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Monday, September 22, 2014

Dan Didio IN HIS OWN WORDS- Why He Should NOT Be in Charge at DC Comics



I’ve gone on and on in countless blogs about why I believe Dan Didio should be FIRED from his position as co-publisher at DC Comics. And this one statement from him clearly shows why he is not qualified to work at DC Comics or anywhere in the comic book industry.

"Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests. That’s very important and something we reinforced. People in the Batfamily, their personal lives basically suck.” — Dan Didio

I have PROOF from countless DC Comics in my 3,000 plus collection to refute this argument. Plus this fun little pic from the Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Trade I bought last year on eBay: 

BATMAN'S LIFE SUCKS? DOESN'T LOOK LIKE IT HERE!
Back in the 1970’s when Denny O’Neill wrote Batman, Bruce Wayne had a well-balanced social life. Yes even during the grim n’ gritty era, Batman even smiled from time to time, took time to catch a movie, go out on a date, or just relaxed with Alfred and Dick Grayson at Wayne Manor on a slow night.

And Dick Grayson was one of the most social heroes out there. In between leading the Titans and going on solo cases as Robin and Nightwing, Dick always had time for hanging out with his friends at the Titans Tower, romancing his girl Starfire, or just kickin’ it with Tim Drake in Gotham City.

Superman’s world is one big ball of sunshine. It’s a happy place filled with hope. And so is Wonder Woman’s. I mean, she lives on PARADISE Island, a virtual Utopia.  And the Flash is known for being sunny and fun, especially in the Wally West days where he like Dick Grayson was known for having a large supporting cast of friends. All those characters have lived happy personal lives since their initial creation.

Yes, superheroes are commited to using their powers to protect and defend others, but they do not sacrifice EVERYTHING to do it. They do have time for a social life. Not every waking moment of their lives is saving the world or preparing to save the world. There’s downtime even in crimefighting, and any good comic book writer will write a story or two to reflect what goes on during those slow period in a heroes’ life.

The way I see Batman is a part of Bruce Wayne’s life. Superman is a part of Clark Kent’s life. Wonder Woman is a part of Princess Diana’s life. Nightwing is a part of Dick Grayson’s life and the Flash is a part of Wally West’s life.

And a small part of their lives at that. In writing superhero adventures, there is this thing called BALANCE. There are 24 hours in every day, and even fictional people have time for this thing we call life. We need to see heroes alter egoes doing stuff in between their jobs and fighting crime like going to the supermarket or getting a haircut. Playing ball or hanging out with friends.

Every DC Comic I used to read back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s used to showcase those awesome slice of life moments. And I enjoyed those moments more than the superhero adventures. Why? Because it showed me there was a person under the mask who was just like me.

 Yeah even superheroes have a bad day or hard times, it’s not an ongoing thing. There is sunshine in between the clouds and a light at the end of a tunnel. No hero’s life is non- stop misery.

The way I always saw it superheroes probably went on patrol maybe 2 or 3 hours a day. They worked a case here or there in between their regular nine-to-five jobs and school. Occasionally a case might take a week or two, but this was oftentimes a rare exception. While the fights in most comics may have 32 pages and storylines were three or four issues, that often worked out to be about five or ten minutes to a few hours real-time in a comic book world.

Besides, who would want to spend an entire day in costume brooding and obsessing about taking down bad guys? Life is too short for anyone to spend it worrying about problems related to a job all the time.

I’d like to think Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman even took a day off from crimefighting the way Dick Grayson probably does. Especially in the summertime.

In a lot of cases, those happy personal lives Dan Didio hates superheroes to have are often what writers like myself like to use as a setup for a story.

Here’s the deal: Superheroes lives don’t have to suck. Being a superhero is a CHOICE people make. It’s basically an unpaid volunteer job.

Being a superhero is not a nine-to-five job people have to do in order to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads. No, people become superheroes because they want to use their special abilities and skills to help serve the communities they live in.

And since the job of superhero is a choice they volunteer for, they can easily hang up the tights and LEAVE if the job is making them that miserable. When it comes to volunteer work, people quit all the time in real life. Some people just don’t have time. Others just don’t like the mission of the organization. A few become disillusioned on seeing the internal operations of a nonprofit and just stop coming in to help out.

I’d like to think Superheroes would have the same motivations regular people do when it came to their volunteer work. No one is forcing them to put on tights and take on the bad guys. So what’s motivating them to stay there and take on the bad guys has to come from inside of them.

I’d like to believe that superheroes volunteer to help their communities because they find some sort of satisfaction in their work. And they keep doing that job because they love it. That personal satisfaction of making their communities a better and safer place makes it worth taking all those beatings from the bad guys.

Yeah, some like Batman may enjoy working alone. Others like Nightwing may enjoy working in a group. A few like Superman, The Flash, and Wonder Woman may just enjoy helping others. But they’re all there because they want to be there. If crimefighting was making them miserable they would have quit a long time ago.

The way I see it Didio’s statement about superheroes being miserable shows how little he knows about them. It shows he doesn’t understand the story model or how to write stories in the genre. He’s clearly the wrong man to be publishing comics.

Any good storyteller like myself knows that characters like superheroes need to have a well-rounded life with good times and hard times. It’s how they overcome the challenges presented to them is what makes them relatable to the reader and allows them to identify with their experiences. That’s what gives writers like myself the motivation to write compelling stories for them.

There’s no real motivation for a writer like myself to put fingers to the keyboard and write a story about an angry miserable person month after month and year after year in a run. For me, writing is FUN. And I like my characters to have FUN in their adventures.

Over time, stories about miserable, brooding heroes get stale and repetitive. They become one-note. And the characters become flat and one-dimensional. Eventually, there comes a point where the audience just wants the character to stop having their pity party and GET OVER IT.

Dan Didio’s view of superheroes is not a good one for the comic book medium. And having him in a leadership position at the #2 publisher of comic books is detrimental to the industry long-term. Angry brooding heroes went out of style in the late 1980s with trenchoats and heavy five o’clock shadows. The story model got TIRED after a while because all the angst and pointless drama started to grate on people’s neves.

What Dan Didio and most executives at Warner Brothers don’t understand is that most people read comics to get away from problems, not be confronted with more of them.
People don’t pay $4 to read about someone with a life that sucks.

No, they pay $4 to read about good guys overcoming the odds, beating the bad guys and saving the day. People read comics to ESCAPE their problems. Some even read them to find SOLUTIONS for them. Comics books sell HOPE to people. They inspire people to be better and do better. They show people how to make a difference by taking constructive action.

One of the tenets in the entertainment business states you don’t bring the customer a PROBLEM. Dan Didio with his statements shows he violates that business principle. And because he violates that business principle he clearly shows why he isn’t qualified to run a multibillion dollar publisher like DC Comics. If the executives at Warner Brothers were smart, they’d have handed Dan Didio his pink slip a decade ago and brought in someone far more qualified to run their DC Comics publishing division.  

1 comment:

  1. You're spot on. I believe in Batman Year One, it specifically states that Batman is active from the hours of midnight to 4am. So even crazy Frank Miller knows that being Batman is a part time gig for Bruce Wayne.

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