We'll get to that title and photo in a second, but first it was time for DC Comics to face the crowd at San Diego Comic-Con for one of the most controversial comic books of the year, Before Watchmen. With fans having read most of the series first issues by now, would they be elated? Conflicted? Ask long meandering questions that are more statements than actual questions? There to take on the potential abuse were DC head honcho Dan Didio, writers Len Wein and J. Michael Straczynski, writer/artists Amanda Conner and Darwyn Cooke, and Editors Mark Chiarello and Will Daniels.
First things first, Didio said that he was extremely pleased about the sales on the first issues. He also noted that they originally talked about whether they should release Before Watchmen as original graphic novels, or as periodicals; particularly as they found the majority of the audience for the original book thinks it is, in fact, an OGN. They decided to release the book in a monthly format because that’s how the original book was actually released.
Moving on to talk about the books, Straczynski talked about Nite Owl, and how he wanted to get Nite Owl and Rorschach together in the first issue, but we will flash back to Nite Owl’s past. In the third issue, he hooks up with a superhero “sex worker” called Twilight Lady, and they have much sexy shenanigans.
Over in Ozymandias, Wein said that he wanted to fill in the gaps in the character’s life, and have him leave a “document in case things go wrong.” Unfortunately, though, Wein noted that, “He’s a liar,” so we should take the whole thing as being told by an unreliable narrator. He also told a story about getting upset at Jae Lee for doing art he thought didn’t match with his writing, but that Lee gave a reasoned note explaining his decisions that made him apologize.
...And then Jim Lee hopped on stage, apologized for crashing the panel, and introduced - no joke - Quentin Tarantino. Turns out, DC is going to publish a five issue mini-series adapting “Django Unchained,” which will actually be the full version of the script.
“I always loved Western comics in particular, but one of the things I’m actually excited about is Django Unchained is an epic...” said Tarantino. “A lot of things don’t make the movie because they’re too effing big. There’s always this aspect that the script is this big, literary piece, and I’m conforming it to make it a movie. In the comic book? It’s the entire script. The comic will literally be the first draft of the script!”
And then Tarantino apologized for crashing the panel, ran off stage, and the energy slowly calmed down while we talked about Before Watchmen again. Talk picked up with Dr. Manhattan, with Straczynski saying that half the process was wrapping his mind around the science of how the character works.
Cooke then talked about Minutemen, saying that the pressure of living up to Watchmen has pushed him to be an even better writer and artist. “Can I pull this off? Have I got what it takes? The challenge is really driving me,” said Cooke. “This story switches back on itself so many times that by the end, I’m not sure what the truth is. Don’t jump to conclusions.”
Talking about Silk Spectre, Conner said that, “You’re really seeing her grow into somebody she didn’t start out as. She’s incredibly sheltered, her Mom didn’t let her have any friends. That all changes big time.” Cooke mentioned how hard Conner is working on the series, and joked, “Her husband won’t talk to me anymore. He works alone. He eats alone. He showers alone...” Conner quipped back, “Now they’re all picturing Jimmy Palmiotti showering.”
Cooke then told a story about how in his original script, Laurie fought her Mom in a “danger room” type sequence, but then Conner said, “Have you ever seen Pink Panther?” And then the scene morphed into Silk Spectre’s mom just jumping out of a closet and beating her up. Cooke said this is one of the great things about collaborating with the writer/artist, and he looks forward to her ideas.
Then there were audience questions, starting with whether Alan Moore would come back for a sequel? “I figure there’s about as much as a chance of that as there is seeing the thirtieth of February,” quipped Wein. Didio added that, “Alan preferred not to be involved in any of this.” He added that they went forward with the Prequel because, “I was extraordinarily confident we could match the quality of Watchmen, because of the team assembled here.”
A fan then asked whether the content of the books came down to editorial mandate. “These guys don’t even listen to me when I tell them what time the panel is!” joked Didio.
The next question was whether DC would do an After Watchmen. Didio chimed in again, saying, “Realistically speaking, how this material does is how we proceed. Success breeds success, and we take it one step at a time. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. How you react to it when they’re completed determines how we proceed. After thirty-five weeks, ask me again.”
And that was it! We’ll see you at the next panel, which is sure to have Quentin Tarantino crashing into it in some way.