The clown prince of crime is back and there's no one more qualified to give him the grand entrace he deserves like Scott Snyder. We got a chance to talk to Scott at New York Comic Con 2013 and reflect on The Joker, Death of the Family, and a little bit about what's to come.
Charlie Chang: The Joker is arguably the most popular villain in comics and
in entertainment. How do you go about tackling such an icon in not only the Joker?
Scott Snyder: For me personally, the only way to write these iconic
characters when there’s 75 years of great stories that have already been
written is to make these stories personal. Assume that if you make it personal,
then that’s how you make it original. So I came up with the idea for this story
when we were about to have our second kid and I just kept finding myself wishing
that I could stop worrying about the first kid once in a while and wondering
how I was going to do this again. I came to this realization that Batman has
this family and he probably thinks that same thing once in a while like, I wish
I could stop worrying about them. Then that led me to this idea that someone
might ask him, “Well why don’t you just kill all of them? That would make it
easy..” and that’s the Joker right there. I knew that was the Joker, I could
hear it in my head. It was perfect, you hear that and you know he’s coming.
Then it became a process of trying to develop a story of how to go deeper and
deeper and darkly into that idea.
CC: Just a few years ago, The Dark Knight film redefined Joker when
a lot of people didn’t think that would have been possible. What’s different
about this version?
SS: I love Heath Ledger's Joker, I also love The Joker from Frank
Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, but we tried to
create our version that’s both funny and almost humorously apocalyptic in his
own kind of way while at the same time giving this Joker his own look. In
another book (Detective Comics, Vol. 1: Faces of Death) his face was cut off and we picked that
up because it hadn’t been dealt with and we turned it into something for our
story where he belts on his own skin-face thing and that’s part of the theme of
this story where he’s trying to say, “Let’s look beneath the skin of this
relationship and see what you really look like beneath that mask, all of you,
you fools.” So in a way, I think this is very different than anything you’ve
ever seen, especially if you love the Joker, if you’re new to comics or new to
the character at all, hopefully it’s something that gets your attention.
CC: Joker is most commonly described as a lunatic, psychopath, even comedicly crazy. What is your favorite thing about him and this book?
SS: The thing that I love about it is how dark it is. I try to
write the Joker with integrity and from the perspective that he genuinely
believes that he’s doing Batman a service by getting him to kill his own family
because he believes Batman loves his villains more than his heroes or his
allies. Because ultimately what’s going to happen is each one of them is going
to die or fall to some villain and he’ll end up alone with the villains that he
keeps alive and doesn’t kill anyway. So why not just do it now? The twisted
truth, brutality, and relentlessness of that conviction is what I love about
this book the most. The Joker believes he’s peeling back the face of Batman to
show a truth that’s there that Batman does not want to admit is beneath the
CC: Some of the other writers writing the tie-ins to Death of
the Family have touched on this but coming out of this book, what are you most
excited to explore after this big huge epic.
SS: Well for me, it was never really about what happens in
continuity, it was never about the idea that the Bat family isn’t going to meet
or work together anymore. That was a fun repercussion in the books but it’s the
first part of a story within a story about the Joker that I plan to continue.
It’s part of the relationship I’m fascinated by and this is only one piece of
it. So to me it’s really about this part, the Joker saying we love you and you
love us so why don’t you admit it. *Spoiler Alert*Then when Batman doesn’t and
essentially tricks him into killing himself, Joker now realizes, maybe it’s
time to start hating you and show you what it would be like if we didn’t love
you and how brutal that will be.*Spoiler End* So I won’t say when or how or
even if it’ll come cause I don’t want to spoil it, but it’ll come.
CC: This book is so full of themes and characters, what do you
think is the core of this book and what is Death
of the Family really all about?
SS: This book really is a meditation on the dark and twisted
nature of Batman’s relationship, both with the Joker and with his own family.
How the Joker, as evil and horrifying as he is, sometimes can extrapolate from
a kernel of truth, a horrible abomination of that truth that speaks to
something that can terrify everybody. That to me is really what this book is
about and I’m very proud of that.
The interview was conducted by Amazon Kindle editor, Charlie Chang. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.