For the past several years at Comic-Con International San Diego, Executive Editor of DC Comics, Dan Didio has moderated a special panel on the final day of the epic convention to try to reinvigorate both the exhausted fans and professionals alike. This panel is a talkback style event in which Didio creates a sort of comic book “love-in” where everyone sits around and shares together in their passion for the comic book medium. Didio’s questions range from “What’s your favorite title?” to “Where’s the weirdest place you’ve purchased a comic book?” and the answers that proceed can be both interesting and humorous.
This year was no different—and the panel featured a bevy of DC talents along with a few surprise guests. Panelists included: Ian Sattler, Mike Carlin, Geoff Johns, Bob Wayne, Steve Wacker, Rich Johnston, Art Baltazar, Franco Aureliani, and Jim “Ski” Sokolowski.
Didio opened the panel with an explanation for its purpose; he introduced himself and spoke, “I’m always impressed by the fans who arrive and come to a convention on a Sunday. You see the lines outside on Saturday, you see the people coming when the place first opens up, and you have the big panels on Saturday afternoons,” he congratulated the audience for making it to Sunday and added, “This is for fun, this is about us. This is why we’re here. And the reason why we’re here is because we love comics.”
Didio spoke briefly about the rigors of comic book production, “This is a fun job—but it can become grueling at times—it can become exhausting at times. There are times where we get frustrated and angry because we know we can do a better job … and it’s during those down moments that we’ll sometimes huddle around in my office and we’ll relax and we’ll all start talking about what we love about comics: what we like to read; what we like to enjoy; what got us first hooked on comic books; and what are the reasons we still love what we do.” He continued, “When you do that, you feel reinvigorated—and you remember what excites you about comics; because, at the end of the day, it is hard, grueling work but the reward is something special because we’re doing something we love.”
Didio addressed the audience candidly, “This is a weird one for me—I felt a little strange about attending because this is one of my favorite panels. I was supposed to get here on Wednesday and my mom passed away on Monday.” He acquiesced, “So it was a difficult convention to attend,” he reassured the fans, “She was ninety-two and a half which was amazing.” He continued, “So much about this is about what you enjoy—and your family,” indicating that comic book fandom was somewhat of a familial bond; he added, “So much of what I am was because of what she was and what she brought to me. I have so many great memories of my family and of reading comics—so I thought about coming here and being able to reminisce about all those good things.”
He talked to the attendees about some of the panelists’ experiences over the long weekend at the convention, including Geoff Johns’ opportunity to lead 400 Green Lantern fans in the Oath of the Green Lanterns in a panel on Saturday. Johns expressed elation, “It was awesome!” which elicited a huge response from the audience. Didio explained, “You know, we try to pay attention to your responses to things like that—because you’re our best indicator of letting us know we’re doing things the right way and that we’re on the right track.” Didio was frank, “You know, it’s a big reaffirmation when you let us know we’re on the right track because we were off-track a bit and we did fight our way through it ; we’ve re-grouped and hopefully we’re at a point right now where we’ll be stronger next year—but that’s just about DC Comics.” Didio commended the work of Marvel comics, saying, “The reality of it is that you need Marvel and DC both to be strong and healthy.”
The panel began in earnest with Didio locating the “veteran comic book fan” or the person who had been reading comics the longest in the room. After several minutes of winnowing down the audience, the potential “veteran” of the audience was down to two men: a gentleman in the audience and DC’s own, Bob Wayne. Ultimately, the older gentleman in the audience had been reading comics longer than Wayne, weighing in at 53 years of experience to Wayne’s 52.
Highlights of the hour long conversation with fan and professional alike included several witty exchanges between Mike Carlin and Steve Wacker; some interesting anecdotes from audience members about their experiences with comics; and several “fanboy moments” from the panelists themselves.
If you’d like to experience the Sunday Comics with Dan Didio panel from San Diego Comic-Con, a free pod-cast of the entire panel can be accessed courtesy of DC Comics by clicking here.