Interview with Scott Beatty - Tales of Bats and Moths

When I launched this site in 2019, I had just read a comic book, a miniseries of 9 numbers that came out in 2003, “Batgirl: Year One”, a re-narration of the first days of Barbara Gordon as the famous DC hero. In this story, just like in the first original apparition of Batgirl, the main antagonist is a villain that is apparently laughable, Drury Walker aka Killer Moth, who is, instead, going to reveal himself as way more dangerous than anticipated. I already love the character, but after reading that I decided to homage him with the name of my website. Yes, Killer Moth is “Horror Moth”s namesake. For this reason today’s interview is somewhat of an important event for the site. Today I am happy to present to you my interview with the author of that “Batgirl: Year One” that struck me and influenced me so, Scott Beatty.
But first, a brief introduction about Scott for those who are not familiar with his works, obviously in a very concise way (trust me, he wrote a lot of things): he worked for years with DC Comics, publishing many iconic stories and series, often in collaboration with the talented Chick Dixon, just like in “Batgirl: Year One”, "Robin: Year One", “Nightwing: Year One” and “Joker: The Last Laugh”, and numerous “Secret Files” dedicated to as many superheroes and storylines, mostly about the dark knight, but including also Superman and Green Arrow. Outside DC, he wrote many epic stories, including some for the worlds of “Star Wars” and “Ben 10”.

And now, let’s get into the interview:

Robb: Hi Scott! Foremost, I'd like to thank you again for this, I'm very excited honestly!
Scott: Hi Robb!

R: Let's start talking about one of your most well-known works is "Batgirl: Year One", but you wrote many other "Year One" stories (including a Sherlock Holmes one, published not too long ago here in Italy): what was your favourite one and why? What's the best part of writing a "year one" story for you?
S: That’s like asking which of your children is your favorite [laughs].
I’m exceptionally proud of all of the stories. The Sidekick Trifecta at DC is near and dear to my heart though. Dick Grayson is my all-time favorite comics character, and having had the opportunity to add to his long rich history is certainly a check off my bucket list. All of these books have remained in print for the last twenty years and have become fan-favorites through an all-new generation of comics readers, so it’s hard to pick just one. The best part for me was finding new “wrinkles” to the stories that expanded the characters’ back-stories, but were absolutely faithful to what we already knew and loved about them.
R: Keeping up with "Year Ones", in your blog you talked about a scrapped "Alfred: Year One" series, can we know more about what it would have been? 
S: The plot is essentially the same as “Regnum Defende,” the story that appeared as a two-part back-up feature in Detective Comics #806-807. Alfred’s role in going undercover to ferret out and capture or kill the Nazi superhuman Parsifal would have been expanded to at least 4 full-length issues. I would have preferred six however. But with more room to grow, I would have explored Alfred’s tenure in Mi6 in greater detail and allow him space to use his thespian training and disguise to infiltrate the East German side of Berlin. Plus more cliffhangers! Instead, I had to to super-condense the story to just 16 pages! The upside is that my story helped to inspire the direction of the Pennyworth streaming series that focuses on Alfred’s roots as a British spy.
R: You and Chuck Dixon (the artist of "Batgirl: Year One") teamed up again recently, alongside artist Marlin Shoop, for "Unprepped". Can you tell us more about this new series?
S: UNPREPPED is an “inter-apocalyptic” road pic story exploring the trials and travails of two suburban families who were friends before the world ended, but now are forced to pool their resources to survive the chaos and destruction of a world-changing event. A third neighbor, a survivalist “prepper,” has a secret bunker… and our protagonists are doing their level best to get to it as all Hell breaks loose and society collapses all around them. It has darkly funny moments. Chuck, Marlin, and I are looking forward to fan reaction… and getting it adapted as a Netflix movie!

R: Speaking of streaming services, recently, WB axed the "Batgirl" movie in work for HBO Max, alongside other questionable decisions. How do you feel about it? Would like to see an adaptation of "Batgirl: Year One" as a live action feature?
S: I’m sad that the Batgirl film was cancelled and will likely never be seen because Discovery/Warner is choosing to take a $90 million tax write-off to settle other debts. It’s a real slap in the face to the whole cast and crew who labored so hard to make the film. I had heard rumors and anecdotal information that some Batgirl: Year One mentions or scenes had made it into the film, so I’m personally disappointed that I won’t see that or my name in the THANKS TO… credits at the end. But if this means a “pure” adaptation of Batgirl: Year One might one day make it to film or animation, I’ll remain hopeful.
Leslie Grace as Batgirl
R: Now, returning to comic books, can you tell us what's your process for writing a comic book script?
S: I’ve always written full scripts for nearly all of my work except for my time on RUSE at Crossgen. There I collaborated with penciler Butch Guice, inker Mike Perkins, and colorist Laura Martin on each and every story. I either flew to Florida for epic plotting sessions or talked over the plot in conference calls with the entire team. After that I wrote Marvel-style outlines for each page-spread and Butch did all the rest in art before it was handed back to me to dialogue. Otherwise, I begin with an idea or fully-realized plot and then sit down and write. Often the momentum of the story pulls me along and I either skip dialogue or put-in placeholder text until the final write-through. That’s why my author’s blog is called Dialogue To Follow… Mostly, however, I plot and dialogue at the same time, sometimes with music playing in the background, but usually fully immersed in the writing and talking to myself as I sound out SFX and cool character interactions.

R: So, what's your piece of advice or suggestion you'd give to newcomers and wannabe comic writers?
S: Find an editor who is willing to take a look at your work and then endear yourself to that person for all time. Seriously, though, there’s no “magic formula” for breaking in to comics. Every creator has a different “origin story” of how they opened the door. The best advice I can give any aspiring writer is to never say no to a project, exceed expectations (and deadlines), and always treat the current story as if it was the most important thing you’ll ever work on.

R: And if you were free to write about every fictional character ever, who would you choose and why?
S: I still have a strong hankering to write James Bond. I saw my first Bond film at age 10… Moonraker… and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Roger Moore as James Bond
R: That makes me think: what are your biggest inspirations and how did each of 'em actually influence you?
S: Marv WolfmanArchie GoodwinDenny O’NeilBob HaneyGerry ConwayPaul LevitzAlan Moore… and too many others to mention. Every single one of these writers wrote comics characters as if they were real. They respected them and were never afraid to “kill their darlings.” Moore taught me that the page could be poetic, not just hyperbolic, and that comics were also literature.

R: How did you feel handling iconic DC character and writing new, now iconic, stories and even origins for them? How was your experience with DC Comics and how did you get your place there, just like some of the authors you quoted?
S: I treat them as icons that should be respected. When I’m done with a character that I don’t own, I should be able to put it back on the high shelf for the next creator to build upon my additions, or ignore them, because the character is already fully formed. We’re just brief caretakers in otherwise long and storied lives.
I’ve always had a great relationship with DC. I was given the opportunity early in my career to contribute text pieces to the various Secret Files title, and that led to an editor giving me chance on my first scripted tale in the DCU Holiday Bash III. From there, I built up a nice résumé thanks to many wonderful editors, artists, and other collaborators. Again, working for DC is one of those “bucket list” experiences that I will always cherish.

R: Killer Moth is the main villain in "Batgirl: Year One" (probably, in his most important story ever): how do you approach the character and how do you interpret him? Would you ever touch upon him again?
S: Killer Moth was sort of a one-note knock-off of Batman, albeit villainous, in his inception. Our goal in Batgirl: Year One was to make him more of a threat worthy of being the first villain in Batgirl’s rogues gallery. So we leaned into his desperation as the character trait that made him truly dangerous. I’d write him again in a minute if asked. Certainly, there might be something to uncover in his second appearance following his ignominious defeat by Batgirl. Revenge can be a great motivator [laughs]!
R: Last, but not least: what are you working on right now? Any future project you'd like to share?
S: I’m currently between projects, but I have a Bat-related pitch in right now. I’m usually loathe to mention anything that isn’t signed and sealed, but maybe this time a little hint might be good luck! So keep your fingers crossed!

R: That was a blast! Thanks again!
S: You're welcome!

You can find other articles of the English Section here and don't forget to check out Scott Beatty's blog!

INTERVIEW BY
COVER BY
REVISION BY
GIULIA ULIVUCCI


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