On playing at being DC’s editor-in-chief
The Occasional Superheroine herself, Valerie D’Orazio, has an interesting thought experiment going on at her blog:
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).
My immediate response:
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?
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?
It makes me think that somehow Valerie hasn’t heard the joke:
Q: How many DC Vice-Presidents does it take to change a lightbulb?
Although having worked at DC, she can probably guess the punchline:
A: I don’t know, you’ll have to ask Paul.
Whatever problems there are with the DC line– and there are some problems, and Valerie’s readers come up with some very interesting solutions– the problem with the company is so ingrained in the company’s DNA at this point that it may not be able to easily change. Love Dan DiDio or hate him, many of DC’s problems are beyond his ability to affect.
Think of DC as the comic book equivalent of Microsoft. It’s big, it’s powerful, it’s got a bankroll, and it’s run by a boy genius and has been for 25 years. And even with all that going for it, it’s vulnerable to change from the outside, because the majority of cutting edge stuff, where all the action is nowadays, are areas that they’ve ceded to others, areas in their growing blind spots– and it’s gotten so bad that creators find it much easier to go elsewhere, to start up their own companies, in the hopes of getting anything done.
Want an example in practice? Mad magazine. Here’s a property with a pedigree stretching back over 50 years. The original bastion of irreverence in America. TV shows, movies, bobblehead dolls based on Alfred E. Neuman. And it’s been handled so poorly that Cracked magazine is kicking its ass. While Mad is being reduced to a quarterly magazine, Cracked is out there conquering the Internet and making solid revenue. Cracked has officially started Feeling Sorry for Mad Magazine. And at that, Cracked is still a far second place to an even more recent upstart, The Onion.
Do you go to DC for innovation? Not really. Ask the folks at Minx. When I want innovation in the field– I’m not even talking innovative comics themselves, although form does seem to follow function here– I look at guys like BOOM! who put their comics online and on Google Android phones. I look at IDW, making pushes into lots of different areas and grabbing footholds. I look at the webcomics guys, who keep trying the form out like mad scientists with a whole new lab.
The old slogan, about 25 years old at this point, was "DC: Where Legends Live". Forever, it seems.
Glenn Hauman is getting cranky in his old age. Don’t mention his upcoming birthday.