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Monday, July 27, 2015

Dan Didio explains the Post Convergence DC Universe…WTF?

Dan Didio has had to explain how his new Post Convergence DC Universe works to readers on multiple occasions with multiple articles. 

Good Gravy.

If an editor has to explain a story to their readers then something is wrong at that publishing house. Editors don’t have to explain how things work in a story to readers, readers will figure things out for themselves.

Most people can figure out a comic book universe on their own in less than ten seconds. That’s how I figured things out back when I discovered my brother’s comic collection when I was four years old. I saw all the characters on the covers of an Avengers comic and figured things out when I looked at other Marvel titles in his collection.

And that’s how I figured out comics when I was fifteen when I started collecting DC Comics on my own in 1989. I had read a lot of New Teen Titans back in my brother’s old comic collection. And in New Teen Titans I learned that Wally West was Kid Flash. When I picked up a Flash comic in 1989 and saw Wally West was the Flash, I figured things out.

And I figured thing with Fire. I had read an old DC Comics Presents with Superman and the Global Gaurdians. In it Beatriz De Costa was the Green Fury. I picked up a Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League and soon figured out that Fire was the Green Fury.

And the funny thing was I never read a single issue of Crisis of Infinite Earths. Yet at the age of 15 I was able to figure out the DC Universe both Pre-crisis and Post Crisis by picking up a few issues of Batman, Justice League, and Flash.

When a comic is written well readers have no problem figuring out the entry points. When a comic book universe is structured well readers won’t have a problem figuring out the world or the entry points to it.

Because every story is an entry point. A seasoned writer will treat each story as its own entity with its own beginning, middle, and end. Yes certain events in certain stories interconnect. But a reader will figure things out by the end of the story. And those elements will have them picking up future titles in the series and the books of other characters in the universe.

Why is getting a universe to work so hard for Dan Didio at DC Comics? Why does he have to explain something that no one really needs to explain? For over 75 years people have been getting into fantasy and science fiction stories without a map like the one Dan Didio created for his new DC Universe.

Back in the 1980’s no one needed to explain Transformers to kids. Most kids figured out that the Autobots were the good guys and the Decepticons were the bad guys. Sure the cartoon gave characters like Optimus Prime, Megatron and Starscream a “voice” and a personality, but most kids got into the world of Robots in Disguise without watching a single episode in 1984.

And thirty years later and multiple versions of Optimus Prime and his Autobot crew kids are still able to follow the story of the Transformers in toy stores all over the world without a problem.

And twenty years ago no needed to explain Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to kids. Even with all the multicolored rangers all the Dinozords, Megazords, Dragonzords, Titanuses and Ultrazords, kids and their parents managed to figure it all out on the store shelf. Again, the TV shows gave the toys a “voice” a personality most kids identified with, but it was fairly easy for most to figure it out.

And kids still figure it out twenty years later. We’ve had at least 23 different versions of Power Rangers in 23 different series. Yet kids still figure things out easily as they did in 1993 on a store shelf.

And just recently as 2009 No one at Mattel needed to explain Monster High to kids. They just figure It out on the shelf. The package tells the story of how Frankie Stien, Draculaura, Clawdeen Wolf, Ghoulia Yelps and Cleo De Nile are the daughters of classic monsters.

And kids today have figured things out seven going on six going on seven years later. Because it’s so easy to follow, Monster High is now more popular than Barbie, Mattel’s once iconic brand.

But we need a Map to explain the DC Universe to readers. A map that the co-publisher has to continue to explain to people again and again.

Good gravy.

Back in the 1940’s no one had to explain the Golden Age DC Universe to people. In the 1950’s no one had to explain the Silver Age DC Universe to people. And in the 1980’s no one needed to explain the Post-Crisis DC Universe to people.

Even I don’t have to explain the SJS DIRECT Universe to readers. People figure things out on their own. When it comes to my fantasy titles most readers know that Isis: Trial of the Goddess ties into Isis. And that The Temptation of John Haynes ties into Isis through E’steem. And that the modern Isis series starts right after The Temptation of John Haynes. People buy books at any point and follow the events in the universe from the last book or the first book. Every story is an entry point.

And most of my readers aren’t veteran comic fans with an understanding of the small intricate details of a characters’ history or a universe. No, they’re just average Joes and Janes all over this world. What many in the comic book world would call casuals, readers who pick up a book just based on a cover or a synopsis. If I can reach new readers with time-tested story models the comic industry has used for close to 80 years then why can’t DC Comics, a subsidiary of Time Warner do the exact same thing?

That’s the question many want DC’s editorial to answer. But Dan Didio is too busy explaining his version of the DC Universe to readers to figure out where he made his mistake. If you have to explain a product to the customer then you’re not going to be able to sell that product. If the customer can’t figure out how a product works on their own in less than ten seconds they’re not going to buy that product. Business 101. 

I find it sad that an indie publisher like myself with a shoestring budget can make a universe of characters work but a co-publisher of multinational brand with multi-million dollar budget can’t. I find it even sadder that executives at Warner Brothers haven’t given this man his walking papers after nearly fifteen straight years of failure. When one of your top senior executives can’t figure out how the products they sell to customers work, then that person shouldn’t be an executive at your company.   

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