Thursday, January 17th, 2013 at 7:20 am Category: Batman, Comics, DC, Interview, Top
I wrote an accompanying review of Batman #16 with excerpts of this interview for The Huffington Post. This is the full interview with Scott Snyder about Batman and where this arc has been and where it’s heading.
I’ll tell you all that if you haven’t yet read the 16th issue of Batman, there are spoilers in this interview.
Bryan Young: I just finished reading 16. It’s something I don’t think people would have expected with the New 52, being so steeped with winks and nods into classic Batman history. How did you balance the needs of the New 52 while permeating it with the history between the two of them?
Scott Snyder: I try not to worry to much about what’s happening in other areas of the 52 because in Batman, we’ve tried to keep a lot of Bruce’s history intact. It’s always fluid in the way we’re constantly deciding which parts of his history we are gonna try new stories with and which parts we’re going to keep how they were. But his history with Joker I was pretty invested in when I began writing Batman, and even before that, it was something I expressed to DC that I wanted to explore in a storyline with Joker, and there was no resistance or trouble with keeping that rich history between them. It doesn’t mean that history might not have a secret story we may not know about and things yet that might be explored in other parts of the Bat Universe or in other books, but it was important to me to have that spine of the rich history there and those key moments I could point to in the story and have the Joker say, “See all these fun times we’ve had together” for those to be intact and things we could really have fun with.
BY: With this story, from 16 going to 17, you’ve done a really good job making me feel completely unsettled at what might happen. I am terrified you guys are going to kill Tim because he’s the only one that doesn’t have his own book. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s what’s so great about it. How have you approached coming to the conclusion since it feels like anything can and will happen.
SS: Well I can tell you there are definitely some insane moments in the conclusion and some crazy things happen so, I’ve always been braced for it as something that isn’t designed to just shock for the sake of shocking, but is the culmination of the story in a way that feels organic and surprising.
I can’t remember who it was, but I had a teacher that gave me a writing quote when I was a student that said ever ending should be both inevitable and totally surprising, and I completely believe that, and hopefully this is an ending that feels organic to the story we’ve been telling, and when you get there you’ll say “I can’t believe this just happened”, and at the same time, you’ll feel that it’s a cumulative, horrible thing out of everything that’s been going on.
BY: What sort of long range changes will this mean for Batman that you can talk to us about as we head into issue 17?
SS: Without giving anything away, I can say we wanted this to be a storyline with lasting repercussions in sort of literal ways and ways you can see the effects of immediately, in drastic ways, and we wanted it to be story that emotionally lasting repercussions for Bruce and for the family too. So in that way, it’s not a story that’s going to happen and go away, it’s going to set the tone for what comes next in Batman and the other books in regards to the characters’ relationships to Bruce — assuming any of them live.
BY: Do you feel like this is Joker adding a new scene to his tapestry?
SS: Oh, 100%. That’s the goal, I hope so. Our goal with this is to tell a Joker story that hopefully people will respond to in a way where they think that it deserves to be on that same horrible tapestry he creates in 16 at some point, that it will sit among some of the stories I love so much with that character. I definitely see him as hoping it goes on that tattooed horrible tapestry.
BY: On that tapestry, I really like that imagery, especially happy the moment with the baby. I’m not mistaken in that’s when he kills Sarah Essen…?
SS: Yeah, that is from that. My description of that tapestry to Greg had 14 or 15 moments, here are a couple of key ones and whatever you can manage depending on how you draw it. So even if you don’t see them, in the spirit of that tapestry, there is everything from 5 Way Revenge to all sorts of stories through the years, coming down to Emperor Joker and all kinds of stuff that was in the spirit and DNA of it even if it didn’t make it onto the page.
Greg drew it so wonderfully. He drew it pretty graphically in fact, I actually had to write a couple extra lines of dialogue to make balloons to cover some things. I was like, that’s a little too graphic there, man, that’s a little too grotesque with the stitches and stuff, so I had to have Batman say “My God” a couple of extra times so I could cover it up.
BY: Wow, that’s really interesting, especially because the book doesn’t feel like there are any punches being pulled, so it’s surprising to hear that.
SS: Well, we’re trying really hard to make it pure horror, and for me, pure horror really isn’t gory or grotesque or shocking so much as it’s stuff that it’s psychologically and emotionally terrifying, so the horror of a scene like that, for me at least, the grotesquery of the bodies, I mean that’s definitely horrible, but the fact that those people are willing participants somehow in this horrifying plan the Joker has and have sort of mutilated themselves in service of his plan, and that sort of crazy devotion and this madhouse he has created and that sense of this being a castle where everywhere you look, is something that reflects upon you and your history with the Joker in a way that’s both, in the Joker’s mind, a celebration in his mind and in your mind, an accusation of failure, that is sort of the horror we’re trying to get onto the page.
So we’re definitely not pulling any punches, but we’re trying to make those punches, and especially in 17, really emotional terror.
BY: For me, the thing about the book that has worked the most is that there’s not a member of the Bat family that I would just be okay getting rid of except for maybe one exception, and that’s been the terrifying things about it is you’ve really been able to capture the Joker’s menace and no one feels safe.
SS: He points it out in 16 when he says in the end this is what he’s been driving towards. Batman’s been saying the whole time in the story “If I can get ahead of him, if I can be faster than him, if I can be the old Batman I can beat him to the punchline, before it happens before he does something horrible” and he gets to Arkham before Joker’s ready, and he gets up those stairs and into that room before Joker is prepared and he outwits him in that room, so he cuts the line to the power and he can’t kill anyone else and all Batman has to do is wait for the police to show up and keep them where they are, but all Joker has to say is “No no, I win, and I’ll always win because you have these weaknesses, this family of yours you know you don’t want, and as long as they live, you know you’ll never be fast enough, you’ll never win, I always be able to get you.” And that to me is the most horrible point in the story so far is Batman finally gets him in his grip, he finally catches him behind bars and says “I have you” and Joker says, You’ll never have me so long as you have them and that’s why I want you to get what you want, is them dead, so you can come back to chase me and that’s what you deeply desire, so let me give you what you want, sit down on your throne, close your eyes and when you wake up everything will be wonderful.
So that’s what we’re trying to build in this issue. All story long, Batman has been thinking if I could just be fast enough, and the Joker is like, this is my thesis that there is no fast enough.
BY: Wow, I’m really excited for 17. I was really hoping when DC called about this interview, you’d have it ready for me to look at, but alas, it was not meant to be.
SS: It’s not lettered yet. I was literally lettering it when you called. I’m about 2/3 of the way through, making sure they’re horrifying enough.
Batman #16 came out yesterday, #17 comes out in February.