Jim Lee and Dan DiDio revealed a lot at today’s publisher press breakfast, like Kelly Sue DeConnick taking over Aquaman in December and outlining exciting stories Scott Snyder and Alex Sanchez will be working on in the coming year. One of the most interesting reveals was what inspired them to create the DC Black Label. Starting this September with a book written by Brian Azzarello and art by Lee Bermejo, the imprint will allow creators to write stories out of continuity for mature audiences.
“We recognize that a lot of the best selling elements of our backlist were created in the mid ’80s, and during that time we gave a lot of creative freedom to the some of the biggest names in the industry with some of the most iconic characters and this stuff had never been done before,” Jim Lee said. Books like The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and Arkham Asylum were all books from this era. DC Black Label is trying to harken back to that time, Lee said, but also accommodate top talent who “can’t commit to a monthly book or twice monthly book or weekly book, for sure.”
Creators who need more time, or need more pages to tell their story are the talent Lee has in mind. “Let’s get to work sort of like not creating a space for them to work at DC so we keep this notion of let’s hit all those points that we just listed as give them the utmost creative freedom.”
Lee went on to say DiDio was pushing for larger a larger format saying, “It’s the original OGN books they were wider and a little taller. So they are very panoramic in scope. Let’s pull in the best writers and artists possible. Let’s give them the most freedom possible with the characters.”
The DC Black Label line of comics is really meant to foster top talent and their strengths. Part of that, Lee said, is giving them as much freedom as possible narratively as well. “Let’s take these stories out of continuity so they don’t have to worry about that.” The benefit of this is, “knowing full well if the story’s amazing people will start incorporating that into continuity and the stories will start leaning towards those directions. That’s a really cool byproduct of all this.” As Lee put it all of these elements make the buy-in insurmountable for creators.
The first title in the DC Black Label line is Batman: Damned written by Brian Azzerello and art by Lee Bermejo which launches September 19th. Other titles in the Black Label line will include Superman: Year One (from Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.), Batman: Last Night on Earth, Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons and The Other History at the DC Universe.