Creator Profile – Scott Snyder

Every so often, we’ll do a creator spotlight, highlighting the sheer talent within the comic book industry.  It is a unique industry in that both writer and artist are equal forces.  It could be a well written book but if it doesn’t look great visually you may not return to it.  This works both ways, it could be the most beautifully illustrated story but if it’s not engaging or interesting to read, then again, you probably won’t go back to it.

We’ll do our best to alternate between the two disciplines.

First up, we will focus on one of our favourite writers – Scott Snyder.

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Snyder is an American writer.  He started out by publishing a series of short stories in a collection called Voodoo Heart.  Two of these short stories caught the attention of a certain Stephen King, who put them on the 2007 Best American Short Stories Shortlist.

From here, he made the jump to comics.  Despite being a DC stalwart now, he actually started out at Marvel, where he wrote for Iron Man and Human Torch.

DC recognised talent and recruited Snyder, first of all through their Vertigo imprint, allowing Snyder to work on a creator owned title called American Vampire.  This was the title that first caught our attention and singled Snyder out as a talent to watch.

A vampire story that starts off in the Old West, this charts the rise and evolution throughout history, be it the roaring 20’s, the world at war, or the swinging 50’s.  It was an instant hit.  Snyder, along with co-creator Rafael Albuquerque picked up all manner of awards for Best New Series, and this included the Comic Book Industry equivalent of an Oscar, The Eisner Award.  It should also be noted that Stephen King helped develop the first 5 issues of American Vampire, again showcasing the talent that King spotted in Snyder.

At this point DC knew they had one of the hottest writers around and so they handed him the keys to one of the Jewels in their Crown – The Batman.

Snyder started his run on Detective Comics in 2011, with a storyline called The Black Mirror.  This would mark the start of an exclusive contract with DC.  Again, they knew they had a special talent.

The Black Mirror is one on the best and darkest Batman stories on the shelves.  It follows Dick Grayson as Batman as he has to deal with a new threat in Gotham, that may or may not be related to the son of Commissioner Gordon, James Jr.

As well as being a great Batman story, it is an iconic Commissioner Gordon story as he deals with his long lost son, and cases from his past.

Around this time, DC were preparing for a massive relaunch and rebranding of their comics – The New 52.  The idea was to put all the titles back to #1 and entice new readers to comics by making the stories as approachable as possible.

It was clear that Snyder would play a large role here and was given Swamp Thing and Batman to write.  With Swamp Thing he was paired with Yanick Paquette, and it was a wonderful run that reinvigorated the character, giving him a weight and pathos rarely seen since the Alan Moore glory days on the title.

It was with Batman that he developed an amazing relationship with the artist, who was the exceptionally talented Greg Capullo.  Snyder has himself said he wasn’t sure how well they’d get on at the start as he admits to overwriting, and Capullo was known for interpreting the writing his own way.  But when they got together, it became a true collabaration and it resulted in the best series of the New 52.

This is an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to get into Batman comics.

With Batman #1, not only did Snyder and Capullo showcase almost every iconic Bat Villain in the first few pages, but they created a brand new organisation to put Batman up against – The Court of Owls.  This was ingenious as it meant seasoned readers knew as much as new ones – absolutely nothing.

It also created a new idea in the Batman mythology – that someone knew the city more intimately than Batman.  At the core of the Batman character is this idea that Gotham is his city.  He knows every nook and cranny, every crevice.  There is nowhere that the criminal element can hide that he will not find.

So this idea of The Court of Owls, this ancient organisation that has operated in Gotham for over 100 years, unbeknownst to Batman, makes him question everything he has done to this point in his life.

We cannot recommend this run highly enough – it’s a single issue run that is a proud part of the personal collection!

As well as making an iconic mark on the main Batman title, Snyder has since written Superman Unchained for DC, a collaboration with the one and only Jim Lee.  He worked on Batman again with an ambitious 52 issue epic called Batman Eternal.  It was released with a new issue every week and was every bit as grandiose and epic as you’d hope.

It was a series that got to the very root of Batman, and showcased just why the character will endure forever.

Snyder’s contract with DC does allow him the freedom to pursue creator owned, independent series.

So far these have included Severed, a 7 issue horror story with art from Scott Tuft; Wytches, a 6 issue  horror series about what lurks in the Woods, with art by his Black Mirror collaborator Jock (they are also working on a sequel series which we are very much looking forward to); The Wake, an underwater science fiction tale about the dangers found deep, deep below; A.D. After Death, his most recent Indie release which explores the idea of what would happen if humankind found the cure for death.

But the final word has to go to DC and The Dark Knight.  When DC announced another fresh start for their universe, with the Rebirth initiative, Snyder launched All-Star Batman, in collaboration this time with industry legend John Romita Jr., which continues to be one of the best Rebirth titles.

And then?  Dark Nights: Metal, which shook up the entire DC universe, and it’s sequel Death: Metal which has just kicked off.  Best of all for this title?  It reunited him with Greg Capullo, and those two do continue to bring out the best in each other….

Add in the fact that American Vampire is on its way back with the recently announced American Vampire 1976, and it’s clear that Snyder remains as prolific and vital to the comic industry as ever.

Until next time…..

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