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THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS Creative Team On Going Back To Their Horror Roots

Scott Snyder has one of the most prolific careers in comics. His epic, cosmic stories are shaping the contemporary DCU as we know it, but in a new psychological horror miniseries with his frequent collaborator and comics art icon Jock he’s going back to basics–sort of–and the pair are having a lot of fun returning to their horror roots. One of the breakouts from Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Metal event, The Batman Who Laughs is a terrifying alt-universe vision of Batman who after killing the Joker is infected by a toxin that’s released as his foe dies. The instantly iconic character design made him a fan favorite, though Snyder always felt like there was more to explore with the horrifying villain who rarely had a chance to shine in the cosmic cataclysm of Metal. “From the very beginning I always knew I wanted to do more. That was one of the most frustrating things in Metal, I barely got to use him! We only had six issues to do a giant cosmic event.”

Nerdist: Scott, when did you actually start to plan the next Batman Who Laughs story?

Scott: “At that time I started talking to Dan [DiDio] and Jim [Lee] about possibly doing a miniseries with him at a later date, and they were all for it. So it really came down to making sure that the story was exactly where it needed to be, and making sure that we had the exact right team on the book. I really want it to be something that stands on the shelves alongside my best work. It’s not meant as a kind of quick miniseries just because the character was popular–it’s meant to be a spiritual successor to the work that I did with Jock and Dave on Batman: The Black Mirror that probes and examines the darkest parts of Bruce’s psyche.”

Nerdist: Jock, what were your feelings when Scott first reached out?

Jock: “I had a really good feeling about it when Scott called, which is what happened all those years ago when he called me about Black Mirror. This is definitely a spiritual successor to Black Mirror, and we both had other stuff to do and Scott told me ‘I’m just gonna tell you this thing I’m doing and you’re probably not gonna be able to do it.’ And as he explained it to me I stopped him and just said ‘Scott, I’m on board, this is great.’ I knew we could put in some of the tone that we’ve established together over the years and fit it into this, but also have some of the bigger action set pieces that we don’t get to do in stuff like Wytches, because this is Gotham.”

Nerdist: The Batman Who Laughs is a much grimmer book than we’ve seen recently. What drew you to this story?

Scott: “For me, I wanted to get away from some of the more cosmic stuff I’d been doing in Justice League, and just get really psychologically probing. I wanted to create a story where Bruce starts to find dead Bruce Waynes around Gotham, and as it happens each one of them lived a life that seems happier than him. But as the autopsies start, Bruce realizes there’s a darker plan going on with who’s bringing them here–it’s the Batman Who Laughs–and he’s got this bigger chess game that he’s playing from Metal to now to sort of unleash a real nightmare on Gotham. I wanted it to be a return to form and go back to my roots–in terms of it being grounded and gritty, and not Green Lantern and Superman and the stuff that has become such a part of my Batman writing–but to not just go back and do the same thing we’ve done before.”

Nerdist: Jock, could you tell us a bit about creating the visual world of The Batman Who Laughs?

Jock: “It’s very easy drawing Scott’s scripts. Instinctively, it’s very straightforward to me, and I know what he’s going for, and that’s pretty much what he gets from me. So apart from trying to make Gotham as cool a place as possible, Batman as awesome as possible, and the Batman Who Laughs as freaky as possible, it’s business as usual. There’s some moments in issue two where he just lets loose and starts taking people apart, and that was fun deciding how he would do that, and what kind of physicality he has. The Grim Knight as well, he’s this very violent version of this icon that we all know, and he’s sort of a force of nature, and forces of nature are always super fun to draw.”

Variant Cover by Bill Sienkiewicz

Nerdist: As it’s such a horror-tinged book, are there any horror films that impacted or influenced you?

Scott: “For me, the films that seem closest to this are actually Jacob’s Ladder and The Shining, essentially films about people devolving.”

Jock: “I’m a huge horror fan, so I draw from that stuff all the time. With The Batman Who Laughs himself there’s an element of the Cenobite from Hellraiser in there, as well as the pacing and tone of some of the more extreme stuff like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

The Batman Who Laughs is out on 12/12

Images: DC Comics

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