LoG: What can you tell the bat-fans about the upcoming 'War Games' arc? How much impact will the crossover have on the "Batman Universe"?
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: I’m actually surprised by how far they were willing to go this time. The impact is so great that as we’re trying to plan the issues that occur after the stunt, we have to constantly rethink things because so much has changed. To be perfectly honest, if anything, I think it may veer towards too much change. There seems to be a real strong “shake things up!” mandate coming both from the Bat-office and the higher-up DC powers that be. Some of it’s long overdue, some of it will be shocking, and some of it makes even me uncomfortable. And all this from what is really a relatively short cross-over as such things go (War Games takes place over three months). Even by the end of the 12 cent kick-off, there are some pretty major changes, and it just escalates from there. I’ve begun to jokingly refer to it as “the spring cleaning stunt.” This is the third or fourth major Bat-stunt I’ve participated in, and every time I go in thinking “what could we possibly do to poor Gotham City this time?” But I think every time we’ve been quite successful in pulling together something new and genuinely engaging, which goes to show the power a group of creative people working together can wield. [/glow]
LoG: Overcoming a lot of social misconceptions sometimes begins in the media. In your opinion, will we ever see gay/bi sexual characters accepted in mainstream comics?
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: This is a great question, and an important one. My sense from where I’m sitting is that there will definitely be more acceptance of gay/bi/alt-sex characters in this medium over time, but that they will almost exclusively be new characters who are non-conforming from the beginning. You’ll never see the major publishing houses “outing” pre-existing, iconic characters, even if most of the readers suspect or allow for the idea of some fluid sexuality where such characters are concerned.
I’ve been amazed at the response I’ve gotten, for example, to my Smallville novel, City. I play pretty openly in it with the homoerotic tension between the young Clark and Lex – a subcurrent, of course, with nothing explicit ever emerging – and yet since its publication I’ve gotten no less than three letters a week from ecstatic, almost exclusively straight women who are aroused and intrigued by the energy between the two characters. Some of them are what could arguably be called a “fringe” population of C/Lex slash fan-fic writers, but even more of them are totally normal (for lack of a better word) young women who just seem to love seeing an implicit emotional, romantic, and/or erotic interior life depicted for these otherwise fairly uncomplicated icons of young male power-fantasy. Several of them have asked me why DC doesn’t do more to exploit their interest and dollars (and again, this isn’t even getting into the enormous longing and support already established in the gay community for more explicit and diverse relationships in comics), and although I do understand why you can’t go mainstream with Superman’s adolescent homosexual flirtations, I also think the industry needs to really examine its constant refrain of wanting to attract a wide variety of readers. At this juncture we’re still seeing diversity used as a quota or shock element, not as a building block in a story genuinely designed to be inclusive of and engage a larger readership. [/glow]
LoG: What has your greatest challenge as a comic writer been thus far?
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: Hmm…my first thought is along the lines of the technical: learning to represent drama through visually depictable action, learning to be succinct with dialog which, as I’m sure you can already tell from this interview, is not my natural tendency. ;-) But I think the greatest challenge I continue to struggle with is carving a niche out for myself in an industry that I am in many ways not attracted to nor represented by. I’m enchanted by many of the characters in comics and I love the medium. I also feel deep allegiance to many of the friends I’ve made in this business. But the industry as an industry – as a corporate publishing trade designed, as all trades are, to make money – I have misgivings about some of our business practices and I also feel vaguely repelled by a lot of the material we create and – to an even greater extent – much of the media we generate. I find myself having to try to figure out, on a yearly if not monthly basis, what I can realistically expect to contribute to this industry, who that material is likely to reach, and whether or not my creative, personal, political, and vocational needs could be better met elsewhere. My guess is, though, that everyone feels this to some extent no matter what they’re doing. It’s important to keep looking both at how you can best serve your job and how your job is working for you. [/glow]
And now a few questions from your fans on our message board:
from aneurysm: Theres been alot of online debate about what actually happened at the end of Nightwing #93. Was Dick raped? Was it consensual? Did they actually do anything other than a bit of dry humping? Everyone seems to be debating this and coming up with crazy explanations (the weirdest I've heard is that Tarantula drugged Dick!).
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: Okay, let’s see if I can clear this up while still retaining some necessary vagueness. The facts: if you’re over seventeen, that was way more than dry-humping. If you’re a younger reader, well, they were just being friendly. ;-) There were no drugs involved beyond the very potent chemical cocktails of pheromones with which we all come naturally equipped. The act was not consensual – Dick did not want to be touched, as he stated, and physical intimacy – especially with Catalina – was the last thing in his head or heart. He was, essentially, raped, though I think in an emotional and spiritual sense even more than in the physical sense. He almost certainly has the power to best Tarantula physically, but she definitely overwhelms him in other ways.
What we were seeing on that rooftop that night would not be easily defined by either participant. Dick, all but catatonic with grief and remorse, was momentarily overpowered by Catalina, who was joyously celebrating what she considered to be a major victory and an enticing partnership. There’s a powerful connection between sex and death, and although the meaning behind the link continues to be argued, the phenomenon of “mourning sex” has been well documented. But in that particular situation, the sex itself was practically allegorical. I don’t mean it didn’t really happen, but rather that it was a final physical manifestation of an emotional violation that went much deeper.
There’s a small flashback to that rooftop in issue 94 – it’s the moment after the intimacy, and Catalina is calmly waiting while Dick stops to puke his guts out. He’s just lost. Everything he’s been through felt like rock bottom, and then the next thing would happen, and it would be even worse. What happened on the roof was like the cell door closing on the hellish prison he’s stumbled into. Every single part of his life has been tainted now, from the material to the emotional to the spiritual to the physical. [/glow]
from jedimario: Having read the sample scripts on your website, I know that you must put in a lot of work into writing them. My questions are: How long does it take you to write a script for a single issue? For a crossover event like Batman: War Games? What are some of the longest scripts you have written?
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: Writing, for me at least, is process with a few distinct developmental stages. First you have to come up with an idea, and this is usually the most time-consuming part, though it’s also often the least concentrated. That is, you’re often thinking about a story even when you’re not aware that you’re thinking about it…it’s working itself out in your subconscious while you’re talking with friends, house cleaning, even dreaming. Once you have some sense of where you’re going, the actual writing part – the act of turning those intangible thoughts into a physical, sharable form – usually takes me a little less than two days, though, as I’m fond of pointing out, being able to write one script in two days doesn’t always mean you can write two in four – the invisible part of the process, the thinking and fermenting— definitely needs its space. Then there’s editing and revisions, which usually goes quite quickly unless you’re being asked to make some outrageous change that comes with a horrible structural domino effect.
Cross-overs tend to go more quickly in the writing stage, since you already have a pretty detailed outline to work off of, but then slow down a lot in the editing and revision stage, since you have to be so careful about lining up your story continuity within the framework of the event.
One of the longest scripts I’ve ever written, both in terms of time and length, was JLA/Titans. I was pretty drained by the time I got to the revision stage, and the revisions requested for that story were nightmarish, unceasing, and counter-indicative, so it really felt like it went on forever. [/glow]
from NAMTAB: Do you ever see Dick Grayson/Nighwing taking over the mantle of the bat? If not, why?
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: This is a tricky question, because there are two realities we have to look at: his life as a character, and his life as a corporate entity. I think if Dick and Bruce aged normally, then yes, at some point Dick would find it less painful to adopt the identity of Batman than to live without Batman (or let anyone else do it), and certainly no one would deny him his claim to the mantle. But you may have noticed by now that Batman has been in his late thirties and Dick in his mid-to-late twenties for some time. The truth is that we’re telling stories about legends – not detailed, historic biographies – and in the legends, Batman is always Bruce Wayne. These characters aren’t exclusively our generation – they belong to the past and to the future as well, and will continue to be discovered and cherished for generations to come. Obviously, we have already seen and will continue to see some futuristic tales and elseworlds and “what if” stories – these are a lot of fun and can encompass a wide variety of theoretical scenarios. But in the comic book “Batman,” I believe – and indeed hope – that Batman will always be Bruce Wayne. Though I believe that Dick “deserves” to inherit the legacy, I believe even more strongly that the children and grandchildren of my friends deserve to encounter the amazing legend of Batman and Robin as it has persisted for the last sixty years.[/glow]
from JokerInc: What was it like taking over Nightwing from Chuck Dixon? Were you under any kind of pressure form DC?
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: Well, DC asked me to take the book, so I’m not exactly sure what you mean by being under pressure. There’s always pressure every time you write anything – you have to please your editors and the publishers, and you want to please yourself and your peers and the readers. The only real immediate pressure was that I was asked to choose between Gotham Knights and Nightwing, since they had other writers they wanted to incorporate into the Bat-group.
I’m a huge fan of Chuck’s and have always found him enormously supportive and generous with his time and advice. I spoke with him either directly before or right after I accepted the Nightwing assignment, and we talked about where he had been planning to go with various characters and story threads. He also assured me that I could call him any time with questions, an offer I took advantage of once or twice. I know I don’t write the same way Chuck does, but I have tried to honor what he created. As I said when I first came on the book: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Chuck created an amazing world for Dick to move through, and as intimidating as it was to step into Chuck’s shoes, I was also really privileged to have such great material already set up and at my disposal. [/glow]
from PPAIN: Any plans to return to Gotham Knights?
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: I would love to, actually, but was told by the current editorial administration that they don’t want any one writer on more than one Bat-book at a time[/glow]
What can we expect from you post-War Games?
[glow=red,2,300]Devin Grayson: I’ll continue on Nightwing, and there’s a strong possibility that one of the characters featured in War Games will end up with a mini-series of her own. I’m also hoping to work with John Bolton again on the sequel to SWITCH, and Brian Stelfreeze is flying through Matador pages now, giving me hope that we may be able to schedule that project to come out either later this year or early next.
I also hope to continue working on licensed publishing novels – I found writing both Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu and Smallville: City really energizing and rewarding. [/glow]
majorhoy: Where is everybody?
Apr 30, 2014 15:20:16 GMT -5
aikidodoc: Adopting a 13 year old boy from Bulgaria who is a huge batman fan (which is how I came on this site by a google search. Any help in finding a bulgarian batman comic source would be greatly appreciated. The DC Comic website said they couldn't help me.
May 6, 2014 9:29:31 GMT -5
manstink: hey has their ever been a like origin story on martha wayne. I think it would be cool if she were like in some kind of cult, and she was like ritualistically murdered for trying to leave the cult. Anyways thats my opinion.
May 31, 2014 15:02:51 GMT -5
batmanfan1: Did you guys see what Gotham TV did with Poison Ivy? like their poster has her name as Ivy Pepper not Pamela Lillian Isley.
Jun 25, 2014 23:55:50 GMT -5