That's a lot to live up to. But now that Swamp Thing is part of the DC Universe, Snyder is hoping to take all the stories about Swamp Thing that have come before — even what was established while the character was at Vertigo — and build upon the rich mythology set up by creators like Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson and Alan Moore.
Snyder already alleviated readers' fears when he told Newsarama that his upcoming relaunch of the Batman series wouldn't completely reboot the character. Now he's saying the same thing about Swamp Thing. In fact, the events of Brightest Day and this summer's The Search for Swamp Thing will set up what Snyder is doing in Swamp Thing.
To find out more about Snyder's plans for the character, we talked to the writer about his upcoming run.
Newsarama: Scott, did DC come to you with the idea of doing a Swamp Thing series or was it something you requested?
Scott Snyder: They came to me about it, but long before the fall initiative. I actually spoke to Geoff Johns about it, because he let me in on some of his plans for Brightest Day. And I was so excited about the idea of Swamp Thing returning to the DCU. He and I started talking together with Pete Tomasi also, and they were so generous about letting me in on the whole idea behind the character's return in Brightest Day, and letting me tell them how I would do a series.
Swamp Thing and Batman are my favorite characters. I've read everything that's ever been written about Swamp Thing, from Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson all the way through to the Joshua Dysart stuff. And everyone at DC has been very, very aware of that. Geoff and Dan DiDio and Bob Harras were aware of that. I'm always asking them when they're going to release a DC Direct figure of Swamp Thing, and stuff like that. At Vertigo, I talk to Karen Berger all the time about Swamp Thing. So when the character was coming back, they knew I'd be interested.
We've worked really hard to make sure the there was a seamless transition from Brightest Day to the Swamp Thing series. Geoff and Jonathan Vankin and I have all discussed what needed to happen to set up the series.
So it's something that's been in the works for a while.
Nrama: The interview we did about Batman really calmed the fears that were out there about the relaunch, as you assured people that the rich history of Batman was being respected. Can you say the same about Swamp Thing?
Snyder: Most definitely. I know how excited people are about the initiative, and I know how scared people are about continuity being erased. But there is no one who is a bigger fan of the history of this character, and all the rich and wonderful, dark and twisted stories that have come before mine.
This is not a series that's going to do with those. It's a series that's going to build on everything that's come before. Everything. But it's going to take it in a new direction.
The history of the character stands. I have no interest in taking that away from him, because those are some of my favorite stories in comics.
Nrama: Can you tell us anything about your take on the character?
Snyder: It's a take that will expand on the Swamp Thing mythology that's been set up before, and will reveal really big, new secrets about that history and that mythology and the nature of the creature himself.
It will focus on Alec Holland as a character, and Alec Holland as haunted by the mantle of the Swamp Thing as well.
It's something that builds on everything that's out there, and everything about the character that I love. It's not going to ape what's come before. I want to do something with Swamp Thing that wasn't done by Alan Moore or something after. It's just taking it in a direction that will be very, very different, but also a direction that will do justice to the stories that have come before.
I just want to make sure it can stand proudly among all the other Swamp Thing stories that are out there, and something we can call our own.
Nrama: Because Swamp Thing has recently been in the dark world of Vertigo, he's associated with darker stories. Now that he's back in the DCU, interacting with superheroes, how would describe the tone of his stories in your new series?
Snyder: Swamp Thing is definitely in the DCU, and you'll see that from the beginning. But at the same time, I feel like I write Detective like a Vertigo book, even though it's in the DCU. So I try not to
think too much about what the style of Swamp Thing "should be." I just try to tell a story that matters to me. And those stories are generally darker and more twisted and more psychological.
So even though it takes place on a very big canvas in the DCU, it's not something that moves away from the layered approach to the character and the extremely rich thematic elements and literary elements that were there in Swamp Thing during all its different iterations over the years.
Nrama: Doe the art fit the tone to the series? You've got two artists, right?
Snyder: Yeah, and one of the reasons I went after Yanick Paquette and Francesco Francavilla really hard is because both of them have that exact approach to their work, where there's a real investment in creating something page to page that mirrors the feel and the project of each story.
So with his pages on Swamp Thing, I can't wait for them to start to tease them and reveal them for Yanick.
He wanted to do something from the start that would feel like Swamp Thing on every page, but his Swamp Thing, and my Swamp Thing, and Francesco's.
So just like the set back in the day made the pages look like the kind of compositions that were perfect reflections of Moore's stories, so they were twisted and vine-like all the time, and shattered in certain places, and creepy, we wanted to do something where, page-to-page, the book is impressive just for the way it looks tonally in terms of what we're trying to bring to Swamp Thing.
Yanick has just been incredible. I can't wait for people to see the pages for real. They're blowing everybody away behind the scenes.
Francesco, who I worked with on Detective, will be the other artist on this. He's going to do special fill-in-type issues the way he does on Detective. They won't be just to give Yanick a break, but they'll be structured into the stories as important chapters that are told in a slightly different style. And he brings that same energy and commitment to the style, to making pages reflect the feel and the subject matter and the tone of a book, to everything he works on. That's so clear with him on Detective and really everything else he's worked on, so I'm thrilled to get him to be a part of the team.
They played a big role in the story too. I've done this with every book I've worked on. The first step is always to talk to the artist ahead of time, to talk about the story you want to tell. And to see if they respond to it. The goal is to have a collaborator — not just an illustrator. Not just somebody who gets the scripts and does whatever I say. I'm not interested in that. I really love when somebody says, "I want to be involved in the storytelling. If I come up with a better way to do this page, will you listen to me?" I love that.
I knew Yanick from Batman Inc., and I'd met him at different cons and had spoken with him, so I knew he was that kind of artist. And I knew he'd be perfect with Swamp Thing. His style is recognizable. He's capable of doing really clean, heroic superhero stuff, as seen in Batman Inc. and stuff like that. But he can also do some of the scariest, creepiest, disturbing images out there, and really darkly shadowed. And that's the tone of the book.
And Francesco is the same way. He can do beautiful character pieces, and he can draw some of the biggest, scariest monsters you've ever seen.
Plus both of them are fans of the character. From the beginning, for all of us, it's been a labor of love.
Nrama: You've mentioned Alan Moore's run. Is that more of an influence on this story than, say, Len Wein's stuff?
Snyder: It's all part of it, because I love both of those. I was such a big Bernie Wrightson fan, and when I wanted to get into comics as a kid, I wanted to be an artist. And I would copy Bernie Wrightson's stuff from Swamp Thing. And I had his Frankenstein and his Tales from the Crypt stuff. So those stories are really dear to my heart, with the Un-Men and all that.
So there's definitely a feel of that in the comic.
But the Moore stuff, in terms of wanting to be a writer, is some of the most inspirational and impressive stuff, not just in comics, but in all literature.
I wanted to do something in this comic that can do some of both. My sensibilities lean toward the horror and gothic aspects of it, but I love doing epic stories as well. So I wanted to play in the DCU.
But I'm very interested in mythology and the secret histories of characters. All of that will come into play in a big way here.
Nrama: The solicitations indicate that Alec Holland has his life back, and we've seen indications that he's separate from Swamp Thing in the "Search for" mini-series. Does that play into this comic?
Snyder: Yeah. As readers know, Alec Holland has returned as a character, as an actual person. People saw his return in Brightest Day, and then in The Search for Swamp Thing. That's one of the things you'll see in our story, because I really wanted to explore Alec as a character. In the past, he has only appeared on, like, five or six pages of comics. We don't know much about him. What about his history? Why him? What is it about him that makes him a good protector of the Green? Just because he was in an accident? That doesn't seem logical.
And that's just the start of a much larger story we're telling. Just like Detective was part of a much bigger story of Gotham and Dick Grayson within that landscape, there's a much larger mythology we'll be exploring in Swamp Thing.
Nrama: Solicitations have also confirmed the "Green" is part of the story. Will more Alan Moore concepts be incorporated, like the Parliament of Trees?
Snyder: Yeah, you'll see that whole mythology being explored. Everything that happened before is still there for us to touch upon.
Nrama: And the Green plays a role?
Snyder: The Green is central to the mythology of Swamp Thing, and all the work that we've done on Swamp Thing is geared toward making that as cool and rich as possible. So yes, the idea of the Green, what the Green wants, what it wanted in Brightest Day, is all stuff that's going to be addressed in Swamp Thing.
Jeff Lemire and Jon Vankin and everybody else working in the "DCU Dark" have all talked with me about these elemental forces. We've come to the same place about what the "Green" is and what the "Red" is and these different elements, and how they should function in the stories and what they are.
You'll start to see it in The Search for Swamp Thing, and in Swamp Thing. The Green is a major, major character itself. It's really not, I think, the thing it's been portrayed as before, or at least not the way it's thought about in some Swamp Thing iterations where it needs a protector. It's much more volatile, and it's also something that has its own uncontrollable and violent force. And it plays a central role in our stories.
Nrama: We've heard that you guys are working way ahead on the September books. I guess this explains why you're listed as doing just the plots for Flashpoint: Project Superman?
Snyder: Yeah, when they approached me about Swamp Thing, I was working on Flashpoint: Project Superman, American Vampire and Detective, and I was about to start the American Vampire mini, and then we had the Batman: Gates of Gotham mini, although Kyle [Higgins] was doing heavy lifting on that.
But everyone could tell I was really excited about the Swamp Thing series, and they were talking about this relaunch in September and my Batman story, so I wound up sort of moving off the Flashpoint story and concentrating on Swamp Thing.
But I've been really happy with the way Lowell [Francis on scripts for Project Superman] and Gene [Ha on art] have handled it.
Nrama: Even with that help, you're doing quite a few titles at once. Do you feel like you have a lot on your plate right now?
Snyder: Yeah, but this is something that I knew was coming down the pike for a long time, and I've been working with a lot of people on it. But it's the one thing I would make room for. I told that to Bob and Dan and all those guys. They said this was available, and I knew I had a lot on my plate, but I told them this is the only thing I wouldn't say no to, even though I have two or three other things on my plate.
I'm very proud of what we've come up with, and we've done it with enough lead-time that I was able to make room for it and have time for it. We worked far ahead because we were having this baby, and now we're over the hump. Plus I'm finishing up some of the other projects. When people look at my plate, it looks heavy, but they're staggered. The American Vampire mini ends in October, and Detective ends in August.
So don't worry. The quality won't drop. I wouldn't let that happen. I wouldn't put out a book unless I felt like it was the best it could be.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Scott, is there anything else you want to tell readers about Swamp Thing?
Snyder: I just want to reiterate how incredibly honored and excited and grateful I am to be doing this character, who is one of my favorites of all time.
And I can say that me and Jeff Lemire and everyone else I've talked to who are doing projects in this corner of the DCU couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of this historic initiative. We're all so excited about doing stories with these characters that we love. And for fans that are worried about continuity or new beginnings, all of us are the biggest fans of these characters, and we would never tear down their histories or all the rich stories that came before just to make a headline.
With Swamp Thing, we want to do something that builds on what has become before, but with a new, fresh take.Got a comment? There's lots of Newsarama conversation on FACEBOOK and TWITTER. More on the DCnU New 52:
- BUSTED! Fact-checking Ten MYTHS About the DCnU
- The 10 BIGGEST SURPRISES of the Revamped DCnU
- DCnU M.I.A. - Top Heroes MISSING From DC's REVAMP
- POLL: The DCnU "New 52" One Month In - You IN or You OUT?