FanExpo Canada: DC's All-Access Saturday Panel Goes Before Watchmen

DC Comics kicked off their Saturday programming at FanExpo Canada with a packed panel featuring some of their top talent - and a few big announcements. Panelists included: Dan Didio, Amanda Conner, Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, and moderator John Cunningham.

First, two announcements:

- Bill Sienkiewicz will take over pencilled for the late Joe Kubert, working with Andy Kubert on inks. Sienkiewicz was Andy’s first choice.

- The publisher announced a new mini-series, “Before Watchmen: Moloch” which we have more news about here.

And then it was on to talking about the titles! Here’s some highlights:

- Cooke said that while most of his titles end up “turning upward,” ‘Minutemen’ is a series that looks downward. Once a main character dies, the rest of the characters are left a little lost. “In between issue five and six of this book, I’m probably going to be in a missile silo somewhere hiding,” said Cooke, stating that the response to the end of issue five should be huge.

- Moving to Silk Spectre, Conner said that we’ll see more of Sally’s mother in issue four. “The acid trip that Laurie goes on in issue three goes on, and on,” said Conner with a laugh. Cooke noted that issue three also has a guest appearance no one will be expecting, and then continued that Conner never uses drugs, but that the acid trip is, “just how Amanda thinks every day!”

- Then it was over to the always loquacious Azzarello, who, when asked about the third issue of Rorschach, quipped that, "it takes place after the end of issue two."

- Showing off the covers to Wonder Woman #13 and #14, Azzarello noted - based on the footprints Wonder Woman is following on issue #13 - that, "she's following someone." When asked about issue #14? "Somebody is following her!" said Azzarello, to huge laughs from the crowd.

Then it was over to audience questions! Again, some highlights:

- Asked about what makes a good cover, Conner said, “High contrast, and not too busy. Every once in a while it’s good to have one that tells a story, I’m trying to think of--” “The real answer is guns and boobs,” joked Cooke, interrupting.

- The next question was about digital sales versus print. “You get about an average throughout the line,” said Didio. “It’s a strong addition to the line, but will not replace the way print is running.” Cunningham added that graphic novel sales have performed “spectacularly, because the book market is a little farther along than the comic book market.” He noted that anything tying into Dark Knight Rises is going particularly well.

- Asked about how you avoid repeating old plotlines, Cooke joked that, “The trick is to make sure the plot you’re cannibalizing is forty ONE years old.” Didio added as long as the story is good, or it frames it in a new way, it doesn’t matter.

- Didio was asked about why they haven’t brought every character back in the new continuity. He said, “If we brought back every character we saw before the New 52, we’d be right back where we were at the end of the New 52.”

- A question was asked about how the Publisher figured out which books to do for the New 52. Didio said that the end list was nowhere near the initial list, and it changed throughout. “There are some things that worked, and some things that don’t,” said Didio, noting that what did work were clear, exciting ideas like Azzarello’s take on Wonder Woman.

- Asked about their favorite character to write or draw, Azzarello quipped “Rorschach #2.” Didio said OMAC, Conner said Silk Spectre (as well as Power Girl and Wednesday Comics), and Cooke said Parker, which he described as, “like sliding into a bath with a twelve year-old scotch.” “Don’t forget the word scotch,” added Didio, to laughs from the audience.

- Conner noted that she peppered Silk Spectre with a number of Easter Eggs, both from the original Watchmen, and from history. “I keep putting in things for fun,” said Conner.

- A father with a seven year old asked where all the comics have gone for her age group. Didio mentioned that they’re publishing the same amount of kids books, but its up to the retailer to buy them - or for the customer to ask the retailer to buy them. Interestingly, Cunningham added that he worked for years at a book store, and that parents would say, “I have a seven year old, but my kid reads like a ten year old. I’ve never met a kid who read like a seven year old.” Meaning, the content for that age group, both in comics, and books, doesn’t really exist.

- When asked about how books get made, the panel joked that it was a smooth, easy process with no problems whatsoever. “We all hang out in a bullpen area playing video games and hanging out,” quipped Cooke. “Every once in a while, Dan comes in and asks if we’re happy.” More seriously, Didio noted that its different with every single book.

- Asked about the difference between Comedian killing Kennedy in the Watchmen movie, versus NOT killing Kennedy in the comic, the panel noted that the movie changed the ending. The only thing they did take from the movie was Sally Jupiter’s hairstyle in Minutemen.

- Last question, a fan asked about whether they were worried about Aquaman. Didio said he did have reservations, but trusted Geoff Johns vision, and, "it became one of my favorite reads."

And that was it! We’ll see you here later for more coverage from FanExpo.