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Old Today, 01:12 AM   #1126
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Bleeding Cool: NYCC Bar Talk: How Batman’s Penis Is Damaging DC Comics From Within
The bar scene of New York Comic Con is very different to that of San Diego Comic-Con. San Diego has about five main hotel bars in which everything in the comics industry happens. And two of them are in the Hyatt. Add the Marriott, the Bayfront Hilton and the Omni – and their respective smoking areas and you are 90% done. You could do the entire convention there and never step foot in the Convention Center.

That kind of concentration is a lot harder in New York, the social scene is multiplied and spread out across Manhattan, even into Brooklyn. It’s not happening. But it does mean that it’s easier for professionals to escape their editors and handlers and behave in a most unprofessional way – and gossip.

And some of that reaches me. Stuck here in London, waking up to all sorts of loose lips, overheard conversations, and stray observations.

I’ve been mocked for writing this kind of thing up. No more so than at an NYCC a couple of years ago when I reported that Marvel Studios was killing the Inhumans movie, in favour of a TV show from another division of the company. Until, you know, that’s exactly what happened and then even my biggest critics had to concede that maybe, just maybe, my sources were good ones. Even if they were propped up in Molly’s or Tir Na Nog at the time.

Anyway, while some have criticised the fans and the press for their reaction to Batman: Damned, it seems it was the only thing that comic book professionals were talking about as well.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, the recent Batman Damned #1, the first of DC’s Black Label mature readers line of superhero comics, by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, featured a naked Bruce Wayne walking through the Batcave, his penis dangling in the breeze.

It became an item of immense interest, with Bleeding Cool devoting much of our reporting resources to it. The Batawang as one wag dubbed it, his national headlines, was featured on late night talk shows and drove sales of this relatively expensive first issue so that it became the biggest speculator item going, despite DC Comics having printed 110,000 of them. Issues now sell from $60 to $100, more if it is signed or slabbed.

There was also some controversy, as the preview that some retailers had seen, did not have the Batpole as another wag dubbed it displayed as prominently. And the digital preview version didn’t have it at all. And that was also the version that DC sold digitally, with the Batpenis hidden in shadow.

Then DC Comics stated that only the censored version would appear in future printings.

And then that there would not be any future printings. Batman: Damned #1 then went up in price on the aftermarket.

But last night, I heard a repeated version of events that would explain a lot. And corroborated by a number of sources, names that you would recognise in association with the comic book industry.

First, let me tell of you of a story of BBC woe. Once upon a time, one of their brightest stars, Jonathan Ross, was on another of their brightest stars, Russel Brand‘s radio show on BBC Radio 2. Russell was due to have the actor Andrew Sachs on the line to interview but for some reason, he wasn’t picking up the phone. They included this in the show, with Jonathan making various innuendoes about Russell’s relationship with Sachs, alluding to the fact that Russell had been in a sexual relationship at one point with Sachs’ granddaughter. It was aired with very little fuss until a week later, the Mail On Sunday decided they were outraged about it and a 50,000 letter writing campaign hit the BBC. The controller of BBC Radio 2 resigned, Russel Brand resigned and Jonathan’s own show was cancelled.

But a far greater effect, still felt today, is that the BBC lawyers suddenly held a far greater grip over content. The use of words, and any suggestion of live comedy, was manhandled by suits, looking for anything that might offend anyone and the creative community, basically, up sticked and went elsewhere. It is something the BBC has struggled with ever since.

How is this relevant to the Batpenis?

Well, DC Comics has a new President in town, Pamela Lifford. And the Batpenis basically landed on her desk in her first days of office. Yesterday at NYCC, Jim Lee called it a ‘production error’ but that is disputed by people closer to the comic, who tell me that it was always intended to be this way and was signed off like this.

And suddenly lots of DC’s comic books are under the microscope. And they’re not just looking for penises but anything that may frighten the horses. Bad language, overly violent scenes, political references, whatever can be jumped on. The main line of DC Comics characters has had a loosening of language of late, the likes of bullshit, piss, ass, bollocks and the like have appeared in non-mature readers titles of late. The suggestion and innuendo has also upped its levels too. I am told to look for that to be dialled back a lot.

As for the rest of the Black Label line, that is especially under the microscope and I am told to expect some bowlderisation going on there too. And creators and editors are not happy about the increased interference in their titles – or the expected interference – and the amends being demanded. Some are wondering why they are doing it for DC in the first place. There is division and dissent among the ranks, and looking at Warners to blame for this new puritanism that has suddenly descended upon the publisher. After all, Walmart might not want to get into bed with the Batpenis people…

And at ground zero for the many demands of changes is Batman: Damned #2 – which apparently featured more Batpenises. It wasn’t just a one-off. These have now been censored, the art changes explaining the second issue’s month delay.

As for why Batman Damned #1 wasn’t reprinted, even censored? Apparently, I am told that was down to an original agreement with Brian Azzarello, that DC Comics wouldn’t censor the art in Batman Damned after publication. At the time, I am told that was down to Brian’s fear that the final page of Batman Damned, featuring a statue of the crucified Jesus Christ painted to look like the Joker would so upset people that they would demand it be changed, This is also why the final page was not included in Batman Damned previews.

But it turned out that no one gave a toss about that, it was all about the Batpenis. And stores tell me they could have sold two, three, four times their number they ordered of the comic, even with a severed Batpenis, after all the fuss.

I love NYCC. Even when I’m not there, it gets people chinwagging… and then emailing me.

You may start your doubting engines… now.
Bleeding Cool: The Future of Black Label at DC Comics – It’s All Stephen Colbert’s Fault?
We first reported on this word spinning out of New York Comic Con direct from the bars in question, where we had reporters being briefed on current issues at DC Comics directly from some of the creators involved, over a few beers and shots.

And the only thing anyone seemed to want to talk about on the Thursday night was the effect that Batman Damned was having across the line.

The media fuss over the appearance of Batman’s penis in the comic overshadowed the quality of the comic itself, within the publisher as well as in the public eye. It was considered a perfect storm of PR nightmare, as it coincided with AT&T’s buyout of Warners and the appointment of a new President of DC Comics, Pam Lifford. And that, pretty much, this fuss was the first thing to land on her desk. And she had to deal with Stephen Colbert making jokes about how DC is a company that’s just crass and trying to sell books by showing full frontal nudity, on national TV.

And while voices of outrage were few, voices of embarrassment within the company were legion. And editorial reworking of DC books either as a result, or in anticipation, of demanded changes has infected

Since then I have been told by some that it is the Black Label line that is getting the brunt of the changes. Batman Damned was the only one solicited but I have been told to expect delays across that line as editorial standards demanded of the DCU line are now being applied to these mature readers superhero books as well.

Black Label was a line that we first ran rumours ahead of San Diego Comic-Con 2017, as a new mature readers superhero imprint from DC Comics headed up by editor Mark Doyle. Then in early 2018, we ran more details, naming it as Black Label, and stating that it would feature Superman, Batman and a Wonder Woman project by Kelly Sue De Connick.

A month after that, it went all official.

But Doomsday Clock seems to be getting away with it. It is also a superhero comic book featuring Batman and Superman with male full frontal nudity. Of course, that isn’t actually Batman or Superman on display, it maintains a previously established tone – including by the movies – and Geoff Johns knows how to play the game,

But for everyone else, I am told that it is reminiscent of DC Comics’ micromanagement of the Wildstorm line, on Planetary, the Authority and Jenny Sparks, superhero comics aimed at an older-than-traditional audience, and of what happened with The Boys, the comic published by DC Comics that so offended its President Paul Levitz back then, that the comic was cancelled with its first issue and picked up by Dynamite Entertainment – and now a new TV series for Amazon. That won’t be possible for Black Label books, as they use DC Comics intellectual properties – unless the serial numbers can be ground off, as they were for Frank Miller’s Holy Terror Batman.

Either way, there is some hope that a balance in the force can be re-established. Just as no big media fuss is made in the upcoming few months.

Basically, keep looking at Stephen Colbert… and see what he does.
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Old Today, 01:40 AM   #1127
Agent Purple
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This whole thing is a fucking joke. Dick's barely visible, for fuck's sake, and sales were just crippled pretty much long-term because now DC won't stand by their product line and are raking content creators over the coals for fucking nothing.
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