Batman and Mister Miracle writer Tom King took to the stage on Thursday at Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss his journey to Eisner Award-winning comic book writer, and he was accompanied by his Mister Miracle collaborator Mitch Gerads.
"I'm fucking sorry for what you're about to hear," King said to kick things off.
The moderator, Constance Eza, then asked King about City of Bane.
"I remember putting this on the board for DC and Bendis coming up to me," King said. "He told me 25 issues of Batman suffering was gonna be tough on my audience. But dude, you need to be knocked down before you can get the fuck up again."
"It's the beginning of the end," King continued. "My run is about two things -- Bane is bad, and this is about that. And then, after that, we get back to Bat-Cat. And the street/boat question will be definitively answered in Batman #80."
Regarding Heroes in Crisis, King said, "People fucking hated it so much. I've never written something someone hated so much. But I love it. I think I got the message I wanted to get across. I think, killing Wally, it was a tough hill for people to climb."
"It all made sense," Gerads added. "When bad things happen to characters, it's earned, in a way. Everything led to that moment and it had to be that. That's the point of that story -- when you break, you do it out of character. You don't break in character."
"Wally was my Flash growing up," King continued. "He was the Peter Parker of the DCU. It was tough on him because it was like the symbol of Rebirth killing people. First of all, Wally doesn't murder anyone, that doesn't happen. There's heroism in being vulnerable. To always say I'm strong is not to be strong, it's to be arrogant."
On the subject of the Eisner-nominated Mister Miracle, Gerads said, "I used to go to the Eisners every year. Now, they've become this very real touchstone in my career so to be nominated is insane. One of the joys of working with Tom is every time we do something new, I'm incredibly proud of it."
King also discussed the birth of Jacob Free in Issue #5, revealing it was inspired by the birth of his own son.
Eza then asked how King feels about doing shorter story arcs, such as "Rooftops."
"You go back and read Alan Moore's stories in he does more in three pages than most people do in 30," he said. "So yeah, I like doing short stories."
"There's no better way to do comics than to know when it ends," Gerads added. "You can play with that space more. I know I have 12 issues to do something so I don't have to do everything in the first four. It reads so much more complete, like a novel."
Eza then opened up the floor for questions and a fan asked what the process is like working with an editor from both the writing and drawing perspective.
"In my career, I've been insanely lucky," Gerads said. "I've had long runs on things with amazing editors. Jaime S. Rich steps in when he needs to but he just supports us."
The next fan asked what King and Gerads would be doing if they weren't in comics.
In response, King revealed that Gerads used to design cereal boxes, including the Cinnamon Toast Crunch box featuring anthropomorphic pieces of cereal jumping into a bowl.
"I'd be in the CIA," King added.
Another fan asked what it's like working with Ava DuVernay on Warner Bros.' New Gods film.
"How do you answer that?" King said. "It's a fucking joy, she's amazing. She doesn't have an ego, she invited me out and asked what team I wanted to bring. She wanted to assemble people who knew [Jack] Kirby. And next week, I get to go off and work with her."
The next question was about Batman #71 and Bruce punching Tim Drake, and how it would be addressed.
"Tim is in Issue #76," King said. "And it really starts to get dealt with in #81. It's a big part of City of Bane."
A fan then asked about King and Gerads' biggest failures he's had to grow from.
"I try to examine something when I have a failure and see how I can turn it into a positive," Gerads said. "I'm a weirdly positive person, too."
"I've had huge failures," King added. "I've had national security failures. The funny thing is I had a big breakdown in 2016 but I didn't see it as a failure. It was like a necessary failure."
Next up, a fan asked if King's plans for Batman have changed since his run was cut down.
"My cover for #74," Gerads said.
"The 'Fall and the Fallen' arc was supposed to be this big thing with Ra's al Ghul leading up to City of Bane," King said. "My editors said we were missing out on Gotham, though, and they were right."
Another fan asked if King ever missed the freedom of writing prose versus working with established characters in DC.
"No," King says. "If we had done Mister Miracle but called it Super Escape Artist, who does that benefit? The way I like to do comics is since you're doing something with someone that's established, you can elevate the stakes."