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DC Comics staged its first telephone press conference on Friday afternoon, focusing on Detective Comics writer Paul Dini.

Also on the call were DC executive editor Dan DiDio and marketing manager Alex Segura.

Following is an edited transcription.

DiDio: I'm just going to turn it over to Paul ... what Paul's plans are for Detective, basically just asking the question why he took the position, what he's looking to get, his approach to the series and, also, what his plans are.

Dini: As you all know, I love Batman. I've been a fan of the character for years. I was lucky enough to work on the original animated series and help develop that show, and I have a real affinity for the character, both reading stories about him and apparently writing them, also.

And so when it about they were looking for a new writer on Detective, for a long time Dan had wanted to get me involved in a more hand's on position for writing Batman. We had talked about some other directions with Batman. Recently when you mentioned you were going to start with Detective and go back to an older approach of individual done stories, I was very interested because that seems to be a rare opportunity to inject a big of new mythology into Batman's world.

A lot of great writers have worked on the character recently and they've done some terrific ongoing stories, but I just felt it would be fun to kind of go in a new direction with some of the villains and supporting characters, add some new characters and just go back concentrate on Bruce Wayne for a bit, and just see what came out of those. And just go back and tell hopefully good ol' standalone Batman stories, the kinds of things you can read and enjoy from month to month. You never know what you're going to get.

DiDio: Paul was the one person I always wanted to get onboard to do this because, part of what I always enjoyed, and when I got hooked on Batman, they were done-in-one stories. And I enjoyed Detective comics more than I enjoyed Batman comics at the time. The reason was I enjoyed the whole detective aspect, the mystery in each individual issue.

Plus, Paul mentioned the two key words on why we wanted to have him on board, and why we made the switch, and even with Grant (Morrison, Batman writer) as well, is that both of them brought sense of focus on Bruce Wayne again. That was a character that seemed to have been a character forgotten in the DCU for an extended period of time. And it was important for Bruce Wayne to be integral to the character and get that sense of secret identity again.

Dini: Yeah, my point of view is you don't have a Batman story unless you have Bruce Wayne in some form or another. Bruce Wayne is really the guy. Batman is the extra edge he needs to complete a mission or solve a mystery. One of my favorite elements in dealing with Bruce is to actually have Bruce do a lot of the legwork towards solving a mystery, whether he's Bruce Wayne socialite or in a disguise as a low-ranking Gotham hoodlum, or just sitting at the computer. And when he needs that extra bit of strength or intimidation or extra scary edge, then there's Batman. That's when the Batman identity comes in more useful.

Segura: I think when it was initially announced that it was going to be one-issue spotlights as opposed to over-arching stories, the misconception may have been nothing lasting is going to come, that it's just going to be in-and-out stuff. But you're actually new characters and re-integrating some of the villains. Do you want to touch on that?

Dini: By kind of going back to an older style of story-telling, one that I enjoyed when I was a kid, is that you the writer would plan little seeds that would take a little while to sprout, but they would eventually down the line. But, that said, you would get an enjoyable story with Superman, Batman, Spider-Man or whatever hero you were reading at the time, so that you could have the lead hero fight a villain or get involved in a nasty situation, resolve it, have a fun end-beat and yet you would have planted a few seeds along the way for future episodes.

My goal with certain characters, like the Penguin or the Riddler, by kind of reforming them or rethinking them a little bit, I want the audience to become familiar with those aspects of the character so that's potential area for story down the road. And it will accumulate into something, a bigger story involving them. Along the way, different seeds will be planted and then we can do do different things with them.

And with something like the Riddler as a detective, I had a lot of fun with that and I refer to it constantly. But I may leave that for six months and just revisit sometime else. And at the same time, I think other writers who are taking shots at Batman stories, they can play around with that, too, if they like.

Segura: Having worked on the animated series as well, what's the biggest difference compared to the comic?

Dini: The biggest difference is that the stories can be a bit more adult, a bit more sophisticated, a little more darker than we could do it on television. One of the things I regretted was never being able to do in the animated series was an actual murder mystery, where Batman comes in and finds the body on the floor and has to put together how that person was killed. Because, even though, we could have the intent of death in the animated series, we rarely could have somebody get killed or murdered. Occasionally, somebody could get blown up or destroyed or something. But the actual procedural of how somebody was murdered or if they were murdered though a crime of passion or insanity was something we always have to tip-toe around. Here, that is ripe territory for a story. I enjoy it from that aspect.

Also, the action can be a little more intense. The dialogue can be a little more intense. It always serves the purpose of the character.

Segura: Dan, you brought up the focus on Bruce Wayne. I think coming out of Infinite Crisis, there was a definite move towards humanizing Batman. Do you want to talk about why Paul and Grant were the ideal people for that?

DiDio: Not only did they bring a sense of great story telling, but also the main thing that I found that was most exciting is they brought a little sense of humor to the character. He's a little more lighter. It's not lighter in the sense that we have jokes being told. It's lighter in the sense of what their attitudes are and how they approach the situations, which I think adds a level of depth, and, in some ways, complexity to the characters. It makes it a lot more fun and enjoyable read.

We just enjoyed the sensibilties to the character, by humanizing him and bringing Bruce Wayne back to the forefront.

Dini: I think Bruce needs a sense of humor to do what he does. Even if it's warped or extremely dry, every soldier or cop or person in a role like that has to have that perspective of themselves, or else they'll go crazy. I think that Batman for a long time was going toward a very dark and crazy type place. So by touching with that Bruce Wayne element, he's able to stand back and take a look at himself and yet keep going. He's able to take himself very seriously most of the time, but also use his dark sense of humor when he has to.

Segura: Another thing about the series is that you've gotten a chance to work with three fairly versatile artists, starting with J.H. (Williams) III. Then Joe Benitez stepped in for an issue. What's that been like?

Dini: It's been a lot of fun because each artist brings a lot to the table, and also to the concept of Batman. With Joe, he did a very sexy book with Ivy...

DiDio: As well it should be.

Dini: Not only did she look great, but I liked the moments of interplay he was able to render in this little scene between Ivy and Robin. I wanted that to be kind of innocent and playful, to play off the horrific thing Poison Ivy has done. I think he captured that really well.

Don Kramer delights me every issue. He keeps coming up with new ideas, fun takes on some of the established characters.

And J.H. was terrific on the "Facade" issue. He brought great sense of design and style. I let him have his hand with that one. I just said, "Facade is a guy with a beard and mask and a suit. Come up with something you think is fun for that." And he did. He gave him this great sense of style and visual humor and everything. It's been a lot of fun seeing what they come up with.

Questions were then opened up to the press.

Question: I noticed in one of your issues you brought in the character Roxy Rocket, who you created for the animated series and also you've been using a font style that was used with the show. Are there other influences from the series you were hoping to incorporate into the DC Universe?

Dini: I think through osmosis over the last 10 years a lot of elements have already bled in. There will be times we do something in the animated series - it may not be a character, but it might an attitude or storytelling technique that we'll notice another writer has used in telling a Batman story. So we find a breaking down of the walls between the two concepts.

But by bringing in a character like Roxy Rocket, it was sort of like, "Yeah, let's cross the line to the animated series and let's bring in that element." But I sort of also needed a colorful villain to kick things off and I didn't want to use one of the more established rogue's gallery guys from the comic.

I thought that, within the context of thsi version of Batman, Roxy kind of fits. This could be a villain he's fought before. God knows, he's fought I don't know how many guys, and we're still just dealing with the tip of the iceberg in a lot of ways.

On the one hand, it was sort of a wink to her fans, saying here's this girl that was feature in Superman and Batman and a couple of animated book issues. But, yeah, she kind of fits with the context of this world, especially with the context of what Batman had to do. And that is, go after somebody who's more of a nuisance, they get themselves in trouble, and not only does he have to spend time fighting her and also getting her down safely after she crashes. And he comes home and he's tired and he doesn't want to deal with anything, and then, "Oh, great, here's the Riddler in my house. What the hell does he want?"

So she serves the purpose really well. Will there be a solo Roxy Rocket issue? I don't know. But she's running around, and if one of the other writers has a good idea for her, fine. I may come back to her at some point. I just thought she was fun to put in there.

Harley Quinn... yeah. You'll definitely be seeing her sooner rather than later. In fact, I just saw the cover for that issue and it looks really, really cute. Not cute. Fun.

When I saw it, I was going, "That's nice. That's very cool."

Question: How important is pacing when you're mapping out the story? What challenge is there to get everything into one issue?

Dini: Well, some issues are easier than others. I generally write each issue and map out each issue pretty thoroughly on a legal pad before I start writing. Some of the stories -- like the one I'm writing now, which is a fairly straight-forward mystery -- it came to me kind of in a flash. When I set it down, I had the story already written down. And the real work is to make sure I tell it in a style that isn't linear and that doesn't reveal too much to the reader and that the surprises stay surprises up into the end.

That was one of those rare instances of where, "This is the villain, this is what he wants, this is why Batman fights him and this is the resolution at the end." And then the craft comes in setting it down in a way where you're always guessing. They're all hard to write and that's about in the mid-range as far as being a hard one of write.

The hardest one so far, the most time-consuming one, was the Penguin one. And I think when you read that one, it comes off across almost effortless, almost like a lark, because there are all these fun elements in it. But there I had eaten up almost two legal pads plotting out the story and the characters I wanted to use. And then I wrote the whole thing out on note cards, like we used to do on Lost, like breaking down scenes for a movie, and put them all on one wall and move them around. ... I had a lot going down.

And bringing in Lois Lane was a late addition to the story. But once I broke the story down I could take the character beats and move it around. I wanted Bruce to talk to someone -- not Alfred and Robin was under age and he couldn't get get into the nightclub, so I thought Lois. Why not? It may be a stretch that she was covering a social event, but you could play it off a little bit.

And we need some magic, so I had him call up Zatanna. That's sort of detective work because he doesn't automatically know that kind of stuff but he has the resources to do it.

It became a lot of fun moving the elements around. Once the story was broken, which actually took more time than the actual writing, I was able to sit down and write fairly quickly.

So they vary in length and they vary in techinique on how they run and how I write them. Some of the ideas I have for later in the run are some of the ideas I started with at the very beginning.

I have a Joker story coming up in two months. And that was almost the first story that popped into my head. Dan, I think I pitched that to you a year or two ago.

DiDio: You did pitch it, yeah. That was the first pitch.

Dini: Again, it was a story that popped into my head -- Robin vs. the Joker in a very unique situation. Once I had that in my mind, the story just kind of worked itself out. That was a fairly easy one to writer.

Question: In the Riddler issue, you made a point of reversing the recent decision to have the Riddler discover Batman's identity. Was this a decision on your part or an editorial decison on DC's part?

Dini: It was sort of mine because I didn't know basically really what was going on with the Riddler. I had an idea and I liked the idea of having the Riddler as a rival detective for Batman, a kind of evil Inspector Lestrade to Batman's Sherlock Holmes, and I thought the Riddler would fit in kind of nicely in that role. And I did know, that as a result of "Hush," that Riddler did know who Batman was. But I wasn't sure how that was going to play into the long-term continuity. I asked my editor, Pete (Tomasi), about that and I asked a few other people. And everybody was like it could have gone either way.

I think that if he had retained the memory, I could have worked with that, too. It would have been like, "Well, Bruce, what do you think of this one?" "Well, Eddie, I think I have a handle on this..."

DiDio: My own personal preference is that he keeps his identity secret. The secret of Bruce's or Batman's identity is one of the most-guarded secrets in the DC Universe, unless it's Clark and Superman. From that standpoint, I prefer you make the switch and bring it back to where it was before.

Dini: That was my preference, too. I think a lot of villains don't really care who Batman is. Without the suit, he loses a lot of the luster and the attraction. He becomes a very human guy, and they lose interest in him.

So it just seemed to work out that way. And when I found out in 52 there were going to be various instances where he got hit in the face with a mace or something and went to the hospital, I played on that. Is it the most logical or realistic? Maybe not, but it served the purpose and I think it got kind of an interesting character direction out of the Riddler from that.

Question: Will we see any more heroes, like Zatanna? More specifically, Dick Grayson?

Dini: Yes. Actually, two months from now in the Robin/Joker story, there's kind of a moment that takes place during 52. They haven't really revealed where they are, but there is Dick/Tim moment where they're talking; it's a two- or three-page sequence that I was kind of fun, where they were comparing notes on the Joker and who he is and what their various feelings are. And I like writing scenes that because they should discuss their friend and enemies at times when they're not necessarily wearing the masks. Because what else are they going to talk about? It would probably be a discussion even when they're having coffee, the questions of various heroes and villains are going to come up.

Even though Dick does not take a great role in the story, Tim is sort of asking him for his opinion on a few things. And that kind of interplay between the characters is something I like doing an awful lot.

As for other heroes, I think I'll work them in when I can. There actually is another appearance by Zatanna coming later in the run. That story deals more with her and Bruce and Batman's relationship. That'll be a lot of fun. I think that acutally might be a two-part story.

Question: Have you thought about talking the mystery approach with Batman in a long form, like a graphic novel?

Dini: Oh, yeah. I'd love to do that. It all comes down to time and scheduling and when I can make it work. I've got other commitments, but I would love to sit down for that.

Part of the reason I put in a lot of those elements like the Riddler is a detective and the Penguin is a legitimate businessmen, I would love to actually take a hundred pages or however many and tell a long story within that world and bring in more of the detective elements and just sort of let it play through, almost like a novel.

Whether I get to that this year, next year or at any time remains to be seen because schedules are pretty volatile. But just having the monthly book is a lot of fun because I can put those ideas out there and play them off later.

I still have the Black Canary/Zatanna graphic novel that I'm in the middle of script and need to get done. That will be for late next year or something. Once that's done, I would love to return to Batman for a serious long-form.

Question: Do you script differently, depending on who is drawing?

Dini: No, not generally. I try to make my scripting accessible to whatever artist is drawing it. I try to write in a style that allows for both some detail as far the point of what the story is and also for some artistic improvisation. Hopefully, that comes through in the scripting. And I also try and keep the door open to the artist and say, "If you want to talk about the scene or play it another way, let's by all means discuss it." But I also like having the artist have a bit of freedom.

DiDio: That's also the editor, Pete Tomasi. What he's doing is knowing what stories that Paul's working on, he's actually making decisions on the artists who are available, who would be the best one.

Question: I noticed Don Kramer has been providing art for more issues. Would you label him as the permanent artist of Detective Comics?

DiDio: I wouldn't say he's the permanent artist. Don's doing a great job, and the fact of the matter that he's available right now, we're leaning on him a little bit heavier than the other guys as we speak. But once Paul has a breakout or two, we'll be looking at other artists to turn to at those points, too.

Question: You mentioned the Black Canary/Zatanna graphic novel. Is it too early to discuss that at all in terms of the direction of the story?

DiDio: Just tell them the artists and that'll give you the direction.

Dini: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.

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