At Comic-Con International 2014, “Grayson” scribe Tim Seeley visited the CBR Yacht to speak with Managing Editor Albert Ching about his exciting year in comics — including his rise to prominence as the writer of one of DC Comics‘ now fan-favorite books, “Grayson,” as well as “Batman Eternal.” In addition to discussing the development of his current DC projects, Seeley also gave some insight into his collaborative relationship with “Grayson” co-writer and ex-CIA agent Tom King and the joy of working writer’s room style on “Batman Eternal.”
On his gradual rise to prominence in comics over the last year: I had this weird thing where I was a guy who drew, so when I would write “Hack Slash” or write some other stuff, it didn’t seem to have a direct effect on working for the other companies, because I think it was like, “Oh, you’re the guy who writes that sleazy horror book.” They’re not going to say, “You should come draw this!” It just didn’t seem to translate. I think in the last year, since I did “Revival,” that seems to have been more like planting a flag and saying, “Also, I write!” I’m doing more diverse projects. It’s been a great year. I think it was last year at San Diego when Mike Marts, the Batman editor at the time, said, “Hey, do you want to come out for a dinner? I want to talk to you about some things.” And he asked me about doing “Batman Eternal.” This has been my Bat-year, I guess. It’s been great. It’s always that thing where doing these books opens you to a new group of readers that you didn’t maybe access before. It certainly does change your life to do a book like “Grayson,” which just came out but is already — when it first got announced, it was the most negative feedback I’ve ever gotten and now that it’s out, the most positive feedback I’ve ever gotten. It’s an interesting world to transition to.
On the development of “Grayson”: It was one of those things where when DC came to me with it, they said, “Hey, we want to do a Dick Grayson book. He’s going to ‘die’ in ‘Forever Evil.’ But we know we want to make him into a spy and we know that the tagline is ‘You think you know Grayson, but you don’t know Dick.’ That’s all we’ve got, but what would you do with it.” I said, “You guys are insane! Why would you do this?” I wasn’t even really going to throw anything at it because I didn’t have any ideas, but the more I thought about the character, I realized, “I can do this and I can do it in character. I can do it about the character.” That was the only way I was going to do it, is if I could do it about that. Though I think it really helps to spin it from an event, I knew it couldn’t be about that. It had to be about this young guy who’s had this tremendous history having to do something new, but making it about the fact that he’s a guy that can do that. Dick Grayson is a guy that can change.
On co-writing with former C.I.A. agent Tom King: Tom and I had never met — we just met this morning for the first time. They were sort of in a transition spot with DC — some of the editors were moving to other jobs — and one of the editors suggested that I write the book, and the new editor coming in suggested Tom write it. Then, they said, “What would happen if you guys worked together?” And Tom and I went, “Yeah, sure!” I’ve been doing “Batman Eternal,” which is all about the collaboration, so I felt like I liked working and bouncing off someone. His credentials were very different than mine, obviously. I felt like we would each bring something different to it. Once he and I started talking about it, it was clear to me that he trusted me to do the character beats and the lighter beats, and I trust him to do the reality beats and the darker beats. All we’re really interested in is making a better comic book. Thankfully, it’s two guys who are not ego on this, which is a key to a collaborative writing thing. It’s in service of the story, in service of the readers and in service of Dick Grayson.
On the unique process of “Batman Eternal”: We basically ran it like a TV show, which is we get together and break down arcs. James Tynion supplied an outline for the entire series, basically, hitting all the major beats that we had to hit. We get together and we talk about it, we break the arcs down into writers individually. Once we’re writing them, we’re all in contact about, “Hey, I need this character to go here, so make sure you set me up for that. Don’t kill that guy because I need that character,” or “Please do kill that guy.” That kind of thing. We really rely on our editors. We’ve got Mark Doyle and Chris Conroy really guiding the whole thing and acting as the hands around the pottery. They’re really pushing us into a spot. It’s another thing where there’s no ego, you’re in service of the story, in service of the readers, in service to Batman. You know you’re trying to tell a great Batman story. When I went into it, I thought, “I’m either going to think this is great or a year from now I’m going to be complaining about this.” I can honestly say it’s one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had in comics.