Talking Who’s Who (finally)

Well, it’s finally okay to talk about Who’s Who. Dan DiDio formally broke the news in the DC Nation column in this week’s DC Universe titles. He says nice things about the book and me, which is heart-warming. Of course, I didn’t know anything about the announcement until I woke up this morning to an Inbox full of congratulations.

So, here’s the deal:

Last spring, Dan called me and said, “It’s time.” As part of DC’s 75th Anniversary celebration, commencing next month, a new edition of the Who’s Who was a must. After all, the first edition was launched to kick off the 50th Anniversary publishing plan in 1985 so it made sense.

I was hired by DC in 1984 to work with Len Wein and Marv Wolfman on the Who’s Who and Crisis on Infinite Earths. I inherited two thick loose-leaf binders with Peter Sanderson’s notes on every comic DC had published for 50 years and from there we compiled a master list and set to work. For the first year, I wrote entries and prepared reference for artists, and brainstormed a lot. When Len left staff, I was promoted to editor and took over running the book which was lots of fun.

Dan, his Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, and I spoke about this via e-mail, meetings, and lunches throughout the spring. Of course, I had some ideas in addition to some concerns since, after all, the amount of information was can fit on one printed page pales in comparison with the lengthier pages provided by various websites.

Recognizing this, Dan felt this should have a tight focus and be the company’s final word on the character and their histories. For Dan, this needed to be focused on the arrival of the Mystery Men in 1938 through the Modern Age of Heroes, establishing their histories and status quos current with the conclusion of Blackest Night. He then revealed to me this was to be a companion piece to Len Wein’s Legacies project, so whenever Len and I crossed paths in 2009, he told me how he was making things work for New Earth’s heroes. It all sounded great.

DC then hired me to prepare a brand new Master Character List, since the one I maintained when I was on staff sort of fell by the wayside as the last editor to maintain it moved to a different department and no one picked up the slack. Plus, so many new characters have arrived along with their parallel universe counterparts; we needed to start from scratch.

Thanks, as usual, to John Wells for lending me his research which made compiling such a list a lot easier. It still took months to create, sort, and proof files then come up with a list of New Earth heroes from 1938 through 2010 followed by a first cut proposal for a 12-issue series. Each month I sift through the titles and add to the list.

The fall was spent going back and forth with Dan and the Editorial Staff and we finally declared the fifth draft of the line-up as the roadmap. During those months, Dan expanded his parameters to include the significant interstellar races and characters and the project swelled from 12 to 18 48-page issues as a result. Since then, I’ve already tweaked the lineup as I learn of the DCU’s 2010 plans. All very exciting and reminds me how much I miss being part of the editorial process.

In December, I wrote the first issue and this week am writing the second. The book itself is due to debut in May.

This book will be all about the characters. The cities, secret headquarters, vehicles, weapons and objects of power were held back for a potential follow-up series. In fact, I hope this sells well enough so we can do editions covering the characters from Anthro through Enemy Ace, the future heroes from the 22nd Century through the End of Time, and maybe even a tour of the New Earth universe and one dedicated to the 52 parallel universes. But, that’s all wishful thinking from a freelance writer. Again, it all comes down to sales and interest.

As I write, page designs are being tinkered with and we’re all brimming with ideas as to who should draw which character or team. Len, when he edited the original series way back when, challenged ourselves by insisting there be at least one new artist every issue. I told Senior Art Director Mark Chiarello we should do the same this time and he vigorously nodded in the affirmative.

18 thoughts on “Talking Who’s Who (finally)

  • January 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm
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    Congrats, Bob. And I’ll say it again: I better get to ink some of these entries!

    Reply
    • January 7, 2010 at 7:09 pm
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      Can’t imagine doing the book without your brush, but I won’t have the task of assigning work. Stay tuned.

      Reply
  • January 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm
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    Hi, neighbor!

    I was really curious about all your mysterious alphabetic tweets (“Starting on “S”…). Now, the light dawns.

    As someone who still has his 1985 issues, a new “Who’s Who” sounds like a great idea. The timing is great, as I am currently shepherding my nephew into DC fandom by buying 2 of everything with a “Blackest Night” banner on top. (He has no idea I also got him a set of the rings!)

    Between everything St. Geoff of Johns is doing, and the fact that the Superbooks have NEVER been this interesting, the DCU is a happenin’ place again, and I don’t even care how badly my wallet is being assaulted.

    I just ordered your Wonder Woman book from this month’s Previews. Once it arrives, I’ll start begging for an inscription. ‘Til then, thanks for the Star Trek books you did way back when, and all the joy DC books have given me over the decades.

    Take care,

    Rob Pivarnik
    Stratford, CT

    a/k/a Black Lantern Santa
    http://twitpic.com/mun4q

    Reply
  • January 7, 2010 at 6:46 pm
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    Bob, congratulations on being Master of the DC Universe once more. So many decisions . . . which Legion? Super-hypnosis? Was Joe Chill caught? Ha. You’ll have a ball and so will we readers. The project is in the best hands.

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  • January 7, 2010 at 8:55 pm
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    I don’t want to pencil it, ink it, or any such; rather, I just want to say that DC was lucky to have you do this because you’re really good at what you do. The fans appreciate your skill and talent, too!

    Laurie

    Reply
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  • January 8, 2010 at 10:03 am
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    If you need help, please ask… there’s tons of knowledgeable folks out there… the aforementioned John “Mickey Shawm” Wells, Kim “Tenzil Kim” Jenson at Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe (where i post my Golden Age Whos Who entries) and many others with areas of specialties.

    Really looking forward to this and i could not have thought of a better person to be doing this.

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  • January 8, 2010 at 11:47 am
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    I hope the series will be taken as a snapshot of a particular time, unlike the original Who’s Who which was a sliding continuity based on what was going on during the Crisis. I’m a sucker for these kind of books.

    But about the Legion – wouldn’t they be in a “future heroes” volume, or do they have enough contact with the present (via the Superman titles) that they’re included in the “Modern Heroes” group? And the post-Zero Hour Legion spent considerable time in the 21st century, taking part in Final Night, would that qualify them for inclusion in this one?

    Thanks! I run the <a href="http://adventure247.blogspot.comLegion Omnicom blog so I’d be happy to help you with any Legion-related questions.

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  • January 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm
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    YES!!!!!!

    This is the news I was waiting to hear. Congratulations, and I look forward to seeing the results this coming Spring. The only thing that would make it better is if I got to contribute to it in some way.

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  • January 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm
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    Great!

    I was surprised when I read the news in DC Nation before seeing any peep of it here in your blog; you keep a good secret! Please add my congratulations to the deservedly tall pile, and good luck.

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  • January 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm
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    Dang, Keith beat me to it. Oh well, saying it anyway: Robin better get to ink some of thsoe entries!… You know, it just doesn’t read as forceful when I type it as when Keith does, does it?

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  • January 9, 2010 at 10:27 pm
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    Big congrats Bob–no one’s better for this job!
    Dibs on Little Boy Blue!

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  • January 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm
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    Sweet a new Who’s Who! How much do I have to pay to get to draw one of the entries! I love that stuff…hell Keith could ink it, we do make a great team!

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  • January 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm
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    Congrats Bob! And if there is ANYTHING that would bring me outta my strep throat funk, it would be to have a hand in Who’s Who again. Bobby, if discussions come up please mention my name. Y’see I’ve got alllllll this barbecue sauce that needs a good home, and, well–you know. 😉

    Best, Rick

    Reply
  • January 27, 2010 at 11:54 pm
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    Hi Bob, and congrats. I am a huge fan of DC’s “Who’s Who” and “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. I came across your name the other day when i was reading “Amazing Heroes #66”, where you were quoted within the Marv Wolfman article about “Crisis”. I recognized your name back in those days when I was reading DC but did not know how much involved your work was with both series. Thank you for doing a great job and I look forward to your new 75th anniversary of “Who’s Who”. :)
    -Apollo

    Reply
  • January 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm
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    Seeing as the active incarnations of the Legion in the new Multiverse are now themselves, ahem, legion…well, documenting all of them should be a mini-series in itself!

    (Note to Bob and DC Editorial: this statement should not under any circumstances be construed as a complaint about the situation, but rather as an expression of personal hope.)

    Reply

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