An Interview With Scott Snyder About ‘Batman’ And His Terrifying Joker

You’ve all had a moment to read Batman #16, right? Right?

No? Go read it. Scott Snyder was kind enough to spend a few minutes chatting with us about Batman, why the Joker is so darkly evil this time around, and how his kids play a role in how he writes. We’ve also got some art from the next issue, under the jump.

Gamma Squad: What made you decide to push the Joker to such a dark place? He was scary before but now…yikes.

Snyder: To me, he’s always been that guy. He represents villany at his purest. He looks at you and assesses, and shows you that the monsters you see in yourself are true. He knows you in ways that you shouldn’t, thing that you hope aren’t true about yourself are true. He’s always been terrifying to me.

Gamma Squad: Your overall run has shown some strong horror influences: The Court of Owls breaking down Batman’s psyche in issue #5, for example. Was that deliberate from the start, or did you just find that creeping in?

Snyder: The way I approach a story is to bring a character up against his or her worst fears. It’s not meant to be horror in the strict sense. My favorite stories are always psychologically terrifying, and Batman lends itself to the dark and gothic. I plan to be just as mean to Superman! [Laughs]

Gamma Squad: What made you decide to put the Joker in the place of knowing, at least to some degree, pretty much everything about Batman?

Snyder: Well, that’s part of the mystery of the story. “It’s your fault, you let me figure it out because you wish they were all dead.” It’s really who you believe, Bruce or the Joker.

It’s tricky with all these guys. With Batman, there are so many amazing stories that have shaped the constellation of books that made me want to be a writer, it’s paralyzing the moment you think it about. The way I approached it is, where is the character in his trajectory at this moment? So what’s interesting about having that enormous family? As a father of young kids, the idea of having this family you love and care about, but fear for all the time. There are moments as a parent where you wish you didn’t have to worry about your kids.

So the Joker says “I’ll kill them for you!”

How has it been, coordinating all the Batman family books through such an enormous storyline?

Snyder: For me, I try and give them basic guidelines about what my story will be, and then my only real guideline is “This is the Joker in my book. He hates the family, and they don’t deserve to sit at the table with Batman. So he’s going to do the worst thing possible to them. This is the Joker attempting to totally break their spirit forever.” Then I just sit back like a macabre overseer.

Batman #16 is on the stands now.