For the past 10 years, writer Scott Snyder has been a staple of DC's comic books - with him writing an ongoing title - whether it be American Vampire, Batman, Superman: Unchained, Swamp Thing, Justice League, or something else - month-in and month-out every month since January 2010.
But that all ends January 29, 2020 with Justice League #39.
No, no.... Snyder isn't leaving DC. He's still working on the heavily-discussed "spiritual" sequel to Dark Nights: Metal with his long-time friend/collaborator Greg Capullo, and possibly more. But his time as a regular writer for DC writing an ongoing title (or two, or three) is over for now.
But this isn't a reqiuem - instead, we spoke with Snyder about what he's built at DC over the past 10 years, the relationships he's formed, and what he's looking forward to in the future. While in the past he has primarily found himself at DC, in 2020 Snyder plans to branch out with more creator-owned work than ever, beginning with the recently-launched Undiscovered Country.
Newsarama: Scott, with the end of your Justice League run in January it'll be your last DC ongoing - for now, at least. But it comes 10 years to the month since your first ongoing for DC, American Vampire, debuted. What do you think about that?
Scott Snyder: It’s been a crazy decade.
It’s been my dream to work in comics since I was a little kid, so 10 years ago I was positive that I would only get a chance for a minute then get kicked out or something. I didn’t think I would have a sustainable career because I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I just knew I had stories I wanted to tell, but had no idea how to stay in the industry, either at Marvel or DC or any of it, so I treated each project like it would be my last. Whether that was American Vampire or "Black Mirror," but you know, it all worked out, but that idea has always been my compass.
I’m teaching a class now that’s about what’s important for you to pick up today, whether it’s comedy, political, memoir... as long as it’s your favorite thing to write, what would it be? I try really hard to follow that plan, even if I was at DC or my indie work for the last 10 years. I’m still trying to wrap my head around being at DC for 10 years and I hope that’s what people see in the work.
I tried as hard as I can to make every story pretty personal. So walking away from Justice League or each book I was on, you could tell something was going on in my life at the time. I hope you can read them and think that “He is talking about something that he’s worried about." I don’t know. That’s a terrible answer but yeah, I still can’t get that it’s been 10 years, but I hope people see that I tried to make some personal books.
Nrama: You've said you have more DC work planned such as a "spiritual" sequel to Dark Nights: Metal and something "big" with Jorge Jimenez, but this feels like a new chapter for you. How do you feel about the work you have at DC 2020 and beyond versus what came before?
Snyder: Well, it’s more modular. I’ve been on an ongoing one way or the other at DC and now I have sort of special projects coming up, but the book with Jorge, if people like it, I would love for it to become an ongoing.
For me, it’s been so long on the grind with monthly, and biweekly, it’s been good to be able to take a step back. I needed a breather before doing something like Batman: Last Knight on Earth. I’m working on a ton of indie work though.
Nrama: As you mentioned, you're also ramping up your creator-owned work finally. You've got Undiscovered Country, and at Comic-Con International: San Diego you spoke about several other creator-owned projects. And just a bit ago I saw you writing part of Spawn #300. What's the landscape looking like for you outside of DC?
Snyder: I’ve wanted badly to do more creator-owned work since Wytches and A.D.: After Death, but my demands at DC have been exciting, but also all-encompassing.
I mean, I have a writing job there. I’m writing Justice League but also a contract where I bring new writers in as well as helping organize events like Metal. It's just been really wonderful to have been so invested in DC, but that said it’s also been difficult for me to work on more than one creator-owned at a time.
So this year and the start of 2020 I have this sort of new arrangement that allows for more flexibility so I can do more indie work while still being very invested at what I do at DC. I started on a bunch of books without having any idea where to place them. I have one with Francesco Francavilla that we’re going to announce soon, did one with Charles Soule, and some with a few artists I can’t talk about yet. So I have about four to five books that I’ve been working on the side and what I do is I take about a week to write the whole outline of the first arc and show them to the artist and develop from there. So all those books are being created and worked on right now.
It’s really all a matter of bringing them into the light in 2020 and I’m really thrilled to be bringing back American Vampire. I’ve been meaning to do it forever, but I had other work, Rafael Albuquerque had other work but also DC asked us if we wanted to bring it back in a more celebratory reintroduction for the tenth anniversary, which is 2020. So we’re doing a big arc starting in January that I think will come out in one giant volume instead of floppies and it’s sort of the big culmination of what we’ve been building, all the different threads, everybody comes back. After that, we’re bringing the series up to the present, but we’ve been planning this for a long time.
Nrama: This is coming off the back of several changes inside DC, as "Rebirth" seems to be closed out, and some of your main editors like Marie Jarvins and Mark Doyle have moved on to other roles within the company. Not digging for dirt here, but how do you see DC now?
Snyder: Well I mean I’m very focused on the stuff in front of me and I’m very aware of the plans they have for 2020 and 2021, and I’m supportive with everything they’re pitching, but I have so much to do in between the project with Greg Capullo, the project with Jorge, and American Vampire that I’ve slowly living in the now.
What I like about DC is that they’re a company that is always willing to take risks that reinvigorate the fanbase while still remaining true to their core characters. I think that’s it’s also the time where those big ideas move the meter because there’s this need to bring in new fans and excited the older ones. There’s ways to do both and people get caught in this binary a lot of the times when we talk about bringing in new fans at the expense of, you know, older fans.
My hope is that, if I have any voice, I’m sort of dealing with my own books so what they’re planning so far off and it’s not in my wheelhouse right now but you know what I always encourage and what I hope in the people I know over there like Marie, Mark, Dan [DiDio], and Bob [Harras] over there are trying to do are trying to find ways to make sure the older fans feel like everything they’ve read matters, but also inviting new fans with storylines and characters that feel relevant.
My mantra is, and I will say this about my project with Greg, and everything I’ve done on Justice League is that my goal when I was doing Metal has been to try and look at all of this as a completist and say there are ways of telling excited new stories while still attaching them and making them a part of what you’ve read, honored, and supported.
My goal is that “everything matters.” That’s posted on my computer. Everything matters. I don’t want you to feel that after everything you read in Justice League is irrelevant. People know when it’s fake. When people say that something wasn’t part of the plan. They can see it. When that happens and it’s inorganic, fans know, so this story that started in 2017, regardless of what happens now, everything I’ve written is personal.
Even Undiscovered Country has similar themes about the dangers of falling prey to the things that I think are the bigger and darker aspects of our own nature.
Nrama: The DC Writer's Workshop initiative seems no more, but teaching is a passion for you - with some talented students going on to be major players in comic books. I know you just built your writing studio, but do you still want to teach in some form or fashion in the future?
Snyder: Oh 100%. My hope is to bring it back, too. It’s my fault we couldn’t do it as we got pregnant and had a baby [laughs] so between that and the responsibilities of DC with Metal and everything else, I felt like I wouldn’t have been able to do it justice.
The other thing I want to make sure for next time is that there are landing spots for a lot of students. It’s important for me to do the class and then within a year, there’s work waiting for them in some capacity. I want to make sure there are new books being created with these new voices.
I’m still proud of a lot of the graduates from that class and my students like James Tynion IV, Matthew Rosenberg, Marguerite Bennett, Michael Moreci, Vita Ayala, Christopher Sebela...I’m glad to see they’re all working in comics in a bigger way and I don’t take credit for that at all.
But to have been even a small part of the trajectory of their careers, it’s been a pleasure.
Nrama: Newsarama has covered you since day one, talking to you about your Iron Man Noir project onto American Vampire and then everything else, and you've had quite a unique trajectory - and success story. What would you owe that to?
Snyder: [Pauses] Man, I don’t know, that’s a tough question. I mean, firstly thank you to Newsarama. You guys were the first to cover me on American Vampire and also very supportive and honest with whatever I’m working on and I’ve always appreciated that. You’re a great pillar in the comics community and I’m very grateful.
I don’t know though. I hope I am where I am because I’ve had the creative options and opportunities that I still have now because I’ve tried really hard to be honest, Lan, in the work. Sometimes I know I’ve written things that may have fallen down depending on what anybody thinks, but I’ve never written anything I’m not proud of. That’s the one thing I can say with a lot of pride.
I hope people look at the work and see that I tried my best. I’m very, very, very grateful for the fan base as they’ve kept me in business for this long. I promise for 2020, I’m going to make my best stuff.
Nrama: And what would you say to your fans at this point as really begin digging into your 2020 writing work?
Snyder: I would just say that I love you guys and can’t thank you enough. I have fans come up to me and tell me how they were in high school who started reading American Vampire and now they’re adults with kids and so the fact that I've been able to grow up as a writer and they’ve grown with me, it means the world to me. They’ve watched me go from green and frightened to somebody who is more confident. You’ve watched me form a family with my friendships with Greg, James, Sean Murphy, and they’re now a part of that family.
It means a lot to me to have the best fans in the world. It sounds corny, but I mean it. I don’t see myself as employed by DC, I’m employed by you guys.