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  1. #1
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Default The New 52 Insiders Sneak Peek

    https://www.polygon.com/comics/22679...s-oral-history

    Dan DiDio
    DC vice president starting in 2002, DC co-publisher from 2010-2020


    The origin [of the New 52] comes from a couple of places. First things first: We had a change in management. We had Diane Nelson coming in [as DC’s new president]. And she really wanted to challenge us and really to make an impression and a statement. So we needed to make a statement. That’s part one.

    Part two was the market was extraordinarily soft. Our numbers were off by double digits — I want to say 30 to 40 percent, some big number from what it was from the previous year — and trade sales were slowing down, and periodical sales were slowing down. It wasn’t just DC; it was the whole marketplace.

    From the moment I started at DC [...] I was always trying to get to that spot where we can sort of restart the wheel and really create this entry point for everybody to jump on, and contemporize our characters.

    Marvel had such success with [Miles Morales and the Ultimate line], and I kept on pointing to that. I thought to myself, We needed that. I tried a couple of times — the All-Star line was supposed to be a shot at that, the Earth One books were supposed to be shot at that. They were good as stand-alone concepts, and we got some great work from that, but it didn’t drive a line. And ultimately, the only way it works is if you drive the cohesiveness of the line. We were doing it piecemeal, but to really make an impression, to really catch the attention of the marketplace, you had to do something dramatic. And ultimately, that’s what turned into the New 52.

    Diversifying the line

    We really wanted to make sure we were reaching out and trying different things and different types of stories. As much as people talk about Superman or Batman, or any one of the relaunches of the primary characters, I was more excited about the Men of Wars, or I, Vampires, and the other things that were part of that, because ultimately, that’s the part of comics that brings in the casual readers — people picking up books if they’re not superhero fans, but want to read the medium.

    Why 52 books? I mean, it’s interesting, because ultimately, the office was constructed to support somewhere between 60 to 80 books on a monthly basis. OK. So if you’re going to put out less product, you’re going to make a staffing change. So realistically, we’re working with the [in-house] staff that we have. We did not want to rearrange the staff; we didn’t want to do that. So the challenge was to create enough engaging material to support the structure, but also to be able to broaden it out.

    Pandora

    There was probably going to be a greater role for the Pandora character early on. She was going to be a little bit of a mechanical character behind the scenes who was working some of the differences out on how the world moved forward from what happened prior to Flashpoint.

    Continuity

    When you’re creating 52 series simultaneously, you have to give everybody a certain amount of latitude to be able to tell their stories, without the stories impacting each other, because ultimately, it slows the process down, and it also impedes the creativity of it. So, while there was a goal not to contradict each other, people did push stories out in directions that made it hard for them to reconcile with each other. You found pockets where people work together, you know — Frankenstein and Swamp Thing work together; I did a brief crossover with Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE on OMAC — but the reality was, things were moving in the wrong directions.

    The sense of bravado

    The downside of success is a level of, I don’t want to use the word arrogance, because that’s wrong. But the sense of bravado — now I got it, now I can prove anything. One of our staples at the beginning was we wouldn’t let any book go under 20,000 in sales. OK. So that’s why you saw cancellations at eight months, because [while] the books were making money, they were profitable, they just didn’t hit this artificial number that was created.

    What we didn’t realize at that time is, we created the churn, as I called it. There are going to be eight books or so that are just going to [come in below our target number], so what you should do is find the best eight and stick with them. But [if you cancel and replace them], you find out that you were getting even more diminishing returns. Then all of a sudden, the eight [books below our target number] become 10, and then you’re filling more holes than you have ways to fill them. You get so focused on the churn of the bottom, you’re not focused on maintaining the success at the top.

    The Collapse

    Truth be told, I think the New 52 ended because the cycle and windows had collapsed on people’s expectations, which is an interesting thing. I think Paul Levitz put that in my head when I first got into DC. He said to me that a lot of times what would happen is that you would launch a character, they would have a period of time to run, before ultimately wind up failing. And then it would be what we used to call toxic, meaning you couldn’t do anything with the character, and you had to put it on a shelf for five years, let the toxicity fade away, and then you bring it back out and you relaunch them.

    But then what was happening was that we were closing those windows [at the start of the New 52]; we were canceling books and relaunching them within a month or two months, so we collapsed a lot of those windows. So the expectation started to collapse, so you have an expectation and delivery. And when you deliver to a number, then you have to exceed that number and exceed that number and you’re constantly having to challenge yourself to be bigger and better and bolder. And then when you start to fade, then you have to scramble to find ways to compensate for that.

    Valid Complaints

    There was a level of inconsistency in the storytelling — as I explained, we did a lot of planning up-front to get to the New 52 launch. So, when you look at the first six months, I’ll tell you, honestly, some of the best books DC put out during my time were there. Just really powerful, wonderful storytelling top to bottom.

    Then what happened is, the schedule starts to get you, and we start to make some tweaks and changes along the way and your own success gets in your way. You don’t spend the same amount of time and energy getting it right to the rules of what [the] New 52 was, and the proper introduction, and how things work, and making the changes to the characters valuable.

    Later, because people are rushing, you’re getting superficial changes that almost feel like somebody is dusting something off — it’s different, but it’s not really. And that’s what started to lead to the confusion. You started to get things that felt just slightly off from where you remember them. So why bother reinventing it in the first place? And I think that’s the most valid argument you’re going to get from everybody. The level of attention to the reinvention became less and less as they progressed.

    Therefore, you just got a jumbled sense of past continuity, new continuity and a mix with half hearted reintroductions that really didn’t work for the story, and didn’t really satisfy the long term fans. That’s the dead zone, where once you fall into that mud, you’re trying to dig yourself out, but you’re just sinking quicker and quicker. It’s pulling you underground.

    In Conclusion

    I would say, we got about a good three and a half years of what I hoped would have been five years. But I think, just because of the sheer volume of material, the idea that you can do something and then leave it and let it run for a dozen years isn’t a reality anymore. We’ve created a different expectation in the marketplace of this constant sense of reinvention.

    The goal was to see whether or not there was more [direct market] audience out there. And yeah, I think we know the answer.
    Last edited by Restingvoice; 09-22-2021 at 01:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Scott Snyder
    Writer on the New 52 titles Batman, Swamp Thing, Superman Unchained

    There were a lot of people operating on good faith. A lot of editors working very hard to get great stories out there. Nobody edits comics who doesn’t love the characters, and love being a part of that world. There’s not a lot of glory in it. It was a strange environment, because there was so much excitement and enthusiasm from all of us, creators and editors; and from the top, from Dan and Jim. Their enthusiasm was infectious. They believed in all of it. And yet, because there wasn’t an underlying story, because there weren’t concretized rules, it kept changing all the time.

    That sort of fluidity, that lack of rules, of blueprints, led to issues, because between different groups there were different ideas of what was DC history. So you’d do something and then you’d hear from a different group that one of the characters you mentioned [being] in the past wasn’t in the past anymore, because they had a new origin. Again, everyone was working out of love of story, trying to tell the best tales in their area. It was just difficult without more set rules.

    The Big Problem

    Honestly, if you want to know what I think the big problem with it was, from a structural standpoint, the biggest problem I had with it architecturally as an initiative was that it didn’t really have rules about the way continuity was going to work. Ultimately, we didn’t have an uber-story fully worked out. There were sort of hints of one with Pandora and Flashpoint, there were good ideas there, but there wasn’t a big narrative.

    I think what led to more and more and more problematic aspects as we went was that it became a victim of its own success. It was doing so well initially that there wasn’t a desire to rein it in and put rules on how things worked. Books were doing things differently, and so some books had different histories than others, and different rules on how things worked, so I think it became about those things existing next to each other, and that just created a mounting sense of frustration and confusion. Eventually, we needed something like Rebirth to come in and set rules, rebuild an uber-story.
    Last edited by Restingvoice; 09-22-2021 at 01:28 AM.

  3. #3
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Daniel Wilson
    Writer on the New 52 titles Earth 2: World’s End, Earth 2: Society

    I had a lot of characters to deal with, so I put together a big spreadsheet. I had basically the whole thing planned out — the major beats of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to separate everything. So I went to New York City, I met [former DC publisher] Paul Levitz, and I sort of just had this immediate reality check where Paul was like, “No, like, that’s not how you do comics, man.” I’m like, “Well, how else are we going to do it? Because there’s so much I need to just lay this out,” and he’s like, “No, no, we’ll just figure it out issue to issue.”

    [I said] “I’m really not comfortable doing that, Paul, and I’m the showrunner. So I kind of want to do it this way. Also, I’ve been working on this for months to figure it out.” Paul was like, “‘That’s cool. I wish you luck. I’m out.” It wasn’t emotional or anything. He was just, “That’s really not what I signed up for,” and I totally got it. Later, I was like, “You know what? He was right.” It wasn’t what I expected. I managed to make it work, but definitely, Paul was totally right. Everything evolved on the fly, as you go, and I had to adapt to that.

  4. #4
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Brenden Fletcher
    Writer on the New 52 titles Batgirl, Gotham Academy, the DCYou title Black Canary

    I had just wrapped an Assassin’s Creed comic with Cameron Stewart who asked me to join him on the Batgirl series he’d been offered. Around the same time, Becky Cloonan was given the chance to pitch an original series to the new editor of the “Batman Group” at DC Comics. I was sharing a studio with Becky at the time and she asked me to join her on the project that would later become Gotham Academy. This was around February/March of 2014. The books we were pitching were meant to launch in October of that year.

    This all came about because Mark Doyle, who’d come from Vertigo, had taken over the Bat Group and was looking to shake things up in that nebulous time period before the company moved out west from New York to Burbank. It seemed like there was little consequence to any potential failure of these new/updated titles, as DC intended to do a big relaunch once they were settled. It would’ve been easy to simply yank our books from the schedule at that time if they turned out to be stinkers, so the risk of trying out a new style of Batgirl story or a fresh IP involving an original set of characters in a Gotham City boarding school was minimal.

    We had a lot of questions for Mark and then-Batgirl editor Katie Kubert about the status quo of Batgirl before we cracked into our pitch, chief among them was the canon age of the character in this New 52 continuity. When they told us she was meant to be 21, it informed just about every decision we made afterward: The series needed to reflect her actual age and the struggles young women encounter when they venture out into the larger world on their own for the very first time. I mean, Barbara was meant to have been a teenage Batgirl before her return to crimefighting in the first issue of the [New 52] series, but was always living at home with her dad, superheroing under the tutelage of Batman, etc. …

    Wider Audience

    We wanted the book to appeal to new readers and particularly to young women. Aside from the tone of the stories having a little slice-of-life peppered in to ground them and give them broad appeal, we wanted this Batgirl to be recognizable in style and execution to the versions of the character that potential fans would’ve seen on screen in Batman ‘66 and Batman: The Animated Series. That meant injecting some fun onto the page as well as dealing with Barbara’s trauma as honestly as we could.

    I think we felt really validated. Not just my teams, but so many of our friends who work in comics and illustration ... so many people who’d been trying to make books like this for DC and Marvel for years! We’d been pushing the notion — along with executives in other departments of DC, I would come to find out later — that there were wider audiences out there for these characters, if only the company would create books for them. It took an editor coming in from Vertigo into the superhero editorial offices to make that a long-awaited reality.

    The Oracle Ban

    There was ultimately very little pushback from editorial to the way we all envisioned the character. They loved our take on Batgirl and adored the costume redesign. Our only struggles came in the way we saw the use of our supporting cast and the overarching plot. Turns out “Oracle” was a dirty word back in 2014/2015, and a lot of what we had planned ultimately had to be tossed to hold to the mandate that Barbara’s previous alter ego never be used or even mentioned in any context, no matter our intentions with it.

  5. #5
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Judd Winick
    Writer on the New 52 titles Catwoman, Batwing, Batman: The Dark Knight

    Some of these characters are 70, 80 years old. All of them need major reboots every few years. It’s funny: Comics, which gave birth to these characters, are allowed to reinvent themselves when they change mediums, like a TV show or a motion picture. Everyone is a lot more forgiving about the changes that “have to be made“ when it’s in another medium, but you try to change it up in comic books, people get crazy.

    I never thought any reboot wiped out my stories. My stories are still there. They are not going anywhere. They’re collected. You can buy them in ebooks. They’re right there. Forever. The fact that it might not be part of canon anymore doesn’t bother me. Folks sometimes should take a step back and really look at what this is as a medium, and realize that it has to evolve. And that’s the fun part in a lot of ways.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Factor's Avatar
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    That Batgirl run gets a lot of flack, but it's still one of the best Batgirl runs I've read. It's a really fun book that knew exactly what it wanted to be.
    As the story of a less experienced Barbara Gordon, it works really well. I hope somewhere in the multiverse that version of Babs is still kicking ass.

  7. #7
    Extraordinary Member HsssH's Avatar
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    Snyder's comments about uber-story is probably a good explanation on why I don't like his work.

  8. #8
    Mighty Member brandnewfan's Avatar
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    I wonder how good the New 52 could have been without editorial interference being so overwhelming.

    They need to let creators create.

    I also wonder what (if anything) has changed within the company from then to now.

  9. #9
    Always Rakzo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    Daniel Wilson
    Writer on the New 52 titles Earth 2: World’s End, Earth 2: Society

    I had a lot of characters to deal with, so I put together a big spreadsheet. I had basically the whole thing planned out — the major beats of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to separate everything. So I went to New York City, I met [former DC publisher] Paul Levitz, and I sort of just had this immediate reality check where Paul was like, “No, like, that’s not how you do comics, man.” I’m like, “Well, how else are we going to do it? Because there’s so much I need to just lay this out,” and he’s like, “No, no, we’ll just figure it out issue to issue.”

    [I said] “I’m really not comfortable doing that, Paul, and I’m the showrunner. So I kind of want to do it this way. Also, I’ve been working on this for months to figure it out.” Paul was like, “‘That’s cool. I wish you luck. I’m out.” It wasn’t emotional or anything. He was just, “That’s really not what I signed up for,” and I totally got it. Later, I was like, “You know what? He was right.” It wasn’t what I expected. I managed to make it work, but definitely, Paul was totally right. Everything evolved on the fly, as you go, and I had to adapt to that.
    Including Daniel Wilson offends me.

  10. #10
    Extraordinary Member John Venus's Avatar
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    lol. Anybody surprised by any of this?

  11. #11
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Factor View Post
    That Batgirl run gets a lot of flack, but it's still one of the best Batgirl runs I've read. It's a really fun book that knew exactly what it wanted to be.
    As the story of a less experienced Barbara Gordon, it works really well. I hope somewhere in the multiverse that version of Babs is still kicking ass.
    I always felt like it would've made more sense as a "Batgirl Adventures" book in its own universe than having to tie-in to the main continuity.

  12. #12
    Spectacular Member TheMaker1610's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rakzo View Post
    Including Daniel Wilson offends me.
    Yeah.. should I really feel pity for the guy that single-handlely replicated Ultimatum with the E-2 books? ://

  13. #13
    Fantastic Member atomicskull's Avatar
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    New 52 hate gets so old lol. No one is talking about DC books, so i guess they had to pull this stunt. Some things work, some things don't. It's a business nothing personal, plain and simple. The writers and artists don't get any sympathy from me, if you people were so miserable then leave. People want Dan Didio to be the devil so bad.
    "Fresh air is the best therapy."

  14. #14
    Extraordinary Member cranger's Avatar
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    It is just the 10 year 'anniversary' of the New 52. As someone who was brought in 'new' to DC this is actually a period I am fond of. I enjoy hearing the stories from behind the scenes.

  15. #15
    Fantastic Member atomicskull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranger View Post
    It is just the 10 year 'anniversary' of the New 52. As someone who was brought in 'new' to DC this is actually a period I am fond of. I enjoy hearing the stories from behind the scenes.
    New 52 bought me back to comics. But i just know that everything in the article is just negativity and finger-pointing. Comic fans are already extremely toxic, that's even more certain than death and taxes. The article is just going to make it worst.
    "Fresh air is the best therapy."

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