Scott Snyder and Tony Daniel spoke with The Beat recently to discuss their newly-launched Kickstarter for Nocternal, as well as Snyder’s new creator-owned label, Best Jackett Press.
You can read all about Nocternal and the accompanying Kickstarter here, and you can find our recent chat with Scott Snyder, as well as the artist for the Nocternal book, Tony Daniel, below…
SCOTT SNYDER: Thanks so much! The inspiration for this one was both simple and personal. As a kid, I had an intense fear of the dark. I remember trying to break myself of my fear, going outside in the dark with a flashlight and then turning the flashlight off for periods of time (which really worked so I don’t recommend it). About a year ago one of my sons, who is it at the time developed a pretty intense fear of the dark himself, and as much as I try to comfort him, it just brought me back to that place where there’s no reasoning yourself through a fear of darkness, because anything can be out there in the shadows. And it’s just sort of hit me, while I was lying with my son in bed: a world plunged into an eternal nighttime. Like, what if tomorrow morning sunlight just stopped reaching and the earth, worse, what if the new darkness we found ourselves in was far scarier than anything we imagined as kids? That’s when I came up with the idea of the darkness of this new everlasting night being transformative, and something that changes every living creature that stays in it too long into something monstrous… I guess the moral is, kids the dark is just scary, full stop.
QUAINTANCE: What can you tell me about the themes of this book? From the description alone I’m picking up a little horror, a little mythology, and maybe a little environmentalism?”
SCOTT SNYDER: Yeah, the book is part horror, part adventure, with a lot of high octane energy, but in the end it’s a drama. Yes there are monsters of all shapes and sizes but Nocternal is about its characters, Val, Em, and the people they meet in this world where no one knows who or what to trust. It’s a world where nothing is clear anymore; No one knows why the darkness started, what its nature truly is, supernatural, scientific, and no one knows how long it will last. There are rumors it’ll evolve into something even worse… fearful times, times of deep systemic uncertainty are what bring out the best in the worst in us (and make for some of the best drama).
TONY DANIEL: It’s a very dystopian book for sure, and it’s sort of strange how the theme parallels what the world is going through now. The not knowing when this event will let up, or what we can do about it, sounds a lot like this book. But we have been planning Nocternal since a better part of 2019, well before the real life current events started materializing and changing our lives for the worse. I think thematically, we’re delving into the unknown, what we can’t see, the fear, the misinformation, the evil and good in people, and where we can find light to survive. Am I talking about the book, or real life? Perhaps both.
QUAINTANCE: As far as this project goes, what motivated the two of you to release such an expansive look at process…is it somethings you ok you’re often asked about?
SCOTT SNYDER: I’ve always been a process junkie. I think it comes from wanting to go into the arts while growing up in a family entirely comprised of science people. Sessions, like the sciences, there’s more of a clear path in terms of training, career. Writing is so subjective. Not only isn’t there a clear path, but there’s no right way from a craft standpoint. One of my best friends can’t write a story if he knows the end. I’m the opposite. So I’ve always been fascinated by different writers’ processes. So as a first project for my new label, I wanted to do something that really gave access to my own process. In the end, creator owned is about connection and trust with fans and I want fans to feel like they’re a part Best Jackett from go.
There are two other reasons, though. First, I’ve been dying to work with Tony for a long time. He’s such a masterful visual storyteller and he’s a superstar of course, but he’s also just one of the best craftsman in the business. His pencils and inks are amazing, and I wanted to give people a chance to appreciate his work on a different level here. Luckily, Tony felt the same way about giving fans access to this project. Both of us really want people to feel as though they’re in it with us beginning to end, and there’s unprecedented transparency as to how the book is made.
And lastly, we wanted to do this because honestly? We really miss that connection with fans with conventions being shut down becauseOf Covid. We don’t have a way of signing things, saying thanks, meeting folks, explaining the book, all of it. There’s a lack of intimacy these days, so we felt right doing something that was about aces and connection. The whole campaign is designed around that idea. Access to us, to our process in making the book, to the growth of the label. All of it.
TONY DANIEL: I know that as a young creator, I was always about the process. I loved any bit of behind the scenes, how the sausage was made, type articles I could find. When I was a kid, I’d go to 7 Eleven and pick up the Comics Journal, or maybe another comic magazine and just read the articles and soak in the artwork, particularly if they were in pencil, because I could see what the pros looked like. And that helped me as an artist, to sort of figure out what I was doing wrong. Today on my Instagram, I show a lot of my pencils and inks, and I get lots of aspiring creators who love to see the work in stages. They even like the pages I half erase, or tear up, because they can see the frustration, the passion that goes in sometimes. Art is a journey, the end result is usually shown but people don’t usually see behind the curtain, how the artist suffered to bring that final image to life. I’ve tried to teach in this way and inspire others, so they know it’s not easy, even for me after all these years. But the passion for what I do, for any artist, is what it’s all about. I think it’s also fun, and helpful for creators, to see the script I get and then compare it to what I actually delivered on the page. To see where I added, subtracted, or did something a bit different for visual impact. I have a passion to show my work, and the process it takes to get from idea to printed story. I love seeing behind the scenes of films for instance, the green screens, the special effects, the outtakes and bloopers. I particularly love director commentaries on some of my favorite movies. What we’re doing is sort of that.
QUAINTANCE: Tony, what drew you to working on this project with Scott?
TONY DANIEL: Scott and I talked about teaming up for a while now. I’ve been a big fan of Scott’s since he began. I remember me writing Batman at the time, and Scott was a new hire on Detective Comics and the editor showed me Scott’s writing for the first time and I immediately knew this guy was going to be great. He had such a strong voice and style. And he really took off like a rocket, which is a rare thing to do in comics. For years we always played in the same sand box with the same toys, one way or another, but never played together. It reminds me of my best friend, who always seemed to be at the same parties, same scenes I was at, yet we weren’t friends until the group became smaller and we got to know each other. Similarly, and with a bit of happenstance too, it wasn’t until we crossed paths on a street in NYC, and I just so happened to be walking with Tomeu Morey at the time (who is the 3rd team member on Nocternal), that cemented getting on the phone and talking about really doing something together. It’s funny how bumping into each other on the street, in NYC, packed with people, that led to us joining forces. And usually when people say, ‘let’s jump on the phone soon,’ it’s not really sincere. But Scott did call the following week and we discussed the idea of teaming up for something creator owned. Last summer informed DC that I wouldn’t be renewing my exclusive contract because I wanted to invest in myself more and get back into doing creator owned projects. So the timing was perfect, except that I was announced to be the regular artist for Batman for 2020. Then DC abruptly changed course and I was totally okay with that, because I felt like now there’d be no regrets on my end. So when Scott asked me when I’d be available if we were to plan something, I told him, I would be after my last issue of Batman. We hadn’t anything specific in mind just yet, but we knew we wanted something big and exciting, epic, yet character driven. I think maybe a month passed, we both were going to think of some ideas, I had a few of my own but were smaller stories, not really suited for what Scott and I were thinking would be right for us. Then Scott had this epiphany one morning, great ideas are like that sometimes, a Eureka moment. Like Scott saw this whole thing in his head, and as he explained his thoughts, I can also see what he was thinking in my head! This was the perfect story for us to sink our teeth into and it plays to both of our strengths as storytellers. This is the kind of stuff I feel I’m really good at. We both felt this could be something very special and after working on this the last few months, seeing this really come to life on the pages, we’re sure it’s going to be special.
QUAINTANCE: Finally Scott, anything you can tell us about the future of your new label, Best Jackett Press?
SCOTT SNYDER: I don’t want to give TOO much away, but I can say that I already have a number of books in production with an array of pretty amazing artists, some who’ll be familiar to fans of my work, some I’ve never worked with before. Really, though, the goal with Best Jackett is to try new things and challenge myself to be a better writer, better part of comics, give back. Just make something I’m proud of on every level. I’m nervous, but I’ve never been more excited in my career.