Writer Scott Snyder has had a pretty good year. All-Star Batman kicked off and has been a wild success and his new series at Image Comics, A.D.: After Death just released its second issue. With 2017 quickly approaching we sat down with Scott to talk about the comic industry, writing, and of course, Batman.
AiPT!: Who are your heroes?
Snyder: In comics?
AiPT!: It doesn’t have to be.
Snyder: My iconic heroes growing up: The first one I really fell for was Frank Miller. I was nine when Dark Knight Returns came out. That book just changed my life. I was already a huge comic fan, my dad took me every Wednesday to the comic store but, seeing that, then the next year seeing Year One made me understand or gave me sort of more of a subliminal understanding that comics could speak to the real world; that they can speak to the concerns and anxieties and hopes that you have in a very real and immediate way; where the world that you lived in can be reflected urgently in the pages of the comic. And these heroes can become tangible and seem to walk the streets you knew. Whether they were extreme versions of the ones you knew where real gangs are replaced with mutants, Joker stands in for terrorists, or they’re extremely realistic like in Year One. It was a comic that really changed the way I thought of the form.
After that in my teenage years, there was so many comic book creators from that point, from Neil Gaiman to Warren Ellis, to…up and down. The other totemic figure as a teenager was Elvis Presley.
AiPT!: Oh really?
Snyder: Yeah, I grew up in the city. I was kind of a total geek. I wanted to find something that nobody else liked in my environment. I wound up really falling for the music and for this notion that he was this guy who, at my age at that time, 15 or 16 already, thought he was a rock star even though he had nothing going for him. Crossed all these boundaries and was very daring in the way he behaved. That gave me tremendous inspiration as a teenager for some reason and I fell in love with early music from then. That became a road into Americana, musically and American folklore and kitsch culture. It became things I sort of soaked in and loved. It’s infused in a lot of stuff I write now.
AiPT!: So much of becoming an adult is finding the confidence to mold yourself.
The King was a huge inspiration to Snyder.
Snyder: Finding comics that made me want to write comics that were personal and made me want to write about the world and your fears. And then finding a figure who made me feel like I could be brave or daring and not care about what anybody thought. There was something really inspiring in those two edges.
AiPT!: Going back to Frank Miller, and how his writing made you see how comics could reflect the world. With your recent A.D.: After Death and All-Star Batman #5 — was it easier to translate your ideas about society or people, with the different genres? I would say A.D. is science fiction, and Batman is obviously…I don’t know what genre to encapsulate him into.
Snyder: He’s his own genre.
I’ve loved the idea of genre fiction ever since I was kid. I did prose before comics and people often think rightly that I had a pretty easy ride in comics. I never expected the kind of rocketship ride that I got in comics. I’m extremely grateful for it, don’t take this the wrong way, but I was unprepared for the pressure and the vast readership of it. Before that, I had done a lot of prose and that’s where I did years of rejection letters and all of that stuff. Sending self-addressed envelopes and mailing to every magazine. I had done fiction, but I always had an element of science fiction or horror in the stories. Or historical fiction. And what I realized when I got to comics was that a lot of my ideas bumped up against the idea of doing straight drama. It never sat well for me even though there was a big renaissance going on when I was writing school. The short stories had a renaissance in the 90’s and early 2000’s and so I always came back to stuff that had these elements of genre fiction and so I realized when I got into comics it was so much easier to talk about things that were horrific or wondrous to me through elements that were supernatural or stretched the elasticity of the real world expectations to the point where you could create a space where you suddenly believe that something could happen that couldn’t happen in the real world, but it encapsulated your hopes and fears in that story in a way that was emotionally sincere.
What I loved about doing American Vampire was trying to create a historical story where you couldn’t quite tell where it went off the rails into horror. Similarly with Wytches, if you can hide the tracks where it’s veering into horror or completely unbelievable stuff to emotionally viable stuff that’s the goal.
Snyder: It kind of feels like a smooth transition. It’s where I feel most comfortable. I don’t go straight genre in terms of over the top like the way [Rick] Remender can do sci-fi (that I love) like Fear Agent and all his stuff. Or the way, Steve Niles does straight up horror. I fall into a place where it’s more drama mixed with one or two genres, historical horror, that kind of stuff, where it blends a little bit so it doesn’t land in strictly one place for better or worse. Does that make sense?
AiPT!: I’ve read so many things by Stephen King where he says blending genres together is closer to what reality is all about.
Snyder: He was a huge influence truly and getting to work with him was like a dream come true. He looms very large to people who really mattered to me growing up as a writer.
Example of some of the prose from A.D.: After Death #2
AiPT!: With all the prose in A.D. After Death, and the fact that All-Star Batman #6 is going to be written without word balloons, it begs the question: do you have a novel in you?
Snyder: I do. I have a few, I had one I didn’t finish right before I got into comics and I was really excited about it. It was about a guy who was very successful in comics for a science fiction series for kids and then his kid has this terrible accident and he’s waiting to see what is going to happen to write the finale and he gets it in his head to do this terrible thing. It’s a blend of genres, it has science fiction story within the story, and then his story told first person.
A page from All-Star Batman #6 Scott Snyder shared via Twitter.
You know, I’ll tell you, I’m doing this big event with [Greg] Capullo this summer. It’s still kind of being polished and settling in terms of particular stuff but the big pieces are all there and approved. Title and all that stuff. That I’m very excited about, just because it’s Greg and I can’t wait to work with him again, use new characters, alongside Batman, but a big part of me wonders if I should take some time off, and work on…I have another book that I care about I’m working with my son. It’s a children’s book.
AiPT!: Oh wow.
Snyder: Yeah, it’s a middle grade book. We write it together. A big part of me wonders if I take some time off and try to work on that. If there are opportunities with DC right after [the event] if books open up beyond All-Star, which I want to keep going for as long as I can, I’d love to do that. There’s quite a few characters I’d like to work on, Wonder Woman, Justice League, but I don’t know. I’m up in the air. I love DC, couldn’t be happier, the writers I work with there Tom and James and these guys are some of my best friends in the world. So is my editor Mark Doyle, he’s one of the ones who found me from prose him and his wife Jeanine Schaefer. I’d love to do more superhero stuff at DC post event, but maybe I will take some time after. I’m completely unsure.
AiPT!: That’s really exciting to be able to look at the future and there are multiple directions to go in. As a writer that’s exciting, or maybe it’s frightening?
Snyder: It’s actually the dream. I desperately want to keep doing superhero comics. I have to put some stuff aside, particularly with the planning to do stuff with Greg, but also All-Star, plus teaching, planning other stuff with DC. I’ve just started working on Wytches again with Jock and there are a couple things like that. I want to finish American Vampire very badly. The biggest thing is, the dream of the writer to have that choice. Not have a constant pressure, all of the stuff I expected it to be on my back, so I’m very grateful for people out there who have given me my dream job. I want to do all of it.
AiPT!: You only have so many hours in the day.
Snyder: Yeah, and I really want to do this book with my kid. Whatever I do next I’m going to try to do that on the side.
AiPT!: I only ask because I think some of the prose in A.D.: After Death is really good. I’ve read a few philosophical fictional novels that get into some really weird places that make you think about life, my life, and society. And I get that from After Death.
Snyder: Thank you. I get that and I understand it’s not going to be for everybody. It’s my first attempt back at prose in a long time. I’m really proud of it. It might be my favorite thing I’ve done in terms of what it means for the friendship between Jeff and I have developed and the way we’ve encouraged each other to do this book. To do something personal together. It’s an incredible experience.
The villains have crossed over certainly, but what about other heroes? Image from All-Star Batman #5
AiPT!: Will we ever see a crossover in other Bat-titles?
Snyder: That’s what Greg and I are doing. The event stuff that we’re talking about for this summer will have other superheroes and Bat superheroes be a part of it.
AiPT!: So it will bleed into, say Nightwing?
Snyder: It will, but it’s not going to take up months and months. You know how we did Night of the Owls, where it was a month, where the books tied in and affected the books, but effects that had to do with stories they were telling. That’s the way I like to do events. I don’t like to take over any book for months and dictate to another writer what to do with their books. There will be crossover effects, but hopefully it will be the kind similar to Joker and Night of the Owls and Zero Year.
Come back Monday January 2nd, 2017 where Scott talks about the DC Workshop, advice for anyone who wants to break into writing comics, and writing action sequences.