Tone set, the panel took off from there.
Snyder first elaborated on some of the details he shared Friday about his forthcoming Black Label comic, Batman: Last Knight on Earth. He explained the book’s story and genesis. The comic is being illustrated by Snyder’s collaborators from his epic New 52 Batman run, artist Greg Capullo, inker Jonathan Glapion, and colorist FCO Plascencia. That’s fitting, because the book was essentially conceived as the ending for that run, set 20 years in the future.
Snyder first had the idea for it, he said, in 2012 or 2013. It was after he’d written his now-famous Court of Owls story-line, and he was feeling the pressure of writing DC’s top-selling comic, which also happened to be about his personal favorite superhero. The combination of professional stakes and personal meaning was a heavy one. Snyder recalled lashing out by being difficult with his editors, a pattern of behavior that culminated in drinking too much one night after a bygone NYCC and having a bit of a public disagreement with DC Publisher Dan DiDio, basically doing the ol’ let me tell you what I REALLY think.
Fortunately, some time later Snyder bumped into his predecessor in the Batman gig, Grant Morrison. Morrison, as one might expect, had mind-bending sage advice for Snyder, that being to envision Batman as a creator-owned property with a distinct beginning-middle-end. Morrison said that Snyder should give his Batman both a birth and a death. The plot for Last Knight on Earth was born.
The real bad news in all that is that Snyder expects this to be the last solo Batman story that he and Capullo ever do together. But hey, as Snyder noted, pretty much every creator everywhere has a great Batman story they’re dying to tell.
Also of note at the panel were Snyder’s plans for his work in Justice League. He said after wrapping up the event story line Dark: Nights Metal in early 2017, he debated leaving DC Comics before ultimately signing back on to do something even bigger. That something started with Metal, continued in last year’s No Justice story, evolves with the Year of the Villain stories starting in May, and will ultimately conclude in 2021.
Other tidbits included that an upcoming issue of The Batman Who Laughs will see the eponymous character facing the Court of Owls, that if Snyder ever does a sequel to Metal he wants to include a sorcerer Batman that his peers previously dismissed as “like a wizard” but that he knows he can make work, and that he has a really great Nightwing story he’d still like to do some day.
He also recalled his first days writing Dick Grayson, and being initially perplexed by all the fans calling for him to showcase Dick’s…ahem…assets, before ultimately relenting and deliberately scripting many scenes wherein the hero was shirtless.
On the creator-owned front, Snyder shared new info about a project with Francisco Francavilla. He didn’t quite reveal the name, but he did say that it would be a horror story that involves a would-be classic film that burned up in a studio fire in the 1930s and an effort to interview that film’s director as the monster threatens them all, with the action split between the present day and the old movie. He’s also working on a new American Vampire comic with Rafael Albuequrque set in 1970s Las Vegas, as well as more Wytches with Jock.
“For me, horror is the perfect distillation of conflict,” Snyder said of his preferred genre.
Most interestingly though, especially for those really into the process of creating Big 2 superhero comics, was that Snyder spent a ton of time sharing inspirations for his Batman stories, past and present, getting “extra queasy and personal,” as he described it.
Snyder grew up in New York City, and said the Court of Owls was inspired by his moving away and feeling like the city changed a great deal, that it would always change and eventually become unrecognizable, and so too would Gotham in the comic. Even its sworn protector couldn’t entirely understand it. Snyder’s Death of the Family story arc, meanwhile, grew from his anxiety around fatherhood as he prepared for his second child, and the Batman Who Laughs character (as well as the glut of alternate evil Batmen in Metal) was him processing a more recent fear that people secretly want to embrace the worst of themselves.
I’m obviously not capturing the entire inspirational power of these admissions…hey, you had to be there. Anyway, I’ll wrap up by sharing my favorite thing Snyder said about the way he approaches Batman, whom he described as a simple folktale about a character given something really bad and turning it into good. But yeah, here it is…
“I want to make [Batman] more about inspiring good people out of the shadows than inspiring bad people into them.”