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Thursday, October 01, 2020 

Two recent interviews with Scott Snyder

Here's a recent interview with Scott Snyder from Comics Beat, where he discusses his new Kickstarter-funded venture, Nocterra, illustrated by Tony Daniel. Before I begin to look over what I think worthy of note here, I would like to say it's pretty interesting Snyder would agree to an interview with a site whose head honcho, Heidi MacDonald, is part of the Whisper Network, where at least one other member tried to launch defamatory attacks on him. I assume they're trying to mend fences with him, and thus, he accepted the request. Though if they didn't apologize to him, then if I were in his shoes, I'd either not respond to their emails, or I'd hang up the phone. So, much as I don't find Snyder appealing, let's hope they at least told him they're sorry for any trouble caused, because of course it's harmful from a PR viewpoint in the long run.

With that told, here's something Snyder told them I thought worth responding on - his views about crowdfunding, and the Big Two:
ZACK QUAINTANCE: Very cool. So, in general what has your experience with Kickstarter been like? Like you said, you’ve had backers participating actively in your campaign. How’s that been on your end?

SCOTT SNYDER: It’s been really fascinating, Zack. Honestly, it’s been way more work than I expected, and it’s been really invigorating work at a time when things have been scary and frustrating and challenging in other areas of comics. It’s been a real godsend. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously and I’m sad to see the campaign to end.

The thing I’ve loved most about it is discovering the community on Kickstarter. I’ve backed a number of projects before, but I really wasn’t aware how interactive the process of doing a Kickstarter is with your fans. We wanted it to be something that was really connective, but the whole duration of the campaign, you’re interacting and responding to comments. On top of that, you’re adapting your campaign to fit what they want and what the demand is on their end. You’re learning the things they like and the things they’re not responding to.

That interactivity I think will play a huge part in the wave of what comics is going to become. I’ve felt that for a while, but looking at Kickstarter itself as a kind of pure expression of what people really are looking for in the relationship between fans and creators. It’s been really inspiring. Also, I’ve just loved the community: the way people reach out and make you aware of other projects happening, other creators making really exciting books. It’s just so much more inclusive and non-competitive and supportive than I expected.

I’m not saying Kickstarter is the future of comics — I don’t think any one method or delivery system is the key to it — but what it speaks to is this relationship between fans and creators, where fans now more than ever want something that makes them feel connected and feels like a passion project. Every circumstance in the world is driving us apart and making us feel disconnected. Not just the pandemic but how divisive things are politically, how ugly the world is getting — all of this.

With comics in particular right now with the corporatization of superhero comics — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s seismic shift and you see it with DC and AT&T, and Disney with Marvel — there’s twin desires. There’s a desire for those comics to be really strong and to feel like you’re participating in generation stories with these characters, but what I think that also engenders is an equally-strong desire on the part of fans to find something organically-made by creators outside that matrix of corporate sponsorship. They want something mainlined from the creator to them that they can be part of from its inception to its production and distribution.
Well this is pretty amazing coming from somebody who previously attacked the Comicsgate campaign, despite there being people there who also upheld crowdfunding for various projects. In addition to that, how fascinating he's working on a project that's supposed to be attuned to what a particular audience finds appealing, because that's not exactly what he and/or his colleagues in comicdom are doing at the Big Two. If he were officially working at Marvel now, and asked if he'd try to restore the Spider-marriage, would he at least tell Spider-fans he appreciates the sentiment? Probably not.

As for his statement corporatizing superhero creations "isn't necessarily a bad thing", I'm sorry, but this is exactly why audiences like whom Snyder is trying to build a vehicle for now are turning away from them, because the publishers and editors don't want to service an audience that supports Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson as a couple, the corporations are otherwise practically fine with shunning those audiences too. There's other, smaller publishers around today who aren't under corporate ownership, and if they really have pride in their products, won't sell them out, if that's how to keep the quality going. But tragically, the Big Two have wound up in what's turned out to be a very bad place in the long run, and the corporations do nothing to improve their fortunes, or oversee the same by hiring staffers who aren't ideologues. And Snyder isn't doing much to make things better with his allusion to the political atmosphere his fellow liberals have made so divisive.

Now, what is the Nocterra's premise about?
ZACK QUAINTANCE: Anything else you can tell us about that book?

SCOTT SNYDER: Yeah, it’s a mystery. It’s sort of fun. It images that for reasons unknown, the different levels of the food chain have started turning on mankind from the bottom up, and nobody knows why. It takes place in a very claustrophobic setting in a research center in the arctic, and it begins with a murder there. It’s almost like a murder mystery happening in this facility where the key to why everything happening with the world might be hidden. It’s like a whodunnit, but it’s a whodunnit in the context of an end of the world cataclysm.
If this were a DC project, I'd almost think he was talking about another variation on Heroes in Crisis. And even if it's not, the theme's been made very unappealing, even for an independent project. It's not like I think death shouldn't be a theme even in stories with an upbeat approach, but the premise he's using here just fails to interest me.

I also found an earlier interview from Hollywood Soapbox, discussing the same crowdfunded project, and this is pretty odd:
Ever since Snyder was a child, he has been deathly afraid of the dark. He remembers standing in the hallway of his house, scoping out the dark corners with a flashlight and challenging himself to ditch the torch and face his fears. [...]
Is this serious? Because if he really were scared of the dark, he would've chosen Superman as the franchise to write, not Batman. That he chose the Masked Manhunter decidedly contradicts what's told here. I still shudder at the time he boasted about the violent acts he told the press he was going to depict the Joker doing nearly a decade ago, and his telling them he wanted to emphasize Batman losing was no improvement. Speaking of Superman, no matter what the reputation and talent of the writers who take up assignments for Batman, I find it fascinating they never seem to audition for writing Superman. I must sadly assume anybody with a mindset as narrow as Snyder's never bothered to learn the skills that could help them write something promising for the Man of Steel without losing the elements that worked best in the past century. If anybody with a shred of decency wanted to, they could take the challenge of scripting a fine tale starring Superman, and even Supergirl, keeping an optimistic direction in place, yet all they care about is the stuff that skirts the sidelines of science fiction while sinking in darkness, proving in addition they lack the skills needed for science fiction adventure. Is it any wonder the sci-fi and fantasy genres could've suffered as a result?
After the Kickstarter is complete, Image Comics will pick up the series, likely launching Nocterra for non-Kickstarter fans in February. The plan is to make this an ongoing series with at least 30 issues (two-and-a-half years of Snyder’s creative life). The writer said the individual arcs will run five to six issues, and the first arc will take readers from issue #1 to #6.
This is going to be published in pamphlets, not paperbacks? See, this is another ongoing mistake. Especially if those parts end up costing over 4 dollars each. Why do most creators still uphold such an outmoded model?
During these pandemic days, Snyder finds that most of his creativity is focused on responding — directly or indirectly — to COVID-19 and these historic times. He wanted to tap into the shared anxiety and uncertainty that so many people are facing, and that inspiration comes out on Nocterra’s pages.

“I think we’re in a real crossroads where we’re at a moment when we have to decide who we are going to be as a nation, but also globally,” he said. “There’s a real impulse for us to retreat into solipsism or retreat into individual silos or even toward groups or neighborhoods of people that agree with us. Instead we’re facing these really big, entrenched and systemic problems, and the only way to do that is through collectivism, the belief that we’re all part of the same story somehow, regardless of how much we differ. Most of the stuff that I’m writing right now across different media touches on some aspect of that fear and that worry and that moment that we’re at a real tipping point. This book I think the aspect that it focuses on the most is the sudden uncertainty. Everyone is suddenly plunged into something that they did not expect, and that makes life really dangerous and scary, like COVID does. Again it just brings out the best and the worst of human nature, so I think the book is a referendum on whether or not we as creators believe in people’s ability to make it through and join together, or whether it’s going to be something that shows that we were never capable of getting along in the first place. We lean toward the first.”
Well I sure hope he's not implying conservatives are the only scapegoat here, when liberals have plenty of blame to shoulder on their part. And considering how badly globalism as an ideology hurt the world more than helped, I hope he's not implying globalism is the way to go. I do think a really good referendum would be one proving optimistic entertainment and escapism aren't a bad thing, yet that's hardly what Nocterra is about.

In all due fairness, I wish Snyder good luck with his crowdfunded project. But while it may be developed according to what the audience he's reaching out to wants, chances are it's the same specific audience that already takes a liking to the kind of comics he's been doing for DC this past decade: dark-laden stories of the Batman variety. So based on the setup for Nocterra, it doesn't sound like he's strayed far from the leading themes he's specialized in this past decade.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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