In a time when creative teams don’t seem to last beyond 6 issues, Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder have been working on DC Comic’s flagship Batman title, Batman, for years now. With Batman #47 hitting comic shops today, I got the opportunity to ask them both how they’ve managed to work together for so long, how the creative process works and most importantly, who has the best superhero cape out there.
jman: First, let me start off by saying I really appreciate you guys taking the time to speak with me. Very cool of you both. So…Batman 47. I know we have a big reveal to talk about, but if it’s cool with you…I’d like to talk about Jim Gordon first.
Scott Snyder: Sure.
jman: My first question is for Greg. In the first couple pages of the book, it looks like you’re drawing Jim differently. Are you doing something different style-wise when it comes to him?
Greg Capullo: Well…let me quickly look at the pages you’re talking about (laughing).
jman: It’s when Jim’s fighting the Bat-armor, he just looks…different. Actually, when you draw Jim, in and out of the suit, he just looks a little…more than a little, different. It could just be me, though.
GC: Well, pretty much anyone who’s in the cowl…it does surprisingly disguise them well enough. If anything, I try to give him a bit more confidence. In those particular scenes, maybe that’s what you’re detecting? But, as far as the way I draw his face, it’s the way I’ve always done it. But, in this scene where he sorta gets the drop on Bloom, I tried to give him more of that “Batman” confidence. Maybe that’s what you’re picking up.
jman: Perhaps. Another thing I like about Jim is his internal dialogue. He’s fighting Bloom and thinking stuff like “Bat-salad” and “sweep the leg”. How is writing Jim different from writing Bruce? Bruce, in the past, has been real tight. JIm…looks like he’s having fun even when he’s getting his ass kicked.
SS: That’s the fun of writing him. I love writing him for that reason. He’s so different. I hope that’s clear from dialogue. He’s one of us. He’s got a gallowed sense of humor, he’s a cop. When he’s in trouble, his humor is his defense mechanism. He’s always been that. He’s a joy to write for those reason. He’s so different. I could tell you how I would write Bruce in that scene. It would be completely different. Bruce would basically not say anything or think anything. It would be much easier. Because It would just be: “Here you go Greg.” But, he has other moments where he considers things. But, that’s part of the fun. Jim, for me, is like us. He’s one of us trying to figure out how to get out of situations that are built for Batman and not a normal person.
SS: Yea…he’s 46.
jman: He even seems…I don’t to say that he was more of a curmudgeon when he was a detective, but he seems…less than serious than he was. Maybe that’s the freedom of it? That he doesn’t have all that, pressure on him to be that detective. He’s free to be someone else now.
GC: Yea…I think it’s human nature. It’s role play. Whether you’re a cosplayer or you go trick or treating, whatever it is, costume party…when you put on another skin, you become it in a way. That’s part of what we’re seeing with Jim. It’s just a natural human thing. I remember when I was a kid watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon where a hat truck fell over and all these hats were whipping around and every time a different one would land on Bugs or Elmer they became the personality that you’d associate with that hat. I think that’s a little bit what’s going on.
jman: One of the other things I really liked about the book was in the middle of the story, after he supposedly beats Bloom, he picks up the helmet and he kisses it. Who’s idea is that?
GC: Scott. That was Scott.
SS: I feel like were Siamese twins. Not to use a totally gross metaphor.
GC: I don’t think that’s the proper term any more.
SS: Probably not. Conjoined twins. Sorry. At this point, though, I can’t tell what comes from me and what comes from Greg, anymore. In the way that so much of what I do, writing-wise is because I think of his art, organically. When I think of what it’s going to look like…when I’m thinking of the story, it’s visualized from me through his art. Or what I think it’s going to look like. A lot of the ideas I came up with are inspired by how good I know he’ll make them look in the first place. So that I feel bad taking credit, because I’m always like: “Yea…I made that up, but I made it up thinking how cool it would look with Greg’s style behind it.”
jman: That’s funny cause I was gonna bring up later…you guys have been together for so long…is there some sort of symbiotic relationship between the two of you? Do you get on each other’s nerves at any point?
GC: (laughing) I think we got on each other’s nerves a lot earlier on. Now, though…any cooperative kind of work…you’re not going to agree all the time. Because, then no one gets pushed, right? No one gets pushed in any direction. But, for the most part, as you pointed out, Scott and I have been at it for awhile and at the start, we had similar sensibilities, as far as storytelling goes. And at this point, there’s a great trust in our relationship. We’ve become two arms on a body that just swing as the body walks. They don’t think about it. They just swing.
jman: Greg, do you anticipate what Scott’s looking for? Because he’s doing it one way, are you meeting him the other way? Scott says when he thinks of something he’s got your art in mind. Do you know instinctively what he’s after when he says: “I want Jim to pick up the helmet and kiss it.”
GC: Here’s how it works for me. I read the script. Visions pop in my head like I was watching it at a movie. I’ll read the script a few times more, especially if there’s a scene that my brain isn’t flooded with images initially. And then I pick the images that I think are going to work the best. So, I don’t really go: “What is Scott thinking?” But, I still can get the essence of what he’s after when I’m going through the script. And that’s what I try to get at, the essence of what is the writer’s intention. We’ve been together long enough that I know where he’s at. And we just go from there.
jman: That brings me to a scene in #47, where Duke has taken Bruce into the subway tunnel. When they’re on the tracks and the train is coming, there isn’t much dialogue between the two of them, besides Duke egging Bruce on. It’s a powerful scene, especially when Bruce finally sees that bat. Is that you’re whole vision of the scene, Greg? You see the train coming and Duke’s saying: “C’mon Bruce. C’mon Bruce.”
SS: Not by me.
GC: And it didn’t have any of that stuff. And I had already gone three pages of scenes and then Scott faxed me: “they end on the tracks?”. And I’m: “I don’t know. Maybe?” Cause the scene as it was originally written was all just in the entrance of the train station. Or, I had the option of doing it in a car, but…I didn’t understand why Scott was pressing me if they were on the tracks, if I had the option of them in an automobile. And that’s when it all came to light that I was working on the wrong script.
And then the idea I came up with was to make it actually a bat. I wanted it to echo…mirror…Bruce’s first encounter with the bat, when he decided to become Batman. It really gave it a little more punch to that scene. That part all happened organically as I was trying to get Bruce on the tracks with Duke.
SS: That’s what I mean working with someone like Greg. Greg takes the idea where I didn’t describe the bat. I was like: “However you can make the train seem like it was sort of a bat. It’s screeching and it’s coming out of the darkness. It’s got the two headlights.” Then he had the idea of making it really the reckoning of the bat. And it’s exactly what I wish I had said, but I didn’t say it. I see it. And that’s one of the things when you ask about…does he see what I’m going for. He sees better versions of what I’m going for. I’ll end up being: “Look at that! I wish I had thought of that, but now it exists.”
Greg does more than bring it to life. He enhances it. It becomes something more imaginative. That’s the joy of getting to collaborate on stuff. It’s seeing your stuff re-imagined in better ways than you could do yourself.
GC: I over-create stuff incredibly to the point where people probably don’t get what I intended. The reason I made that bat so large and destructive…if you see it’s crashing in, destroying the subway…you probably don’t get what I’m saying, but…Bruce’s life is about to be destroyed. The new life that he’s built. And by the whole presence of the bat and Batman, it’s coming in…a destructive force. That’s why I tried to make it just crashing through that tunnel.
jman: When I was reading the book…I thought it was a great panel. And would’ve made a great splash page. Especially, if that was your intention. To say: “Bruce, man…your life is about to change”. It’s an even bigger impression as a splash.
SS: Well, that’s monthly comics. There’s not a single issue that goes by that I don’t wish we didn’t have deadlines. Fitting everything in between 22 pages and making it something that’s do-able and letting each person shine in the book, and all that…all of us would love to work in a vacuum.
jman: Of course. Like I said…you see that panel and it’s like: “Wow. That’s a strong scene.”
GC: Thank you.
jman: So, then we’ve got the reveal at the end. Bruce is sitting there on the bench nearby the site of the conclusion to “Endgame”. He’s sorta of convincing himself that he’s Batman. And this guy walks up to him, Joker-esque…now I don’t know if this is part of the story or not, so you can stop me if it is, but does Bruce really know he’s Batman or has the Dionysium change him so much we’re going to see a new version of Batman? Are his memories coming back to him? What’s his motivation, here?
jman: And if it’s part of the story, then I don’t want to ruin anything here.
SS: How he really comes back and who he’s going to be or if he’s going to come back or if something’s going to be different about him…that’s all part of the fun of the suspense of it. But, where he’s at right now and his motivation, it’s like Greg said…his life has sort of been blown up. And he’s sitting here thinking: “What does that mean? Where do I go?” And I feel like this is the character, the one that sits down next to him, who’s always having an argument with him. “None of it matters. Why try?” So…that’s why I feel it’s the perfect time to throw these two elements together.
jman: Are these two stories, Jim’s story and Bruce’s story…Jim’s with Bloom and Bruce’s with Joker…are they going to intertwine at some point or are they just two different stories running parallel to each other?
SS: They’re definitely going to intertwine.
jman: I’m just ruining stuff, here!
SS: You gotta read it! Ok…I will spoil it a little bit. They do get off the bench.
jman: Oh…they do! And I thought they were just gonna sit the whole time.
SS: (laughing) Wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t the Joker at all? And it was just a guy passing by, he sees Bruce and says: “Do you have the time?” and Bruce just gets up.
jman: One last question. And this one’s for Greg: Greg, you haven’t drawn a cape in awhile…do you miss it?
jman: Love your capes, man. As I’m putting my questions together, I realized you hadn’t drawn a cape in a long time.
GC: The best cape was Spawn’s. That was a big cape.
SS: When Batman comes back, when Bruce comes back, he’s gonna have a cape that’s 50 feet long. Maybe we can draw the first three pages just all cape.
jman: One splash page. Tri-fold!
My thanks to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo for taking the time to answer my questions!
Before you click on out of here, be sure to check out the latest episode of the Newsbox. This week we’re talking about Lego Ideas Wall*E