Scott Snyder took the stage at New York Comic Con 2015 to offer fans an update on all his latest DC Comics and Vertigo projects. Best known for his work on “Batman” with Greg Capullo and “American Vampire” with Rafael Albuquerque, Snyder frequently taps into the horror genre, spinning dark tales like “The Wake” and “Wytches.” Most recently, he has ushered in a new era for the Dark Knight, after Bruce Wayne lost his memories and Jim Gordon took up the mantle. At his very own DC Entertainment Spotlight, he offered some insight into his current projects from DC and Vertigo.
Snyder entered the room to a round of applause from the audience and thanked everyone for being there.
Moderator John Cunningham opened the panel, saying, “Scott is the single most important writer we have, because he sells more books than anybody. Scott is one of the most significant writers in comics today… I think there’s a literary quality to his writing… because Scott’s work does invite critical thinking.”
Cunningham pulled up an image of “Voodoo Heart,” Snyder’s first book of short stories, and mentioned his “Happy Fish + Coin” short story in particular. “What stood out to me in that particular story, the narrator in that story has a very interesting and very dynamic relationship with his family… Scott is the only writer I’ve met his parents multiple times.”
“In comics, I’ve had a very, very easy ride. I feel that I was incredibly fortunate,” Snyder shared. “I’d always wanted to be a comic book writer or artist when I was growing up… I’ve had a very clear path. When you’re first starting out, that’s the toughest part. When you go to Artist Alley, pick up a new book.”
“When I was getting rejected a lot [in fiction writing], I came to a moment when I realized, ‘I’m not working for myself.’ I’ve always had an incredibly supportive family,” he added. “My mom sends me sales on Batman. I have this tremendous fear of losing people close to me… it informs a lot of my work. Batman is such a mortal character. Our run has been about Batman facing his mortality.”
On the subject of “American Vampire,” Snyder said, “With a lot of ideas, you can remember where you were. I was in a gaming store… and I was buying ‘Doctor Who’ figures for my friend for his birthday. I had just seen ‘Queen of the Damned,’ and I thought, ‘Why do vampires always look like they’re going to some cool club in the sewers?’… The reason I gravitate towards horror, you have stories who come face-to-face because what it symbolizes about yourself — that you’ll become one of these some day. There’s something deeply scary about that. Werewolves are like you are changing without your consent… And I thought, ‘Why isn’t there something like this indigenous to America?… What if I took these American icons like flappers and made them scary?'”
He also spoke on the topic of the “Black Mirror” Batman storyline. “I love Gotham City. It is the best villain in all of literature… why would you continue to live in Gotham? You’re gassed and it’s always raining and it’s just terrible all the time. The Riddler’s always doing something. As a New Yorker, I feel like this… You go to the city to become the person you think you are… When you stay and you fight, you become the person who deep down you know you are… It’s so fun to write as an antagonist…”
“We talk a lot at DC about how to approach these books. If you get a chance to write Batman, write him like he is only yours… We don’t make [big storylines] to sell books; what we care about is making stuff that matters to us,” he explained.
“Mr. Bloom is an extension of all of Jim Gordon’s fears about Batman,” he added. “Horror is when you look at something and see a reflection of yourself.”
“The last issue I write with Greg — I want it to be a quiet night. [Batman] goes and checks on everything, and everything is quiet for once,” he said.
“Writing Dick Grayson was great, because he was terrified of being Batman, and I was terrified of writing Batman. I was like, ‘We’re going to get along great,'” he laughed. “He wears all of his emotions on his sleeve. When Bruce came along, it was terrifying, because Bruce is like, ‘I don’t talk about my feelings’… so I used Alfred.”
“I want you to feel like every time you start an arc with us that it’s about you,” he shared. “The Owls is the way the city changes. The city is made up of lives that are lived in that second. In a year, it’ll be different.”
“The biggest fight I ever had with DC was when they wanted to make the ending a little safer, when they tested the DNA of Lincoln March and discovers he’s his brother… I remember telling my wife, ‘I’m driving into that office!’ At the end of the day, Court of the Owls comes from a place of doing this together. Know at least that I’m trying to make stuff with Greg that’s for us.”
“When I was a kid, I needed Batman to be a symbol of intimidation,” he said. “I feel like, in today’s world, post-9/11, Batman isn’t about scaring bad guys into the shadows anymore. From racial problems like in ‘Batman’ #44 to super storms, and what Batman needs to be is a symbol of inspiration. He needs to invite the good people into the sun and say, ‘We can do this together.'”
“Let’s say you were writing Superman, it’s always about taking a character and saying to yourself, ‘What do I love about this character so much, and how do you break that up?'” he shared. “With ‘Death of the Family,’ my wife was pregnant with our second kid. I was terrified of being a father all over again… When you’re father, you’re afraid of everything, you’re never brave again, but you’re a better person for it… You have to write it from a personal standpoint.”
“Joker is like the guy who crawls out from under your bed and says, ‘I heard what you just thought.’ I could write every arc with the Joker. I have a couple more Joker stories,” he said to a round of applause.
“I have this take on Two Face that I want to write,” he revealed. “Everyone does that he’s Harvey and he’s sympathetic or he’s cured and he’s not cured… What makes him scary? Because he looks at you and says, ‘Everyone has a monster in them.’ The only way to do it is to make it personal… You have to take these characters and make them something you’re afraid to show the world.”
“My mom just texted me that ‘Batman’ is on the New York Times bestseller list,” he laughed.
“I was running in Pennsylvania, and I remember I used to go hiking with a guy named Ryan… we’d go monster hunting in the woods,” he said of the inspiration behind “Wytches.” “We used to go there and make up all these stories about Satantic families and witches who eat kids.”
“Jock, the best smelling man in all of comics,” he said, mentioning his “Wytches” co-creator.
“When you work with someone for a long time — like Greg [Capullo] or Sean [Murphy], who I’m doing more Batman stuff with by the way — Greg is going to take a little break after issue #51. It’s going to be very short. He and I have known this for a long time. He’s going to do a short project with Mark Millar. I’m going to stay on ‘Batman.’ When you work with someone for a long time, the best thing about comics is the collaborative nature of it.”
“We are trying to put our hearts into these books. I hope it resonates in some way in the energy of these books,” he shared.
“I have this idea for ghouls. I feel like nobody has ever — I mean, what is a ghoul? I’m not going to be, ‘American Ghoul.’ Ghouls and demons, those are my two,” Snyder said of a monster he’d like to write next.
When asked what cinematic work had influenced him the most, Snyder responded immediately, “‘Batman: The Animated Series.”
“Superheroes exist to inspire us to be heroes… Bruce has to die for Batman to live. Bruce, as Batman, is a mission. The boy, Bruce, died in the alley when he was thirteen… The human race, we can be heroes.”
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