Superstar writer Scott Snyder took a break from the chaos of Comic-Con International in San Diego to hang out on the water aboard the CBR Yacht with Jonah Weiland and discuss his work on DC Comics’ “Batman.” The writer explains how long he plans to stay in Gotham City, what keeps him drawn to the character and his stories as well as the types of changes coming across the line in new books like Gerry Duggan’s “Arkham Manor.” Snyder then discusses his fear of death, how all of his work allows him to address themes that trouble him in real life and how long he’s been dealing with anxiety and neuroses. Things finish up with a discussion of Snyder’s five-year transition from up-and-coming writer to panelist alongside legendary Batman creators like Grant Morrison and Frank Miller.
On how long he wants to work on Batman: With the title “Endgame” we got a lot of, “Is this your last story?” It’s not. I want to be clear, it’s not. I don’t intend it to be my last story, and Greg [Capullo] doesn’t want it to be his last story either, and I have a couple more big things in mind. My answer, honestly, is as long as I have stories I’m deeply excited about, and that Greg’s deeply excited about and that fans seem to be responding well to what we’re doing, I’ll stay on the book.
The joy of Batman for me is he’s always been my favorite character. I know strategically it might be more of a news story, or more of a zig zag in a way that creates a reverberation in the industry to be like, “Guess what? I’m gonna be doing ‘Captain America’ now” or something like that after being on “Batman” for so long. I really think that the things we have in store so game changing for the mythology, for the status of the peripheral characters and for Batman himself, and so different that I hope they’ll be as exciting to fans as what we’ve done already. They’re definitely as exciting to me, and I’ve tried to honestly be as honest with myself as I can. The moment I don’t have a story that is interesting to me personally that’s as personal as the stuff that we’ve done, I feel obligated to get off the character because everybody has a Batman story that they’re dying to do. There are so many good writers out there that I should move aside and let them do their story.
On how “Endgame” and the October changes to the Bat books will reinvigorate the entire Batman family of titles: “Endgame” really is — it’s not the end of our run — and I haven’t said this to anyone before, but the way I would characterize it is, being in the past and getting to do “Zero Year” — and I remember coming and pitching “Zero Year” to you and I was so passionate about it because I was terrified. I really got terrified and depressed and anxious when we began it. No one was being mean, I just got so intimidated by the sacred element of the origin, and I knew I had a way of making it personal and modern for myself. Getting done with that — and it really is the thing I’m proudest of that we’ve done on the book — I feel like now it’s my obligation in the present to try and change and celebrate the mythology by changing it as much as I can for new, good stories. … We’re trying to bring an excitement and a dynamism to the line that you haven’t seen, I think. And a new status and a new feel for it, where it’s a vibrant, exciting place in comics. And my job, with “Endgame,” and I can promise, I swear, I feel like I’ve been honest with you about where I was like, “I promise you this is gonna be my favorite thing that we’ve done.” [In] “Endgame” you’ll get to the last page of the first issue and it’s the biggest bombshell we’ve had in a long time where I knew you’ll see it and you’ll be like, “Oh my god, what are we in for?”
On what his “Batman” run is really all about: “Batman” really is where I’m getting to do stuff that’s so personal to me about a man wrestling with his own mortality. That’s what our run really is about in some ways. The Court of Owls kind of says, “The city will be here after you. You’re one man, you’re a moment of time, and you will be gone.” And Joker is sort of saying, “You want to be immortal, come with us, your villains, and be emblazoned on shields and the stuff of legends. We’ll make you escape, kind of, the dirt and your body and all the sort of trappings of your own human shell.” He turns that down and “Endgame” continues that in a really big way. For me, that’s kind of what I love the most about exploring Batman itself is this relationship he has to Gotham where he is its God and its architect and all of that, but he’s also so incredibly vulnerable and physically just one man who has to come to terms ultimately with the fact that he won’t last forever and it will pass him by.
On wrestling with his own mortality: Since I was a kid I’ve been on meds for anxiety. My biggest fear all the time, not to get too on the couch, I always feel like it’s racing by. I get very depressed about it sometimes. Having kids helps, you know, where you see things through their eyes and you experience it, but then I see them getting older so fast — yeah, I think about it a lot.
If you look at my work — and I look at it, honestly, with taking a hard look at it — “American Vampire” really is about characters that become afraid of their own immortality in a lot of ways because they see everything around them dying and time passing. And “Wytches” is centrally about that. It’s about feeding the next generation to monsters and saying, “I want to live for myself right now. I’m gonna give this next generation to these beasts in the woods so I can get what I want.” Similarly, with everything I’ve done, I would say I guess I think that’s the biggest theme.
On being haunted by the specter of death from a young age and what the classic monsters are all about/start of his panic and anxiety: One night I got “Night of the Living Dead” [from the local video store] and I was so disappointed that it was black-and-white, and I saw it, and I’ve never had nightmares but I had legitimate nightmares over and over, and sweating, anxiety. I think what it is, looking back — and it’s my favorite horror movie — I’ve sort of transformed it back into something, “Why do I love that? What is it about it?” It’s no one escapes. It’s the sense of marching, slow death that will come for you, and it’s what you do before it does that has meaning. But don’t expect to escape, the movie or that tide, ’cause it’s coming for you. For me, that’s what’s so terrifying about the classic monsters. They remind us of that. When someone is turned into a vampire and they come back from the grave or a werewolf where your body is out of control and it becomes this animalistic thing. It’s a loss of control of your physical faculties in a way that — or your personality — that all is about, to me, the inevitability of death, of that coming for you. That was kind of the beginning of my panic-anxiety everything.
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