As the clock neared noon, a crowd of Mini-MegaCon attendees made there way to the DC Panel, where Jimmy Palmiotti, Tony Bedard, and Phil Noto had an open rap session with fans. The turnout was quite large, which pleased Palmiotti, who said that if less than five people had shown up, he would have taken everyone out to lunch. Then he added that he would restrain himself from things he might normally say, since Newsarama was present and would be quoting him. “Peace, love, and laugh out loud,” he said to a room full of laughter. “Peace, love and laugh out loud.”
The panel opened with a discussion of crossovers, which brought some groans, and when asked which crossovers they liked, one fan surprised everyone by saying he loved Bloodlines. Bedard laughed and said the only good thing to come out of Bloodlines was the Hitman comic. Bedard added that he knows many fans were disappointed with Countdown, which had questionable results, but he feels that Blackest Night seems to have gelled together quite well so far. Every indication is that Blackest Night is very tightly focused and plotted and should leave fans feeling well satisfied by the time it’s over. A fan asked if we would be seeing some obscure characters come back in Blackest Night, and Bedard said while he hasn’t seen a master list of all the Black Lanterns, he was sure fans would see quite a few, since Geoff Johns knows pretty much every single character. “Let’s call Geoff and find out,” Palmiotti joked, pulling out his cell phone.
There was then a discussion about the communication between editors and creators regarding the projects, and the panel agreed that the writer/editorial retreats usually only involve the higher profile guys, such as Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison. With everyone spread out across the country, it’s difficult coordinating a time when everyone can meet. Palmiotti added, however, that those types of meetings might have helped the outcome of Countdown.
Palmiotti told fans that Dan Didio is learning all the time and applies what he learns – when he sees things happen, he learns from it, doesn’t repeat the mistake, and fixes it. Palmiotti said it’s easy to see that Didio has been applying things he learned. Of all the companies he has worked for, Palmiotti said DC is definitely the best company, and Bedard agreed. Palmiotti has worked for everyone, but for him, DC is the best. He believes that DC thinks of the creators beyond just the book coming out that month.
The panel quickly became titled “DC – The Girl You Marry” when Bedard and Palmiotti began joking about the sexiness of working for DC.
Needless to say, with the recent headlines regarding Siegel and Schuster, there was no doubt someone would raise the question of the lawsuit. Palmiotti was quick to point out that the situation was not cut and dry. Phil Noto spoke up, indicating there is no black and white solution, as people seem to want. In today’s comic world, when there is a creator-owned character, there is a contract that sets forth the percentage of ownership. Those kinds of deals are in place because of situations like what has arisen with Siegel and Schuster. All on the panel agreed that basically, for all parties involved, it’s a matter of finding the middle ground.
The next question was for Phil Noto regarding his upcoming Batman/Doc Savage special. While he couldn’t give any story elements away, Noto did say that the special is a kick-off to the new pulp universe, which will include the old figures such as Doc Savage and the Blackhawks. DC had tried to get the licensing for the Shadow, but it didn’t happen. Noto described the book as “an early alternate universe with an almost-year one Batman.” The book is somewhat ambiguous about the time period, based more on the look and design rather than the specific details. Additionally, in this story, Gotham is modeled after Los Angeles, with Wayne Manor having an ocean front view.
This led Bedard to say that the fact that DC is willing to give these creations a chance – Doc Savage, the Red Circle characters, etc. – is another great thing about DC. Palmiotti, however, said that although he liked the name “Savage,” he didn’t think he wanted to see a doctor named “Savage.” It just didn’t seem right.
A fan asked whether, with all the recent animated movies, a Crisis on Infinite Earths could be expected. The panel agreed that was unlikely, but Palmiotti reminded them that live-action Jonah Hex was in the works, based on one of the stories from his current series.
Another fan asked if Power Girl and Magog would ever date? Palmiotti gave an emphatic NO, he’s not her type. What about Doc Savage? “Oooooo,” Jimmy said. “But no, we will deal with that soon in the book. Have some bizarro-ness in the book, and with Amanda on the book, it makes it easier to do things like that!”
The panel was asked if we could expect any more weekly comics. No one was sure, but they agreed that since Wednesday Comics has done really well, one would never know. Palmiotti admitted he is curious how they will collect it. Bedard said there probably will be more weekly books, but they won’t be the year-long story established by 52. It might be for a shorter time, or focused on something you don’t expect. It would be a mistake to try and recapture 52, but the weekly comics work for those who like getting a new book every week. With the weekly books, though, Palmiotti said that, in theory, the idea is great, but such a book is better if done a year in advance, since they require so much work.
With the return of the Doom Patrol and Metal Men, fans wanted to know what about the Challengers of the Unknown? Palmiotti said he didn’t know, but he would certainly love to do a Sea Devils book – send them down into a hole in the bottom of the ocean and bring them back just a bit different. The Metal Men are goofy and fun, and Palmiotti said it was easy to see that Didio loves the Metal Men, because the Wednesday Comics strip is exactly what Metal Men used to be.
A question was yelled out – what obscure titles and/or characters would the panelists like to see brought back? Bedard quickly replied he already had his in R.E.B.E.L.S., while Palmiotti jokingly said Aquaman. He then turned the question to the audience as to who they would like to see brought back. The answers ranged from Tempest to Zan and Jayna to Swamp Thing (which one fan suggested could be written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ethan Van Sciver, and be titled Swamp Thing – the Regrowth!).
One of the best questions of the day came from a fan who asked if there was any chance DC would kill off G’Nort and bring him back as a Black Lantern – along with Ted Kord and other deceased members of the JLI. Then, they could have a group of Black Lanterns standing around bickering for an entire issue! Palmiotti laughed and said Didio would be the right person to answer that – he’d say, “let’s talk after the show!”
Noto spoke up, saying he wished there were more comics like the Kamandi stip in Wednesday Comics – something that doesn’t deal with super heroes, but rather, other genres. Bedard said one of the great things about working at Crossgen was the various genres. At DC, there is that opportunity, maybe not so much in the DCU proper, but there are various imprints, such as Vertigo and Wildstorm. Bedard said he would love to do another horror book, and a western too. Palmiotti told the fans he wants to do more sci-fi and more crime. He laughed as he added, “If no one wants the crime ideas, I’ll go and take them to Image.”
Next came a discussion on the darker stories in the DCU and whether any would benefit from being made lighter. The panel quickly pointed out that the writers usually pick how it goes. Blackest Night is heavy – even the title says it. Sometimes, however, the character dictates how the story goes. For Palmiotti, with Jonah Hex, he tries to give some light issues once in a while to break the heavy, serious issues. When asked what books or characters they would prefer to see lightened up, Palmiotti quickly responded, “Aquaman.” After the laughter died down, he explained with Power Girl, he elected to take her book in a lighter direction, because in JSA, she’s a hard-ass type character, always fighting to be in control. On the other hand, there are certain characters that lend themselves to humor. Bedard reminded everyone that Lobo was a character played for laughs for a long time, but if he was bringing Lobo back, he’d take it in a very straightforward and serious way. Supergirl in Wednesday Comics is different from her own title. Imagine Swamp Thing humorous. “Chia pet Swamp Things,” Palmiotti suggested. “People could cut him up and grow him in their gardens and grow a whole bunch of them. Suddenly, there are Swamp Things everywhere with a hive mind. There’s some crazy stuff you could do. So long as it works within the character – sometimes the audiences have read the characters for so long, it’s a nice thing to see them changed now and then.”
A debate then ensued regarding digital comics and if comics were headed that way. Marvel, DC and IDW have already started, but for some, it’s a generational thing, as some like the actual books, others want to read online. Different formats of the same thing. Palmiotti compared it to the movies – you can go to the theatre, you can wait for DVD, or you can download it. He was quick to point out, however, that he doesn’t like illegal downloads, having seen issues of Jonah Hex that people have downloaded for free illegally. He indicated he could really use those sales on the book. Everyone agreed though, that it will eventually come down to everyone’s individual tastes. “The great thing is, there are millions of people on this planet,” Bedard said. “Each with different tastes.” Palmiotti added, “This is a time when it’s cool for comic fans out there.” As an example, he brought up CBS’ Big Bang Theory, which shows that being a geek is cool, that it’s alright to be comic fans.
Having run out of time, the panel thanked everyone for coming and made their way back to the floor for more autographs, sketches, and one-on-one time with the fans.