Film producer Robert Evans once said, “There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth,” and that idea is one I’ve long been fascinated with. It makes sense, right? As clean as we always want everything to be, it’s rarely just that: clean. Life is complicated, and because of that, so are the situations we find ourselves in. The high-profile people of this world are even more burdened by this premise. Their visibility makes it difficult to really know them at all.
For that reason, they’re often simplified into two variants of Evans’ formula: the things we don’t like about them and the things we do. That’s certainly true for former DC Comics co-Publisher Dan DiDio, who departed the publishing giant after a nearly 18 year run this past Friday for as yet unknown reasons. Quickly, his plusses and minuses were weighed in public, almost as if he had died rather than been let go from a job. 1
DiDio’s sides were well-known, of course. There was the part people didn’t like, the one known for being obsessed with publishing grim comics, for pushing against beloved characters, for battling with people he disagreed with.
And then there was his other side which came out as well. Dan DiDio the advocate, the lover of comics, the supporter of often forgotten characters and outside-the-box ideas. If you toured comics Twitter this past Friday, you would have found every variety of opinion about the man, often said without even identifying who the subject was. It wasn’t difficult to determine who people were talking about. Upon his dismissal, DiDio became the conversation, for better or worse.
While many have focused on what will happen next at DC in the wake of DiDio’s departure, anything I could say about that would purely be conjecture. 2 But what I can do is explore DiDio’s time there and try to find that third side, the one where the truth of his run lies. While it’d be easier to wave my hands and say, “he was a menace!” or “he was a mensch!” the reality is likely somewhere in-between, as Evans might have noted. So today, I’m going to weigh those two sides of the equation to find what lies in the middle, examining Dan DiDio’s time as co-Publisher of DC Comics to see how he affected the publisher and its fate along the way.