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.