Thursday, March 11, 2010

Scott Snyder Interview – Writer/Creator of American Vampire From Vertigo Part 3 of 3

Wrapping up our interview with Scott and we talk about his other projects as well as his prose book out there (a comic book without pictures, don’t be scared of them).

American Vampire #1 Comes Out March 17!

Jim: Okay so looks like American Vampire is going to be a hit, the Human Torch story was very well done, I missed your Colossus story. What was that one about?

Scott: The Colossus one was hard, because it was just 8 pages. It was about Piotr coming to terms with his own inability to leave the past behind, specifically as it pertains to his relationship with Illyana.

Jim: I see you have a new series coming out from Marvel Iron Man Noir. To be fair Iron Man in a noir type story sounds a little like a bad fit. What was the pitch for that story?

Scott: And as for Iron Man, believe me, I get many jokes from people about the mash-up of Iron Man and noir. Tony sneaking around in the armor in a fedora and trench-coat. Tony in pinstripe Dick-Tracy-like armor... But I'll tell you the truth. I pitched it as pulp. Not noir. I think that's what got me the job over any other pitches that came in.
I'm a huge fan of 30's pulp, The Shadow, The Phantom, Doc Savage... The old radio plays and the pulp magazines themselves - Men's Adventure, Argosy, Amazing Tales, Weird tales... And when I saw what David Hine was doing with Spidey Noir, including this element of that stuff, the mysticism at least, I figured, let's go full steam ahead and do Iron Man pulp. Tony fits the adventurer type perfectly in my mind. Searching the globe for treasures. Having a scotch with fellow adventurers like Danny Rand at the Hellfire Club (and explorers' fraternity). Playing up that pulp element, Rhodey as his trusted aide... But I tried hard to go deep with the character, too. He;s got a lot of darkness to him, some secrets and failings. I'm very eager to see how people respond. I'm not sure it'll be for everyone, but I'm writing something I really like with it.

Jim: Well the premise you are selling me on Iron Man noir sounds pretty cool. I read Iron Man Noir as a title and basically thought it does not work. I know for some the difference between pulp and noir maybe meaningless, but it can work very well as a pulp adventure. I assume each series is only given 4 issues, how difficult is it to structure a story so each issue gives you the right beats to keep our interest? As a reader we often complain about middle chapter syndrome but with four issues I would think each issue has a major impact.

Scott: Thanks. I'm a huge fan of pulps - I have my books on pulp art, pulp style, anthologies of pulp fiction... So I'm excited about this take on Tony, too. I tried to really play up the schism between pulps and reality, too. The way Tony sees himself as this adventurer, but ignores certain darker truths about himself, the need for escapism in dark times (it's 1938).

The way I deal with the structure is to come up with the general outline first, write it up in a few pages. In the outline, I try to focus on the big character arc - what the protagonist is struggling with in the story, emotionally, for him.

For example, in the Torch story, the arc had to do with Jim's (the Human Torch) realization that without his skin, he was a symbol of fear, not hope, and his subsequent struggle over whether or not, given society's fear of him, he could still be a hero and try to save people who feared and hated him. So in outlining, I really try to figure out the big, emotional high and low points of the story. In the Torch story, some are: the euphoria Jim feels at the start, being the world's first super-hero, a symbol of light and hope in a time of depression. The moment he's stripped to his android self - the strange sight of himself. The moment other people react to him. The pain he feels, the anger and longing. The moment he has the opportunity to be the hero he was, despite all the challenges, emotionally and psychologically... and so on.

So after outlining, I have a solid sense of the story as a kind of series of important moments - a series of must-include scenes. Then, given the length of the thing - for Iron Man it's mandatory 4 issues - I try to plot where the moments will fall in the course of the cycle or series, and then, assuming there's room (and the thing isn't a one-shot), I try to layer the cycle with any extra story-lines that will enrich that main one. For example, in Iron Man: Noir, the main arc has to do with certain truths Tony fails to see in himself. That story is front and center. But with the room allowed, I can show how this affects people around him, Rhodey, Pepper, and so on. And I can touch on that theme I mentioned earlier, this notion of escapism in a time of depression.

Jim: I see you are working with Manuel Garcia, who has done some terrific work for DC and Marvel. What is your experience with working with him on this series?

Scott: He's been amazing. He's got exactly the right blend of pulpy and realistic style at hand for it. And the richness of the detail, the dynamic compositions - he really gets the line we're walking between pulp and hard-reality of the 30's.

Jim: Are there any characters that you would love to get your hands on?

Scott: My number one? Probably Jason Todd. I still have guilt over voting for him to die when I was a kid. I liked Judd W.'s Under the Hood a lot, too.

Jim: What about your prose work? Can you give us a brief description of your book and where we can get it? Any new books on the horizon?

Scott: The story collection, Voodoo Heart, is out in paperback now. It's about characters who've been knocked off course in life to some extent. The novel, which is actually about a comic book writer, is still a long way off. Still on my first draft, but will keep you posted!

Jim: Lastly anything else you would like to share about yourself?

Scott: I'm a big fan of Elvis Presley.

With that as Scott’s last answer the best thing I can say to Scott is “Thank you very much.”

Seriously I want to sincerely thank Scott for the time and effort he put into answering my questions. Any interview only is as good as the subject and Scott made this interview very easy.

On a personal note I have Voodoo Heart on my wish list at Amazon and look to read it later this year, most likely in the summer.

For More about Voodoo Hearts click here.

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