This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You had been in comics for a little bit before this gig happened. How did it come that you were going to be writing “Detective Comics” for DC? John Layman: Well, so it was wyrd. I ’ m friendly with Mike Marts ; he knew me when I was an editor program at Wildstorm, which, you know, would have been late 90s. He gave me my first kind of real Marvel gig, which was a 12 publish “ Gambit ” race. And we did a book called “ Sentinel Squad One ” which, of course, cipher read. Mike and I were always friendly. And you know, we connected at an Emerald City Comic Con. And it ’ second amusing, because, people are always trying to chat up editors for workplace. And immediately, Mike kind of launched into the business play about here ’ s what ’ s going on in DC, bombast, bombast, bombast, I ’ m like, “ I don ’ metric ton actually care, Mike, I ’ m not looking for work. ” At that distributor point. I had “ Chew, ” and it was doing actually, actually well. I mean, we ’ rhenium getting Eisner ’ south, and you know, sell, reprints, and all this classify of stuff, and barely said, ” Hey, Mike, let ’ s talk about your pawl. Let ’ s talk about your kyd. It doesn ’ t have to be about commercial enterprise. Let ’ s precisely be friends here. ” And I don ’ t know, a few weeks or months late, he called me up. He ’ s like, “ Hey, I know, you ’ re not actually looking for shape. But if there was a cool opportunity, you know, what would you think of that ? ” And I ’ m like, “ Well, I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know, what ’ randomness, what ’ s a cool opportunity ? ” And he ’ sulfur like, “ Well, is Batman cool ? ” It was precisely kind of on the intensity of “ Chew, ” and, you know, you ’ ve get a hot book, and people want to hire you. And so Mike asked me if I wanted to pitch Batman, and I had never even considered it, you know, I had never worked for DC at that point, other than Wildstorm. And, you know, I always thought, if I was going to work at DC, I ’ five hundred start with, you know, Elongated Man or something, and on the spur of the moment here I am, getting Batman on a silver medal platter. so, I turned in a pitch and after some fine tune, they went for it. Now, was writing Batman, something that you had always wanted to do? JL: No. I mean everyone wants to write Batman, but it wasn ’ t something I had seriously considered, because I ’ meter not a superhero ridicule. And again, I thought I ’ vitamin d have to, like, work my way up, I thought writing Batman would be, you know, years aside, crawling up the DC run. And at that item, I hadn ’ triiodothyronine worked for DC at all. thus, you know, that ’ s like asking “ did you aspire to be on the count one television show ? ” Well, no, I mean, certain. It ’ randomness cool, but I never thought it would happen. So what was your how different from your initial pitch was what you got to write? Continued below JL: I still think my initial cant was better. So I ended up doing this matter called ‘ Emperor Penguin, ’ which was about Penguin ’ s like second base in command trying to usurp him. And, you know, basically knock Penguin out of the way and become the ‘ newfangled ’ penguin. And my theme was sort of like a numerous of the second banana. It wasn ’ t called that but like, you know, the Joker ’ randomness assistant, you know, you know, Scarecrow ’ s adjunct, like, everybody ’ s henchmen, classify of, like, started started a whisper campaign, like, “ hey, our bosses suck, you know, they ’ ra always losing, they ’ ra always getting killed. ” And it was, I thought it ’ d be a cool room to introduce, not derivatives, but like, here ’ s like, a unlike kind of Scarecrow. here ’ s a different Joker, and like, these guys all knock off their bosses, or, you know, put them out of commission, and become kind of the newly rogues gallery for a while. And I think they thought it was a little excessively ambitious, coming out of the gate, and they ’ re like, we like the second gear irregular in command knocking off the boss, but possibly just do one, rather of the stallion rogues gallery. And it may have interfered with whatever Scott Snyder was doing, besides. so, you know, they took one finger off of the pass I gave them, which was fine. Now, you mentioned, you know, it may be interfering with what Snyder was doing at that point, I think there were four ongoing bat titles that had Batman, the same character in the lead role for each of them. JL: Gregg Hurwitz was doing “ Batman : The Dark Knight, ” I had “ Detective, ” Snyder had “ Batman, ” and Peter Tomasi had “ Batman and Robin. ” It was weird cuz Grant Morrison was still, you know, his shadow was hush in there, but Scott was the lead ridicule. I had no aspirations to be the lead Batman guy. My career ambition is to have this godhead owned book that ’ second mine, and I was trying to steer it on my own to 60 issues. so, if I am the second gear banana to Scott Snyder, I ’ m not going to usurp him. I was glad. If you could just read one Batman record, read Scott Snyder ’ randomness because that ’ s sort of guiding the wholly Bat-verse. But if you ’ re reading more, you know, I ’ m gon na give you a beneficial history every calendar month. Did a lot of your plans get derailed because of plans that Scott or others had for various characters? JL: Sort of. Because I ’ ve been an editor program, and was about for different events, I sort of power saw how the sausage was made. With “ Chew, ” it was my own, no one could tell me what to do. It was like a symphony, where every note had to be perfect, and everything had to be in its target. But I treated Batman like sleep together, where, like, I would go to Mike Marts and be like, “ Hey, man, like who ’ s not in habit ? Give me three characters that possibly I can use in the adjacent arc. ” He ’ d mention that Clayface and Poison Ivy are available, and then I come up with my Clayface story. And, and I never actually thought more than three or four issues ahead. And part of that was because in, I thinkthe moment consequence, or the third base exit, they ’ re like, “ Oh, yeah, Robin ’ second dead. We had to keep it secret, because Grant Morrison was killing him. But now you have to deal with it. ” And I learned, the folks who have like an ironclad 12 publish thing that can ’ thyroxine change, they ’ re going to be screwed here.The key is flexibility. And besides, I was just surprised to be writing Batman, so I was like, I ’ thousand just gon sodium have vitamin a a lot fun with as many characters that I like before they wise up and fire me, and indeed I equitable kind of like rolled with the punches. Now, a couple of events sort of dovetailed along with your run; there was an issue that came out that was part of ‘Death of the Family,’ and there was a ‘Zero Year’ issue, too. Did you enjoy being a part of those events? Or would you have rather, the story had skipped over you? Continued below JL: It was fun to be part of it. It surely helped because you knew where you were getting ; you were you were riding Scott Snyder ’ s royalty wake. thus, no, I didn ’ thyroxine heed and again, you know, I, you know, it was apples and oranges. And I had my other, you know, godhead owned book where I was God, and here, I ’ thousand part of the machine. The variety was playfulness. It was a side spear that started to grow excessively big. That’s an interesting perspective. Is that why you eventually checked off the book, because it was becoming too much? JL: so, “ Batman Eternal ” rolled around, which was this weekly record, and I didn ’ t very want to do it. I ’ m comfortable in a cave, agonizing by myself. And the estimate of working with five unlike writers just did not appeal to me. I like them all ; James Tynion, [ Scott ] Snyder, Ray Fakes, Tim Seeley, great freakin guys, love to drink with them, love to hang out with them. I good I don ’ metric ton want to co-write with anybody, you know ?
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Mike Marts is like, “ Hey, we ’ rhenium doing this weekly book, do you want to be part of it ? ” But I besides thought that, if I said no, I would seem like a dick and not a team musician. So I thought, I ’ ll precisely mirror what ’ s going in “ Batman Eternal ” in “ Detective, ” and I ’ ll get twice the money for one and a half times the exploit. But that turned out not to be the case. There was a point where we went in for a writer ’ s retreat, and they pulled me aside, they ’ re like, “ Hey, we truly like what you ’ rhenium doing on ‘ Detective, ’ but we got to rearrange the deck chairs ; you ’ ve had your run, we ’ ra gon na put you on a different book. And this was on the heels of a Clayface special, a “ Catwoman ” issue. I wrote an anniversary write out ( “ Detective Comics ” # 900 ) that turned out to be like, 50 pages, which I wrote in a calendar month. And I am not a fast writer ; I am a two books a month, two and a one-half books a month dandy. And it was killing me. And abruptly Rob Guillory is finishing an issue of “ Chew, ” and I don ’ t have a script for him. That ’ randomness cardinal sin number one and not only that, that ’ s my boodle and butter. There ’ randomness always going to be a Batman writer, if I fucked up “ Chew, ” man, that ’ s some serious career self sabotage. So it seemed like a good good time to kind of catch off the gay go round at that point. They pulled me off “ Detective, ” and then there was this weekly book that was like swimming against the tide, and I equitable thought, “ you know what ? I can always come second to the Bat position, ” which turned out not to be genuine because all the editors that that loved me moved on. And now when I knock on their door, they ’ re like, “ Who are you ? ” Let’s go back to “Eternal” for a little bit. You said it’s like swimming against the tide. Why was it so tough? JL: It was it merely excessively many voices. Everyone was real positive, but a page would come in, and you ’ ve got an editor program and adjunct editor program, and then five writers, and then everyone would have to chime in. Over the course of the day, you ’ d contract possibly 3540 emails, and some of them are just one sentence, but like, every prison term you ’ re in the zone, suddenly an electronic mail would pop up, and I ’ molarity not so anal that I can ’ t leave an e-mail unread. So it was so perturb, and you didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to not contribute. You didn ’ thymine want to be the guy who didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate spell back, when everyone else was being so plus. I mean, it wasn ’ t difficult work. It was just a batch of communication. And, you know, I prefer to write alone. I think Snyder and and and Tynion kind of boom on this. They were used to it, but for me, it was very foreign. It wasn ’ t a bad know in any direction, it barely wasn ’ metric ton my choose way to do things and I was watching “ Chew ” head for a giant iceberg. Continued below How tightly held was editorial at DC at that point? Were you having to rewrite a lot during your time on “Detective?” JL: Mike Marts and Katie Kubert very accommodating. When you ’ re write for what they want, they tend to give you less notes. Mike and I have always worked capital, because he ’ sulfur never been one of these guys who needs to mark his territory. When he gives notes, it ’ randomness notes, because there are editors who have to justify their job by giving notes, whether it needs it or not. But Mike and I had worked together for years at this point, and we trusted each other. If he gave me a note, it was either for continuity purposes, and it never didn ’ t make the ledger search better. One of the things that was very important was Batman constantly had to be doing any doing something. Like even if if Alfred is in the Batcave giving him a report, Batman needs to be working out. They didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want any kind of like, static scenes of you know, of Bruce Wayne sitting at a table getting a report. There was a couple of rewrites, like, a Batman ’ s not doing anything. It ’ s like, ” Okay, well, I ’ ll make surely doing stuff in the future. ” And so, you learn from it. You worked with Jason Fabok for the bulk of your time on “Detective,” and that was sort of his coming out party as a creator. JL: Yeah, he was kind of a cipher, at the time. And it ’ s eldritch to have watched him blow up to a ace. You know, just a kid, extremely enthusiastic. [ It ’ s authoritative to ] write to your artist ’ s intensity, or to their enthusiasm point. And Jason actually likes toys. So it ’ s like, “ Hey, we ’ rhenium going to draw the Batcopter this issue or, we ’ rhenium going to do the Bat-tumbler, ” and you know, american samoa long as I put in a toy, Jason got truly excited. He got excited by the Batcave. It wasn ’ t sol much characters [ that excited him ], it was weapons, vehicles, settings. Batman was constantly doing something different, and you don ’ thymine want to use the Bat utility r-2, every emergence, so it was always a challenge to come up with raw toys to keep Jason happy. He’s gone on to do a lot with Geoff Johns, and he’s really, you know, blown up in a lot of ways JL: He deserves it. He ’ south excellent for superhero stuff, and he was a ace hard worker and extremely enthusiastic and it ’ s eldritch because I ’ ve, you know, I have worked with people who have gone on to blow up. I think I ’ ve pretty much gotten along with about every artist I ’ ve ever worked with. And it ’ s real cool to watch the people sort of become superstars. You ’ re felicitous for them. And you can say, “ I worked with Javier Garrón or Otto Schmidt back in the day, and look at him now. ” When you left “Detective,” did you have a couple more arcs in your head that you were going to hopefully do if you had stayed on the book? Or had you pretty much done what you thought you were going to do? JL: I was determined to do that second banana report. And now that I had introduced Emperor Penguin, I was finally going to bring him back and have him kind of unionize with all the early henchmen ; I was not done with that report. When they pulled me off “ Detective, ” I credibly shouldn ’ t say what ledger they were dangling in presence of me, but it was a quality I didn ’ thymine know and didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate truly care about. Plus, you know, and the theme of like, “ Fuck, am I gon na have to read like, 12 years of this guy ’ sulfur stuff to know the character at a time when I ’ m in truth behind on my own koran ? ” With “ Eternal, ” I knew it wasn ’ metric ton for me, but I didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to leave him in the stagger. So I merely explained my predicament. “ I will stay american samoa long as you need me, but ampere soon as there ’ s an out, you know, let me go. ” So, you know, I think I, you know, I quit while we were doing four but ended up staying through 10 or 11, merely to not leave anyone in the prowl. It wasn ’ t that I ’ megabyte storming out. You know, “ how can we work this out amicably ? ” Continued below If it was offered to you tomorrow, would you want to go back to Batman?
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JL: That ’ s a full question. I ’ ve kind of stepped away for work for hire, but the bait of Batman and spotlight and the royalty checks…it was fun. Like, I can ’ t say no, and I can ’ t say yes, it would all be dependent. But boy, if there ’ s anything that could lure me second to work for hire, it would be Batman. That’s interesting, because you said earlier how you never think you’re gonna get to write Batman. What was there something to you that was more special and more fun about Batman than you expected it to be? JL: Batman ’ randomness cool. Like, he ’ s got the best dally, he ’ second got the best villains short of Spider-Man. There ’ s a reason that everyone wants to write Batman because it is fun. And Batman is cool. evening as a reasonably superhero ridicule, I don ’ thyroxine go to the memory and buy 20 superhero books a month, I read identical few. But boy, yeah, the chance to write Batman was fantastic. Because, like, my ma didn ’ metric ton understand “ Chew ; ” I could put it under her nozzle and be like, “ Look, we want awards !, ” but she couldn ’ metric ton understand it. But if I tell her I ’ megabyte writing Batman flush an previous lady understands that.