Comic BooksSDCC '15

SDCC 2015: Batman Panel with Scott Snyder "Joker'll Never Come Back"

Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief

John Cunningham took the stage and played a promo video for the #DCYou, which actually had some pretty good production value. “I have a dream this morning,” Cunningham said. “There’s another Batman-esque panel and my dream is the next time I say ‘Good morning San Diego,’ you’ll scream so loud they’ll hear you down in Hall H.” The audience happily obliged.

Cunningham then introduced Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to the thunderous applause of the audience. The room’s packed to capacity, with barely any room. Cunningham then introduced Mark Doyle to a polite applause.

“It’s been a year since we were last here and I don’t think much has happened,” Cunningham said jokingly.

“It’s just sort of a mundane Gotham,” Snyder joked as well.

Cunningham focused next on the process of making the book, showing the different stages of artwork. He showed the pencils from Capullo, which looked incredibly exquisite. “For me,” Snyder said, “everything I’ve written for Greg has come back better than I imagine. I know his style. I get to work with the best artist in the entire industry on this book. This is basically the first introduction of Jim Gordon as Batman, so I’ll tell Greg, ‘We wanna feel like we’re dropping with Jim. It’s his first big threat.’ A lot of the time I’ll just describe things a little more. There are certain things I need to see to make the story real to me. I try to give him enough room to give me stuff that surprises me.”

“The collaborative aspect is the best,” said Snyder. “You need to be elastic and when it comes back, it’s singularly better all the time.”

“The relationship evolves,” said Capullo. “The most important thing is Scott having flexibility and just giving me the beats. Scott’s got an idea in his head, but I’m actually on the paper. We’ve been more and more just giving each other room to play. This is the first time I’ve worked with a script giving all the dialogue. I turned around to him and I was like, ‘Just give me the important words.’ And he was like, ‘All the words are important!’”

“You’ll hear guys like Stan Lee talk about over acting in comics,” said Capullo. “I’m looking for the most subtle changes for the most subtle emotions. If I didn’t have all the dialogue up front, I couldn’t really do that. So I’ve made friends with the process I have with Scott. Even though it causes me to spend more physical time at the table, the end result is more nuanced and registers with you all on a subconscious level.”

Cunningham turned to the next panel with the inks and then showed what they looked like with the colors starting to overlay. “The visual look of the book is like nothing else out there,” said Cunningham.

“The best thing about this for me,” Capullo said, “was that I got to hand pick my art team. What I love about FCO is he’s not your regular comic book colorist. FCO’s influences are further outside of comic books. He has a different look and a different sensibility than my eye than any other colorist out there. You want to present something unique and special. He’s so bold and daring. FCO makes my stuff better. I’m not at all seeing it the way he presents it and I’m just wowed. He kills it every time. He’s so versatile. Prior to Zero Year, the book had a different look. Scott was the one who wanted a departure from the look from before and wanted the look to be fresh and loud and brave for Zero Year. FCO was like ‘I want to try and use pink’ and he was unsure at first. It just got better and better.”

“A character like Jim is a character that represents us,” said Synder, talking about the future story. “It was so exciting for me, because the story is about can Batman mean something to real world problems? A lot of faith has been lost in the police and he wants to know if Batman can bridge that. It’s been such a joy to write these characters because this is so fresh for us. We’d never do anything just to shake things up. We’re trying to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all the other creators trying to do great stuff too.”

“It’s good stuff, a good story,” said Capullo. “I’m very happy to be a part of it.”

“So before you went away for two months, you had your Reichanbach Falls moment,” said Cunningham as the page showing Jim confronting Bruce.

“The point wasn’t to kill Bruce,” said Snyder. “The story is about if Batman can be reborn and resonate in a different way? The other half of the story is if Batman died, could Bruce Wayne come back? I had never seen a story that took this kind of angle about Bruce. He comes back almost without the pathology he had before. And if that’s taken away, how is this character going to live outside of the mythology of Batman? For me, it’s a deep exploration of Bruce’s character. I always hate to punish Bruce, but it’s fun. I tSnyhink you can see by this issue that it’s a very personal issue for all of us. It’s not about taking him off the table, it’s about examining him under a lens we’ve never done before.”

“When I wrote Dick Grayson,” said Synder, “all I got was emails asking for more butt shots! I would do it sometimes, though. And then when I was writing Bruce, I would do shirtless stuff for him and it would be crickets! Bruce is sexy, guys!”

“I love this cover so much,” said Doyle when Cunninham threw up the cover for Batman #43 on the screen. “You’ll walk down the racks and stop and wonder ‘Who the hell is that guy?’”

Snyder then talked about one of his favorite pages from the upcoming issue where Clark has a conversation with Alfred about the cycle of Batman. Alfred, to some degree—according to Snyder—thinks it’s good that the cycle is broken.

“Because you’re all so supportive,” said Snyder. “We can show how Batman is adaptable and show the elasticity of the mythology. There’s a real core and the DNA of the Batman mythos is being investigated. The story is deeply rooted in Bruce Wayne.”

“I just want to gush about FCO one more time,” said Capullo on the next cover of Jim Gordon. “What makes this work is that it creates such an atmospheric effect. Because the border is black and Batman’s suit is black, the armor is now subdued. The fact that FCO didn’t put any blacks in that armor makes Batman center stage and pushes him into your face. FCO is awesome!”

The panel then turned to question and answer.

Question: We know that Gordon is Batman right now, but are we going to see any of the Robins team up with him?

Snyder: Well, Duke Thomas and some of the other Robins are at the place where Bruce is working. Duke is one of the three central figures of the story and you’ll see more of the Robins. He actually knows that Bruce used to be Batman. His parents are missing and he doesn’t know what happened to him. His story is a huge part.

Do you enjoy writing new villains or reinterpreting older villains?

Snyder: They flex different muscles. I love doing both. Making your own iteration of a villain is such a joy to invest yourself in it. If you ever want to write a licensed character, the only way to do it—if you care about the character—is treat them like they’re creator-owned. You have to figure out why you love them.

Have you been thinking about bringing back the Joker?

Snyder: He’s just a decomposing corpse somewhere. Joker’ll never come back. You know, I don’t want to spoil anything and all I can say is stay tuned. We’ve given a lot of thought about where these characters end up.

Where do you pull your inspirations from? Over 40 issues, where do you pull your ideas to keep creating awesome books?

Snyder: Part of the inspiration for me is Greg. It makes me want to try something I otherwise wouldn’t want to do. That is a big part of it, because you have a collaborator that wants to do something different and bold. A big inspiration is working with a guy who brings something so personal to the book that makes me want to bring something great to the table.

Capullo: It definitely starts with Scott’s writing, because his writing is so good. He’s the best writer I’ve ever worked with. Not the easiest! But definitely the best. It’s very easy to stay continually inspired. It’s harder to get excited when you’ve been doing this as long as I have, but when I get Scott’s stories, I experience so many different emotions. For him to be able to pull that out of me, I wonder how much it’ll pull out of all of you. So on that level, it’s very easy to stay inspired because I can’t wait to try and get my interpretation of it on paper for all of you.

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