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I rarely get nervous interviewing people anymore. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years, and have made some good friends in the industry. The people who work in comics are the kindest, most inclusive group of people I’ve ever met. They instantly make me feel at ease and welcomed. So, I don’t get nervous anymore. When I got the confirmation e-mail that I would get the chance to interview Scott Snyder on behalf of Word of the Nerd, I was terrified.
Scott Snyder is a personal hero of mine, having written a vast majority of my favorite series in the past few years. This was both a dream come true and a bit of a nightmare. Walking up the stairs of the big SDCC DC Comics booth, I was so sure I would embarrass myself. But I reached the top, walked over to him, shook his hand and sat down. He flashed me an effortless smile, and with a jittering leg, I started.
Snyder on Horror, Batman, and Justice League
Anthony: A lot of your creator-owned stuff leans heavy into the horror genre. How has it been switching over to writing superhero comics for DC? How does that kind of bleed into what you’re doing?
Snyder: Well, I just fool everybody into thinking that it’s all very light. Then three or four issues in—like in Metal—all the nightmare stuff comes out. I mean, horror is my favorite sort of genre to work in ever since I was a kid. ‘Cause it’s almost like a purified, ratcheted-up form of conflict. You know in drama you’re up against your worst fears and the things that trouble you, but in horror, there’s a monster coming to kill you. In good horror, I feel like whatever is scaring you is an extension of your greatest anxieties about yourself. About the world. It’s that thing brought to life and attacking you. In comic books, and especially writing Batman, because he’s always like “I need to do this. I need to win,” and when you put something in front of him like that, all his fears brought to life, it just stops him in his tracks.
We’re doing that in Batman Who Laughs by the way. Batman Who Laughs is sort of like the darkest Batman story I’ve ever written. He’s Batman’s second worst fear about himself, which is this Punisher Batman. Imagine that Batman started using lethal force on his world and never stopped, and now he’s become the deadliest man alive. Not only does he kill you with guns and knives and drones, but he has a multi-billion dollar corporation. So there are chips in your car. Chips in your phone. Your car might drive off a bridge and you won’t know who killed you, but it was him. We’re going really dark, but it allows me to flex those muscles there.
With Justice League, I wanted to be welcoming and inclusive. It’s why we’re using the Hall of Justice. I want to show, especially at first, why these characters are so inspiring—so wondrous. I want it to be filled with kind of all of those things. To give them the majesty and the grandeur that they deserve. And yet, I want it to feel extremely approachable and inclusive. That’s why we’re using the Hall of Justice. That’s why you can walk around the public areas; the doors are open. The whole book is really an argument about “Are we Justice or are we Doom? Is what makes us us the fact that we create these fictions—these dreams—that we impose on a world that doesn’t even care about them? To make ourselves better than we are? Or do we embrace our own nature and say ‘fuck all of that, let’s just be the worst we can be and live the best lives possible?’” So all of it’s in one place. Doing the horror over here allows me to do the wonder and the grandeur over here. But Justice League does get quite dark as we go. There are a lot of big threats coming.
The Philosophy of Storytelling
Anthony: All your stuff at DC has connective tissue whether thematically or story-wise. So, speaking of Justice League, what was it like going from Batman to All-Star Batman, to Dark Knights: Metal, and then to Justice League, in terms of keeping everything feeling fresh and different and yet still being a Scott Snyder story?
Snyder: Well, I just wanted each thing to feel very modularly like its own thing. Metal is something that could only be me and Greg [Capullo]. So, it’s just this non-stop crazy guitar riffs type stuff, but it’s also personal and it’s about the things we care about. With No Justice, I wanted it to feel much more like a cosmic odyssey sort of story. And then with Justice League, I wanted to do something that sort of combined all of that in one place.
The other thing I have is just space. I have 50 issues on this book. I have two years of authorship to tell a story. I have a two-year plan. It runs from Metal to No Justice to Justice League. The Source Wall breaking in Metal feeds No Justice. The fact that these heroes break into these teams to address those threats feeds into Justice League. The heart of the whole multiverse landing on Earth comes from that idea and that leads forward.
It’s been a lot of fun to be able to be architectural at DC, and having so many pieces available to me. It’s a role I never thought I would have, but the fact that I do have it is one I take seriously. It is a tremendous honor, and what we’re building over the next two years really does sort of explode. The Batman Who Laughs seems like its own series, but what happens in that series does very evil things to the DCU, which then crashes into Justice League, Justice League Odyssey, and Justice League Dark—great books by my very close friends. And then it comes crashing back into the story. In that way, my goal is for everything to feel special on its own, and yet feed the same story tree. Because all of it is one giant, organic exploration of the same concept, you know? Batman was always in a war to be like, “Does what I do matter?” That’s what he was facing off with the Joker all the time in the Joker stories. “Does what I do have any effect?” and Joker says, “No.” This is the crescendo of all of that stuff. It brings back Barbatos, the Dark Multiverse, the Anti-Monitor. Everything cycles back through it, so I hope everybody really enjoys it. I really love working on it.
Justice League is released bi-monthly through DC Comics.
*This interview has been lightly edited for comprehension.
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