CON AWAY FROM CON: The afternoon’s discussions turned from the superheroes of the DC Universe to the big publishing event of 2012: Before Watchmen. DC Entertainment co-publishers Dan DiDio and a momentarily waylaid Jim Lee (who joined as soon as he got out of a previous engagement) were joined on stage by some of the talent involved in the various series making up Before Watchmen, Len Wein and J. Michael Strazynski as well as series editors Will Dennis and Mark Chiarello.

DiDio started things off by talking about the process of deciding to embark on the Before Watchmen project, with discussions going back to when the 2009 movie adaptation came out. Then with the excitement around DC Comics-The New 52 it felt like the right time to revisit this and so some of the industry's top talent were brought together to tell these stories.

Strazynski shared that what drew him to the characters was an opportunity to explore everything from the most powerful - Dr. Manhattan - to the most vulnerable, Nite Owl. A lot of the books that are part of Before Watchmen deal with "the kind of truth you don't even admit to yourself” he teased.

Each artist is doing their own cover art, with others doing variant covers, including Jim Lee, who decided that he was excited about the idea of providing his take on the characters too. The attendees then got the first look at the penciled art for Lee’s variant cover of Nite Owl #1. Lee talked later about how he wanted to get at the idea of the characters being vigilantes, so this one as an example, uses a police lineup type backdrop and he teased how even he’s excited to see how all the characters look against the common background.

All the creators on the panel emphasized a few common themes:

  • A genuine sense of collaboration was felt throughout the group, as people talked about their visions for the characters, provided feedback on each other's work and otherwise each contributed to the entire story.
  • They're all in awe of the work being done by the rest of the group. Even the editors talked about how little work they had to do because of the sheer level of high quality art and writing coming out of everyone.

As the flow of the session turned to questions and feedback from those in the room, one fan talked about Minutemen, saying he's really excited to see their story since that's a favorite of his. In response to another fan's question about making the world of Watchmen an "alternate Earth," the panel said the focus will stay on this being an entirely separate world that stands on its own.

Wein and the panel talked about how it was an interesting challenge trying to create a cliffhanger every two pages for the Crimson Corsair backup stories that will be included in each issue.

One attendee said she was new to Watchmen, having never read the original series. Strazynski then said Before Watchmen is designed to be new-reader friendly and everyone will get something different out of the story depending on which they read first. 

All in all the fans in the room were resoundingly positive about Before Watchmen as they look forward to what’s sure to be the monumental event of this summer. 

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