Snyder Goes Exclusive With "Detective Comics"

When CBR News spoke to DC Comics co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee last month, the pair promised big plans for "American Vampire" writer Scott Snyder across the DC line.

This morning, that promise paid off for Snyder and for Bat-fans as the publisher announced via their blog The Source that the writer not only is stepping into an exclusive contract with DC but that starting later this year he'll take over the reigns as the regular writer of the publisher's original Batman comic book "Detective Comics." Describing the assignment as a dream job, Snyder spoke with CBR News about turning his darker story sensibilities towards the DCU, how that outlook landed him his latest job and how the core of his new work on "Detective" will be dueling stories of the Dark Knight's uncovering of the new and old criminal elements of Gotham City and Jim Gordon's own struggles to confront his past.

CBR News: Scott, congratulations on the "Detective Comics" gig and on going DC exclusive. I always get the feeling that when some writers come to DC, they don't just have a story they want to tell but they've specifically got a Batman story they really want to tell. What's your history like with the character before landing this job?

Scott Snyder: The first thing I pitched to Dan [Didio] and Geoff [Johns] at a meeting in Chicago [during the C2E2 convention] was Batman material. For me, Batman is totally seminal to my comics fandom. If there's a crown jewel for me to work on at DC that seems like a perfect fit, it really would be something in the Bat-Universe. Those stories were touchstones for me growing up from the obvious ones like "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Year One" - which I still read all the time - to ones later on like "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory" or Brubaker's run on "Detective" and "The Man Who Laughs." All that stuff. For me, those things all throughout my writing career were big inspirations. As much as probably when I was a kid Spider-Man was my favorite, as an adult Batman was the one superhero I read religiously even when I was broke or away from anywhere that I had a comic shop. I would still go after Batman stuff because I feel like it was always the most psychologically rich because his Rogue's Gallery was always so good.

I don't know how to explain how honored and thrilled I am to be doing this. When they asked me if I wanted to do this one...a run on "Detective Comics"? It was like being asked to play in the All-Star Game or something. [Laughs] Not to compare Vertigo in any way to something less than the major leagues, but it just feels like you're asked to QB The Super Bowl out of nowhere with this. It's definitely been a zero to sixty experience, but with Batman there's nowhere I would rather be. It fits my sensibilities well. I'll tell you the truth, I did fish around and was talking to Geoff and Dan about some other characters - some of the darker characters - but the elephant in the room was always that all of them had elements of the shadowier aspects of Gotham in them. I've never wanted to live anywhere more than Gotham in the comics world. I'm working 110% to earn my keep right here.

You mention Ed Bruabaker's run on "Detective" and part of what always struck me about that era for this title was how at the time they were really working to differentiate that book in tone from "Batman" or the other comics in the family by making crime stories or something that really fit the name appear in its pages each month. Has that been something on your mind where you've wanted to tonally make the book fit in with the "Detective" monicker?

I do. That's a great question, and for me what Grant has been doing on "Batman" over the last couple of years has been so dazzling because it's so much bigger and more epic and looking at Batman in this primally totemic way where the mythology gets explored on every level that for me the fun of a book like "Detective" is to give readers a balance to that. To be able to do small, gritty, kind of hardcore mystery stories that do have a cumulative effect. There is a bigger story behind the whole run and a plan in this design. It won't just be little stand alone, throwaway mysteries. I do have certain themes and ideas that will come to a head as plot points by the end of the run. But with "Detective," what it offers and offered me as a kid between the annuals and everything - I just reread that Mark Waid Annual #2 with the Ku Klux Klan - was that it was a place to go where you wanted to see Batman be the greatest detective in the world. I've loved the Batwoman run, and I've loved a lot of the stuff they've been doing with "Detective," but I'm really excited to take it and make it a run that will star Batman as the central character.

It will be about his relationship with Commissioner Gordon in a lot of ways. Commissioner Gordon will be the back-up in that, and it will have a long, epic storyline in that which will be about somebody from Gordon's past that's coming back to haunt him in a big way. Those two things will be stand alone, but they're also going to bleed into each other and affect each other in big ways. There is a larger design, but for me again, the thing I'm excited to try and do is to not just go back and redo the format of mysteries. Part of the fun is updating those ideas. It'll be Batman with new tech - kind of "C.S.I." style - pursuing crimes that have have a real design behind them at the end with a new spin on the reader's relationship with Commissioner as it goes forward.

Are you guys announcing the art team yet for the book?

We're still discussing that. I've thrown a number of people at them, and they've gone back and forth showing people to me. I think it's just about settled, and I'm pretty excited about the names being thrown around, but it's not firm just yet.

Then as you're building the first stories and that larger arc, there are certain villains that can work well as a counterpoint to that "C.S.I." model where their obsessions in crime feed those bizarre kind of mysteries. Are you looking to using some of the classic Rogues or threading in some of your own bad guys?

A little bit of both. There will be some points where you'll see in reference and in plot points the classic Rogue's Gallery, but I do want this to be a little grittier and explore some areas of Gotham you haven't seen before - both its history and the sort of new crime elements coming into the city. I do want to try and stay away from what I think is the strength of the Batman line in terms of him fighting his rivals and his super rivals. This to me is more about solving and exploring some of the dark mysteries behind Gotham itself and cases that bring him into contact with new dark elements in the city.

We just ran an interview with David Finch where he spoke to his new "Dark Knight" book, and he said that part of what's allowing him to step on and so much of this to get rolling is that while Grant Morrison won't be leaving the franchise he's been guiding for so long now, he's still leaving all this room for people to play and make their own takes on Batman work on their own terms. How is this shaping up in terms of piggybacking off of "The Return of Bruce Wayne" and being able to play off Grant's plans?

Yeah! The marching orders or the message from Grant has really been to give your book your feel. It's been very flexible and elastic in terms of being able to creatively throw things around with Mike Marts, who' been terrific as an editor, and some of the other people in the Bat Family. I haven't met Dave Finch yet, but after reading that interview, I imagine it's the same experience for [the other creators] where they really want you to create your own Batman story and vision. As much of a plan as Grant has - and his plans are pretty incredible - it feels like he's also very generous about giving you enough room with the character to develop your own little ecosystem.

You're also going DC Exclusive, and this feels like it's been coming since back when I spoke with Dan Didio and Jim Lee where they'd been talking up you and Paul Cornell as two important new voices for the DCU. Paul seems to have come in and immediately found some books that fit his voice. What's been your experience since the "American Vampire" launch in look at the DCU as a whole and finding where you'll fit into that?

I'll say this - and I'm not trying to do PR for DC, I promise you - both Geoff Johns and Dan Didio and Ian Sattler, the whole crew, I met them all in Chicago, and they took me out to lunch a few times here in New York, and they've really been saying, "What do you think you do the best? Where do you want to be? What kind of stories do you want to tell?" We've gone back and forth about what was available between characters that are involved in "Brightest Day" to characters involved in Grant's side of stuff to all over the map. I've gotten a lot of leeway to approach different characters and pitch different things, and I was already working on opportunities to tell some Batman stories with them when this opportunity to take on the book came up. It was just one of the best days of my life. I'm telling you the truth that I'm completely terrified in terms of dropping the ball. [Laughs] I have some anxiety as well as excitement about living up to the bar set by the writing in the Bat-World - especially on "Detective" coming off of Rucka's run. But I really also am really enthusiastic about the whole run. I have a lot of ideas, and I went in gunning for it. Now that I've been handed an opportunity where so much of what I've wanted is in my hands, I want to do something really cool with it.

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