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Monday, February 13, 2023 

Dan DiDio and Frank Miller aren't fit to speak about shared universes when they were part of the process

CBR recently interviewed Frank Miller, his awful co-publisher Dan DiDio, the former DC publisher/editor, and a film producer working with them named Silenn Thomas, about their new Frank Miller Presents imprint, and along the way, they also discuss shared universes:
In the world of comics, there is a massive drive towards the shared universe or connecting to a million other books and events. It is refreshing to read books that stand on their own. Dan, considering your history with DC and the DC Universe, do you ever put on your publisher's hat and start thinking about potentially shared universes here?

DiDio: I shouldn't say this, but I always know how to [start a] shared universe. I can always figure that out. You build it from the ground up, but it's also shared in commonality and sensibilities, which seem familiar in all the books. Then you'd find a way to make all those intersects into something that's shared between all the books. That's the best way, and it's much more organic in its creation. Here, we're starting fresh on everything. So, the truth is we've got to make sure that each book is the best possible book it can be. That's the main thing.

The truth is if we were going to do anything, we'd build everything off of Ronin. But you want Ronin to live and breathe into its own sensibilities. If every book is able to stand on its own, when you cross things over, you have the aggregates and strengths of three different audiences coming together to support three different books and styles. If you do it where they're all tied together from the start, you're working off the same audience, and that could always be diminishing returns in the long term. It's not even about world-building but company-building. If you're trying to build a company, you want to make sure you have as many legs to stand on as possible. So if one or two don't work, it doesn't take you down. This is a great way to try different formulas.

I just have to go one step further on that. When Frank talks [about] Sin City, we're talking about a western, and that's another genre. The goal is to constantly challenge all the different genres out there with different styles, rather than to lean heavily on one genre and one style of storytelling. I think that's a lot more fun. The thing that unites Frank Miller Presents is the sensibility and tone that go into the creation of the books more than the tying of the characters and stories.

Miller: My feeling is that the whole fixation on a company having a single universe is… I mean, it started because of the explosion of work by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Frankly, those two men could produce so much material. Jack, in particular, had this thing about having it all fit together. Unfortunately, that explosion of creative freedom has since turned into a straitjacket where everything's got to be connected and suffocated against everything else. Our effort is the opposite of that. We want to go back to explosive creative freedom.
Well gee, if that's how Miller feels, why doesn't he lay any blame at the feet of DiDio, to say nothing of Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso, Bob Harras, Marie Javins and C.B Cebulski? They have blame to shoulder not just for getting Marvel/DC to that point, but also keeping it that way. I've raised ideas before that're more than fully workable for how to mend damage, specifically, by jettisoning specific "continuities" dating back to the turn of the century, and even earlier, depending what's bad enough to warrant expunging, and do these charlatans ever take that advice? No. They don't even consider abandoning the monthly pamphlet format for a more paperback-based approach, which could provide more self-contained potential. So who are they to lecture us about how continuity's become more hindering than helpful? Even the part about sensibility and tone taking a precedence over connecting stories and characters sounds suspect.
Are you looking towards expanding to other industries, such as film and television?

Silenn Thomas: I would say 100% yes, but it has to be the right type of [an adaptation]. It has to be authentic. For example, Pandora is getting a lot of traction that we cannot speak of just yet, but it's been very exciting to be rewarded, even though we haven't shown it to anybody. Just one issue has been released, but we already have this interest because they know that Frank is a world builder, even though there's no continuity in any of his worlds.

Miller: The continuity is between them. [laughs]

Thomas: The continuity is forging through with stories and characters. So, it's very exciting to see that people already respond. So, stay tuned on that one. But yes, definitely.
Wow, sounds like this is yet another publication venture established for developing more material to be adapted to movies, rather than stand on its own as comics stories. You could likely make the same argument about many novels of the past century, adapted as they were to film almost immediately after the books went to press. It's absurd, and doesn't provide a good example of originality. Nor does Miller's little venture with 2 other people who, despite their attempts to claim otherwise, don't sound altruistic. And CBR predictably sugarcoats DiDio's past MO.

I've sometimes thought that, outside of Daredevil, most of Miller's portfolio was overrated, and I'm sure there's a valid argument that can be made to that effect. If his FM Presents publisher doesn't do well, that's fine by me. Miller's made it too hard to care what he brings to the table these days.

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