Less than two years ago, almost nobody in the comic industry had even heard the name Scott Snyder.
What a difference a year makes.
Last month, Snyder's launch of Batman #1 was the top-selling comic for the entire direct market in September, which was quite an accomplishment in a month when DC sold millions of their 52 new #1 issues.
Batman's numbers even beat sales of the much-hyped Action Comics, and if critical reviews and internet buzz are any indication, Snyder's new Batman series has emerged as one of the ongoing hits coming out of DC's relaunch.
It's not the first impressive accomplishment for Snyder this year: He can already boast the 2011 Eisner Award for Best New Series for his Vertigo series American Vampire with artist Rafael Albuquerque. The series got a boost when it debuted in 2010 because best-selling author Stephen King was listed as co-writer, but Snyder has maintained the book's audience well enough since King's departure to warrant a spin-off earlier this year.
Snyder also launched DC's new Swamp Thing title in September, selling out the issue like most of the publisher's new #1 issues. But among all those sell-outs, it was his first issue of Batman that topped the sales charts.
With art by Greg Capullo, Snyder's Batman #1 featured appearances by familiar Batman villains along with Bruce Wayne's usual supporting cast. But there were a few noticeable tweaks made to the Batman universe.
There was also an odd similarity between Batman's cliffhanger and the one in the same month's issue of Nightwing. But Snyder has confirmed the similarity was on purpose, as he works in conjunction with Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins, with whom he co-wrote this summer's Batman: Gates of Gotham.
As Batman #2 is scheduled to hit next week, Newsarama talked with Snyder as the writer prepared for this weekend's New York Comic Con. In this first installment of our two-part interview — look for our Swamp Thing discussion tomorrow — Newsarama asked him about his take on Batman and what readers can expect as the best-selling series continues.
Newsarama: Scott, how does it feel to have the #1 comic for the month of September?
Scott Snyder: I can't even believe it! I woke up to that news that day and it was insane. I feel like the luckiest guy. I can't believe how supportive everyone's been. And I'm extremely grateful to the fans for picking this up.
Nrama: One of the most noticeable changes to Bruce Wayne in the relaunch is that he's very much a mentor, particularly in this comic, and is much more engaging with Gotham and his supporting cast. Was that an agreed-upon direction for Bruce in the relaunch? Or was it something that just served this story well?
Snyder: We were all talking a little bit about it. I think the idea is that Bruce's time as the devil-may-care playboy who has no investment in the city beyond it being a kind of playground feels a little bit dated to most of us in the Bat-world — not only because of what Grant was doing, but also because of the times. I think it's OK now to make him a bit more civic minded and invested in Gotham, and invested in the idea that he has a responsibility as someone who cares about making it a better place both in and outside the mask.
In that way, we wanted him to be a stronger character as Bruce Wayne as well, a character who has goals that are separate from Batman in some ways, and an agenda that is sometimes separate from Batman — someone who is a formidable person in his own right, and not just a disguise for Batman.
A lot of the time, you get the sense that "Bruce" is just Batman's disguise, and that Batman is who Bruce is in his core. I agree with that in a lot of ways, that he's very much Batman. It's contrasted with how, a lot of time, Superman is Clark at heart, and Superman is more his mask.
But I think it's important to also explore the idea that Bruce, out of the cowl, has a life as a person, that he's someone who cares about his city and the population. I think maybe that idea of Bruce always having to find some front with beautiful women — that can still be a part of his life, but it doesn't need to be the only part.
Nrama: The first issue seemed to celebrate the Batman world, with a lot of villains and familiar faces, from Vicki Vale to Leslie Thompkins. Was your idea for this first issue to brush up against different faces from Batman's world and clearly establish who he is and what his backdrop will be in these stories?
Snyder: Yeah, we wanted a celebration of all the characters who make up Batman's world, his allies and his contacts and his villains. Even if the issue didn't introduce people like Leslie to new readers, we wanted to put that whole cast on display.
Batman is going to be not just about Batman and Gotham. The repercussions of what happens to Batman will be felt across the whole Bat-family.
Nrama: Speaking of that "whole Bat-family" idea, as the first issue ended, Dick Grayson was implicated as the perpetrator of a crime. He's also implicated in his own title, Nightwing by Kyle Higgins. Was that on purpose?
Snyder: Yes. They're coordinated. It's not one big mystery that's going to be in both books, where it's solved in Batman and begun in Nightwing, or vice versa. It's just something that we wanted to play up concurrently. There is a mystery that's going to connect both Nightwing and Batman as we go forward.The things that Dick Grayson discovers in Nightwing will bleed into Batman, and the things that Bruce discovers will bleed into Nightwing.
In Batman, it's a story about a villain who has ties to Gotham historically and has manipulated events and has been a huge influence on the shape of Gotham, both physically in its architecture and in its politics and its social geography.
So in that way, we really wanted it to have revelations that had to do with all the families, from the Waynes to the Graysons to the Drakes to the Cobblepots. It's about all of them.
I don't want to give readers the sense that they have to read them both to understand what's going on, because that's not true. And they are separate mysteries. They're two strands of the same DNA.
But thematically, it will be similar in Nightwing and Batman, as we play up the tension that exists between Dick Grayson and Bruce. It's something that's going to come into play in a big way in Batman, and I think in Nightwing down the line.
They're extremely close, and Bruce obviously cares a lot about Dick. And Dick cares a lot about Bruce. But they also have a lot of tension between them, and Bruce isn't very good at showing how he cares for people a lot of the time, and he pushes them away. Part of him wants to be alone as Batman. And all that stuff ebbs and flows with them and becomes something that at times brings them close together, and sometimes brings them at odds.
This story will be about both those things, that they're really close, but it will also hint about things that can drive them apart as well.
Nrama: What has the art team on this book brought to the overall tone of the book?
Snyder: It's just been a great experience working with Greg Capullo, and what's coming up is incredible, amazing artwork from Greg and Jon Glapion, the inker. The art in this book has been inspiring to me personally. Every time I get a page from those guys, it excites me to write more of this story.
Nrama: Is there anything else coming up in Batman that you want to tell readers about?
Snyder: You're going to start to see a lot of bad guys soon. Stay tuned for the introduction for our new owl-themed villains in Batman, and for big twists and turns that have to do with the history of Gotham and some surprises about the characters you really like, things that are buried in their history that are going to be brought to bear against them in the present.
And it's going to get very dark and twisted. There are a lot of fun waters ahead for all of us, I promise. It's going to be a good ride. We're really excited about it, so we hope you guys are too. This is the Batman story we'd tell if we only got one chance to do it.
Check back for part 1 as we talk with Scott Snyder about Swamp Thing and the title's upcoming crossover with DC's new title, Animal Man.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!