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Goodbye to Gotham: An Interview with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Goodbye to Gotham: An Interview with Scott Snyder and Greg...

By Tim Beedle Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Gotham is…Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Or rather, it has been for the past five years. Since helping to relaunch Batman in 2011 as a part of The New 52, the writer and artist team have continued to spin tales of the Dark Knight through The Court of Owls, Death of the Family, Zero Year, Superheavy and more. Their impact on Batman and his family of heroes is substantial. And sadly, it’s about to end.

Today’s BATMAN #51 marks Snyder and Capullo’s final chapter of Batman. A poetic, lyrical issue, it rewards their longtime fans while also setting the stage for an exciting new era. It’s almost certain that fans will feel bittersweet about adding it to their comic haul this week, but how do the two creators feel? We spoke with them recently about closing this chapter of their career, how the end of their run ties in to the beginning, and whether we might see them collaborating again within the DC Universe any time soon.

This is it! Your final issue on Batman. What can we expect from it?

Greg Capullo: A lot of revisiting. Scott wrote in a lot of things intentionally to bring us all down memory lane. My colorist, FCO Plascencia, he shot me an e-mail about how he couldn’t believe he got to recolor this whole Arkham scene. Everything is very familiar. We have the big splashy shot of the Batcave, the Batmobile, Arkham… A lot of great things that we enjoyed doing along the road. We just had fun celebrating our run together. Hopefully the fans will celebrate with us.

Scott Snyder: Yeah, the issue’s really meant as a love letter to the fans, the character and to the creators that have come before us. It’s a sort of lullaby to the run and a thank you to everybody who has been so supportive of us through the years.

It seems like this story deals a lot with Batman’s relationship with Gotham, and as Greg alluded to, it also has some pretty cool ties going all the way back to your first issue. Was that always how you planned on ending this run?

Scott: While we were beginning “Superheavy,” I thought of how we would end it if that was going to be our last story. The idea of doing something that would sort of circle back to our first issue, but also put the toys back nicely for the next team began to coalesce. Particularly, it was using this refrain of “Gotham is…” and having the sentiment really be something that Greg and I have thought about a lot over the years—that Gotham City really is the people who pick up the book. They’re the ones who have lived with us in the same place for five years. We feel like we’re neighbors in some kind of community. It was our city for a while, all of us as a team. Not just the creative team, but the readership as well. In that way, we thought it was a nice spine to the issue and a way of wrapping up everything.

So, how does it feel saying goodbye to the Dark Knight after spending five years with the character?

Greg: It feels strange for me. I’m not just saying goodbye to the Dark Knight, but I’m also parting ways with Scott for a little bit too. I didn’t think much of it at the onset, but then, as I’m a few pages into the script, it starts to dawn on me. This is it, man. This is your last issue with Batman and then you’ll be getting a script from a different guy afterwards.

Honestly, I would get a little sad, but then I’d push it off because I’ve got a job to do. I’d think, I’m not going to get all sentimental and wishy-washy. I’m drawing Batman. You’ve got to be tough!

But yeah, it feels a little strange, and I miss him already. But the thing is that there’s nothing saying that I can’t pick up a pencil and tell DC, hey, I want to do more Batman! That could happen. So I’m not too worried about revisiting.

Scott: It was definitely the lettering script I took the most time on just to delay having to send in something that would close the door. Mark Doyle and the other editors had to chase me down for it.

Take us back to the start of The New 52, when the two of you first started working together. How was it working together at the beginning, and how does that compare to things now?

Scott: I think when we started together, we were from really different backgrounds. I was so used to having complete creative freedom as a writer, and Greg was used to having more freedom as an artist. I think we clashed at first because I especially wanted more room than was helpful for the book. But then as we became friends, we developed a sense of trust between us. We wound up realizing that we had the exact same priorities for the book, which is that as long as the ideas and storytelling were as good as they could be, it didn’t matter if it came from him or it came from me. It became the best collaboration I’ve ever had, where he’s been a mentor and a big brother to me, and it’s just been a joy going to work.

I hope that’s part of our popularity. That fans have gotten to know us as we’ve gotten to know each other in that way, and that we’ve all been on this crazy journey together of going from a place where we were real strangers to being family.

Greg, is there a page or a spread that you’re particularly proud of from the run?

Greg: If I was going to select one particular issue as my favorite, it would probably be issue #5. I’ve drawn so many images, but one that does stick out in my mind is the splash page when Gordon had been poisoned by the Joker and he was bleeding out of every pore and Batman’s kind of cradling him. I think it’s a powerful image. Here’s your good buddy and he’s bleeding out. It’s one of my favorite pages.

Scott, is there anything that you added to the story particularly because Greg was your collaborator on this? Anything that you added because you knew he would just knock it out of the park?

Scott: All the time. I feel like once you’ve worked with somebody, after a while you start to get a sense of what you think they’ll have fun on or enjoy. Every scene I would talk through with him on some level and make sure he liked it, and my favorite scenes were the ones that he added to. Like in issue #50, Batman is stronger and faster than ever, and he’s beating up all these loons. He’s using the Gotham flag, and then at one point Greg was like, “What if the signal pops up in the air and he hits the big metal bat off the signal like a baseball at the loons.”

I was like, “Oh, that sounds amazing. Go for it.”

Greg: Yes! Like a giant batarang!

Scott: There were so many of those. My favorites were always writing something and then seeing him take it and make it even better.

Greg, there have obviously been many artists who have worked on Batman throughout their career, but not too many who have had such a long run on the title. Any advice you’d give future Batman artists?

Greg: In the beginning, I would recommend diapers because it could be scary taking on such an iconic character. Some of the fan response you might get could scare you. Ultimately, though, you’ve got to follow your instinct. You have to somewhat make it your own. Trust yourself and stay off of comic forums. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

Batman fans tend to be very particular. You’ve just got to take it all with a grain of salt and remember that they just love the character as much as you do, so take it all in stride but definitely follow your own path and your own vision.

So do you think we’ll see you two collaborate together again here at DC?

Greg: We’ll definitely work together again. That was planned before I even departed here. Yeah, we’re getting back together. Scott’s working on a secret project right now while I’m doing my gig that we’re going to do at its conclusion. We’ve talked plenty of times between us wondering where we could go from here. We had such great success thanks to all the fans that supported us on Batman. How could we really top this? We had the best character on the planet and the best fans.

But then all of a sudden Scott, as he’s been known to do, comes up with a brainstorm, and you know what? I think this one might push it up a notch. So I’m really excited that I think we could actually—not by a lot, but maybe a little bit—eclipse what we did when we relaunched Batman.

Scott: Yeah, I can’t wait for this guy to come back. I know what he’s going to do while he’s away is going to be incredible. I’ve already seen a little bit of it and it is just as good as you would hope. But he’s like my best friend, and I know we’ll talk as much as we did. We already pretty much are. But at the end of the day, he’s my partner for life in terms of any creative project he ever wants to do. I’m there. So when he comes back, I know we’ll have a blast. It’ll be a fun time.

BATMAN #51 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is now available in print and as a digital download.