Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been working together for some time now. From “Court of the Owls” to “Zero Year,” “Superheavy” and now Batman: Last Knight on Earth, they are one of the longest currently-running partnerships at DC.
With the finale of Last Knight on the horizon, Newsarama caught up with Snyder and Capullo at New York Comic Con to talk a little bit more about the book, what it takes to be a team, and what comes next.
Newsarama: The finale of Batman: Last Knight on Earth is November. How big is this one for you too, and for the DCU?
GregCapullo: It’s a really big deal for us. I mean, this is the bookend of our “Court of Owls.” So this is the end of our Batman. We’re trying to really hit the highest mark we possibly can. I think we’re going to do it. We’re going to stick the landing. Scott’s turned in amazing scripts. I’m trying to live up to those scripts into my pictures and the whole team is hungry to make it… You know, Jonathan Glapion, FCO… We’re giving the best efforts, and so I think everybody should be very pleased when they see the third, final issue.
Snyder: This team is like we’re all family at this point, after a decade of working together, basically.
For me, it’s strange because it’s our last Batman thing, but it’s almost like – if I was doing no other Batman or we hadn’t done any Batman, it’s the story I’d want to tell right at this moment if I got one chance to do a Batman story. It’s urgent, it’s personal and it’s about the things that I think Batman means to me and I think means to other people – especially at a time like this where there’s a lot of loss of faith, concern with human goodness, decency and so on. So I love it. I think it’s our best thing.
Nrama: You two have created some wild ideas before that wouldn’t seem to fit into the DCU. The Batman Who Laughs being just one example and he’s really in the thick of it right now. Could we see follow up from Last Knight in the DCU in 2020 and beyond?
Snyder: Well, Last Knight is pretty self-contained, but I would say that we have another big project we’re working on for DCU. It’s in continuity. Can’t say what it is quite yet. But it definitely is in the spirit of Metal and the stuff that happened with Batman Who Laughs and all of that. I always think they’re going to say no when I pitch. They’ll be like, “This is not DCU.” But they just roll with it.
I was actually out with DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio for lunch and I was like, “If you let us do this, you get it.” It’s almost like I’m like, “Dad, just give me the car keys I wanna go for a quick ride.” And he said to me, “When I gave my kid the car keys, he crashed the car.” But I know I won’t crash it or if I crash it, he’ll just be like “it’s great.”
So yeah, they’re trusting us with some really fun stuff coming up. I’m very big DC fan, very big Batman fan, Superman, Wonder Woman… So I hope fans know that as crazy as we go, like with Metal or whatever, I’m never out to do something that’s salacious or just shock value, trying to hurt the characters in some way. I would never do that. It’s really about trying to do something you haven’t seen before, but speaks to the core of why they matter right now.
You have to change stories. They’re up against things that are important for this moment, for our kids, for us. That means sometimes challenging the readers, but always staying true to more of the characters. So yeah, we have some crazy, some super crazy stuff coming soon. We’ll probably be announcing it in the beginning of the new year.
Nrama: To kind of, I guess piggyback on that. I know you guys have talked about the next big thing that you’ve got planned together. Is it more of a spiritual sequel to Metal or is it more of a textual sequel to Metal? Or is it not at all a sequel in any way, shape or form to Metal.
There’s an understanding of the kind of stories that you guys do together and it’s very broad and far-reaching and it always seems like you’re trying to challenge yourselves and one up yourselves. But-
Capullo: Well, there is Scott’s game. Always trying to one up himself. I’m always warning him. I’m going, “You know, you can’t always do that. What’s going to happen when you hit the dud?” You know what I mean? You got to go back to… I was in the studio with the Green Day fellas and this was when they wrote, you know, all these long, epic songs and I go, “what are you going to do to keep beating yourself?” And [bassist Mike] Dirnt just goes, “I just want to go back to writing two-minute songs.”
And it’s like that sort of what we’re doing, but God bless him, man. He keeps beating his last mark. The good news for me is when he stumbles and falls, my own work is still going to be consistent. I’ll just go, “It was all his fault!” [Laughs]
Snyder: I feel like we texture it though, like Last Knight is very different for me. When we go big, a lot of it is having pressure on it. Like Batman was a grind, for as much as it was the best ride ever. It’s a barometer for sales at DC that-
Capullo: It can’t slip.
Snyder: … it can’t slip and that pressure is intense. For five years, every month looking at it, how do you keep at that? One-upping yourself there is very different than like with Last Knight. I feel no pressure except to make that as good as it can be, not as big as it can be. I don’t care about how big it is.
So with this, like with the thing we’re talking about post that it’s more of a giant party, a love letter to the DCU. “Let’s make everything that we’ve been doing over the last number of years make sense,” kind of stuff. I don’t feel the same pressure about being judged on it because it’s taking all these threads that we’ve been building and playing with and some from other books, from everywhere, and say “everything you’ve read matters.” Everything from like the last Crisis on Infinite Earths to now matters.
Nrama: That’s great. Now metal bands try to branch out with a power ballad every once in a while. What would a power ballad from the two of you guys look like in a comic book format?
Snyder: Oh wow. I don’t know. What do you think?
Capullo: It would have to include Wonder Woman or something.
Snyder: I feel like a Court of Alfred Batman. I can see a power ballad –
Capullo: It’s always with the sausage party, they don’t give me girls to draw! Like, he goes “Catwoman’s in this.” Yeah, for like two pages! She’s not even in costume. [Laughs] He just denies me, denies me. So I say, Wonder Woman. He says Alfred. There you go.
Snyder: Well, Wonder Woman plays a really big part –
Capullo: That’s true. You gave me some females, but she’s not really… I wouldn’t call this a power ballad with the Mohawk and everything, you know?
Snyder: That’s pretty… Yeah. I don’t know what would the power ballad be.
Capullo: Something very touching with Swamp Thing or something.
Snyder: Maybe that. Swamp Thing power ballad. Swamp rock.
Nrama: You heard it here first.
Capullo: Swamp rock.
Snyder: Swamp rock.
Capullo: Hey dude, you totally could coin that one.
Nrama: All right… one last question: you guys have been working for so long together at this point. Do you have any advice for aspiring creators who are looking to find that partnership that really works for them and ways to keep those kinds of partnerships going?
Capullo: One thing I would say is you have to understand who you’re saddling with. And what I mean is, some writers like to work from plot, some writers like to work from full script and the same goes for artists. Some artists need a writer who will give them every detail. This happens, this number of panels, this camera angle, all that stuff.
And other guys, like myself, would just hate that. So you have to understand who you’re saddling with so that it all works, because it’s a group effort and you get the best comics when you’re a true collaboration and you’re getting out of each other’s way. So find people that are like-minded in the way that you like to put something together and then just do your best and respect each other and that’s the only thing I can think to say. Really.
Snyder: Yeah, I learn more about how to be a comic book writer from him than anyone like him. It’s one of the things I’m most grateful for about our partnership. The lesson I would take away above all that I’d say to other creators, I thought that if I did full script all the time, it would elevate, like it would give him what he needed to then he’d see everything and then get to do whatever he wanted. But I wasn’t listening to him saying, “I like the room to imagine it myself,” and the moment I did that, it was our first issue that people really took notice of our run was issue five and he came up with that idea.
So that lesson to me, I mean it was the turning point in my old career and there’ve been many since then, but that is sort of the compass is that idea of suddenly trusting the person you’re with, listening to them, asking them how do they like to work, and then taking the risk of working in a way that’s going to bring out the best in them, not just you. And then you will get stuff back that’s better than what you imagined.