Thursday, February 12, 2009

Play "Fantasy DC EIC" and Redo The DCU!

This is like Fantasy Baseball, but instead of pretending to play a professional sport, you pretend to be the new Editor-In-Chief of the DC Universe.

You come in to the job, and are given carte blanche to totally rearrange the DCU as you see fit. Among your powers:
1. Killing characters and/or bringing them back from the dead.
2. Canceling titles.
3. Starting new titles.
4. Creating events.
5. Hiring talent and editorial.
6. Offering exclusives.
7. Steering the "direction" of characters and books.
8. Creating special projects (movie tie-ins, new initiatives, etc).

You have an awesome responsibility in front of you. Choose wisely and fairly. And play nice...remember, any decisions you make will have repercussions.


  1. Oh ho ho boy. . .I'm gonna need some time to think about this. Let me woolgather and I'll get back to you. ^.^

  2. The biggest problems that face DC right now aren't in Editorial. The structural problems are elsewhere.

    Do I get to make changes to other parts of the company as well?

  3. Huh, intriguing. Instead of specific titles (which I hope I'd have the good sense to temper my personal taste with economic reality) how about some broader "dream policies":

    1. Relax continuity universe wide. You want to keep defining character traits, but outside of "family" books, trying to institute a singular vision leads to a bizarre mix of stasis and homogeneity. If the mediums evolved to the point where you can make in-character jokes about "coming back from the dead", your readership can handle a little variance between books. Plus most of us have forgotten how much fun it is to "figure out" new books... isn't that part of what attracted us to comics in the first place? Additionally, it means different writers can give *distinctly* different tones to their work to appeal to different market segments. If series writers have a story that would be improved by doing something that might contradict another title - just do it. Don't do mental gymnastics about "what earth", or how a timeline works... let the readers do that - retroactive justification is what comics readership does best.

    2/3 Take a good hard look at what titles are performing, underperforming and, more importantly, what the actual demographics of each is. DC especially is starting to recognize how limited the aging "comics readership" is, and ergo the importance of the kids market (Tiny Titans, and Super Friends) but it's still an incredibly narrow range of product. Where's the tween-friendly material? The girl-friendly material (Supergirl's Cosmic 8th Grade, is a start... but a rare anomaly)

    There's a reason teen-sidekicks back in "the day" and the current crop of Beyblade/Pokemon/Yu-Gi-whatever shows do so well... there's an age where teen/pre-teen protagonists setting out with a huge amount of freedom - resonate very strongly. Re-tool (or create new) bridge titles which "stretch" to demographics that just aren't served at all. Consider them loss-leaders, and promote the living heck out of them. Make sure you have frequent tie-in's to any cartoon property (if Blue Beetle is a big part of the new Batman cartoon, then there should not only be a "Blue Beetle" title, but it should target the same demo... comics have much shorter production cycles than tv - there's no excuse for this). Create some new titles to fill this gap and serve as "gateway drugs". Think a younger "Runaways" meets "Who's Who"... kind of like "The Web" back in the Impact line.

    I'm getting away from myself - which is to not worry about introducing *titles* or *characters*. Pick *markets*, close to the ones you already service... but hopefully branching out slowly over time until you have a wider breadth. (Ie: part of the problem with Minx, IMHO, was the lack of anything resembling a "Minx audience" to build from).

    4. Put events away for the time being, and take 2-3 years to focus on core book storylines independent of the broader universe (aside from title crossovers where warranted).

    5. Getting back to growing the brand, reach out to non comics writers, especially when you're trying to promote new "bridge" books. And I mean *really* outside of the box. Get the Jonas Brothers to write a comic. Get Miley Cirus to write a comic. Use ghost writers if you have to. Your "core property" books need to be written by A-list comic people, without question, any other title though - I think you need to start thinking that the entire industry is in jeopardy and seeing if anything sticks. Get a boost from a celebrity name (even for a 4-issue arc)? Make sure you have a quality writer to follow it up to try and retain audience. If you don't retain, then you go back to the dog and pony-show well. Again though, start targeting under (or marginally performing) books to actual audiences... not to "comics readers" - because all you're doing there is cannabilizing your market for your other titles (when I pick up a new DC title, I'm just as likely to drop a DC title as I am to start buying more).

    5.5 Prepare to take the heat from the regular comics audience for "selling out". Tough. A bigger overall audience, means they're going to get more, better content down the road - even if the short-term is rough (think about the videogame industry in the late 90s and it's incessant whoring to anything that might be popular in another media).

    6. Avoid exclusives whenever possible. They don't provide an incentive for creators to do their best work, and you need two parties for an arms race. You might lose some talent in the short term, but so be it.

    7. Don't steer the direction of characters or books. Let writers make their own beds... and lie in them. They may not succeed, but you'll get a broader range of approaches, and writers will know you have the faith to let them live (or die) on the performance of their ideas with minimum intervention. Set very clear targets for success or failure up front. Stick with them.

    8. Sit down with you Time-Warner bosses on your first day and say "what do we need to do to make an aggressive digital distribution strategy happen"? Then assemble a team of four bright young MBA folk. Have three create different proposed distribution models: The "pay per issue" (or iTunes) model, the "all you can eat for one price" model, and the "free" model. Have the fourth think about how a digital network could integrate with the direct market (ordering physical goods on-line are delivered to your LCS with no shipping costs, discount codes with digital issues for hardcopies or trades, discounted "download credits" at retail... etc). Combine the best of each of these into some hybrid or tiered system. Launch something within the year with as much fanfare as possible.

    Preferably in concert with one of those Jonas Brothers books. If you think SDCC is insane, you've never seen downtown Toronto when the Jonas brothers are giving a live concert. I've seen the heart of madness. Madness, I say.

    8.5 - When no one's looking bring back Ralph and Sue Dibny and let them move back to Opal... they deserve it. Maybe Ted can live down the street, and on Sundays they all go out for Brunch. MYSTERIOUS Brunch.

  4. Humm. Of the top of my head.

    * Return Bart Allen to the Impulse persona.
    * Revive Indigo and Shift, and launch them in a "solo" title with them as partners, both heroically and romantically.
    * Launch an proper imprint with the classic/iconic versions of the characters, and allowing the main line to evolve more.
    * Revive Kon-El, revert him to tactile telekinesis, and give a proper suit.
    * Give Question an ongoing.
    * Allow more books to be "fun".
    * Kill off Damian

  5. Superman - Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
    Batman - David Lapham
    Wonder Woman - Walt Simonson and ChrisCross
    Green Lantern - Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Dave Gibbons
    Flash - Kurt Busiek and Todd Nauck
    Aquaman - Chuck Dixon and Daniel Acuna
    Shazam - Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz
    Justice League - Dwayne McDuffie and Tom Grummett
    Justice Society - Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway
    Teen Titans - Chris Claremont and John Byrne
    Legion of Superheroes - Peter David and Paul Pelletier
    Superbuddies - Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire
    New Gods - Karl Kesel and Alan Davis
    Mystery in Space - Ron Marz and
    Dan Jurgens
    Books of Magic - Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

  6. I would begin immediately to put DC Comics online for paid download. I'd try to work with the higher ups at Time Warner to put some of their money and muscle behind this project. My idea would be to offer our comic books at a discount from the store price, and allow people to download issues to their computers in the cbr file type. We may also work to create a program similar to CDisplay, or just buy them out for our comics to be viewed on.

    I'd also try to get the folks at Time Warner to allow us to enter into a partnership with Apple so we can offer our comic books on iTunes. We may also offer something similar to what Marvel has with their Digital Comics Unlimited.

    Another thing I would do is (although I've personally grown tired of them) continue the annual summer events until they are no longer profitable. I would, however, make sure to put the books out without delays, no matter what it takes.

  7. I'm in. Where do I sign up, and do I get a commemorative I'm with stupi, uh, Grant Morrison shirt for playing?

  8. "Do I get to make changes to other parts of the company as well?"

    If this was real? Probably not. So you have to factor that in.

    In a real scenario, any big changes you make to major characters or books or directions have to be signed off on by The Powers That Be.

    But isn't working together fun?

  9. "I'm in. Where do I sign up, and do I get a commemorative I'm with stupi, uh, Grant Morrison shirt for playing?"

    I can't give you a t-shirt, but all winners get a special Un-Prize.

  10. Taking option 8:

    When the next movie in the Batman franchise is ripening, I'll arrange to reveal an interesting but ultimately irrelevant "plot point" in an ashcan. This ashcan will be available for free exclusively through the DC website. The twist is that we will *mail* them, requiring those that want them to have valid addresses associated with their site accounts.

    The actual ashcans will be filled with promotional subscription offers, amongst them "packages" giving you both a subscription *and* a ticket to the movie. We can do the ticket reservation either the traditional way (coupon programs with the theater chains) or via something more ambitious (cross-promotion with Fandango). Remember, we've already made

    Oh, and as icing I'll make sure that the Batman in Batman recognizable for at least the next year. No need to go with movie continuity/character-designs, but I won't do something as stupid as what occurred shortly after the release of the Dark Knight. You know, when DC released Batman R.I.P. during the time when new fans were most likely to be reading Batman titles.

    Let's suppose this gimmick is a total flop with less than 0.14% of potential viewers signing up for ashcans and less than 0.14% of those gettings subscriptions. Based on the viewership of "The Dark Knight" I can still expect to drum up over 1.3 million new comic subscriptions, increase the sales Batman by 1200%, and instantly reverse the market domination of Marvel.

    If the ploy is a success (say 1% and 1% penetrations), I will likely double the size of comic book market and resurrect the subscription model.

    Of course all of the above is based on common sense and actual market facts (Dark Knight's IMBD page and Diamonds Top 300), so all caucausions with M.B.A.'s would be honor bound to stop me.
    mutsu:Documents aka1$ cat > /dev/null
    Taking option 8:

    When the next movie in the Batman franchise is ripening, I'll arrange to reveal an interesting but ultimately irrelevant "plot point" in an ashcan. This ashcan will be available for free exclusively through the DC website. The twist is that we will *mail* them, requiring those that want them to have valid addresses associated with their site accounts.

    The actual ashcans will be filled with promotional subscription offers, amongst them "packages" giving you both a subscription *and* a ticket to the movie. We can do the ticket reservation either the traditional way (coupon programs with the theater chains) or via something more ambitious (cross-promotion with Fandango). Remember, we already have addresses. The idea is to make getting a subscription as easy as possible.

    As icing, I'll make sure that the Batman in Batman recognizable for at least the next year. No need to go with movie continuity/character-designs, but I won't do something as stupid as what occurred shortly after the ree of the Dark Knight. You know, when DC released Batman R.I.P. at the same time new fans were most likely to be reading Batman titles.

    Let's suppose this gimmick is a total flop with less than 0.14% of potential viewers signing up for ashcans and less than 0.14% of those gettings subscriptions. Based on the viewership of "The Dark Knight" I can still expect to drum up over 1.3 million new comic subscriptions, increase the sales of Batman by 1200%, and instantly reverse the market domination of Marvel.

    If the ploy is a success (say 1% and 1% penetrations), I will likely double the size of comic book market and resurrect the subscription model. This will give me an honest chance of pulling off my long term goal: removing outside control (e.g. Diamond) of DC's profitability.

    All of the above is based on common sense, actual market facts (Dark Knight's IMBD page and Diamonds Top 300), and more than two minutes of thought (three actually). I don't know why the suits at DC haven't had even *better* ideas. Oh, wait. I do.


    I hate everyone.

  11. I'd create a think-tank of the best comic writers out there -- say, 5-8 of them -- and have them come up with a "bible" that would outline just the characterizations of each superhero, boiling down their essence and what makes them great. Also: how do they interact/relate with the other heroes in their playing field? And who are their key villains? Do any of these characters lack really good rogues galleries? Stuff like that.

    And then for one year solid -- no events. Just concentrating on beefing up the titles, developing an audience for each, letting the audience be familiar and comfortable with the world of each character.

    In this current environment, the most radical thing you can do is just have a normal comic book. No explanations. No events. No sensationalism. Nothing. Just twelve guaranteed issues a year, with a creative team that will stick around. Have twelve straight issues of anything -- Flash, Batman, whatever. No events, no deaths, just a full year's worth of solid story and characterization by a great team. That's it. They don't even have to be flashy artists. Just build these books, month after month, year after year. Develop deep fan followings, but also keep things open enough where new readers can jump on.

    In the end, in terms of providing Time Warner with good stuff for other media, I don't think the big events did much. You don't need that to really develop your intellectual property. Just grow the books separately. Build them up.

  12. Anonymous11:21 PM

    I'd scrap everything and use it as a showcase for my own ideas. In other words I'd bring about the swift and certain end of DC comics.

  13. For me, creative team often trumps all. I'll pick up a book featuring a character I don't care about if I like the creative team, hoping they'll convert me. A few months ago, a friend and I came up with a wish list of creative teams we'd love to see on DC's books. Some would never happen, but hey, what's the shame in asking? Maybe they'll take it or pitch something else. Anyway, here's a partial listing of what we came up with then.

    Animal Man: Paul Chadwick w/ John Arcudi

    Action Comics: Novelist Michael Chabon, artist TBD

    Aquaman: Brian Wood (w/ Frank Quitely?)

    The Atom: Grant Morrison, artist TBD

    Batman: Bendis & Maleev

    Birds of Prey: Jessica Abel

    Detective Comics: Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

    The Dibny's (continuing adventures of everybody's favorite couple): Novelist Audrey Niffeneggar

    Doom Patrol: Los Bros. Hernandez

    Dr. Fate: Ted Naifeh

    Hawkman: Frank Miller w/ Janson

    Justice Society: Darwyn Cooke

    Metal Men: Writer TBD, art by Bill Sienkiewicz

    Plastic Man: Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire

    The Question: Dean Motter and Jaime Hernandez

    The Spectre: Mike Carey and Michael Zulli

    Superman: Warren Ellis & John Cassaday (no, it probably wouldn't come out on schedule...)

    Supergirl: Michael Brennan (Electric Girl)

    Swamp Thing: Mike Mignola & Doug Mahnke

    Teen Titans: Mike Allred

    Wonder Woman: Terry Moore


  14. Anonymous12:43 AM

    I don't have the answers to many of these questions right now, but there is one thing that I would do which, I believe, would bring DC back from the Pit of Corniness:

    * Figure out how to write The Big Three better as a group. When I say "we're going to explore why Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are important to the DCU", I would mean from a character standpoint, and not from some external magic mumbo-jumbo bullshit that completely invalidates their spiritual significance to the entire comic book universe.

  15. I'm in agreement with everyone who's asking for some moves into the Digital Side. Except I would start 3 separate Digital initiatives:
    One aimed specifically at kids
    One for long time DC fans
    One for the Vertigo/Manga crowd

    Give each group the autonomy to market/develop their own system with a budget that allows them to the freedom to make a really nice system. Use all of TW's power to promote the sites.

    Now if you are asking about how to rescue their waning paper comics, I've got nothing. I think TV is by and large the best holding tank for those properties (like Green Arrow on Smallville, Deadman on Brave and the Bold)

  16. This is just going to prove that I'd be the worst person to run any comics company, much less DC.

    1) I'd kill all the monthlies, then let top-flight writers and artists pitch story ideas which we'd then print in books. Actual book-books. Got a great Batman "arc?" Why smear it out across half a year or more? BOOM! One story, one book. Got a killer Birds of Prey story? Sell me on it and we'll do it.

    2) This would necessitate the abandonment of "continuity" as we know it. For example, this writer has a fantastic story about Superman, but he dies in the end. That shouldn't affect another writer's awesome Superman story where he opens up a pet shop. You wanna do a Batgirl story where she's Barbara Gordon? All right! Wait, she's Cassandra Cain? Go for it! If someone wants to do something dark, cool. Something light, just as cool. Even if they conflict and involve radical reworkings of the same characters.

    3) If that's too scary, we could probably save a few monthlies with continuity for the die-hard fans who go ga-ga for that serialized stuff.

    But if we do, I'd kill the company-wide crossovers and event stories in favor of more self-contained narratives in each book. Shorter stories.

    There are certain tropes that would have to be eliminated. Explaining them all is too complicated for this comment area. Let's just say I'm tired of seeing characters die, then get resurrected later.

    And I'd have to institute this mandate- No late books. If you can't keep to a schedule (unless of course there's a damn good excuse), you can't work at DC. I don't care what TV show you write for. Moving to a more novel/book publishing style approach might solve this.

    And finally-- No more books with the words "Final" or "Crisis" in the titles.

    4) I don't have any particular writer/artist/title combos I want to push. I'm not even sure what all titles DC publishes anymore. But a lot of the other commenters have some amazing suggestions. Under my scheme, writers and artists would come together on their own and pitch concepts. But I will say Mike Allred on a Superman book would be off the hook!

    5) Hmm... maybe the monthlies could be completely digital. Or maybe shorter installments in a big manga-style volume or two on cheaper paper at a much lower price than it would cost you to buy every individual title in a month. These stories could eventually be collected into trades also following the manga model.

    6) Even if I had to maintain the entirety of the status quo, I'd still demand better storytelling. Slack stuff like that Batgirl miniseries would never see the light of day. I'd be sending people home, telling them, "That crap just will not cut it. Re-write it ASAP and WOW me!"

    Anyway, that's just my first draft. I'd have to think it through and refine it.

  17. I'm a huge fan of the new Hanuted Tank. If I was an editor-in-chief, I'd try and find a way to revamp and exploit the hell out of the companies legacy non-superhero characters. IMHO, DC is at it's best when it is being the un-Marvel - coming up with series like Haunted Tank or Y:The Last Man, or doing superheroes like

  18. Booster Gold, which is about as far away as you can get from anything Marvel is currently doing.

  19. 1. Various non-Gotham superheroes put on the cowl while Bruce is cave-painting, starting with Barry Allen. Once they put on the cowl though, they have to abide by his code as well as their own.

    2. Second Flash title. Barry has his own title and it's a bit heavy in nature with his being a forensic scientist. Wally, Bart, and Jay do their own thing in a book that's a bit more light-hearted.

    3. All-Star Wonder Woman. Not sure who's on the book, but it would happen.

    4. Supergirl/Batgirl monthly.

    5. All event books get good, helpful annotations from the writers on the website.

    6. a villain monthly. It can feature done-in-one stories or longer stories but focusing on the villains POV. It can tie into bigger events or not.

    7. As movies premiered, there would movie specials on the shelves at the same time -- maybe a collection of a few classic stories with some new material leading out of the movie and into current continuity. Work with WB to cross-promote the comic book as the source material.

    8. Digital. Look at what comics wholesale for, subtract out the costs of production and shipping, add in server and digitization, along with a small profit initially and go. Start with a mix of lesser-selling new titles and popular older titles.

    9. Marketing. Start marketing in nontraditional areas. Do some research and find out what demographics might be receptive.

  20. I'd also do away with the monthly, though not all at once. I'd do it in phases, reintroducing some of their current monthly titles as a series of trades consisting of one story arc each. Pretty much what's collected now, but without the monthly floppy preceding it.

    I'd also parallel this by introducing some brand new series in this trade only format, such as the aforementioned The Dibny's.

    As far as digital goes, first of all, all trade collections would also be offered as e-books. Also, instead of monthly floppies, some titles (perhaps the more straightforward super hero titles like the Batman and/or Superman families) would be serialized online as webcomics... new installments monthly or some other regular interval... then when the story arc is completed, it would be collected (thinking the Girl Genius model here). This would continue to push the TPB/OGN format, while still giving those who need their weekly fix something to read.

    Since pretty much all the books will be trades only, events would be difficult, if not impossible, to pull off well, so those would be put to a rest. Sure, there could be a big event story presented as an OGN, but it wouldn't have all these unnecessary crossovers and tie-ins. It would take place in one book, and that's that.


  21. Real generally? Cut Wildstorm. Those properties may have to lie fallow for a few years.

    Cut exclusives. I don't see how they benefit DC, when a lot of them don't seem to produce the work. If exclusives produced numbers, we wouldn't be having this conversation, right? And if someone is bringing the sales, we'll make them happy.

    A lot of Vertigo books on the low end are going either digital then trade, or OGN. No more Vertigo/DC split, either: the DCU can still use Swamp Thing, but if someone has a killer Superman Vertigo story, we could do it (with stringent marketing, warnings, etc.)

    Rethink the weekly book. It'll work, it just needs to get a little more back to 52: a larger mystery, and a ton of C-listers that everyone loves but couldn't carry a book in a wheelbarrow: your Metal Men, Dr. Fate, Metamorpho, Deadman, Blue Beetle, etc.

    Loosening some editorial constraints on the books--this isn't the 90's X-Men, the editors shouldn't be writing the books--but making editors goshdarn editors again. Fixing mistakes. Coordinating creators. And getting the damn books out, on time, every time. I swear to god, I will put Sal Buscema on All-Star Batman if Lee runs late. And Judd Winick can write it, Miller.

    Kids books. Digital, digital, digital. Synergizing with the rest of Warner Brothers: biggest DVD ever, and you can't put an ad for the damn comics in there somewhere?

  22. I would sort of copy what Marvel did with the Ultimate line, but use it to turn the DC universe into a new version that looked a lot like the Justice League and JLUnlimited cartoon did.

    I would keep Detective Comics and Action comics as they are now, same continuity and continue them into the future. I would gradually replace lower selling DC titles with new comics in the "ultimate" universe. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl, etc. would have their own comic with a new version (take all of the best ideas from the many many years of comics and toss the bad).

    The line would build continuity but I wouldn't actively encourage tons of cross-overs.

    I'd also set a standard of violence and language that was similar to the Justice Leage cartoon standards. They could certainly fight and have vicious battles but no really grisly stuff. Keep it fantasy and younger teen appropriate.

    I'd try to convince WB to put a big marketing push behind it. Get the new line of comics that are now reasonably kid-appropriate next to the toys in Walmart. Get them online for sale on iTunes as a slide-show.

  23. Excellent point about Wildstorm. Drop 'em. They really don't offer anything unique, especially now that the universes have crossed over a few times, and the DCU refers to "the bleed" regularly now. Either absorb them into the main DCU line (which would be stupid, IMO), discontinue the line, or sell them off.

    Vertigo should go strictly to OGNs, I'd say. And as far as their Johnny DC/Cartoon Network titles (or whatever they're calling their kids line these days), that could be a mix of digital content, along with printed material in the form of those little Archie sized digests sold through supermarkets, drug stores and Wal-Marts.


  24. "Excellent point about Wildstorm. Drop 'em. "

    I'd probably keep them around as a studio for licensed material -- videogames, kids books, TV shows, etc. It's easier to have a studio that knows how to do all this and work with style sheets and licensor approvals. And they are West Coast, so they could communicate better with Hollywood studios.

    But in terms of superhero "universes," I always prefer consolidation.

    Now, if you were really EIC, this wouldn't be your purview unless you were specifically made in charge of Wildstorm.

    Each department has a separate "chief" -- DCU, Vertigo, Zuda, Wildstorm, etc.

  25. Anonymous4:56 PM

    But when was the last time you saw a good Wildstorm TV show?

    WILDCats was horrible.

  26. I like the idea of making things more like JLU. JLU is a shining example of how to do the DCU right.

    Personally though, I'd cut events, and try to keep cross overs within one line of comics. Build up continuity within the Batbooks and the Superbooks, but don't try to tie those continuities together.

    I'd also wnat to keep a tighter reign on writers. Let them do there own thing, but if they start writing ridiculous, nonsensical stories, reel them in. They aren't going to get a free ride just because they're Grant Morisson.

  27. I'd tell all the current writers and artists they have 3 issues left to wrap. Meanwhile I'd hire a new crop of writers and artists, from the underground and some old pros that haven't had work in forever, basically people that will work for half the rates of the current creators. There would be no exclusives, but instead they would have to sign contracts that they would not discuss the company in any fashion in any way anywhere any time.

    As rumors of this swirl online and my name becomes synonymous with bunghole, I’d announce that every title is being canceled, with some restarting at #1 and the others just ending. I would let the fans turn on one another and verbally shred each other to ribbons as they tried to figure out if the new titles were in continuity without a peep from DC offices.

    Every month, 20% of the titles would be advertised as having an “Important Death!” 20% would feature a guest appearance by Batman, 20% would feature a guest appearance by Green Lantern, and the remaining 40% would have preview text indicating that this may be the last issue of you don’t buy extra copies.

    All writers would be forced to follow “The Formula”:

    *3-12 issues of important life altering events to title character, often out of character.
    *Special “Death of” Issue at double normal price
    *2-5 reqiuem specials
    *3-6 issues of a new characters trying to take the mantle
    *3-6 issues of character in new role
    *Special “The Return” Issue at double price
    *3-12 issues of character returning to mantle, replacement unsure of place in the world
    *Special “Death of: the Replacement” issue at double normal price.

  28. JasonR for President of the World!

  29. It's a right brain-left brain thing.

    What would be creatively desirable (to me, anyway) wouldn't be the most commercially successful, especially in this crappy economy.

    An interesting exercise, but will let others do it, as duty calls.

    Good question, though, Lady V.

  30. Found this link hopping looking for info on Final Crisis, and I thought this was a really fascinating topic.

    First of all, I'd let all current creative talent on all DC books know they're effectively on six month notice. During these six months, there would be a search combing everything... independents, other publishers, undiscovered talent, and established pros outside the comics field.

    Second, for core books like Batman, Superman, JLA, etc. I'd bring in a story editor. Essentially they'd function as they do on television series, letting the writers develop their own stories but also maintaining what can and cannot be done with certain characters. Preferably these story editors would write a monthly title as well. In conjunction with them, the editorial team would set up standards for what they want the characters to represent. How do you want to handle the iconic characters. Having long term plans in place would help with continuity, keeping a new writer from coming in and jacking things up to put "his stamp" on the comic by effectively crapping on the character's history. And, most importantly, key stories from the past would be selected as the "core" for each comic we continued to publish. There could also be assignment of different stories under imprints here. A concerted effort would need to be made to help get younger readers back into comics, as well as reconnect with older readers who've been turned off by some of the recent story changes. If this meant creating something akin to separate continuities, it would have to be looked at hard. Some series can pull it off, but you don't want to split the audience too much, either.

    After the six month period, there would be three months of hiatus. During the hiatus period, every creative team would be expected to keep their books on schedule. Anyone who doesn't is released from their obligations. During the hiatus, the core stories established earlier would be released, at discounted prices, to re-introduce readers to the characters.

    The relaunch period wouldn't be a reset of continuity or anything else drastic, but more a "welcome back" to the characters. There would be NO major cross-over events for at least one year, and quite probably longer.

    But, at least once a year, I would also try to do a graphic novel with the involvement of big-name outside creators. Well known Hollywood directors or best selling authors, matched appropriately with the character. They would bring in their audience, and our universe would benefit from a fresh perspective. That, and if he was game, I'd LOVE to see a Lawrence Block Batman story, among other ideas.

    Also, I'd do everything in my power to end things like the Bat Embargo. Marvel is doing quite well with unifying its universe across different film companies. It seems a little asinine to say "Sorry new Batman TV show, you can't use Joker because the movies are." A cartoon using the same villain as a movie doesn't hurt either one, and crossing over will give us a chance to expand the audiences of other titles.

    And I agree with others that an online distribution method is a must. Music, movies and TV shows have all embraced it, and I think a big part of the failings with the industry on a whole is that it's FAR behind the curve. I'd think outside the box too, and find ways to enhance the online experience. Anything from Flash oriented bonus content(or even in-continuity cartoons) to developing an online community base would be key. I'd ask my creative teams to interact with the fans as they could. I'd even consider digging into our library and posting older stories for free. And I'd darn sure use the Internet to keep an eye out for new talent that's been overlooked. A thriving fan community could be an ongoing talent search.

    Ultimately, I think what I'd really be trying to do would be get away from "How can we make this bigger" and start trying to figure out, "How can we tell great stories about our core cast again?" I think it would just be tremendous to see someone, rather than creating a big bad or cataclysmic event, delve into the character of Superman and come up with a unique idea that challenges him in terms of powers AND his core values. I think that's been really missing from a lot of comics lately.

    And yeah... probably a lot of this would be far beyond the powers of an EIC, but I'm taking the fantasy thing probably a bit too literally.

  31. First thing I would do is hire new talent coordinators and load him or her with interns to do the scut work of doing the initial read of the material at the material and develop some kind of an infrastructure to bring new artists and writers. I know you can't do it indefinitely so you'd open the slush pile for one month-- say the month of SDCC so people can drop off stuff at the DC booth-- and then you'd go through it and try and find five new writers and five new artists.

    This is obviously self-serving. I'm a writer who has not written for TV or even indie comics and I'd like to be able to make a pitch to DC like in the olden days before it became a closed shop.

    Oh, and I'd pretty much do away with all the crap they did to Captain Marvel and go back to basics and make him the central character of a new manga line, that might also feature revivals of Dial H For Hero, Wonder Woman (I'd probably use the manga version of WW that's out there) and Mister Miracle. And then I'd show these books to WB's animation division and try to pitch those to them.

    And rather than have a ginormous crossover event, I would simply have a weekly book to act as the spine of the DCU every year. Because I do think one of the better experiments was 52 and I think it could be done in a way that tied into other books without becoming Countdown.

  32. 1. Kill G'Nort so he can become a Black Lantern, thereby getting revenge for the dismantling of the Justice League International vibe.

    2. Create newstand anthologies replicating Shonen Jump. Produce comics in black and white on cheap newsprint. Color available online, or in the trade collection. One title would be "DC Showcase Monthly", each issue focusing on a particular subject.

    3. Title characters may only feature one crossover character per year. This allows for clear storytelling.

    3.1 "Family" titles may crossover with each other, without limit.

    3.5 Create at least two team-up books. Anchor characters not necessary.

    4. Relaunch "Adventures in the DC Universe". Allow Johnny DC titles to continue after a tie-in series has finished, so long as sales justify publication.

    5. For each of the 52 worlds, publish at least one title for each per year. Title can be a one-shot, a mini-series, or ongoing series. Allow talented writers the opportunity to create a specific world, in much the same way that Tangent was created.

    6. Inter-world crossovers may only occur once a year, and must be contained in one issue, preferably an annual.

    7. Create a series which is published annually. Each issue may contain one story, or a series of stories.

    8. As the DC archives are digitized, offer not only digital downloads, but Print-On-Demand options as well. Allow users to create their own anthologies.

    8.5 Create a DC Wiki allowing fans and readers to index and tag the DC archives. Create an online reference center which feeds the digital resources.

    9. Create an online talent search, for both writers and artists.

    10. License the CrossGen "Sigil-verse" from Disney. Re-create the stand-alone nature of each title.

    11. Announce Absolute editions before publication of normal trade and paperback editions, so that consumers can decide to wait for the deluxe edition or buy the regular edition.

    12. Bring back the reader poll for secondary characters. (Back in the late 80s, DC listed secondary characters and asked readers to select which they would like to see in a limited series. Death won.)

    13. Tag comicbooks which are "done-in-one". Create series which have no continuing stories. Create stories which are free from Continuity.

    14. Develop at least one television and one movie property a year. Produce at least one movie on a budget of $20 Million or fewer each year.

    15. Challenge Bruce Timm to hit for the parking lot... produce an animated movie for theatrical release. (Any story, doesn't have to tie in with DC Comics.)

    16. Slowly create publishing divisions which cover all aspects of comics. Comicstrip reprints, non-DC picture books and graphic novels for kids, creator owned material, art books and histories on comics... or work closely with Random House.

    17. Activate the "Doomsday Clause" in the DC-Diamond agreement by having DC buy Diamond, and then turning it into a publisher's collective where all publishers have a stake in its success.

    18. Hire a corporate evangelist whose only job is to create excitement about DC publications and properties. In other words, Dan Didio without the editorial albatross rotting around his neck. This position would also serve as a sort of "fan ombudsman", taking suggestions, complaints, and criticisms and discussing these topics publicly.

    18.5 Underneath the evangelist would be a network of talent whose main purpose is to visit schools, libraries, hospitals, any place with a group of kids. These team members would explain how comics are made, hand out free samples, and in general show kids just how cool writing and drawing comics can be. This program could also serve as an academy for new talent. Instead of sweeping floors or sharpening pencils, you hit the road like a salesman.

  33. Anonymous9:05 PM

    Oh shoot, I'd rotate the main DC writers on Tiny Titans.

    That is exactly what I would do.

  34. Hell, I said "cut Wildstorm" and forgot about Gears of War, which may or may not be a big breakout book outside of the usual comic market. Authority, Gen13, WildCats, they're benched, but if Wildstorm can bootstrap itself into an Epic style line, it might earn it's keep.

  35. 1.Hal and Barry gone again

    2. giving that everyone has different taste I wont cancel a book because I don't like it. I'd can them when they become unprofitable.

    3. I'll would like to diversify the line up a bit.

    some new titles I would like to put out

    Caption Carrot and the zoo crew

    return of the Milestone comics (Icon, Static, Blood Syndicate, Hardware, Xombie, Shadow Cabinet/Heroes, etc)

    anthology comics using some of DC (and those DC bought) old titles such as More Fun Comics, Whiz, Crack comics, etc

    titles in other genres beside superheroes

    for the CMX line I would actually start making some mangas staring our big name properties and properties that may be able to fit into the larger manga buying audience. so not only will we bring back some action characters, but those that where in romance or humor titles

    4. big event...hmmm, I'm not much of a big event guy but I realize that they sell, so I'll guess I'll do them (though I may do a year with no events)

    one big event I would like is that every hero/villain is replace with a new version of the character. all the comics will follow these new characters for a good part of the (or if the not the whole) year.

    I figure this would give time for readers to get introduce to new characters and get to know them (and hopefully like them) and may also give a good starting point for new readers.

    5. who I'd hire. for editorial I guess I'd just get people who can correct people mistakes but allow the artist to be creative and only reel them in if they come up with something really crappy.

    as for creative talent the first person that pop in my head who I'd like working on a dc comic is Christopher Priest.

    I'd try to get some creative people in other fields besides comics to write/draw for us. hopefully this will not only bring in some new ideals for our (dc) comics but bring in new readers.

    I'd also try to bring in people from the "indy comic" world

    as well as a drive to find new talent (at the very least they will get short story work in the anthologies and maybe back up stories in other books)

    I may not be able to get him but I'd ask Alan Moore to work for us.

    you remember when I said I'd like the return of the milestone titles, I'd like to have their creative teams on the books too.

    6. exclusives, grant Morrison, Priest.

    7. new direction of DC, put out different books for different taste. grime and gritty yes dc will still have that. But if you something silly, humanist, romance, etc we got your back too.

    8. being a part of the Warner Brother empire I think DC should work to work with the other departments in WB and put out as many tie in form Warner Brothers other proprieties. film, TV, music, new or old dc should be putting out a lot of tie in books.

    I'd take a note book from magazines and send people sample copies of our comics, to bring in some new readers.

    I'd also start selling comics in digital formats.