Since the beginning of DC Comics' New 52 reboot, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Batman" has set the bar, serving as the line's most enduring critical and popular hit. With the "Rebirth" shake-up imminent, it is perhaps fitting that Snyder and Capullo's tenure on the flagship series is also coming to an end with April's "Batman" #51. Ahead of their penultimate issue's release this week, the writer and artist hosted a panel at C2E2 to talk with fans about their long, celebrated run on the series, the pending conclusion of the Gordon-Batman arc, and what comes next.
Starting at the beginning, when they started with "Batman" #1. "I got the call and they said we want you to work with this guy, Greg Capullo," Snyder said. He knew Capullo's work but was told "he likes to work from outline." "Well, I was in this auteur phase, my words are very important."
Snyder said Capullo asked him to cut a lot of dialogue, and the artist jumped in to say, "Listen, just give me the important dialogue. And he says, 'It's all important!'"
Capullo continued to joke about Snyder's copious text, and Snyder said, "Every word is important, Greg." "He'll send me these crazy long texts, and I'll respond with an emoticon," Capullo joked.
To back up the writer's case, Capullo said, Snyder would brag about his awards and accolades. "And I'd write back, 'I'm sure your mother is very proud," Capullo said.
"I began to see that if I had a bit of humility, there's a ton I could learn from this guy," Snyder said. "And that's how we've worked ever since." They eventually found a system where Snyder could play to Capullo's strengths "while still doing what I do."
On his previous experience, Capullo said that his creative relationship with Todd McFarlane on "Spawn" was "closer to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby," where a lot was done on the phone rather than script. He said that it would be unfair to ask Snyder to completely change the way he writes, and what they eventually worked out "pushed us both out of our comfort zone" and made them better creators.
"Now we're buddies, we're brothers," Capullo said.
Snyder said that the first time he and Capullo met resistance from DC was issue #5, "where it turns." The editors felt it would look like a misprint. "He wrote this very impassioned email," Snyder said, with Capullo cutting in, "I was quoting Steve Jobs..." before Snyder resumed, "and I'm like ditto, ditto." Editor in Chief Bob Harras ultimately relented.
"I got my copy first and thought, 'there's a misprint,' then remembered, oh yeah, that's what we did," Snyder said. "So I took to Twitter and said, everything in #5 is deliberate, and Greg's like, 'Don't be a pussy! Don't tell them!'"
Capullo said, though, that the physical result was not what he had anticipated, because it meant at one point pages would have to be turned a different way. "But then I thought, this is even better!"
"After that, any time we met any resistance from DC, I'd go *ahem* issue five," Capullo said.
Capullo joked that Snyder would send him story beats, "and he'd write all his ideas, then at the end, 'Or whatever you want!' With an exclamation point, followed by a smiley face. And he still does that."
The artist said their collaboration feeds into each other, such as when Capullo noted that the Joker's face would begin to rot once no longer on ice. "So I added flies," which became a motif that Snyder wrote into his scripts, Capullo said.
Snyder said he has become very close with Capullo, calling him about life events as well as creative work.
"I hope that when we do something else, whatever we do, you guys will be there for that," Snyder said of future collaborations with Capullo.
Capullo let one fan come up to read an issue of this week's "Batman" #50. Snyder said that the issue contains one of the favorite lines he's written, and joked that "surprise, it's Alfred under the cowl!"
The line, though: "Bruce, is it really you?" "Hello, Jim. Who died and made you Batman?"
Snyder said he's spoken with the next "Batman" writer "and I'm very involved in Batman stuff." More to come next week at WonderCon.
The floor then opened to fan questions.
Snyder said he and Capullo were invited to the "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" premiere tonight, with Capullo adding (joking?) that they were "pressured" to go, but they did not want to cancel the retrospective panel at C2E2. "So we're missing the premiere, for you guys!"
Asked about Bat-characters they might want to do next, Snyder said, "Yeah, I've got stories with the villains coming. I've got my eye on Two-Face." The writer joked that, "here's a guy who decides what to do by flipping a coin -- why would anybody follow this guy?" His take will look at the dark side of human nature, with Harvey Dent's scarred face representing the self that people try to hide. Snyder said there will be announcements soon.
"This morning I pitched Greg what I'm doing next," Snyder said, "and gave him the bones of what we're doing next." The fan's question, which asked about the possibility of a young Bruce Wayne outside of Gotham, apparently touched on some of what the creative team discussed.
Capullo said that his closeness to the work makes it difficult for him to read the stories as a fan would. But when he recently looked through his original art to price it for sale, he said, he would often think, "wow, that's a really powerful scene."
Snyder said Frank Miller "made Batman very real for me" as Miller addressed contemporary crime having Batman "scare the bad people back into the shadows." "Now, problems are bigger, they're national, and I thought about my kids and what I wanted Batman to mean to them," Snyder said. "I feel like our Batman is less about scaring bad people back into the shadows than bringing good people out into the light."
"Issue 51 is kind of a quiet night for Batman," Snyder said, and said there's a bit of banter about Alfred getting his hand back.
Capullo said he always wanted to draw "Batman and Robin jumping into the Batmobile," as that was his first superhero drawing as a kid.
"You never told me that, I would have written them jumping into the Batmobile," Snyder said. "When you come back, it'll all be them jumping into the Batmobile."
Capullo said his second favorite character in the book behind Batman was Jim Gordon. "So then he told me about 'Superheavy,' and it was great, it was both," he said. "But it killed me to get rid of the mustache."
"And in #50, the villain is the mustache," Snyder joked.
Snyder and Capullo said that the Batman suit that debuts in #50 will be the suit moving forward.
Asked about the most emotional moments, Snyder cited the moment in "Zero Year" when Bruce went to Arkham. "He can't deal with the death of his parents, and he tells them, 'change me into someone else, shock me until I'm someone else,'" Snyder said. "When I've been in a very dark place, I've said those words. ... And Batman is about, don't be that."