Scott Snyder may have been known for the past several months as the guy who got Stephen King to directly write comics for the first time. But beginning in November, the new DC exclusive writer begins a run on Detective Comics.
Snyder, who burst onto the comics scene earlier this year with his Vertigo series American Vampire, will take over Detective right as Bruce Wayne returns to a much-changed Gotham City. The series will have a main story focusing on mysteries in Batman's world, while a co-feature will spotlight Commissioner Gordon. Both will be written by Snyder with an artist to be announced.
The writer, who has officially signed a DC exclusive contract, is a long-time comic book fan who already had an existing career as a prose writer. In fact, his stories were publicly hailed by none other than Stephen King, leading to the two communicating about writing.
When Snyder pitched a vampire story to Vertigo, he also approached King to write an introduction to the series. Instead, King offered to co-write the comic for the first five issues.
Now that Snyder is breaking in to mainstream superhero comics after the short mini-series Iron Man: Noir, Newsarama talked to the writer about what he plans to do with Detective Comics and why he wants readers to tell him what they think.
Newsarama: Was it American Vampire that got the attention of DC?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, they read a few issues ahead and liked where it was ending up. I showed them the plans for the rest of it, and the response has been good.
They started talking to me in Chicago C2E2 about being exclusive. I met with Dan [DiDio] and Geoff [Johns] in Chicago. They approached me about how much they had liked Vampire, and they asked me if I was interested in doing anything at DC. Of course, I was over the moon.
We started talking about possibilities, and I was always gunning for something in Gotham. And they were really, really receptive. They made a little room for me in Gotham for a story on Commissioner Gordon, but then they asked if I would be interested in the Detective Comics run, both the back and the front.
Of course I said yes. It's my dream job.
Nrama: Since your roots are in horror, is your Detective Comics story darker?
Snyder: I grew up on Detective being a hard-core Batman mystery book, and I love that stuff. Cycle 2 of American Vampire is a big murder mystery in Las Vegas. So it's something I enjoy doing.
I've loved what they've been doing on Detective with Batwoman was excited to bring Batman back in a big way, really focus on the CSI side of it, focus on the modern tech, focus on mysteries around Gotham, and really develop an emotional through-line with his relationship with Gotham City and his relationship with Commissioner Gordon as things are rapidly changing.
I've always been a big Grant Morrison fan, but the last few years, reading what he's done with the character, his ideas are so epic. He has such a sense of Batman as this mythological and totemic character, and everything that ties into that has made me think a lot about certain themes I want to play with.
The whole run will have a big design behind it. It won't be just random mysteries. It's going to have an emotional through-line for Batman about things he's really coming to terms with.
The back-up will feature Commissioner Gordon. The whole thing will be entirely about him. The back-up and the feature will take place simultaneously. They'll stand alone, but they will really inform each other and influence each other. So i'm trying to shoot pretty high. I don't know if I've bitten off more than I can chew, but Im really having a lot of fun with it.
In the main comic I'm designing a story that's really emotional and is plot-driven for Batman, and then I'm cutting over in the co-feature to deal with a kind of "behind-the-scenes" mystery. Someone from Commissioner Gordon's past, who's extremely important to him and haunting to him, comes back to cause trouble and stir up all these old feelings for him in Gotham.
Nrama: So it's mainly going to be a detective book?
Snyder: Well, it's not going to be Law and Order as Batman, or CSI as Batman. But my favorite storylines, like the Brubaker stories and the Rucka stories, have really been mystery oriented.
One of the things that's been terrific about the way Grant has handled the Batman universe is that when he gives Tony Daniel a run on Batman, or whoever is working in the Bat-universe, he lets them really carve out a little ecosystem for themselves. So for me, here, it is about mysteries. That's what I've always loved about Batman, is that he's the world's greatest detective. Whether he's Bruce or whether he's Dick, that's the mantle of the Bat.
Mysteries are the driving force, but this run will be deeply about Batman as a person, at this moment, and what he's afraid of, what he's hoping for in terms of Gotham, and his relationship with Commissioner Gordon.
Nrama: Will there be any new supporting cast or new villains?
Snyder: I've tried to be conscious of what a great job the Batman writers have done over the last few years with villains like the Black Mask and the Penguin and the Joker and other characters. So I didn't want to come on the book unless I had ideas for characters who would be new.
Some are from continuity, some are characters you haven't seen for a long time, and others are brand new. One of the focuses of the book is to explore crime in Gotham City, and how that changes with the fall of the Falcone family and the Maronis and with the Black Mask gone. Who's stepping into that vacuum?
So there will be a lot of new characters when it comes to the back alleys and shadows of Gotham. It's not going to be a big superhero book where there will be new supervillains with crazy costumes and gadgets. We'll instead have some real antagonists, emotionally, for Batman and Commissioner Gordon. Real crime figures that are popping up.
I want to really explore Gotham as a place that, as Bruce comes back, has changed a lot. From the crime on the street to the people who are in power.
And there will be some reveals about characters you haven't seen in a long time, coming back in a fun way.
Nrama: Have you guys figured out who the artist is yet?
Snyder: No, it's not set yet. We're still deciding. It's just not firm.
Nrama: How does it feel to start your career at DC Comics by taking over Detective?
Snyder: I feel like I've been drafted to pitch in the All-Star Game or something like that after never having played in the Major League. But I have a lot of ideas about it. I'm really excited.
I didn't expect this at all. And you know, it's funny how nervous I was about even meeting with Geoff and Dan. Chicago was my first con I did as a writer. I had a Vertigo panel to do, so I was already nervous about that. But I was also supposed to meet with Dan and Geoff for the first time, and I was trying not to geek out about meeting Geoff Johns or freak out about meeting Dan DiDio. So I was looking around at the convention to try to get a beer or wine anywhere just to calm myself down a little. And they weren't selling it anywhere in the whole place. And next door to the comic convention was this kitchen convention, and I went in there looking to see if they had a bar. They didn't. But they had these bottles of wine to show off their kitchen displays. And I was actually tempted to grab one and take a drink. I felt like I really needed it before the meeting. And then I had this vision of me being arrested right as Dan and Geoff came to meet me, and being carted away right in front of them, screaming that I was supposed to meet them.
Luckily, that didn't happen. I walked out of the convention and there were Diane Nelson, Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns coming the other way. So it would have been perfect timing for them to see me getting arrested. But we ended up having our meeting instead, and apparently, it went well.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Scott, is there anything else you want to tell fans about your upcoming run on Detective Comics?
Snyder: I hope people like it. This Batman story is close to my heart. I really do hope people will tell me if they like it or don't like it. I'm really easy to find online and complain to. I want to know. Believe me, I understand. This is a character I didn't think I'd ever get to write and I really want to do a good job. I'm up late all the time thinking about it. I want to make sure this is worth the price of admission. So please, tell me what you think as it comes out.