I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m kind of fond of Godzilla. The big guy has been a part of my life for a very long time and so, when I heard there was a sixtieth anniversary panel at New York Comic Con, I rushed to the back of the line.
Unfortunately, the king of the monsters didn’t receive a kaiju-sized room and I found the panel woefully overfull. It was the first of a number of instances where the limitations of the Javitz Center became apparent this year, but, while I would have loved to talk Godzilla with all of you, it turned out to be quite a fortunate bit of bad luck.
Dashing back to the room I’d just given up a spot in, I managed to find a great seat for one of the more interesting panels of my 2014 Comic Con experience: So Where Do You Get Your Ideas? And What Do You Do With Them?
“The question is not really ‘where do you get your ideas’,” moderator Heidi MacDonald told us, “everyone has ideas. The question is what do you do when you get that idea.” On hand to answer that question were Eisner Award-winning writer/illustrator Becky Cloonan; Batman writer and general comic book superstar, Scott Snyder; Bryan K. Vaughan, the brilliant madman behind such favorites as Saga and The Private Eye; and actor/writer, Amber Benson.
MacDonald’s first question was for Snyder: what was it like to get offered Detective Comics? Terrifying, replied Snyder. Surprising as it may sound in hindsight, Snyder’s acclaimed Batman debut, “The Black Mirror”, was intended to merely be the backup in Paul Dini’s Detective Comics run. Unfortunately Dini encountered time constraints and had to leave the book. Left without a headliner, DC called Snyder in to offer him the job. It was nerve-wracking, Snyder recalled, “I thought I was going to get fired.”
Intended as a backup, “The Black Mirror” made a startling debut thanks to Snyder being in a perfect position to appreciate the huge shoes Dick Grayson was being asked to fill.
Confronted with just about the opposite of what he was expecting, Snyder still had a case of nerves, worried that his story wouldn’t live up to Detective Comics’ lofty history. Nonetheless, after thinking about it for a minute, he eagerly accepted.
It was somewhat unclear whether this discussion took place before Dini moved to Streets of Gotham or if he was planned to return to Detective Comics, but given the numerous fill-in writers on the prior series and the overwhelming response to “The Black Mirror” and “Batwoman: Elegy”, I find myself in the odd position of thinking that it was for the best that Dini limited his output.
While Snyder was also working on American Vampire, this was some of his earliest licensed comic work. With licensed characters, Snyder told the crowd, it can be a challenge to make the story personal – much the opposite of creator owned work, where you struggle to give it enough mass appeal. In stepping into some of the biggest shoes in comics, Snyder embraced the similar position of his protagonist: then Batman, Dick Grayson. He contrasted the difference between the two Batmen. “Bruce is all, ‘I’m Batman.’ But Dick was, ‘Hey, I’m Batman!’”
Snyder admitted that he’s his own worst critic and that that’s inured him to outside critique pretty well. He also spoke briefly about the importance of that part of himself in writing the self-critical Grayson. For Snyder, it’s not worth writing Batman if you’re just going to tell a mediocre story, you need to have something to say. In the case of “The Black Mirror” he found his angle on the story, but he cautioned any writers out there against taking an assignment, even a career-making assignment, if you don’t have something unique to say about it.
Amber Benson was quick to admit that she wrote a lot of goth poetry in high school but never took her aspirations of writing much farther when she was young. That said, working as an actor, she had plenty of opportunity to be inspired by writing and eventually succumbed and tried it herself with a story in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer comic series. Liking the process, she sought out more projects, eventually being put in contact with Ben Templesmith. The result was Shadowplay.
Benson also spoke about Ghosts of Albion, a transmedia project that includes short films, prose, and even a tabletop RPG. While there is no comics component as of yet, Benson said that working in animation had a very similar feel to her.
Unfortunately, before she could be asked another question, Benson had to run to another panel.
This spider, the symbol of the titular Killjoys, was created for the original announcement of the series back in 2009, but it would be another four years before it, or the Killjoys, would grace a comic cover.
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