel that expression gets thrown around a great deal. The role of the editor is to assemble and be responsible for whatever project they are in charge of. Whatever talent they hire, that is an editorial mandate. They choose to hire that talent. The amount of control they put on that talent, whether they allow them to work completely free of any editorial notes, or not, is an editorial mandate, because that’s what the editor chooses to do. If the editor decides to give notes, that’s an editorial mandate, because that’s what the editor chooses to do, because he or she, at the end of the day, is responsible for that position.
So anything that winds up on a page, whether a note is given, when a phone call is made – anything that is assembled on from any member of the talent – from the person that writes it, to the art team, to the colorist, to the letterer, to the people working on final production – it’s all editorially controlled. That is our job.
So when you say “editorial mandate,” please understand that whatever book you hold in your hand, at the end of the day, is there because of an editorial mandate to create that book. End of story.
I find it humorous because it gives the impression that no one is doing anything, other than trafficking paper. We are not in our positions to traffic paper. We are here to put out the best product possible, and everyone works very hard to do that. To say that we don’t do anything is an insult to every one of the members of my staff, and I prefer that everyone realize that, if a fan is holding a product in their hands, there is an editor in charge whose job it was to make sure that product reached them. That’s what our job is.
And how it’s assembled is the choice of the individuals who are working to the best of their ability as they are assembling that book.
NRAMA: So was Countdown “52 done right” as Mark Waid alleges that you said?
DD: The concept that I am not proud of 52 is ridiculous. Anybody here who knows me knows that the minute issue #52 of 52 hit my hands was one of my proudest moments at DC Comics. It’s something that I was involved in from the very inception of the project, and made sure that everything worked perfectly in order to achieve that. It was a project and process that we all worked for. It was the editors, the sales department, the marketing department, the production department. Every single person who worked on 52 is intensely proud of their work on that production. When we started it, we were not sure if we were going to be able to achieve our goals, and we exceeded them.
So again, any statement being said about me not being proud of 52 is erroneous.
I’m impressed Dan answered the question. It’s not exactly a denial of what Mark Waid said though. He could have hated 52 and said Countdown was “52 done right” and still be proud of 52. Anyway, I thought the comments about “editorial mandate” were interesting. I’ve bitched about “editorial mandate” before, but the man makes a point.
At the risk of posting the entire Newsarama article here, here’s a few other select exerpts that I think will be interesting to the read/RANT gang:
1. To start off with Dan, Grant Morrison has been talking about Multiversity, a project that returns him to the DC Multiverse. You’ve been mum about this, saying that nothing was ready to be talked about, but is there anything else you can add in? % sure he even existed in the first place, or is it something different?
Dan DiDio: I’d still like to stay mum on this for now, because we’re still quite a ways away from that series actually coming out. Grant is working on a number of other projects right now. What I’d like to say is that it is what we’d hoped it would be which is a story where Grant explores the various worlds of the Multiverse as only Grant could. What’s great about it is that they’re wonderful standalone stories that don’t interact with much else, so therefore they have a chance to act and breathe in their own way. So you get some really good snapshot views of what these different worlds are. And even better, we get a chance to explore these worlds which may not tie in to the DCU directly, but have a right to exist on their own.
NRAMA: And it’s him just doing that exploring and playing?
DD: Right – this is something that Grant has been talking about since 52 and since the multiverse came back, and the fun part about it is that we don’t do Elseworlds anymore to explore the different interpretations of our characters, so this is one way that we can visit that sensibility without committing ourselves to a whole series of Elseworlds projects.6. Something that came up a few times in this question thread, possibly spurred on by Blackest Night #0…Barry Allen’s return is known, Hal Jordan’s return is known. The Martian Manhunter’s death is known in the DCU. Batman’s death – there’s no question about it, no mystery about it from the point of view of the DCU. Is that playing along the lines of the “Batman as an urban legend” idea, that people weren’t 100
DD: The Batman story as it’s established – we have two different perspectives here: the story perspective and the fan perspective. From the story perspective, the DC Universe believes Batman to be dead – the heroes know he is dead, but they have kept that secret away from the world, because of what they feel might happen. The events of Battle for the Cowl shows when heroes and villains start to realize that Batman may be dead – Gotham City falls into, or tumbles towards anarchy. That’s the story there.
From the fan perspective, we all know that there’s something going on with Bruce Wayne. So therefore, we’re going to see reflections of the Bruce Wayne story, the Batman story as it plays out in the DC Universe in all of the Batman books and reflections of it in Blackest Night. The fan knows – or the fans might guess – that was not Batman’s body that was recovered as a skeleton in Final Crisis #6, but nobody else knows that. Part of the year we have coming ahead of us is the exploration of what that means to the DC Universe – what that body represents, and more importantly, what actually happened to Bruce Wayne, and the mystery surrounding him.
7. Wait – that wasn’t Bruce Wayne’s skeleton?
DD: Did I say that?
NRAMA: You said that.
DD: Did I?
DD: Dammit. Then who was the guy in the cave if that wasn’t Bruce Wayne’s skeleton?
NRAMA: That’s a very good question, but so is: Did Superman find a body, take that dead body’s clothes off, and put a Batman costume on a dead body, just to carry it outside? That puts Superman into a creepy new light…
DD: See, I know I didn’t say that. Now you’re starting to suppose something else. I’m saying that there was a skeleton. It did have a Batman costume on it, but whose skeleton that is, where it came from, who is the man in the cave, where is the man in the cave – those are all stories we’ll be exploring in the course of the coming year.
10. Given that is has been used so…heavily in the DCU, will “death” still be as strong as a story point after Blackest Night as it was before?
DD: Following Blackest Night, I think that death is a trick we will not be using very often – or at all for a long, long time. There is a finality of what goes on in Blackest Night, and there is an explanation of the “revolving door” sense of death in the DCU that’s part of the Blackest Night storyline.
NRAMA: So are you going to go as far as to say, “Dead is dead?” Someone else talked themselves into a corner that fans wanted to hold him accountable for all time after a statement like that…
DD: Eh – the problem with “dead is dead” is that it works until the next person comes along, or times change. We have a lot of characters and a lot of stories to tell, and to speak in absolutes is never the way to go. It limits your potential and possibilities.
12. Fair enough. Moving on, both you and George Perez have hinted at a DC event coming in 2010…
DD: Did we really?
NRAMA: You both have.
DD: Could it be the same one?
NRAMA: I would hope so, otherwise, you’re planning two events for one year, and readers can get rather iffy about that… Is this a situation where threads are already being laid out, and clues are being planted, or…
DD: in regards to the project with George, the answer is “the opposite.” The fun part about working with George is that he loves the challenge. No matter the project we give him, by the next project, we always feel we have to do one better. Given the number of characters and story he’s telling in Legion of 3 Worlds, you can only imagine how daunting that task must be.
So therefore, I’m happy to say that we’ve come up with a project that gives George the opportunity to examine what makes the DCU great. That’s as far as I’m gonna go.
16. A quick clarification on the status of the Hawks – the seemed to have died in Final Crisis, but in Blackest Night #0, they’re alive and well…
DD: What happened was that during the whole integration of the Multiverse in Final Crisis where we saw a version of Aquaman appearing from another Earth, so was the case with the Hawkman and Hawkgirl that met their fate in Final Crisis. That said, the Hawks are very prominently featured in Blackest Night #1, and are very much alive at the start of that book.
NRAMA: Just at the start?
DD: I’m gonna stand with what I said. (laughs)