There were a lot of things that I loved about San Diego Comic Con. As you know, this was my first Con so I was already excited – Steve Orlando even caught on to the fact that I was a newbie and commented on the “twinkle in my eyes” – but my highlight, by far, was interviewing these two gents! I mean no disrespect to the other writers I interviewed, or the panels I attended, I’m just a huge fan of Nightwing/ Grayson. It also doesn’t hurt that Grayson is easily my favorite book at the moment. I’ve openly admitted this on the site, and I’ve also admitted that if I could be any comic book character, it would be Dick… So I was pretty damn giddy to score an interview with these guys!
I have to tell you, we laughed a lot during the interview! These two are a riot, and if I were writing with them, I’m not sure I would be able to get any work done. There is a great energy between the two of them that’s pretty infectious, and they bounce off of each other really well. They were also funny in their panels too. Fletcher separated them during a panel he was hosting just to keep them in check… which is a shame, because I would pay to watch a Seeley/ King comedy hour.
Anyway, I met these two at a nearby hotel for the interview, and I was a little nervous because I’m such a big fan. When I walked into the room, they were watching the Batman V Superman trailer that had just been released, and we had some small talk about that. Right away, I was put at ease. They’re just normal, friendly guys. Tom King also looks and reminds me of my brother, so that didn’t hurt either. I was a little early for my interview, and had one more person before me, so I waited until I was summoned, at which point King let out a welcoming:
King: It’s your turn! Where are you from?
McDonald: Yeah, one of our guys, Jay, just recently did an interview with the two of you about the release of Grayson Vol. 1. (Which you can find here.)
King: Yes. So you are not Jay?
McDonald: No. I’m Josh… McDonald. Josh McDonald. And you’re Tom King and Tim Seeley!
Seeley: That is correct!
King: How’s Comic Con?
McDonald: Great! This is my first Con, and I’m-
King: Wait. We need to stop, and we need to rewind this whole thing.
King: Have you ever read a comic book before?
McDonald: Oh yeah!
King: Are you sure?
McDonald: Yeah. Here, I’ll give you a little background on me with comics. I grew up reading comics. I have three older brothers, and they introduced me to comics.
King: Three older brothers? Your poor mother.
McDonald: I know. And we’re all terrible. But I grew up reading comics, and I stopped, I guess, around 12 or 13. And then I didn’t read comics for years. Then with the launch of the New 52, there was a lot of media around the relaunch, and I heard a lot about Snyder and Court of the Owls-
King: Huh, interesting.
McDonald: So I picked it up, started reading, saw Damian, thought, “Oh crap… I need to catch up.” Put the book down, then spent the next year catching up on years of comics that I’d missed.
King: You’re the dream audience! We found you!
McDonald: I came back!
Seeley: Well done comics. Well done Snyder.
King: Yeah… Damn you Snyder!
McDonald: Hey, full disclosure, Nightwing has always been my number one guy! Well, Dick Grayson. I should say Dick Grayson.
King: No, no. Nightwing is good. We call- I always think of Grayson as Nightwing undercover, but he’s still Nightwing.
McDonald: Agreed! Before we get started, I just want to say, it’s an honor to meet you guys. I’m a big fan. I love the book. I look forward to it every month. And its one of the books that… Sometime I read books, and it’s kind of like a multitasking type of reading, but Grayson is one of the books where I need quiet. I stop everything, put everything away, and just read.
Seeley: Good deal.
King: Oh yeah.
Seeley: Good to hear.
McDonald: So, one more thing before we officially get started, I just came from the Batman panel, and I heard there’s a little competition going on right now.
McDonald: It’s about who can draw… Or, actually, who is sexier, Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson.
Seeley: No, no, no… The battle is between Midnighter and-
King: No, this is a new competition.
Seeley: Is there a new competition?
McDonald: Oh yeah, Snyder was throwing the whole thing down-
Publicist: Oh! (Laughs)
King: He’s said this once before.
King: He’s been so far in our rearview mirror, that we’ve never paid attention to him.
King: That’s right, we’re coming after you Snyder!
Publicist: Is this on the record?
McDonald: It is now.
King: Not in terms of writing though, just sexiness.
McDonald: Oh yeah, this is just sexiness. I guess he thinks by giving Bruce a beard he’s going to-
Seeley: Oh come on, now!
McDonald: I know.
Seeley: It didn’t work for Brenden Fletcher. It’s not going to work for Bruce.
King: You can’t just “Fletcherize” Batman and think it’s going to work. “Fletcherizing” Fletcher didn’t work.
Seeley & McDonald: (Laughs)
McDonald: That is awesome! I love it!
Seeley: Make sure you include that!
McDonald: Oh yeah! It’s all getting transcribed. Every single bit of it. I had an interview with Fletcher yesterday, and I know he’s been to our site. I’ll make sure I tweet it to him as well, and tell him there’s something in here he needs to read.
Seeley: You know, behind that Canadian charm, and behind that beard, is a raving, evil lunatic.
King: There’s an old Simpson’s episode where Homer Simpson asks Darryl Strawberry, if Darryl Strawberry is a better baseball player than he is. And Darryl Strawberry says, “Well, I’ve never met you, and I’ve never seen you play, but yes, I’m a better baseball player than you.”
King: That’s how Dick Grayson feels when someone asks him if they’re sexier than him.
Seeley: (Continues laughing.)
King: He’s like, “I’ve never seen you. I don’t know who you are, but yes, I’m sexier than you.”
Seeley: (Still laughing.)
McDonald: I will admit that Snyder admitted that he’s been trying to throw more shirtless panels of Bruce in, but it hasn’t gotten anything.
King: I’ll tell you who Dick’s competition is… Kyle Raynor. Cause I just had him shirtless in Omega Men, and he’s looking pretty good.
Seeley: This is such a weird conversation for a bunch of straight guys to have.
King: Not for me, man. This is my life!
Seeley and McDonald: (Laughs)
King: This is how I’m sending my kids to college!
Seeley and McDonald: (Laughs)
McDonald: Alright, I’m on a short window, and although I’m having a blast, I should probably ask some questions about Grayson.
McDonald: Uh, you just had the first volume come out, and we’ve spent the first couple of issues kind of identifying who Grayson is now. The world he’s in now. Spyral. I guess my question is, now that he’s getting solidified in this role, and it’s becoming familiar to him, what’s next? Especially with Spyral, and how far down this rabbit hole are we going to go?
Seeley: We’re going to go all the way down the rabbit hole, and out the gopher hole.
(King laughs but tries to hold it in… at which point I try not to laugh.)
Seeley: …Is that a thing?
King: You’ve gone insane.
Seeley: (Laughs) You can quote me on that. That’s the name of the next trade, “Out the Gopher Hole.”
(King and I start laughing harder, and then it clicks with Seeley as to why we’re laughing. So he starts laughing, and then tries to recover.)
Seeley: No, I mean… (laughing) I… (more laughing) But… (we’re all still laughing and unable to talk.) Oh god, I forgot the question… (more laughing) Shut up! (We laugh harder)… Ok… (He takes a breath to compose himself.) So the general thing is that we wanted to always switch up the… (we’re still laughing) the job that Dick had at Spyral… (yep, we’re still laughing)… This is not working, cause we’re all thinking about my gopher hole.
(We all start laughing even louder… even the publicist.)
King: I was thinking about your gopher hole.
McDonald: Oh my God!
(At this point, we’re laughing so hard that there are some tears forming… and it continues for about thirty seconds.)
Seeley: I’m actually blushing… Whatever. I’m making you answer now.
King: Uh… Yeah… Sorry, what was the question? I’m sorry, I’m trying. (Laughs)
McDonald: (Laughs). No, it’s ok. I’ll try to move past it… Uh, I guess, how far are we going to go into Spyral?
King: Uh… (Laughs).
Seeley: Well if you read the first trade- (Laughs)
King: I’m sorry. (Laughs)
Seeley: And uh, the issues that follow that before the Convergence break, we play with what their mission is, and what Mr. Minos’ actual intentions were. So when we come back from the Convergence break, we see a new role for Helena within Spyral. A new role for Dick within Spyral since he has a new partner. And part of that, I think, is the fun of the Spyral set-up, is that there’s a shifting power dynamic. They have different goals depending on who is leading the charge, and what we’re going to see in the issues coming up, is where Spyral comes from. Who started it. And, yeah, we’ll, really get into that stuff. The story coming up is one of my favorites that we’ve come up with.
King: Our current arc, which if people have seen the cover to (issue) 12, is this build to Grayson returning to Gotham. The arc after that will be a lot about… now that he’s returned, what’s Spyral’s role in Grayson’s life, and what’s Grayson’s role in Spyral? And that will be a deconstruction on what Spyral is, and that rabbit hole.
McDonald: You mentioned issue 12, which I planned on bringing up, but Grayson is going back to Gotham. And I’m wondering if he’s going rogue, and contemplating leaving Spyral. Is that on his mind, especially with everything being so unsure in Gotham at the moment?
King: The book isn’t called, Grayson: Agent of Spyral. It’s called Grayson. And this is a book about a character that… In Nightwing 30, Bruce asks, “Who are you?” And Dick answers, “I’m who you need me to be.” Spyral isn’t an all-nice organization, and Dick is a hell of a nice person. And they’re going to have their conflicts. And they’re going to have their separation. And Gotham will have a pull on him, and try to pull him away, because he doesn’t want to be in Spyral. He doesn’t want to be a spy. That’s what the first panel of (issue) 9 was about. He wants to be with his family. He wants to go and call Barbara. He wants to go and- he doesn’t even know Damian is alive. I mean, can you imagine that? That’s like his younger brother. You know? So, this is not the life he wants, so that tug is going to pull his strings.
McDonald: Definitely. Now, while Gotham tugs on Dick, will Spyral push him in any way specifically? For instance, in Spyral, I think killing is expected. Will we be forced to cross that road with Grayson.
King: I think it’s going to be a constant battle. I will say – and Tim and I have this fight – I always try to write this story like, ok, “they want him to kill somebody, and he can’t do it.” That story has been written seventy thousand times in comic books.
Seeley: Batman has had that story about seventy thousand times.
King: Yeah, it’s… an interesting story, and it’s a good story… but it’s an easy story. It has to be more complicated than that. We don’t want to give the readers something they’ve seen. We don’t want to give them a cover song of a Batman issue.
King: We want to give them something brand new. Something that will top the charts.
Seeley: Yeah. And I think in general, Dick doesn’t have that conflict. I think Batman has that conflict because, to Batman, he has these recurring villains like the Joker, and the question is always, if I went to the final sanction, would I eliminate this problem from my life? And that’s Batman’s conflict. And he’s a dark guy. So he’s constantly saving himself from going too far, whereas Dick doesn’t have that conflict. Dick is never going to be like, “It would be so much easier if I killed this guy.” Dick is more like, “No, I wouldn’t kill this guy. That’s stupid.” His conflict is, how does he deal with an organization that does things that he doesn’t agree with.
McDonald: Right. I think that was more of the direction that I was asking. Almost like a corporation type of feel of how much pressure will be pushed down on him if he never does actually go to that limit. Is there ever a point where he’ll be questioned about how loyal he is to Spyral.
Seeley: Yeah, I think that aspect is not a conflict for him. I mean, Helena is one kind of character and she has her own version of what she thinks is right, and what is ok. But she doesn’t expect that from Dick, as long as he does the job… at least so far. But that’s something we’ve purposely avoided so far, just because there’s not a lot of mileage there for us to mine. We like it to be more about a guy who has to lie, and doesn’t like to lie… and who is leaving his friends and family behind, how he deals with it… That’s the stuff that we thought was the most interesting. You know? And for Dick, a gun is not the same as Batman with a gun. Batman sort of see a gun as the reason his parents are dead. Whereas Dick has sort of accepted what happened to his parents, and has used it to move on to become a guy that is a little more well-adjusted compared to Batman.
McDonald: Definitely. So moving on to the Annual that is coming out. I know a lot of people are excited that Superman is in it. I’m actually excited that we’re going to see Blockbuster.
McDonald: Blockbuster played such a big role in Dick’s life during Dixon’s run-
King: Yes! Absolutely! Very smart.
McDonald: So I wanted to ask, there’s so much of Dick’s past that hasn’t been explored since the New 52 continuity started, has Blockbuster been a part of that at all, or is this a fresh start for the characters?
Seeley: It’s fresh.
McDonald: It’s fresh?
Seeley: The Blockbuster in the old run, was, you know, a muscle man that gave himself a brain implant and became super intelligent. In this one, we play Blockbuster to the more original intent, which is a big, monster, brute that has been manipulated by so many people, that he’s been turned into a tool. So this is the very early origins of the character. I mean, I like the idea of him being really smart and doing that sort of stuff, but in this case, he’s kind of just a force of nature. The issue is about 38 pages, and I think 20 pages of this are just them running down a highway while Blockbuster runs like a machine after them, trying to catch them. He’s throwing motorcycles at them and stuff, so it’s a big action issue.
McDonald: Awesome! Alright, final question, and we’re going to change subjects a little bit. They just released news yesterday about Batman & Robin Eternal, and it looks like Dick is playing a huge part in this, so… what can you tell us to get us excited about this? I mean, I think everyone is already excited but-
King: And Robin War! Don’t forget about Robin War!
McDonald: Yeah, I’m sorry. Robin War too!
Seeley: Dick’s not in that one!
King: As far as you know…
McDonald: (Laughs) I guess with both titles, what do we have to look forward to?
Seeley: They’re both exploring 75 years worth of Robin. This is a character that is really important, and obviously a huge pop culture icon. So, I think Batman & Robin Eternal is about that question of, “Does Batman need a Robin? Why does Batman need a Robin? What are Batman’s responsibilities to Robin?” Because something happens that makes them question if he’s the cause of their pain, and-
McDonald: Awesome! Uh, so we’ve got to wrap up. I do have a challenge for you guys. Try to see how many times you can mention “gopher hole” in your upcoming interviews.
King & Seeley: (Laughs) Yeah!
McDonald: Great! And have a nice day!
King: What a pleasure, man!
As you may have noticed, a piece of the interview was missing. When I was listening to my recording, the audio just cut out. I was racking my brain to remember the rest of what Seeley said, but it never came to me. All I remember is that Seeley was talking, Dan Didio walked up out of nowhere, and then the next thing I remember was ending the interview. There was a good minute and half where the recording is silent, and where I can’t remember anything… so I’m convinced that Dan Didio is the head of Spyral…
I’m kidding! I don’t really think Dan is the head of Spyral (yes I do). But in all seriousness, something was revealed in the interview that wasn’t supposed to be revealed. It was a mistake, and I decided that it was best not to include it. Yes, I could have released it (and it’s some spoilery goodness that plays a part in a number of books), and I could’ve given Batman-News a lot of exposure by releasing the information… but I wouldn’t feel good about it. Ultimately, these two could get in trouble, and I respect them too much to do that. They love what they do. They’re passionate about it. And they work really hard to deliver good, quality work. Instead of earning a quick gain, I would much rather work to build a trusting relationship with these creative teams. As a reminder, we are not on any type of payroll. Everyone on the Batman-News review team does this for free because we love comics. We love the stories these creators tell, and we want to respect and grow relationships with them, rather than hinder them. It’s what we stand for, and it’s what the creative teams of these books deserve.
I absolutely loved my time with these two, and I hope I get to interview them again! You can follow Tim and Tom on twitter – which I recommend. Tom King’s handle is @TomKingTK and Tim Seeley’s handle is @HackinTimSeeley.
I also, strongly recommend that you read Grayson if you’re not already doing so. Grayson Vol. 1 is currently available for purchase at your local comic shop or on various online markets, and Grayson #10 will go on sale Wednesday, July 22nd. While you’re picking up those books, go ahead and check out some of their other work:
Tom King also writes Omega Men for DC Comics, and will soon release Robin War under DC Comics, The Sheriff of Baghdad under Vertigo, and The Vision under Marvel Comics.
And Tim Seeley considers himself an artist, but also writes Revival for Image Comics and Sundowners for Dark Horse Comics. He will also be part of Batman & Robin Eternal scheduled to launch in October!