We wrap up our interview with Scott Snyder (be sure to catch up on part 1 if you missed it) discussing using Duke in Batman, the DC workshop, writing action choreography, and more!
AiPT!: Will you continue to use Duke in this series?
Snyder: Oh yeah. Duke gets his whole identity, code name and mission in issue #9. In issue #10 we start the arc where he’s in this role with Batman in a fun way. My hope, if I can manage it is to do a spinoff series with him either during or after this event. I’d love to give somebody a chance who has been in the class. I have a couple of students that are terrific already. I’d love to try to bring in new talent for a young character like that.
AiPT!: Are you talking about the DC Workshop?
AiPT!: How has that been going?
Snyder: It’s the highlight of my week dude. I love it. It’s really great. My job is not to sort of make sure they write any particular comic, it’s the opposite–I try to show them to write something that’s personal that they’re passionate about but find a way to do that through the characters in a way that’s organic to the characters but beyond that there is no limit in terms of the style that they use. They need to be able to write in their voice. My goal is to make sure they’re doing something that feels completely individual. Greg Capullo says, “don’t do that, you’re training your replacement!” And I’m like, “If I do my job right I’m training anything but my replacement, because I’m honing their voice that’s uniquely theirs, able to do something that doesn’t look like something I’m doing anyway.” I love it. I love that part of the week.
AiPT!: You’re so busy. Do you do anything for fun on the side? Do you consume any types of media, comics, movies, TV?
Snyder: Yeah, I still read a ton of comics. At night I make a rule for myself I won’t read anything with pictures once I’m in bed. I read a lot of nonfiction, The New Yorker, you know books that friends recommend. I have a couple buddies like Sean Murphy who are just huge science buffs so I’ll read anything from Pale Blue Dot to The Book of Immortalities that he recommends. Doyle, our editor on Batman, is a history buff. He’s always recommending stuff. Honestly, I’ll tell you the truth, most of my day when I’m not doing this stuff is being with my kids and my wife. I live a relatively rustic area in New York.
AiPT!: What do you wish someone told you about the comic book business before you got started?
Snyder: That’s a great question. I think a couple things. The best advice I could give somebody and the thing I open my class with is the best advice that was given to me as a writer which is: You have to write the story that you would pick up this particular day and it would mean the most to you that day. That to me is a guiding principle when dealing with editorials and dealing with character and all that stuff. Meaning, if I can’t emotionally connect with it in a big way it feels terrible. Luckily I haven’t had to do it with DC.
The other piece of advice thinking more pragmatically that I give people is to understand relationships with your editors are key. Your editor is your friend. The people you work with, they are going to make your story better. But at the end of the day, the real relationship, the most important relationship you have beyond your relationship with yourself, in terms of yourself is always making sure your writing is surprising and exciting [and] should be your north star, is with your readership. If you give them the trust that they deserve, if you write up to them–if you write in a way that’s about things that matter to you and take risks, they are going to respond.
A lot of the time the advice you’ll get when you don’t have great support is the opposite. They’ll be pushing you to be more conventional, familiar, and ultimately if you believe in the things you’re writing about, which is amazing to me, to see, is the constant testament to the fact that the comic book audience is generous and wants you to try new things and take risks. We did the story where Jim Gordon was Batman and we kept the sales generally where they were which was unbelievable. We still wanted to do it because it mattered to me. The same with Endgame and with All-Star I never thought it would be competitive in the top 5. The fact that people show up to buy it is incredible to me because it’s a different weird book. That’s the advice I give someone coming in. If you have stuff you care about and it’s risky or different, even with heroes, if it’s true to the core of these heroes don’t give that up. That’s what fans respond to in the most inspiring way even if you’re concerned they won’t. They really do.
AiPT!: Have you seen the Jim Gordon Batman toy yet?
Snyder: Yeah, they sent it to me. I love it. I think back and I cannot believe DC even let us do it, and I can’t believe fans stuck with us through it. All-Star is like the comfort food of like every villain you love done in a new way. I love this series to death. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a superhero book.
Jim Gordon Batman in all its glory.
AiPT!: All-Star Batman #5 opens with a pulse-pounding action sequence, and I’m wondering, how do you choreograph an action sequence? Do you shadow box in your room, break out action figures, what?
Snyder: I talk to the artist beforehand, I’ll say, “Here’s what I’m thinking. They go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, but it’s not a barrel it’s a big gambling ship. Along the way KGB is shooting explosive bullets at them and they’re tilting the coin to try and avoid it. That’s the scene. Here’s some thoughts. Here’s some lines. How do you want to choreograph it?” My favorite thing about comics is the collaborative aspect of it. Literally my favorite part of it. Getting to know the artists. I’m good friends with all the artists I’ve worked with. I want the artist to be happy with it. I’ll walk them through a scene and I’ll say, “What do you think? I want to have this battle in the desert in Death Valley. I was thinking these things could swirl around their feet like a ring of snakes, how many pages do you need?” That’s how I do it.
AiPT!: Based on the first eight pages of All-Star Batman #5 I think John Romita Jr. was pretty happy. Because I was pretty happy. The flow, the pace, it was tense. It was practically perfect.
Snyder: I really appreciate that. I really love this series and the people I’m working on it. I can’t wait for you guys to see the next couple. Each arc is different from the last. Freeze is like, cold and remote written with prose. It’s distant and strange and otherworldly. Ivy is kind of hot and dream-like and in the desert. In the Madhatter one, the narration actually attacks Batman. It’s really fun.
AiPT!: What, that’s awesome!
Snyder: Yeah, he climbs through, it’s craz–it’s going to be really fun.
Snyder: It’s all one story. This arc is called ‘Ends of the Earth’ and it’s four issues. It has to do with these four villains being part of a plan to topple the world into war. It really has a lot to do with things right now. Fears and anxieties right beneath the surface, you’ll see it has a doomsday field. I’m really excited about it.
A page from All-Star Batman #6 artist Jock shared via Twitter.
AiPT!: Thank you so much for taking the time.
Snyder: This was great, we should do this more often.