Scott Snyder interview at New York Comic Con 2018

ComicsVerse enjoyed getting the chance to talk with Scott Snyder at New York Comic Con 2018! We learned a lot listening to him discuss how he puts stories together, how he adjusts to artists’ preferences, and so much more.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

ComicsVerse: I know you teach writing classes. First of all, right now, a lot of people you’ve taught are coming up and doing amazing things. What’s it like to see people you’ve taught kind of teach you stuff with story and all that?

Scott Snyder (SS): It’s the best feeling in the world. Honestly, I’m as proud of being a part of those people’s trajectory as I am of anything I’ve written. I’ve been lucky enough to work with people like Joel Jones, Max Masagio, James Tynan, Marguerite Bennett, Aaron Gillespie, Matt Rosenberg. I look out at the comic landscape and I feel intensely grateful for having been able to be a part of their narrative. And I can promise you, I probably learn more from them than they did from me. But you know just the idea that these people that you saw coming up are now just blossoming and showing you ways to sort of be a better writer. There is no better feeling than that.

CV: That’s awesome! I’m really interested in your scripts and how you structure them because we all kind of know the story about with Grakapolo. He was kind of like, “hey, can you put less detail in here?” And you kind of tried to work with him on that. What do your scripts look like with Jack, for instance? Does it change for each artist or…?

SS: Yeah, it really does. I mean, that’s a great question. And I think you know if aspiring writers out there are watching… I mean, what I really had to learn with Greg wasn’t just how to write less or how to put less detail on. It was how to understand that every artist has a really particular way that they like to work. And then adjusting my style to every artist.

Jack, for example, does more full script than Greg, so it’s kind of a hybrid. Jim Cheung on JUSTICE LEAGUE likes a very full script, like very directed full script. I do full script like panel one, panel two, close up, whatever. For Greg, I’ll write five pages that cover 20 pages of script. And it’ll be like, you know, but it’s all the emotion, all the things I think are important for him to know so he can direct a choreograph. It’s just every artist is really different. And as a writer, I think the best lesson I honestly learned from early on with Greg was you know you are going to get the best work out of them. They are going to elevate your stuff and make that story better than anything you could. If you give them the room to shine.

CV: Totally, that completely makes sense because every artist is different. Great. So, in terms of story structure, when you are writing an arc, how do you go about that? And is it different from creating the outline for say, an issue if you even do outlines? Like how do you approach those things?

SS: I do outlines, actually, and that’s another great question. I feel like for me, the way my process is sort of like this. I’ll try and find something that I’m really wrestling with, whether it’s a fear, or a sort of something I’m hopeful about.

For example, JUSTICE LEAGUE, right? So JUSTICE LEAGUE is born at a moment when everything is very divisive, right? We are all at each other’s throats. Regardless of what side you are on politically, it’s an incredibly contentious moment and we face these tremendous challenges as a species. And it’s very worrisome that we can’t even kind of get together to solve small things. Are we ever going to get together to solve bigger things? I think about that and I say, “how do I build a story that goes as dark and as scary as possible with that so I can have the heroes be as bright?”

So I say, “alright what’s the scariest thing that I can do in that kind of lunatic comic book way that will represent what’s going on now but is in sort of a direct reflection?” The source of all breakings. So the actual physical boundary of everything that holds the universe together breaks. The biggest problem we could possibly have in the DCU there.

Now, “how do we get together to solve it?” Well, Luthor says we are never going to get together. I’ve seen the future and instead we need to sort of embrace our inner villain. And you know, be our best selves by being terrible. Martian Manhunter is the opposite. So once I have that, then I’ll sort of say, “well, how do I get more and more sort of intense with that idea?” Act to act to act. So say alright well the first act the thing lands. Second act they start to realize it’s darker than they thought. Third act they fail, forth act.

I try and start with a thing that’s really emotional to me and what it’s about for me. What it’s about on a personal level. And then create sort of a story structure that allows me to explore deeper and deeper and deeper that way. Then I fit into like three act structure, or I kind of measure, I have certain protractors I put against it. But overall it always comes from that place of what is this about? What does this mean?

CV: Totally, that’s awesome. And I feel like the characters have a lot to do with that obviously, how you structure it. So you are writing a lot of character right now, between METAL and between JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE and JUSTICE LEAGUE. So, when you are writing maybe a character you’ve never written before, how do you find that person’s voice? How do you approach that?

SS: It’s really hard. I mean you know, I bumped into Grant Morrison, one of my very first Comic Con in San Diego when I was starting on BATMAN. And I was terrified because I was like, how do I find my voice on BATMAN? And he said to me, he’s like, you got to imagine that you are giving them a birth and you give them a death. Make a story that’s essentially sort of the beginning and the end.

So every time I do character like Aquaman or Hawkgirl, I try and take all the stuff that I’ve loved that other people have done, and then absorb it, and kind of put aside and say what’s my version. And just hope that because I love the character and I’ve absorbed a lot of the same stuff other people have, that my version would hopefully be something that’s true to core and yet does something slightly different.

And also the characters once you get to know them, the beauty of it is they start to tell you what they want to do on the page. So you just sort of once you into their heads it’s like yeah Batman would in a full body cast not leave the Hall of Justice even when Legion of Doom was attacking. He would fight them in his full body cast. Know Hawkgirl would want to go to Penata Prime even though it’s so dangerous to find Shayera Hol and find out what her own origin and methodology is. Yes Martian Manhunter would find the Martian key. And so they just sort of take over, and that’s when you really have blast with it. I’m having such a good time with it, I just love it to death.

CV: We love it too. That’s awesome. I got to get out of here soon but I’m not going to let you leave without me asking. WYTCHES, when is it coming back? When am I seeing more WYTCHES?

SS: Yeah we actually have a big Halloween special coming out on Halloween, and it’s sort of an 80 page original story called the “Bad Egg.” And it picks up where arc one kind of left off, with new characters. But what you’ll learn is that these characters actually play a big part with Sailor in arc two. So, it’s sort of a bridge between our first and second arc. I’m really proud of it, it comes with an essay, and like backup stuff and we really really can’t wait to get back to this.

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