David Kane ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The writer of American Vampire, the Batman and Superman: Unchained titles for DC’s New 52, and the upcoming book Wytches was joined at the table with Mark Doyle, Batman group editor who has worked with Snyder on the title along with his first work American Vampire. Scott expressed his excitement at the opening of the panel about how the event gave him the opportunity to talk intimately with the fans about his books and his writing process. Doyle and Snyder said that they loved holding panels at Comic Con because writing is a collaborative process, and involving the readers meant keeping in contact with all parts of that collaboration. Scott was also conscientious of the aspiring comic book writers in the room who wanted to know how he got his start in the business and how he writes his stories.
He began with a long anecdote about his college days when he started out as an aspiring artist and then aspiring fiction writer, working on a manuscript that would be his first novel. As he worked to sell the book, the economy crashed causing a shift in the publishing industry and the dismantling of his book deal. At the time Mark Doyle was an assistant editor at Vertigo whose wife was an editor at Marvel, and they went to a short fiction reading in New York where Scott presented one of his pieces. When they heard Scott’s story about superheroes in World War II, Mark’s wife leaned over and whispered to him, “We’re going to have to fight over this guy, aren’t we?”
Scott’s first job in comics came from meeting them, and he went off on a funny story about not knowing they were a couple as he worked with both of them separately. He made a baseball metaphor and then made a joke about how he overuses sports metaphors to poor effect. He speaks passionately about every topic, often getting sidetracked by amusing tangents that the audience enjoyed as much as the relevant material. He talked about visiting Stephen King’s house and how much the man makes a joke out of his own scariness. Scott added how masterfully King weaponizes our cultural fears and makes great horror fiction out of them.
He didn’t want to go overboard on personal stories and invited the audience to ask questions of him. People gave their personal praise of him before asking him things like, “how did he get his ideas for his stories?”
Scott used the example of his upcoming book Wytches, which started from an image he got walking through the woods near his home. He saw a gnarled tree behind a straight one and thought it looked like a tall thin figure leaning out to see him. The image was chilling and gave him an idea of using our natural fear of the woods as the germ for a story about witches. He played around with the possible protagonist in a young girl coming into contact with these beings, and the seeds of a story began to emerge.
A woman asked what is like to “be Alfred,” directed to Mark, who said it was tough work but fun work “being Batman’s boss.” He said he loves collaborating with Scott who reciprocated the feeling. A man asked why Snyder used Riddler for the Zero Year arc. Scott responded that the Riddler challenges Batman to be the World’s Greatest Detective, and especially in his Gotham, Riddler is a villain who can roll up many of our societal problems (random violence, terrorism, etc.) into one riddle for Batman to solve, and Snyder makes him exactly the hero we can depend on in that scenario. He reminded the audience that his run on Batman wasn’t ending, and that the arc after Zero Year was going to be called “Endgame” and start next year, releasing in tandem with the other Batman title he helped create Batman: Eternal.
“How did you prepare for writing such an iconic character in Batman?”
Got paralyzed at first, said Snyder. Just opening the page with “INT. BATCAVE” was enough to spark his anxiety and convince him the pressure was too much. His way of overcoming this developed when he viewed the project as a creator-owned venture. Putting aside the history of the character and the dozens of writers who had shaped him over the years, Scott told himself this was his Batman and wrote a story that involved what he personally felt was important to the character. People responded positively, and Scott said he breathed easy knowing he had earned the mantle. He then added his warm gratitude to everyone for coming out and the audience applauded resoundingly.