Geeks With Wives readers and us staffers are in for a treat leading into the last weekend of May. We had the honor of conducting a phone interview with Scott Snyder, arguably the best comic book writer right now.
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With all due respect to every other creator in the industry.
He’s most known for his acclaimed run on the iconic DC hero Batman. But has also written memorable creator-owned series such as “American Vampire,” “Severed,” “The Wake” and recently ended the first arc of “Wytches.” Surprise, surprise. All of those books mentioned are just as good if not better than his work on Batman. He’s an incredible writer who engulfs the reader into the world he creates and gives a very unique spin on each. Even with Batman, he says. He credits this to the outstanding artists he has had the pleasure of working with along the way: Rafael Albuquerque, Sean Murphy, Jock, Greg Capullo, Jim Lee…to name a few.
The interview’s focus was on “Wytches” but fear not we did talk about Batman; “life after Batman”; his career to this point; taking on characters like Swamp Thing, Batman and Superman versus writing about his own in Pearl, Skinner Sweet, Lee Archer, Sailor and Charlie; living and writing about horror and general dark themes; among other things.
Read the “Wytches” Q&A portion and then listen to the rest of the conversation above.
GWW: The style of “Wytches” and how it’s very unique in how it looks. Credit goes to Jock and Matt Hollingsworth. What is it like to work with artists like that? I know from the way you’ve spoken in past interviews how much you almost kind of rely on [Greg] Capullo and his thoughts how you shape the character of Batman. How has Jock and Matt helped you with “Wytches” in its first arc?
Snyder: For me, I try with each person I work with to find a way of working that is sort of a sweet spot between us. The thing is I work very differently with Greg than I do with Rafael [Albuquerque] on “American Vampire” than I do with Sean Murphy on “The Wake” or than I do with Jock and Matt. When I start a project with a new artist I’ve never worked with before I try and figure out what they really respond to in the story.
So when we talked “Wytches” I knew that Jock was really excited about drawing a lot of the personal themes between the characters. He was very into the idea of doing these kind of tense, suspenseful, unsettling, creepy themes that could also be very, very tender at times. In each issue I wanted to make sure I did those more than let’s say some of the more kind of jump scares and the things that were maybe kind of monstrous and gory.
So I try and keep the story the same for each artist. Whatever the story is going to be from go, that doesn’t change. The ending. The themes. The major beats. But I do sort of adjust the mechanics of it to try and really make it a project that’s going to be great fun for whoever I’m working with and to askew to their strengths. And not only their strengths but I think they want to draw and have fun with. So, for me, with this that meant changing certain themes so that the same thing happens in those scenes.
For example, there’s a scene with Sailor in issue two where she’s going swimming with her class. Initially that scene was going to be in the cafeteria, but when Jock was talking about what he loves to draw in the kind of movie, unsettling scene that he gravitates towards I felt like being by a pool with these girls that were all kind of lined up identically we give him more to play with that felt like that’s familiar but also creepy. Or if it was Rafael, he really likes the dynamism of crowds and things like that. So I probably would’ve done it in a cafeteria or something.
You change little things and sometimes bigger things to try and make it a project that speaks to the people you work with because the great thing about comics, as corny as it sounds or as obvious as it is, it’s just that it’s such a collaborative medium. Coming from prose, for me, that’s the great joy that I’m working on something with a bunch of friends and we’re putting it out in the world the way we want together. That’s a great ode to comics, for me.
GWW: With the first arc of “Wytches,” when I was reading it I gravitated towards Charlie a lot more, Sailor’s father. Was that done purposely? Is he the protagonist in the first arc?
Snyder: Yeah, he is.
He, to me, is the strongest kind of arc in the first book. Sailor certainly has one too, and she’s the hero of the whole series, but this is sort of her origin story. As it is at the same time, this is Charlie’s goodbye in someways. It’s funny because doing an arc that’s focused on a character– he’s not gone from the series, not to give a spoiler, but you’ll see there are reasons why the ways that he echoes onto the next arc in big ways also, in scary ways, actually.
But ultimately I wanted this to be an arc that was deeply, deeply personal and I relate to Sailor in a lot of ways. Her anxiety I relate to. I relate to her interests. And in the second arc what she’s going through is very personal to me in a lot of ways as well. Like, without giving too much away, her arc is, obviously the main arc, emotionally but it’s also something that’s pretty intimate in terms of stuff that I worry about in my own life.
So, ultimately, the first arc is more Charlie’s, but the way he’s setting Sailor up as the main character of the entire series.
GWW: I definitely saw that. Where at first we’re introduced to her as being, not almost like weak, but she was down and fragile. She didn’t know what she was facing. And then when she finally discovered what she was facing, especially when she was down there with Charlie, in the hole inside the tree. And then especially in the house at the end. It almost like he gave her the strength she needed and now she’s going to be the strong protagonist that she’s being set-up to be. Was that also done purposely? Where you kind of had to give her something–, and it is an origin so it makes sense in that way like you were saying.
Snyder: Yeah, it is. I wanted it to be sort of like he passes onto to her in someways. A message of encouragement that helps to give her the strength that she needs to carry on in the second arc where she’s going to need a lot of confidence, bravery to sort of face what’s coming.
GWW: Now with the wytches themselves. How do you keep it fresh? You can kind of use the example of “American Vampire” here, which is a series I absolutely adore. Being able to keep it fresh where with “American Vampire” you go through different timelines, so that keeps that new, the vampires fresh. This is what they are, the American Vampire is different from your traditional vampire that we’ve known. With these it’s interesting. Like you said in one of the first essays, these are not the ones you know. These are more vicious. I think feral was one of the words you used. They’re different. And they’re scary. They’re probably more scarier than an actual witch that you’d imagine with magic and they’re beautiful and they’re more charms and manipulators. How did you think of this creature in your mind, just like you did with creating a new vampire?
Snyder: I wanted it sort of the same like “American Vampire” in someways. We wanted to kind of take vampires back to core and then sort of build them up in our own way. And at core these things are enduring monsters, which is scary. Vampires are kind of your neighbors, your loved ones come back from the grave to get you and turn you into them. No matter how romantic or how anything else they get. That’s what they are at their very sort of most basic level.
And witches there’s two things about them that are really scary. 1) They’re always cannibalistic in any sort of iteration across different cultures. 2) They have the ability to go beyond what we understand. And so I’ve sort of what if I take it from there, use that as sort of the main DNA of the monster and then just keep it as raw as possible. Keep it as simple as possible. And make sure all the great monsters their scary in their own way visually in our narration of them. But what makes them really scary is how they’re a reflection of kind of the darker areas in the book or how they’re sort of an extension in the darkness in the cast.
GWW: Not to give anything away of what’s to come, but the wytches were kind of just introduced. You see them. You see how vicious they are. You introduced the idea of pledging and how they’re kind of like assassins, they hunt you down and they get you. And that’s it pretty much. Can we expect something more of them? I just feel like there’s something more about them. I feel like they’re a lot smarter than they’re letting on. Like I said, without giving anything away for your next arc that comes out in the fall/winter. What can we expect from the wytches?
Snyder: Well, in the second arc–, I don’t want to give too much away. But the second arc really broadens the mythology a lot. You’ll learn about some of the biggest and deadliest burrows around the country and around the world. And also about some of the history between the Irons, the group that hunts the wytches, and the wytches themselves. And Sailor sort of takes on center stage. She has joined the group the Irons at this point, so she returns to the witch field in town. And that’s kind of the beginning of the story. Without giving too much away.
For more on “Wytches,” read our reviews and don’t forget to listen to the rest of the interview above.