Scott had contacted this website and one thing lead to another and Scott consented to do an e-mail interview with us. I may sound like a broken record but getting to know some of the creators via interviewing and e-mailing back and forth is always a pleasure.
I thought it would be beneficial to break the interview into three parts. I know personally that if a post is too long that I may not read the entire post or I may just skim read it. Hopefully this method will get more people to read the whole interview.
Finally I encourage everyone to pick up American Vampire #1 coming out March 17, maybe you have heard of the young talent who is writing half of the book, a guy named Stephen King. Yeah, that Stephen King, now how frelling cool is that!
Jim: Scott, my normal first question is what is your secret or not so secret origin? In other words who is Scott Snyder and how did he burst into the comic book scene?
Scott: Not so secret. I've been a lifelong fanboy, but I've pretty much stuck to print fiction the last handful of years. In 08, a buddy of mine organized an anthology of stories by contemporary writers that had them make up new superheros - a book of origin stories (it's called "Who Can Save Us Now?").
Anyway, I wrote a story about a young man caught in the Bikini Atoll tests in the 40's, who returns home with strange side-effects ("The Thirteenth Egg"). The story got picked up for a magazine, too - the Virginia Quarterly - and caught the attention of a couple comic editors. Two of them actually came to the launch for the anthology - a reading - and pretty much just approached me afterward and asked if I was actually a comic fan or not. I told them I was (I actually had some issues in my bag that night) and one, an editor at Marvel, asked me if I'd like to pitch a one-shot for the 75th Anniversary series Marvel was doing just then.
So I pitched a story about the original Torch, it went through, and I became a comic writer. Seeing that issue come out was one of the best days of my life!
And that led to the opportunity to pitch to my current editor at Vertigo, a guy named Mark Doyle. I went in for lunch, pitched American Vampire, which I'd been considering doing as a series of stories or even a book, and Mark got excited. He helped me re-tool my pitch a lot for Will Dennis and Karen Berger, I gave it in, and they all were very enthusiastic. The series got bought right about a year ago (another lifetime best day). Stephen got involved right after the series was greenlit.
Steve got involved because I'd sent him the pitch to see if he'd be up for giving a quote or doing an intro for the trade at some point - really just seeing if he'd be up for writing a line or two. (I'd been lucky enough to get my book of stories (Voodoo Heart) to him through a close mutual connection, and he'd been kind enough to blurb the collection - we'd kept in touch since.)
Anyway, he wrote back saying he liked the character of Skinner enough that he'd actually be up for writing an issue or two if anyone would let him. I was like: if anyone will let you? But he was very serious about being a first-time comic writer, it being a new medium, wanting editorial guidance from Mark. So he started off using a loose 2-issue, outline I'd provided on the characters. But a couple weeks in, he wrote me asking if he might be able to go off the rez a little. I told him to do anything he wanted and he ended up writing 5 full issues, taking the characters to darker, better places than I'd thought of at all. It was incredibly inspiring watching him work. The guy is a genius. The series is exponentially better for his involvement and I'm excited for people to see him shine.
Jim: Okay let me back you up just a little. You have been a lifelong fan of the medium, so what were you favorite series and influences?
Scott: I was lucky enough to grow up in the 80's, so I was there for Dark Knight Returns (still have my 4 issues), Year One, Preacher, Watchmen, Sandman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man - all the usual suspects. I actually wanted to be an illustrator growing up, before falling into writing, so as a kid I often went where my favorite artists were. Jim Lee on X-Men. McFarlane on Spidey. (I used to go to these old school conventions at Penn Plaza, over by Penn Station, and for my 13th birthday I waited on this massive line for a McFarlane signed Spidey page from #319 - still on my wall).
As I got older, I really fell for certain writers - Brian K. Vaugh on Y, Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker on Batman titles, then Gotham Central (which is one of my favorite all time works); Brian Michael Bendis on Ultimate Spidey and then Mark Millar on the Ultimates and Red Son... Nowadays there are so many strong writers in the industry it's hard to pick favorites. From Joe Kelly to Jason Aaron, Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire to Matt Fraction, the bar is so high all around. It's both intimidating and very inspiring to be a part of at all.
Jim: I agree this is the best time for comics ever. The quality of the writing talent is amazing. I can list 20 excellent writers off the top of my head and still miss some of the best out there. Now you mentioned Bikini Atoll as the basis for your story that got you noticed. Not the normal reference, was it your confessed (on your myspace page) love of Godzilla that made you want to use that idea or just looking for a good nuclear blast?
Scott: I got the idea for the Atoll tests because my grandfather was in the navy during WWII and fought in the Pacific. I grew up listening to stories of being on a destroyer. Big influence.
Jim: Was the Human Torch you're first comic script? Did you do a full script or work with the artist?
Scott: It was. I did do a full script. Marvel sent me some examples and notes and I just went from there. I had a great editor on the book (Jeanine Schaefer) who helped me a lot. Made a number of missteps that first issue - too many panels per page, too much dialogue, starting scenes from the wrong place... Took me a number of drafts to get things solid.
Part 2 Tomorrow!
Also check out Scott’s editorial for Vertigo this month.