Will Romine reported from Baltimore Comic Con this weekend. He talked to Scott Snyder yesterday afternoon.
The other night, I submitted an article to my Bleeding Cool overlords covering the DC Comics panel at Baltimore Comic Con. Since I was tired, hot, and sweaty from traipsing around all day in a full-body felt suit, I decided to limit my reporting to a few bullet points. Since that time, two items from my article have generated a healthy amount of discussion in the comments section, namely the nature of Tim Drake's "Robin-ness" and DC's editorial suggestion that writers approach the New 52 as if they "were writing fan fiction." I sat down with Scott Snyder to further develop these two bullet points.
Snyder first wanted to clarify what Dan DiDio meant by the fan fiction comment.
"Essentially, he was telling us to write the absolute best stories we could with those characters, but also to be unafraid of telling the stories that we would love to see ourselves if we could only see one story of this character, ever. To me, fan fiction is essentially someone writing their absolute favorite story for the character, staying true to that character's core, but sometimes taking the character to unexpected or unconventional places. That's just how I'm interpreting the term, fan-fiction, though. I don't mean to suggest in any way that the goal was to do radical things to these characters, or to write stories that were fantasies of what the characters might be if things were altered about them. Honestly, I simply meant to underscore how unchained DC wanted us to feel with the start of the 52. The feeling I got from it was: "So long as the story you're telling is true to the core of this character and serves as the best introduction of the character to readers new and old, don't feel restrained by continuity." Still, with many characters, like Batman, the stories we came up with – the ones that were are own absolute dream stories – didn't require any radical changes to continuity outright.
Snyder goes on to describe the freedoms and restraints given to writers and artists in the New 52.
"The people who were chosen to do these series first had to pitch their story and explain why that story constituted the best take on the character, given who the character was at his or her core. It wasn't 'Hey, do you want to write Superman, well you can write your fan fiction, regardless of how it conforms to the essence of the character! Feel free to change anything!' Not at all. Instead it was: 'Why does this story -whether it conforms to continuity or not – represent the best, truest story to reintroduce this character to readers new and familiar.' through. It was all about staying true to the core of each character, but also trying to reintroduce the characters in ways that would make readers new and familiar love them as much as we did."
Snyder also talked about the Red Robin confusion. At the panel, DiDio confirmed that Tim Drake called himself "Red Robin" out of respect for Jason Todd. I was still unclear as to whether this was a distinction Tim made in his own head, or if he was known to the world at large as "Red Robin" from the time he became Batman's protege. Snyder said that that issue would be cleared up in upcoming stories in Teen Titans, with it being addressed as early as issue #0.
Finally, I asked Scott Snyder about the continuity problems already emerging in the New 52, including Stephanie Brown as Batgirl in the Leviathan Strikes! one-shot, mentions of Titans teams prior to the current, and the aforementioned "Was he a Robin" issue. He responded,
"Honestly, at the end of the day, we all try really hard to make a shared universe.
Sometimes things get a little complicated. It's a balancing act, and occasionally, like with the Tim issue, an idea will come to a writer after the fact – an idea that they fall in love with because they have great ideas for story moving forward. And we'll all talk about it and sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't, but at the end of the day, we'll decide as a team one way or another and once we're signed on, we'll all work to make it play across the line, collectively. The bottom line is we're all learning as we go, in terms of living in a thoroughly shared universe, and it's exciting working in tandem but it can be tricky at times, too. In the end, the DCU is a lot richer for it, I think. And honestly, I'm sure some of us are going to tell stories that you don't like – maybe me, maybe anyone. Just please know that we love these characters to death and all we're trying to do is tell you the best stories that we can that honor the cores of the characters, while keeping them exciting and fresh."
The way I look at it, the New 52 is a house being built while we're living in it. Sure it's a little drafty and the plumbing is exposed, but it has the potential to be a grander house than the one in which we last lived. Our past house became so infested with continuity termites that we had to demolish — multiple times. When we rebuilt, continuity still limited the size and scale of our dwelling. I say, let's let the architects and builders give us a mansion.
And if you don't like it, remember, all comics are essentially Elseworlds.
And if you really don't like it, write your own fan fiction.
And if you really, really, don't like it, follow me @notacomplainer.
Look forward to Will Romine's review of Batman #0 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo later today.