CCI: A Toast to Scott Snyder

Before writer Scott Snyder's spotlight panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego officially started, Snyder and moderator Jeff Lemire took a moment to share a toast.

"Your support on 'Animal Man' and 'Swamp Thing' -- I just want to say thank you," an emotional Snyder told the crowd. "We were so nervous, so scared taking on those books. We loved those characters, we told DC how much we loved them -- to see you be so supportive, it really moves us."

Glassed were clinked, and the two drank.

Just reward for this duo, who have rocked the comics world lately. A packed room was on hand at Comic-Con to hear the red-hot Snyder discuss his career path as well as his work on such books as "Batman," "Swamp Thing" and "American Vampire."

Snyder took a deep breath and started talking about his beginnings in comics. His first ambition was to be a comic book artist. That was until college, when he got what he called "one of those really obnoxious book deals" based on his collection of short stories, "Voodoo Heart."

The deal required a book of short stories -- which was already done -- and a novel. The novel, about a barnstormer, was a problem.

"To be fair to them, they needed me to deliver back on this huge amount of money -- it went a couple years," Snyder told the crowd. "I hated going to work. I would go to my desk, for two years, and hated it. I felt like I was drinking too much. I went to work miserable."

For fun, Snyder wrote a couple short stories on the side. Some of them were superhero stories. Most were funny.

"One was about a support group for heroes with bad powers," Snyder chuckled. "One superhero never had to go to the bathroom. 'But where does it all go...?'"

With a baby on the way, Snyder needed to deliver on the novel to get the money the book deal promised.

"My wife asked, 'Why are you working on these super hero books?'" he recalled. "Because it's the only fucking thing that makes me happy. My wife says, 'If you write this one book you'll pay our mortgage.' I told her, [comics] was all I wanted to do. She was supportive, she said, 'Do more comics.'"

Some of the jobs Snyder did to keep getting the family by included working at Barnes & Noble and tutoring wealthy children. He said he was ready to drive a cab, if he needed to.

Before he worked at Barnes & Noble? Snyder still worked on characters -- in fact, characters we all know, like Buzz Lightyear and Pluto.

Oh, he didn't write them. He was them.

"I worked at Disney World as a janitor at Magic Kingdom. I worked my way up to a character," Snyder told the crowd. "I was Eeyore, Buzz Lightyear and Pluto. I was completely brainwashed. I was so happy."

He was so good at his job that he was asked to move to Disney Tokyo. "Which was a big deal because, in Tokyo, I'm tall enough to be Prince Charming," he said, as the crowd erupted into laughter.

While still sipping on the spirits, Snyder told about how he and legendary horror writer Stephen King hooked up. Snyder knew King from the literary world, when he had his book deal. Snyder asked King to write a blurb for his "American Vampire" comic. King agreed, because he liked the scripts. (That blurb was proudly framed by Snyder's mom.)

But King liked the project so much, he wanted to be involved. Snyder called DC to tell them that Stephen King -- yes, the Stephen King -- wanted to write an issue himself.

Snyder indulged the audience with some King stories. He said that King always messes with him when he turns in scripts. At the end of one script, Skinner turned into a bat and flew away. "I said, Steve, our vampires don't do that," Snyder said. "And he responded, 'Aww, I'm just fucking with you!'"

Snyder says King "loves being Stephen King." "I told him I was going to Florida with [my wife] Jeanie. He said, come down and see me," Snyder recounted. "He'll walk down to the dock -- holding a lantern, and say, in that Stephen King voice, 'Sure is rickety here... if someone fell in, they might die.'"

Snyder then recounted a final King story for the delighted audience.

"I asked him once, 'How do you know when a story is over?' He responded, 'When everyone is dead.'"

Snyder said he did feel the heat sharing "American Vampire" with King.

"I remember one night I woke up with a sweat; Holy shit, King is going to write a book next to me! No one is going to like my part, they're going to hate it!" he said. "I thought, please... let this book survive past King leaving... so again -- thank you."

Lemire asked Snyder how he began writing for the mainstream DC Universe.

It was in Chicago at C2E2 that Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee asked to meet with him. He said he was a part of the "Jason Aaron rebound" at DC, when talent was being pulled from Vertigo into the mainstream DC world.

"They asked me what I wanted to do. I told them James Gordon. DiDio said that doesn't sound like an appealing cover -- what's he going to be doing, looking through old dusty files? I said, 'That'd be awesome!'"

Some preview art was displayed of an upcoming Joker arc. Snyder told the crowd that it's been too long since there's been an epic Joker story. He asked the crowd to shout out the last great Joker story they remembered. Most answers were older books, like "The Killing Joke" and "Arkham Asylum."

"What I'm asking you is, why hasn't [Joker] been in comics in fucking 10 years? Besides movies and animation? Where is the great, big Joker story where he says 'F-U Batman, I'm back?' Where has that been?

If we do the Joker, it's got to be the biggest, baddest blood-on-the-floor story," Snyder said, to applause. "No one will want to touch him for another 20 years."

Snyder said his take on the Joker is essentially that the Joker thinks he serves Batman. He brings Batman's worst dreams to life.

"And if [Batman] doesn't respect that, and you get fat and slow, I'll have an axe to grind, and I'll come after you," he said.

With about half the bottle gone, Snyder and Lemire then switched chairs, and it was then Lemire's turn to take the spotlight and discuss his work while Snyder asked him questions.

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