There is an old saying that you should never meet your heroes. Why exactly do people say this? Well, because often you find that your heroes are human beings just like the rest of us. They have bad days. They get tired. They get stressed out. Sometimes the weight of their own popularity is too much on them. Sometimes they turn out to be boring people. Sometimes they’re arrogant douchebags who view fans as ants to worship them. For example, convention scuttlebutt says that Stan Lee is a rude, grumpy old man who interacts with fans as little as possible and everything that I heard at Awesome Con seems to support that. Firsthand accounts also seem to indicate that Jason David Frank, the original Green Ranger from Power Rangers, is something of a stereotypical jockey douchebag and kind of a jerk in person.
But then sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes these people turn out to be very friendly people who are genuinely grateful for their success and the fans who helped make it happen. They can be very approachable and come off as the kind of people you feel deserve what they have. You have guys like Nolan North for example who will literally stay at his table nonstop for hours signing things and taking pictures with fans. At Awesome Con I was actually in line to get a picture with David Hayter and saw him doing stunts with a fan who was seemed mentally disabled, (turned out I was extremely wrong in that regard). I ended up stepping out of line after witnessing this because I realized that my opinion of him could not get any higher after seeing what he was willing to do for a fan.
I bring all of this up because it was among the reasons that I didn’t go to many Q&As or sought out too many autographs and pictures during the convention. Some of these lines were as long as football fields and some of the signatures cost as much as a night in the hotel that I was staying at. Because of this, the idea of waiting in said line to pay an arm and a leg for a few seconds of someone’s time who may have turned out to be a jerk was about as appealing to me as sticking my hand in a bucket full of scorpions. But, on the other hand, the prospect of meeting Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo was just too great of an opportunity to pass up.
For those of you who don’t know Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are the two men behind the New 52 Batman series. Together the two would collaborate on 53 individual issues spanning over the imprint’s five year run and is the book that is not only among the best of The New 52 but easily contains some of the best Batman storylines to be published since the career peaks of Alan Moore and Frank Miller. But for me these two are a big part of what got me back into the medium. Whereas the rest of the New 52 was something of a mixed bag, their run on Batman consistently gave readers a solid, enjoyable book that kept me on board with DC long after many of my friends had given up on the imprint. Because of this it was rather important to me that, at the very least, I get the chance to express my apricating to them in that regard, even if they turned out to be colossal assholes. But luckily the two turned out to be very engaging individuals who both had some interesting things to say over the weekend.
The first Q&A that I attended at the convention was the one with Scott Snyder on Saturday morning. From what I observed of the man during the panel I would describe his demeanor as that of a man who is somewhat uncomfortable with the spotlight. Perhaps it was because he was tired from the show or because of the anxiety issues that he mentioned having a few times during the panel but there was a certain awkwardness to the man; almost as if he was the shy guy in a classroom who the teacher forced to speak in front of the whole class for a report. That’s not to say that he didn’t engage with the people in the room or disliked them. He answered everyone’s questions thoroughly, was very polite to the people in the room and obviously had a passion for the subjects that were being discussed. Heck, he was even nice enough to sign books and talk to the people who were cut off for time at the end of the Q&A. But he does kind of come off as the shy, awkward nice guy who has been pushed into the center stage by his more outgoing friends.
During the Q&A itself all everyone wanted to hear about, much to my dismay, was Batman, (I honestly think that his runs on Superman Unchained and Swamp Thing are more interesting to talk about), but it none the less revealed some interesting things about the man, how he works with the character and what his intentions were regarding his time on the book. The way he tells it he never actually intended to be the headline writer of the series. While doing the Black Mirror storyline, for example, he had every intention of allowing Grant Morison to be the lead on the character while he continued to write smaller, less notable Batman stories on the side. The most fascinating information that he revealed, however, was regarding the Court of Owls storyline and his run on New 52 Batman overall. According to what he said during the panel he never actually intended for his run on the book to last as long as it did. By his own admission he has some anxiety problems and working on such a high-profile book did nothing to help them. The second was that he and artist Greg Capullo initially didn’t get along but eventually found a way to work together through increased communication, (more on that later).
The third and arguably most fascinating thing that he revealed was that The Court of Owls was supposed to be a much shorter story. As Snyder initially conceived it, the story would revolve around Dick Grayson, who was wearing the Batman Cowl at the time, and how the Court had initially targeted him as a potential Talon assassin when he was young and how it was going to affect his entire sense of identity as a hero. Elements of this would eventually find their way in to the Nightwing book but it does go to show just how an idea can evolve from its original conception into something far different then its creator originally intended. Because of all of this and specifically the way he worded these things, the man came off as an intelligent one who genuinely seemed to enjoy what he does and the people who enjoy his work, even if he doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with it. Now Gregg Capullo, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.
The Q&A for Greg Capullo was the last panel that I attended at the convention and it ended on quite the high note. When you look at the man and hear him speak it’s clear that he could not be any more different then Snyder. Whereas Snyder comes off as kind of shy and bookish, Capullo is outgoing, charismatic and a little on the loud side with the demeanor of a biker and is so much fun to talk to. When one talks to Snyder he just kind of gives you the facts and some more intellectual information on the matter and some insight as to how he thinks. Capullo, on the other hand, likes to tell you a story and may or may not embellish certain details. What is rather odd, however, is that most of the stories that he tells are rather mundane and are the kind of stories that most people have either witnessed and experienced during their lifetimes and feels like the kind of stuff that you’ve heard a dozen times before. Most of the stories that he tells has to do with his younger days, not paying attention in class and drawing Captain America on notebook paper when he should have been taking notes or some of his early encounters with Marvel’s editors. Where Capullo’s talent lies, however, is in making that mundane story sound a lot more interesting than it actually is. He adds more flair to the story my mockingly mimicking his teacher’s reactions to his Captain America drawing or trying to make a cursing contest he had with a Marvel editor sound PG rated. The problem, however, is that writing about the stories he told does a disservice to the way he told them so I would simply recommend that you find him at a nearby convention and hear some of these stories for yourself.
There was one story that he told, however, that is both interesting to write about and entertaining to hear. As mentioned earlier, he and Snyder initially didn’t get along. But whereas Snyder kind of glanced over the issue, (no pun intended), Capullo told a story about the whole affair that went on for about ten minutes. You see, before working with Snyder, Capullo primarily worked over at Marvel and Image where they did things a lot differently. Over at Image and Marvel, the artist is given about five or six pages worth of plot material that he/she has to work with in order to create the panels, pages and pacing of the story with the writer filling in the dialog later on. But when Capullo went to work on Batman he found that the scripts that Snyder wrote were a bit more detailed.
The way Capullo tells it, the printer that printed out Snyder’s script ran out of paper as it was printing in that first issue of Batman, giving details on every single nook and cranny on every single panel. His response to this was to send Snyder an email that, from what Capullo said, effectively amounted to “What the hell?” to which Snyder responded with a lengthy email that was as long as the script going over his accomplishments and achievements and how dare Capullo talk to him like this and so on. Capullo responded by saying “I’m sure your mom is proud.” This insult apparently went over Snyder’s head as he responded by effectively sending Capullo an email regarding his childhood and how close his family was and so on. This sort of back and forth apparently went on for a while and resulted in in a bit of an icy relationship between the two. Apparently, it was so tense at first that the editor of the book told them to make as little contact with one another as possible so as to avoid future conflicts. Instead the two did the exact opposite, eventually getting past their initial differences, resulting in their five-year collaboration as well as the upcoming Dark Nights: Metal series. Once again, however, it is far more entertaining to hear it from the man’s own mouth so if you ever have the chance ask him about it yourself, take it. Overall, it was a very entertaining panel and a perfect way to end my time at Awesome Con.
Before attending Capullo’s Q&A I got up early and raced to the convention center, half limping from an injury from the previous night to get to the line where the two were signing and selling things. This was, in all honesty, the main reason that I went to the convention in the first place and I was determined to get my nine words in before it ended. After waiting in a line for about 45 minutes I finally got up to their desk. Scott Snyder signed both of my volumes of American Vampire along with my copy of Superman: Unchained and both signed my copy of Joker: Endgame. I quickly thanked them for helping me get back into the medium, shook both of their hands and left letting the next person get his five minutes in with the two. Overall it was a great experience and was well worth the trip for. Once again guys, thanks for getting me back into the medium.