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Interview : Scott Snyder Tackles Vampires and Bats, uh..Batman | Comic Book Fury

Interview : Scott Snyder Tackles Vampires and Bats, uh..Batman

November 24, 2010 by
Filed under: Editorial 

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Vampire stories are hard to come by nowadays. Say what you will about the Twilights and Vampire Diaries of the world and the success they’ve had, but when it comes down to it, we not only love the mythology behind one of the longest running monster characters around, but we just love seeing them rip people’s throats off.

So it was a pleasant surprise earlier in the year when I came to learn of a new Vertigo series called American Vampire that would supposedly redefine that mythology. Scott Snyder and Stephen King introduced us to vampires in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And quite the vicious vampires too – anybody who’s read the exploits of Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones as of late knows what I’m talking about. And having a rising talent in Rafael Albuquerque made things that much more awesome for what could be a big Vertigo mainstay to tag along with Fables, my other favorite Vertigo series.

King has departed now and it’s only made Snyder and Albuquerque stand out even more. So much more that DC has given Snyder and a superstar artist in Jock the keys to its long-running Detective Comics series with issue #871 coming out to stores today. Recently, I had a chance to send some questions Snyder’s way about him breaking into the business, his current books, and where he sees the industry heading next:

1) How did you break into comics?

Well, I’ve been a lifelong fanboy, but up until ’08, I’d only written prose. But that year, a buddy of mine organized an anthology of stories by contemporary writers that had them make up new superheroes – a book of origin stories – it’s called “Who Can Save Us Now?” Anyway, I wrote a story about a young man caught in the Bikini Atoll tests in the 40’s, who returns home with strange side-effects (“The Thirteenth Egg”). The story got picked up for a magazine, too – the Virginia Quarterly – and caught the attention of a couple comic editors. Two of them actually came to the launch for the anthology and just approached me afterward and asked if I was actually a comic fan or not. I told them I was (I actually had some issues in my bag that night) and one, an editor at Marvel, asked me if I’d like to pitch a one-shot for the 75th Anniversary series Marvel was doing just then. So I pitched a story about the original Torch, it went through. That led to the opportunity to pitch to my current editor at Vertigo, a guy named Mark Doyle. I went in for lunch, pitched American Vampire, which I’d been considering doing as a series of stories or even a book, and Mark got excited. He helped me re-tool my pitch a lot for Will Dennis and Karen Berger, I gave it in, and they all were very into it. So that’s my story, I guess.

2) Why vampires given how much that has been used in all sorts of mediums as of late?

I know there’s a vampire glut, but even so, I figure I’m always the first in line for any show or book or movie that’s doing something new with a classic monster, no matter what’s already out there. And at the end of the day, when I pitched AV, I was confident that I had something new and exciting (to me at least) when it came to this idea of vampire evolution. For those of you who haven’t picked us up, in a nutshell, the series is about a new species of vampire born in the American West in the 1880s. A vampire indigenous to America with new powers and abilities, new weaknesses – a vampire impervious to sunlight, with different fangs and claws, an evolutionary leap, kind of like a vampire 2.0.

The first of this new American species species is a guy named Skinner Sweet: a young, notorious outlaw who has always delighted in the violence of the West. The series follows his adventures, and his bloodline, through different decades of American history. It’s meant to be fun and twisted with a healthy dose of popcorn, but at its core, it’s also about us, about exploring what makes the American character both heroic and monstrous at different moments in history. But beyond the specific story of the American bloodline the series explores this whole secret history and mythology of vampirism. For example, the classic vampire we all know, the anemic-looking, nocturnal, burned-by-the-sun kind – the Carpathian Vampire, as it’s classified in our series – that kind is just one species among many. It has become the dominant species for reasons that are still secret in the series, but in general, it’s just one bloodline, born at a particular moment, in a particular place. And so beyond the American and Carpathian species is this whole confidential genealogical tree, dating back to pre-modern history; all these different species with different characteristics, different powers and weaknesses. So the series is a world unto itself for me and Rafael Alburquerque.

3.) How did you come about working with Rafael Albuquerque?

Once the series was green-lit, Mark Doyle, our editor brought a couple names in for possible artists. Rafa was one of the first people Mark mentioned. I’d seen his work on Blue Beetle and was excited about him, so we had him do some character sketches and he nailed them on the first try. He just got them, and he had a real sense of what we were going for tonally with the series, what it was about, the potential to experiment… From day one. He has sweat blood for AV – I couldn’t be more grateful he’s my artist. I’m working to get him a co-creator title, actually. He’s just a major creative force behind the book – not just layouts and compositions, but character design, style, tone… We chat almost every day on AIM – he’s honestly become a good friend, like Mark. We’re a real team on this thing, which makes it a pleasure to work on.

4) What are you plans for Detective Comics?

It’s going to be one long story called “The Black Mirror” and in general, on the ground, it really is back to basics: Dick Grayson as Batman of Gotham City, starring as the world’s greatest detective, solving mysteries around the city. And Gotham is changing now that Bruce Wayne is back and has confirmed Dick as Gotham’s new Batman. It’ll be back to basics in that way, but there’ll be a really fresh look on the book, with Jock and Francesco; it’ll be high-tech CSI, big new toys, with a dark story brewing in the background. The backup is going to be Commissioner Gordon; it’ll be about a dark figure from his past, come back to haunt him. Someone I’m very very excited about using. At its heart, the story is about the relationship between Gotham and the mantle of the bat. No one is more aware of what an honor and thrill it is to work on Batman than me – he’s my favorite superhero, hands down. There have been so many great Batman stories over the years, it can be very intimidating. But the truth is that I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t have a story I was very excited to tell; I wouldn’t have taken it just get the chance to write Batman and play with the big DC toys. The character demands more respect than that. So yes, I’m nervous, but I couldn’t be more excited about the story we’re going to tell.

5) What do you think of the future of the industry as to where it’s headed?

Wow, that’s tough! I mean I’m personally very excited about the direction of things – the possibilities of digital, all that. And I can honestly say that everyone at DC is very very excited for what we’re going to be doing in 2011 – stay tuned!

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