Why the DCnU will not succeed like it should.
DC Comics held its first New 52 panel at Comic-Con International, in San Diego, with more panels focused on the line-wide September relaunch to follow throughout the weekend….
“The words I heard in the beginning were ‘scared, worried, nervous,” [Dan] DiDio said of the New 52 initiative. He then asked fans who felt this way, why. One fan said simply, “I was scared and nervous you were going to screw it up!” Another said, “I was scared we’d lose the diversity and that everyone would be white males again.”
DiDio then asked, “what would we have to do to change your mind?” The suggestion “Hire women!” got loud applause. When the fan asked why the rate of women in credits had gone from 12% to 1%, DiDio pressed him for names of who DC should hire. (via)
This annoys me. Why, Dan, WHY are you asking fans to do your editors’ job for them? You went from 12% women to 1% women, and you couldn’t think of anyone who might have gotten left out of this little rebootlaunch?
Also, a big part of me can’t help but think that Didio was asking “who should we have hired”, not out of sincerity, but as a “gotcha” question. That he believed that the fan who asked for more women creators was just saying so to stir up controversy, not that he could actually believe that there were some very talented women left out of the line-up.
I would have also asked why some creators (i.e. Kelly Sue De Connick and Marjorie Liu) were only given two days to pitch a project, whereas some other creators (i.e. Rob Liefeld) seem to have known about this relaunchboot for months ahead of time.
I would ask why, if making money and getting more mainstream readers were the primary goals, why not ask bestselling female novelists like Charlaine Harris and Janet Evanovich, or hot SFF writers like Suzanne Collins and Naomi Novik, or popular and talented webcomics creators like Spike and Danielle Corsetto. Not a week goes by that it doesn’t baffle me that E.K. Weaver is not making a living at comics. What girl from the past 25 years who grew up reading fantasy wouldn’t instantly pick up a Wonder Woman written by Tamora Pierce?
There is a saying, attributed to Einstein, that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Well, I think it’s much worse than that— it is the sign of weak, uncreative minds, unable to think outside the box when that is supposedly what they make their living doing. Unless of course (and this seems overwhelmingly to be the case) they are not expecting different results beyond higher numbers. They seem uninterested in new demographics, just new 18-35 year old males. As if any 18-35 year old male who wants to read comics isn’t already reading comics.
Women write. Women draw. And of course, women read. This goes beyond women creators— getting women readers is just as important to the future of comics. Women make up more than half the world population. Ignoring them for the past 50 years has correlated to the decline and near-irrelevancy of the comics market. Comics have been (slowly) revitalized over the past 20 years as female and female-friendly creators have come on to the stage.
Neil Gaiman has famously said that when he wrote Sandman, he wasn’t going after the female audience because there was no female audience to go after. Someone at the panel asked if Gaiman could ever come back to write for DC, and they said that he always has an open invitation to come back— that’s how valuable his success at their company 20 years ago is. He can come back whenever he wants. They’ll put out five $100 hardcovers of his work and see returns.
Why won’t they let themselves imagine having five Neil Gaimans in their arsenal? Ten? Twenty? Why not shoot for the stars? Get the absolute best writers and artists you can find who can appeal across demographics, who will create work that your company can hold up with pride for the next few decades and say “We gave this creator their start. We let their imagination run free and people loved and continue to love it.” Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the next J.K. Rowling found their initial success in comics? Can you imagine comics that people would line up before midnight for?
DC can’t. This is why the DCnU will never be what it could.
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