Exclusive Interview: Scott Snyder (Batman/Swamp Thing)

Scott talks about the Future of Batman, Swamp Thing and hints at “Dead World” and the Return of James Gordon Jr. in 2012.

Interview By Comic Vault Writer:  Mike DeVivo

Scott Snyder has had arguably the most successful year of any writer. He’s received critical praise on both Batman and Swamp Thing and last week he saw the Hardcover release of his Detective Comics Run: The Black Mirror Hit #1 on The New york Time’s Best Sellers List. Comic Vault sat down to talk to Scott Snyder about Batman, Swamp Thing, future stories involving a certain Gordon, and having The Green and Red battle The Rot.

CV: I wanted to first congratulate you on your  DComics: Black Mirror Hardcover hitting #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. Starting with Detective. I wanted to know since your run ended right before DC Rebooted The New 52 will we be seeing any of The Villains you created carry over into Batman ?

Scott Snyder: Thanks! Yes it’s definitely possible, in fact you will see them. I tried to show in issue one of Batman that James Gordon Jr. is in Arkham with the rest of the Villains. Tiger Shark and the others  are all fair game as well. I know for a fact  that James Jr. will come back in a story soon that I’m very excited about . Whether it’s on Batman or another Bat Family book you will have to wait and see, but he will return to Gotham soon.

CV: Can you tell me how you changed your approach going from writing Dick Grayson as Batman in Detective to now writing Bruce as Batman in his own series?

Scott Snyder : I didn’t really change my approach in how I write the comic . I wouldn’t have taken Batman unless I had a story before hand to tell.  For me with Dick Grayson and with each character the idea is to take on the character and say if I could only write one story about the character ever do I have that story in mind? Can I have that character challenged by their own greatest fear? A story with that kind of darkness to it. For me with Dick Grayson it was to have Gotham attack his own greatest weakness. Which is that he’s too empathetic and too good of a guy to be a hero in Gotham , where as Bruce has a  much more pathological and driven psychology. I wanted to show one example after another of how Gotham lacked empathy with its citizens in the first arc , and its criminals in the second arc and finally the ultimate villain of the book James Jr. in the third arc. So for Batman and Bruce I wanted to create something as equally Dark and frightening and exciting for me as a writer for Bruce. So I knew that before hand , because I pitched this story before the New 52.  What if Bruce gives up so much to be Gotham’s only legend and protector? He considers Gotham one of his closest friends. What if Bruce discovers that not only is Gotham a stranger to him but an enemy to him and has been to his family and friends and the Bat Family for hundreds of years. So once I had that it becomes figuring out a way to make that concept really scary and active on the page I wanted to escalate the story chapter after chapter to examine if he can deal with that concept. To see if he can withstand it , to see if he is going to give up or continue with that horrible manifestation of his childhood nightmare?  That maybe all of this is a waste,  and the one thing he thought he knew and that was his ally and home is actually a creature that hates him in many ways.

CV: At the end of this last issue you see slowly through you detailing the nesting habits of owls, along with the discovery of the 13th floor Bruce starts to show fear at the enormity of what he’s dealing with . That’s not something we see from Bruce often.

Scott Snyder : Absolutely, that’s what it’s supposed to be. For me the idea is  to make  Bruce very afraid though he would never admit to being afraid on the surface.  The people closest to him being  Dick Grayson and Alfred in issue 4 really see the cracks in his own psychology and point them out to him . They are there  to say Bruce “you’re not acting rationally here” .  In issue 4 we will see the secret reason why Bruce is so resistant in accepting the notion that The Court of Owls exist in the capacity that they do. It’s very much about him being afraid.

CV: You had mentioned that Dick Grayson is coming back next issue . I know that you and Kyle Higgins had scripted Gates of Gotham together so is there any chance we will see this story bleed into Nightwing?

Scott Snyder: Yes the stories will crash into each other at a certain point even though they wont depend on one another. Meaning you wont have to read Batman to know whats happening in Nightwing and the same goes for Nightwing as it pertains to Batman . There will be a moment soon that will be important to both books where Bruce will understand that the city has shaped both his destiny and his family and the families around him  in ways that are completely shocking and undermining to him .

Snyder’s next issue of Batman hits stands December 21st

CV: With the concept of the Court of Owls was that something you did research first on and saw there was a through line you could carry over into the series or was it something that sprung out of you research ?

Scott Snyder: It sprung out of my research I wanted to tell this story for a long time and I hid a few owls in Detective comics as well as Gates of Gotham . I wanted to pit Bruce against an Organization that begins to seem like they own Gotham and had for a long time.  I wanted this organization to have a symbol that rivaled the Bat and the Owl was a perfect symbol , both because the Owl has been on the fringes of Batman’s mythology with Owlman being the reverse Batman , and at the same time  its a natural predator to the bat. It’s a really spooky predator in how silent it hunts and watches and how it hides in plain sight and all those characteristics just clicked. So I knew that’s the symbol, so for familiar fans they are able to say I know that symbol has all of this baggage outside of the story , and for new fans its just a scary looking thing and concept.

CV: Are we going to see any other Bat Family characters come into the book ?

Scott Snyder: It’s very much Bruce’s story but without giving anything away we will see ripple effects with other characters in Batman’s Family and their respective books.

CV: Moving from Batman to your other DC book Swamp Thing . Tell me what was the allure for taking on Swampthing which has always been a very hard character to pin down?

Scott Snyder: That’s a good question. The allure was that Swamp Thing was my second favorite character behind Batman. I grew up reading both Len Wein and Alan Moores stories so the character has a very dear place in my heart. Before the new 52 Geoff Johns knew I was a fan of the character and so after bringing Swamp Thing back in Brightest Day he reached out to me to see if I had a take on what I wanted to do with the character. I wanted to have Alec come back human with all the baggage and history of Swamp Thing and his mythology . Which led into Swamp Thing #1, and to introduce new readers  to Alan Moore’s stuff and Len Weins Stuff is a tremendous feeling . I feel like I could retire  knowing I was able to introduce other people to Alan Moore and Len Weins stories.

CV:Since reading your take on Swamp Thing , I was most impressed with you being able to hit the reset button on the series while also giving older fans a reintroduction to the character in a familiar way  , and you’ve set it up with nothing but payoff ahead .

Scott Snyder: Thanks , yes the payoff is coming too , I can’t wait. The idea is Alec isn’t just meant to be Swamp Thing. What he discovers is not only was it not an accident that the swamp copied him and created the former Swamp Thing , but also the accident prevented him from becoming Swamp Thing to protect him. He was meant to be Swamp Thing since he was a child. He actually realizes in issue #5 that the Green has saved him before and has looked out for him his entire life. Waiting for him to be ready to become Swamp Thing. Not only is he a candidate but he is the chosen one for The Green  as its greatest savior. So the Swamp Thing he’s going to become is something that we’ve never seen before. I’m very excited about the designs that Yannick has created for us if Alec decides , and at this  point I can tell you its a matter of when he becomes Swamp Thing which is very soon…when he does it will certainly be worth the wait just to see this amazing thing he becomes.

CV: I noticed Yannick wasn’t even in the interiors in the last issue and you had 3 contributing artists. The amazing thing was that the art didn’t drop in quality and in fact was consistent across the board .How do you script and prepare for something like that.

Scott Snyder: The plan was there ahead of time to work with Marco Rudy who is also doing issue 6 as well. In Yannick’s contract there were issues that he would do and issues that he would have fill ins on which is something I’ve also done on American Vampire, the only book I’m not doing fill ins on is Batman. We knew Marco was going to be doing  issue 4 ahead of time. Marco and Yannick have similar styles , but one thing that is different and one of Marcos strengths is that he’s very into doing psychedelic and almost impressionistic pages . I knew that ahead of time so the issues I chose to have him do fill ins on have a lot to do with The Green and a lot of nightmarish visions that deal with the desert and Bone Kingdom. Yannick also is just one of the best artists I’ve ever worked with.

CV:The Dream Sequence in last issue was just amazing and beautiful , showing the composition between Abby and Alec laying next to each other , closing in on their faces while they were being taken in by the Rot and The Green while they slept was amazing. I’m sure you just get giddy seeing art like that in your book.

Scott Snyder: Yeah , that was actually my favorite page that I wrote . I said to myself “this is going to be my favorite page of the series” and then I saw it and thought to myself “this is even better than I could have imagined”. I would also be re-missed to not mention how amazing Greg Capullo has been on Batman. His stuff just gets better and better . For issue #4 he changes his art style up to show Batman explain his history with The Court of Owls . Then in subsequent issues he goes completely off the hook with his art and the experiments he is doing with his art.

CV: I wanted to touch on that earlier actually . In Batman with Bruce it seems like you and Greg manage to show at least once an issue how much of a Badass Bruce is . Last issue the scene with the magnets made me smile from ear to ear . How organic is that collaboration for you two working on the page?

Scott Snyder: On the page its super collaborative , Greg brings so much to each page with panels, and angles and expressions that he really brings the story to life in ways I couldn’t be more inspired by. I write the story beats like the scene with the magnets but Greg composes it in such a way that’s really unique whether its to hide Batman until the last minute in a scene or to add a panel. There are some really imaginative things he has coming up in the story both in Batman’s imagination and things that are happening around him that he brought creatively . So I take that back and say that there are scenes coming up that Greg had a big hand in shaping and coming up with story elements so it’s very collaborative all through out. He’s one of the  best guys as a friend I’ve ever worked with. We go back and forth every day and send things  back and forth . Greg is one of the most dedicated and talented guys in the world , and I feel very lucky to get to work with him.

CV: So going back to Swamp Thing,  I know that in the Alan Moores books The Parliament of Trees had actually turned on Swamp Thing at one point. In issue 4 there is a moment where we see The Green Family Tree and we see the roots that lead to an opposing tree underneath it as well. Were the Roots The Red or The Rot? Without giving away too much , can you shed some light on that page?

Scott Snyder: We were winking at showing the weight of the history of The Green bearing down on Alec’s shoulders. Which is what we also did with the opposing tree that is the Rot actually. In that Tree there are members of the Arcane Family and characters that we have created internally that will show up later in the book. We wanted The Parliament and the Green to be something that is frightening . The green is not calm and peaceful. Its’ a raging force of nature that wants the planet for itself, as does the Red as does the Rot. The idea is that there is a real reason to maybe not want to become a Protector of the Green. Because a lot of it is about restraint , the idea is holding the Green back and being a moderator for it . Making sure that things are done in balance because the Green would consume the planet if it could. That’s part of what we wanted , The Green and The Parliament of Trees are definitely scary.

A first Look at the cover to issue #7 of Swampthing

CV: I wanted to talk about your relationship and obvious connection to Jeff Lemire and Animal Man. Ive Reviewed your books together for the site because of the connection to The Rot in each .Obviously it seems like you are building up towards a bigger event . Do you script together at this point ?

Scott Snyder: We’ve always shared everything and Jeff’s been one of my closest friends in comics since starting at DC. We immediately saw that we write very similarly and our approach to constructing a story is the same. So we started trading scripts a long time ago back when I started Writing American Vampire and he was Writing Sweet Tooth for Vertigo. When I got Swamp Thing and Jeff got Animal Man we wanted to create a shared universe . So we came up with the idea to have this villian for Both The Red and the Green which would represent the opposing two elements to life which is Death  and that’s how we created The Rot. At the end of these first arcs for each book they will eventually crash into each other for our Event in the  second arc which we are going to call Dead World.

CV: Both Swamp Thing , and Animal Man seem paramount in showing what DC hoped to achieve with the relaunch . So whats your take on The New 52 four months in?

Scott Snyder: For me its been a huge success. Seeing the amount of people who come into my Comic Shop in Long Island called Fourth World that are reading comics that never have before is rewarding. Or when I get emails saying “wow I never knew Batman had a Live Dinosaur in his Cave” and I’m like “Wow you’ve never read Batman before?” ” Your really serious you’ve never read batman before”. The idea that you get to introduce these people to characters that you love and they say  I love Batman because your on it and now I’m going to check out other Batman Stories makes everything else pale in comparison . Also I’m reading so many books myself . I love Wonder Woman , All Star Western is incredible  ,  Action Comics obviously, Green Lantern is killing it , Aquaman , and of course Animal Man I think is the best book on the stands now.

CV:One of the things I noticed is that you and Jeff Lemire have a healthy Twitter battle going on. I review both Swamp Thing and Animal Man at the same time each month. Every time I write a review for both books I look forward to the banter between you two, its hilarious.

Scott Snyder: That’s the funniest thing . We love having Twitter Wars with each other, we are actually on the phone going back and forth being like “what should you say what should I say” .  I literally just got off the phone with Jeff when you called. He really is one my best friends in the world and I couldn’t be happier for him.

CV: Alright Scott well I just wanted to thank you again , and if your going to be at C2E2 this year hopefully we can catch up then. Thanks for your time!

Scott Snyder: I will be at C2E2 this year for sure and thank you !

Follow Mike DeVivo on Twitter @pandasandrobots

Follow Scott Snyder on Twitter @Ssnyder1835