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Q & A: Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher of DC Comics

Posted on 17th December 2016 by Sally Campbell
Graphic novels thrive on reinvention. Their artists and writers endlessly surprise readers with ingenious and unexpected reinterpretations. The characters morph over time, acquiring different, fascinating nuances and taking on ever-deepening cultural significance. Publishing powerhouse DC Comics - and their stalwarts such as The Joker, Batman and Superman - have never been more popular. Here to talk about the launch of their new Rebirth series, which enriches the backstories of many of the DC pantheon, is none other than writer and DC Comics Co-Publisher, Dan DiDio.
Image: Killer Croc (c) DC Comics

Five years ago, DC did a similar relaunch with 52 volume one graphic novels: The New 52. What do you feel is different about this graphic novel launch in terms of storytelling?

One of the things we tried to do with the New 52 was provide a fresh start to everything that we launched. Here, we’re trying to really incorporate a lot of the history and legacy of our characters and, by doing so, attract new fans, because these are new stories moving in a new direction. But we’ve also tried to retain and keep the fans who have invested time and who have been part of DC for many years. We want them to love what we’re doing because it takes all of their favorite stories into consideration.

DC has used the word “rebirth” in several series, including Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth, both by Geoff Johns. Why bring it back here? What did that signify?

We have a lot of fans who have made a long-term investment and we have a long history and legacy with our characters. There’s a generational aspect of DC that many of our fans identify with and really enjoy in the storytelling. With the word “rebirth,” we’re acknowledging the history of the company and characters. It really gives us a lot more to play with as we move stories forward. Rebirth isn’t about retelling old stories. It’s about finding what worked best in the past and finding a way to incorporate it into future storytelling.

There are a lot of new creative voices on many of these Rebirth graphic novel series. What are some names that you feel fans should be aware of, if they’re not already? 

We’re lucky to have a wealth of great talents working on our books: Josh Williamson is doing a wonderful job on The Flash, and Tom King is really stepping into some pretty big shoes and has done a terrific job on Batman. James Tynion IV has stepped up on Detective Comics, and we couldn’t be more excited to have Greg Rucka return to Wonder Woman. But I think one of the great aspects of Rebirth is the art. Every one of these books is visually striking, from David Finch and Mikel Janin [on Batman] to Ethan Van Sciver on Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps. I’m really excited about the artists working on our titles. I think when books are visually exciting and tell compelling stories, that’s always a great combination.

Did any responses to some of these series surprise you?

I think one of the things that surprised me was the success of Green Arrow. We always had a lot of faith in Benjamin Percy as a writer but with the relaunch—with Rebirth and the inclusion of Black Canary in the storytelling of Green Arrow—the book has exceeded our expectations and has really taken off. Here we are looking at the same writer [as before Rebirth] who was really able to grow his fan base dramatically because they like how the story is being told. It wasn’t so much about the writer; it was more about the environment or the situations for the story, and I think the situations are now really connecting with the fans. Because of that, the book is overachieving. 


Give me the first things you think of when I throw these graphic novel titles out at you: 

Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen
Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies
Return of Greg Rucka to the character, retelling of Year One, art of Liam Sharp. 
Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of The Batmen
Reestablishing the core of the Batman family and setting up how they work as a unit and how they stand as individuals, as well. 
Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman
Taking all the classic aspects of Superman but adding the new sensibility of Jonathan Kent, Superman’s son, into the storytelling. 
Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines
It shows the power and strength of the characters and the scope of the type of stories you can tell when you put all of these great characters together. 
Batman Vol.1: I Am Gotham
In the first issue, it sets up the relationship Batman has with his city as well as introduces new characters to give a point and counterpoint to the value of Batman in Gotham. 
The Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice
Shows how the Flash character has been integral to all of the events that happened in the DC Universe, and in this case takes the events of the DC Universe: Rebirth special, and starts to move that story forward.

Right now you’re talking directly to the customers at Waterstones: Why should they try out these graphic novels? What makes them different from the other products in the marketplace? 

I’m gonna say the same thing to the UK fans that I would say to the U.S. fans—or any fans—of DC products. The awareness of our characters has never been higher in TV and movies. There’s a lot of interest in who these characters are, and they’ve achieved such an iconic nature that they’ve even transcended the company. They’re deep in the psyche and if you really want to know what’s so great about our characters, and you want to read fun, compelling stories, then I think DC is the perfect place to come to. 


Thumbnail Image in blog gallery: The Flash (c) DC Comics


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