Speakers: Amanda Conner, Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen, Kyle Higgins, Lee Bermejo, Scott Snyder
Official Description: At DC Entertainment, there’s never been a better time to be a comics fan! Come to this All Access panel and find out what our top talent across DC Comics, Vertigo and DC Digital has been up to!
As advertised, Scott Snyder (Batman, Superman Unchained), Kyle Higgins (Nightwing, Batman Beyond), Lee Bermejo, Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs (Li'l Gotham) were all on the dais for the start of the DC All Access panel at New York Comic Con on Friday afternoon. John Cunningham presided over the panel as usual.
Cunningham, after doing the DC spiel, introduced the panelists, and announced that Bermejo is here to talk about his new Vertigo project. Snyder got a large "pop" of applause with screams.
Nguyen said of Li'l Gotham, the first slide shown, that they are conscious of the differences in storytelling when working on the web. "It's a different format, but storytelling-wise we just try to keep it fun." Fridolfs noted that the digital issues, all timed to holidays, do make the print issues kind of strange, when a Christmas story comes out in March. Art from the print issue 7, which covers digital chapters 13 and 14 was shown.
Batman #24's cover was next, and Snyder thanked the fans for reading. "We were all terrified to do this. DC came to us and said that Year One couldn't stand anymore as the origin of Batman, because of the changes in the New 52. For me, I had this story in mind, but it didn't really incorporate exactly the origin material. At first, all I tried to do was reclaim pieces of Year One, it was my story with pieces of that in it. It wasn't working, it was pretty bad.
"I realized at a certain point that the only way to make it work was to let go of the past and do it our way, do it as if Batman formed now. What would he mean to the city? What would he inspire? It became the most exciting project I've ever done, but also really terrifying."
Snyder said he wanted to make the villains "represent modern fears." He hopes that fnas are seeing something "special" out of this story. "I've been having a blast with Greg Capullo. It's funny, we didn't get along at all at first." He wrote a "45 page script" for the first issue, just to "be an asshole." But it's all ended well, says Snyder. "Now he's one of my best friends even out of comics. He's incredibly talented, and he's so dedicated to this book."
Batman #25 starts Chapter Two of three of "Zero Year." This will be "three tight issues" before a four-issue third and final chapter. The second arc is all centered around The Riddler, as teased in #24. "Riddles in history have been deadly, so the Riddler sees this as the purest form of warfare. It's really fun, the cops are after Batman, and there's another big villain in it, who's a reinvention of an old, old, old villain.
"The other big part of the story... it's going to get really crazy." We saw an eye with glasses on looking at a huge fire in Gotham along with that tease.
"We're not out to change the fundamentals, but we do want the pieces to fit together in a new way."
Cunningham noted that there are several tie-ins to Zero Year coming in November as well.
Moving over to Vertigo, but staying with Snyder, The Wake was next. "Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth are both beasts," Snyder said of his artists. "It was meant to be a small book that we experimented on. Issue 5 is the end of the first big arc. A huge, cataclysmic, transformative thing happens. A lot of mysteries about the primitive past will be shown. The second section starts with #6, and it's a huge post-apocalyptic fairytale adventure.
American Vampire will return in March 2014 as American Vampire: Second Cycle. "It takes place in the late 60s, we're jumping ten years. It will be an arc with both Skinner and Pearl. It has crazy monsters in it, the big bad, you met him briefly in issue 34, will be introduced in a big way. You'll find them in very different places than I think you'll expect. Skinner's working as a really vicious hitman."
Kyle Higgins and Batman Beyond were next on the screen, and Higgins said that having his “own unique sandbox” is a lot of fun. "When I got the call and the offer to do this, I took it the same day. I started thinking about some of the elements I loved from the cartoon that I could bring into the comic. The #1 thing I remembered was watching the pilot and seeing that jump in time. So we took a one year later approach, and the big twist is that Dick Grayson and Terry are working together now - something happened in that year off that ended Bruce and Terry's relationship. It's cool because it's so different from Bruce. And Tony Silas, who's on art, is an amazing find."
Nightwing and the move to Chicago got applause. #24 takes place before the events of Forever Evil and wraps up the initial arc in his new city. After that, a Zero Year tie-in will show a young Dick Grayson in Gotham City.
Lee Bermejo is writing and drawing Suiciders, a new series for Vertigo. "This is the first time I"m playing around in a world that I created. It's a whole different ballgame. I'm having the time of my life, it's the most creatively liberating feeling I've had working in comics."
The series takes place right after "the big one" hits, giving this a "post-apocalyptic, satirical look at LA." In it, Los Angeles splits off from California and the US as its own small country, which itself is split in two: New Angeles and Lost Angeles.
On October 23, 2013, there will be an Absolute Edition of Luthor/Joker with art by Bermejo, written by Azzarello, as well.
Fan Q&A started with a question about what the creators think they should change to make crossovers work better. Snyder said he loves the way they do them in the Batman office, where it's merely them asking people if they have ideas for crossover stories, and that way people are writing what they want.
The requisite Stephanie Brown question came up, and after Cunningham glibly said that "we wouldn't answer that question here, we would make it a big announcement," Snyder said that he "hopes we can talk more on that sometime soon."
Sticking with Batgirls, a fan asked about the new Batgirl introduced just before the time jump in Batman Beyond. Higgins said "Yeah!" that she'll be there. "She's not in the first or second arc, but I do have plans for her. I really like the idea of a character in futuristic Neo-Gotham who is more streets-level, and operates in the lower rungs of the city, which hasn't been developed a lot yet. There's a lot of cool stuff I can mine there."
Answering a fan, Snyder said that writing the Joker was difficult, because he'd be thinking about it after at places like his "son's soccer game" and just thinking, "What's wrong with me?" He said it's "very fun but very hard," and teased that if or when Joker comes back, if this story was about love, then "that story will be about hatred."
Snyder and Higgins joked about naming characters - they do name people in their books after friends and family members, but if they have to kill them, people complain. They also like to name characters after creators that have come before them.
Snyder let loose a new detail about Batman: Eternal, that Harper Row and her brother will both be large featured characters in that weekly series.
Snyder answered a fan's question about Damian and that loss by saying to really look toward what Pete Tomasi is doing in Batman and Robin.
A fan praised "Zero Year" and asked about Snyder's plans for Batman's 75th. Snyder said, "it'll be the biggest, craziest story we've ever done for Batman." He's introducing a new villain called "The Meek" that's a deep detective story, then Batman: Eternal will start a story that will go over into Batman and "change the character's status quo, sincerely."