And His Name Is Scott:

Why Scott Snyder’s Work Exemplifies Magnificent Superhero Storytelling

There are numerous writers whose talents have lead to tremendous careers in the comic industry. With the greats ranging for Moore to Morrison, Miller to Pope, and Rucka to Brubaker, the list goes on of remarkably skilled men and women who make powerful strides towards elevating comics to something of a literary genre. However, in 2009 readers were introduced to yet another splendid talent who entered into the realm of comics; the soft-spoken, highly intelligent man named Scott Snyder. Mr. Snyder began his writing career as a student at Brown University, which eventually took him to New York City where he completed his MFA at Columbia University and assembled his creative works into his thesis project, the anthology of short stories entitled Voodoo Heart. The collection was eventually published and met with unanimous praise and catapulted the young writer down a path of accomplishment that he continues to follow to this day. Yet, what makes Scott Snyder a truly masterful storyteller is not the characters whom he writes (as he has already contributed to legends Batman and Superman), but rather what his intentions are as a storyteller; for when Mr. Snyder writes, he writes by emphasizing the basic fundamentals of writing that transcend the medium itself.

When placed in charge of the monthly issues of Batman the expectations will always be increasingly high for the talents behind them. Hundreds of thousands of readers across the globe all eagerly await the next issue featuring the Caped Crusader. Nevertheless, the goal of selling the book should not be what fuels a creative team (or at least it should not for those who truly believe in the characters). No, what fuels Scott Snyder, and the artist, Greg Capullo, is the need for their book to reach audiences that might be familiar with Batman and who desire real stories that capture the Dark Knight’s struggles and introduce new pathways that, until now, have been left unexplored. Therefore, the real challenge becomes making the artistry work with the character and to make readers appreciate the stories and the artwork rather than just purchasing a comic because of who appears on the cover. And this is where Scott Snyder’s talent is derived from, because he, like all great writers of the comic book industry, writes to arise prolific questions and thematic ideas that coalesce beautifully with the superheroes he is caretaking.

Scott Snyder is not the only writer who demonstrates the skill of bringing real writing into the realm of superheroes. Talents like Joe Hill and Jeff Lemire have exemplified similar traits when crafting their own comic books. However, in addition to Scott Snyder’s compelling narratives he is also a writer who can take an icon like Batman and do something more than place him in life-threatening situations.

No, Scott Snyder’s work is much more profound.

During his initial run on Batman he introduced a secret society of Gotham City that posed an intimate threat to the Dark Knight, and the reason why this was so extraordinary was because of the hidden dynamic it exposed and the questions it presented regarding Batman’s mythology. It introduced new topics and new ideas, and when writing superheroes this is precisely what the vast majority of readers require: new avenues and new concepts that are brought alive by writing that lures them into a realm of seriousness where everything is life and death, everything is at an end. Thus, Batman no longer became a mere crime fighting hero, but one with intense psychological overtones whereby one could truly observe the mental stamina of their favorite superhero and watch as he became lost in a world of terror, another great change featured by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

But before Mr. Snyder was placed in charge of Batman he was writing one of Vertigo comic’s top titles, American Vampire, a horror narrative with a fresher, more endearing take on vampires. Snyder then took this ability of conjuring horror tales and integrated them into Batman’s world and this in turn shifted the genre into a more darker, more enticing form. The Court of Owls, the secret society that was created during the first story arc, was an organization that utilized horror elements in order to siege the Caped Crusader’s mental state and challenge his place in Gotham, and the additional arcs that followed improved on these challenges, with Batman facing many notable foes with more underlying questions that furthered the allure of the comic itself.

And, after relishing in the talent that is displayed by Mr. Snyder, one must ask what specifically has he done to ensure his place amongst a list of comic’s greatest writers, and the answer to this question comes is that Scott Snyder is practicing precisely what all writers are educated to practice. He is relying on the important fundamentals of storytelling, fundamentals which consist of intricate plot lines, dense dialogue, well outlined sequences, and finally real resolutions that offer closure and enrichment, and while most of the time it involves heroes like Batman and Superman, Mr. Snyder’s techniques and intentions still stand, and it is this that makes the writer the master of storytelling.

People forget that comic books comprise mostly of men and women in costumes, but in the end, they are still books, and like all other books they can be considered as a form of literature, and so long as there are writers like Scott Snyder, superheroes can be more than just stories about good versus evil. They can be tales of tremendous deepness that improve the human condition and improve the lives of people of all ages, and before Scott Snyder became one of the top talents in the industry today he simply did what all aspiring artists seek to do. He told stories that he believed would matter, stories of posterity, and intricacy, and this is the philosophy that artists everywhere must embody, because at the end of the day all that really matters are the stories that lie within, the stories that lead us to inquire and to feel inspired, the stories that the industry was first built upon, the stories of real heroes.

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Jarrett Mazza is a writer and teacher living in Canada. He attended Wilfrid Laurier University and received an Honours Bachelor’s Degree in English and Contemporary Studies as well as a Bachelor of Education from the prestigious Schulich School of Education. He is now in the process of earning an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in Vermont. He has been fascinated by superheroes and stories for as long as he can remember and studied comic book writing and sequential storytelling from industry professionals Ty Templeton and Andy Schmidt. When he is not self-publishing his own comic books, he is working on his thesis novel, submitting short stories to publishers, obsessing about geek fandom, and looking for new things to read and write.

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