@’s by BATMAN Writer Scott Snyder!!!
THE DEAN: Hey, Scott, how are you doing?
SCOTT SNYDER (SS): I’m good! I’m excited to talk to you, you guys have all been so supportive at Ain’t It Cool from like back when I first started with AMERICAN VAMPIRE.
DEAN: Yeah, it’s a great series and we’ve got a lot of huge fans of yours here, so it’s awesome to hear that you’re a fan of ours, too! You getting ready for San Diego coming up?
SS: Yes, I got a haircut today.
DEAN: (laughs) That’s all you need!
SS: Yeah, I got a haircut, I’ve been trying to get into “con-shape,” going for runs. I see all these pictures of myself on Facebook and like, my old high school friends and stuff are like, “Dude, you let yourself go.”
DEAN: Yeah, and then you know, you’ve gotta go up against all those cosplayers, so you really need to be in shape and look your best for that.
SS: Oh yeah, you got it. I’m getting into cosplay shape. (both laugh)
DEAN: So big announcement earlier this week, you’ll be taking on the Joker in BATMAN. I’ve got to ask, even before the New 52 when you were writing DETECTIVE COMICS, how quickly does the excitement of “I get to write Batman!” turn into, “Oh my God I get to write the Joker!”?
SS: It was pretty fast. I put the Joker in DETECTIVE back in issue #880, I was like dying to get to that because he’s been obviously my favorite villain since I was a little kid, and my son, we play Batman LEGOs together and all he wants to be is the Joker. The electric buzzer and all the stuff, he loves it to death…
DEAN: (laughs) Well yeah, he’s a great role model!
SS: Yes, he’s a GREAT role model
DEAN: Well like you mentioned we got a taste of your Joker already in DETECTIVE, but are you taking a different approach in BATMAN than we saw in your run on DETECTIVE? Is this going to be a different Joker with the relaunch?
SS: Well, he’s got a different mission. That Joker is a good basis for the kind of way I like to think about him, and the way that I see him as this kind of demon on Batman’s shoulder where he knows a lot of the darkest truths about Batman. Not in a supernatural way, but simply by virtue of his sort of strange, crazy brilliance. He likes to say that he knows sort of the darkest corners of Batman’s heart, and Batman knows his as well, and he considers himself to have this very special relationship with Batman, with Bruce, you know? So I think that’s there in that DETECTIVE issue, but here it’s like a whole ‘nother level. This is: the Joker is gone away for a year, he cut off his face, and he had it cut off for a particular reason that Tony (Daniel) and I sort of discussed back then, and I told him I’d pick it up later on when I do the big Joker story. So there’s a reason for that, a sort of point to that, and a reason he’s saying “I’m back” now, and what he has planned he’s been planning all year long. He’s been like setting his traps and all that stuff. So he’s had a year to watch, a year to plan, and this is gonna be like the biggest, craziest, most twisted Joker story ever that I could possibly write.
DEAN: And then is it a lot different for you having written a Joker who’s going up against Dick Grayson compared to him now going up against Bruce Wayne?
SS: Oh, a hundred percent. That was part of the fun of writing him in DETECTIVE, like when he says, “you smell like feathers, little bird.” He knows that’s not his Batman, he senses it right away. Here, he has a real axe to grind with his Batman. He’s sort of saying, “I’m back to teach you a lesson, because you forgot something very important.” And I have a secret, also; he has a secret he’s going to reveal as well that’s sort of at the heart of the whole story. But, most of all, he has an axe to grind – a really sharp, bloody axe (laughs). He’s there to say, essentially, “you’ve taken in this Bat family in a way, and I have a problem with that for a very specific reason, and I’m going to show you why they all need to be broken.” So he also goes after Batman in the worst way you can imagine, but the idea is that he’s there to sort of burn down the whole house, you know, and say, “I have a reason for this, I have a point, and I’m going to make that point in the bloodiest, craziest way I can, and you’re going to listen to it.” So that’s sort of the gist of it.
DEAN: That sounds awesome! So then with “Death In the Family” we get the death of Jason Todd, one of the Joker’s crowning achievements, and now you’re giving us “Death OF the Family” – a more ambitious, more ambiguous title. Is this hinting at a literal death of one or more characters or is this more a figurative collapse, or ruin of the Bat family? Maybe both?
SS: (laughs) You have to see! I can’t give that away! But who knows? Maybe everyone will die. Maybe Alfred will die, maybe Jason, maybe Barbara, I don’t know. You’ll have to see. But yeah, the idea is that it is going to be both literal and figurative in a way that what he’s threatening them all with is death, always. He’s kind of death embodied in a lot of ways too, this kind of laughing death, and then the Joker as the tarot card, there’ll be a lot of play on the imagery of the Joker and the court jester - what it’s meant historically in a lot of ways, as well as part of the way he sees himself here, and in his role with Batman. So there’s going to be a lot of symbolic imagery that way, but overall, I mean, yeah, he’s saying, “I’m here to basically kill you,” (laughs) you know? So it’s really basic in that regard, but it’s also going to affect all of those characters too, and it’s going to play out in some of their books as well, so it really is like Joker creeping through Gotham and sort of wreaking havoc all over the place.
DEAN: That’s really cool, and then if you don’t mind, I’m just going to write down that you said, “everyone dies.”
SS: Right, (laughs) everyone…yes, mark my words – there will be no Bat books. The whole Batman line will just stop (laughs). Once this is over, there’ll be no more Bat books.
DEAN: Now with the Joker himself as a character he’s gotten a lot more monstrous as time goes by, even in just his more exaggerated appearance. He kind of went from comparatively smaller crimes, for him - still mass murders, heists, and all that – to sillier things, and then to literally devouring entire countries like he did with China
That, to me, makes him this incredible mirror for Batman all the time, you know? It’s something that’s endlessly rich and fascinating because he’s almost like the way I’ve been using Gotham as this kind of mirror to Batman in a lot of ways, where it sort of generates these villains that are extensions of himself, or things about his greatest fears come to life. The Joker is almost self-aware of that, the Joker’s almost the clown that comes out of the mirror and says, “I am that thing, and I love you for that. I’m here to show you the things you don’t want to look at about yourself, but they’re wonderful things, and I love them.” So to me, that’s the core of the Joker that we’re using and what makes him so terrifying. When you go up against him like in DETECTIVE - when either Jim goes up against him, Jim Gordon, or anybody – he’s brilliant in his craziness, and I think he sees right through you, the same way he sees through Batman. He sees the thing that you’re most afraid of about yourself, and then exposes it, like, that’s what he’s about to do. He’s going to take your worst nightmare, and he’s going to make it come to life, you know? That’s what he loves to do, that’s what makes him laugh.
And one of the things I want to stress is that with these other books, just so everybody’s clear, what happens in Batman will be a thousand percent self-contained. You will not need to read other books to see what happens in BATMAN. I would never do that, I will never do that, it’s not something I’m interested in, having this crossover where you have to go to other books to see what’s happening in BATMAN. You can read BATMAN solo, it’s fine. But, because the Joker’s story is so big, and he is going to be going after the family, you’ll see self-contained stories and issues in some of the other Bat-books: NIGHTWING; BATMAN AND ROBIN; BATGIRL or other ones that will surprise you as well, but those will be self-contained and individual, too. But one of the things I would say is that the fun thing is you really haven’t seen Joker faceoff with those characters either. Some people say, “Oh well he faced off with Barbara in THE KILLING JOKE.” He didn’t – he was going after Jim Gordon in THE KILLINGJOKE and using Barbara as a pawn. So if that’s him using Barbara as a pawn, you can imagine what he’s going to do with her when he faces off with her, when he looks her dead in the eyes, with his crazy eyes, and he’s like “now I’m coming for you. I did that to you to hurt your Daddy” if he knew who she was, not that he does, but I’m saying if he were talking to her person to person, it would be like “I came after you to get to your father, to get to Jim Gordon, to drive him crazy. What if I came after you? What do you think I would do to everybody you love? What do you think I would do to everybody in your whole fucking comic book,”
DEAN: Scott you sound like you are just one hundred percent in this guy’s mind right now! (both laugh) You sound really excited, I’m excited about it, and I’m sure it’s going to be great. But I just have a couple more questions for you, I know you’ve got a lot of people to talk to today, but you mentioned the different iterations of the character - is there a certain voice, a distinctive voice you hear in your head when you’re writing the Joker?
SS: I have to be totally honest, like, there’s so many that I love, that if you didn’t make up your own in your head, I feel like, for me, I would start to stumble. So I have a voice in my head that’s almost this kind of death rattle that reaches up to a shriek when he laughs, that’s just sort of the way I picture him. You know, he’s very macabre in my view (laughs).
DEAN: Okay, so you brought up the laugh – I’ve got to ask you this, I always think about it when I read Joker stuff: when you’re writing the script, and you write his laughter, do you practice that out loud?
SS: (laughs) I don’t. I wish I could, it sounds lame if I practice it, although my baby son, who you probably hear in the background, probably sounds more like him than I do, with him screeching his head off laughing. But no, his laughter is a wonderful, horrible, terrific thing when you type it on the page.
DEAN: Well this was great. This all sounds really awesome, Scott, and we’re really excited to see it. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today!
SS: No, thanks so much, man. Thanks to everybody at Ain’t It Cool, you guys are great.
DEAN: Be sure to check out BATMAN #13 this October, and pick up BATMAN vol. 1 now from your local comic shop!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G