What follows is a complete transcription of the interview I had with James Tynion IV on Saturday July 23rd at the 2016 San Diego Comic Convention. While my interview with Tom King was very straightforward, my chat with Tynion devolved into nothing more than a couple of guys geeking out over there favorite character. When I showed up at the interview, I was super stoked. So, I was already at an 8, opposite his calm and collected 2. If the look on his face was any indication, I’m sure he was wondering who let this crazy person into the press area. But it didn’t take long for him to realize that my opening statement wasn’t just the ravings of a madman. We really were on the same page. And things turned from an interview, into two guys just laughing and talking about Batman.
Brandon Mulholand: I was at your panel three hours ago, and as you talked, I realized that you are me.
James Tynion IV: Yeah?
BM: Seriously. I’ve been reading comics for 30 years and Tim Drake is also my favorite character. And when the New52 started, what they did with Tim… it didn’t sit well with me either. And right from the beginning of what you’ve been doing with Detective Comics I could already see it was the 90s Tim. And I was like, THANK YOU!
BM: Seriously. Thank you so much for that. And at your panel, the one guy in the Robin costume asked you that question.
JT: Oh yeah.
BM: He asked if Tim was going to get back to being himself. And I was like, what are you talking about, haven’t you been reading it?
BM: He already is himself.
JT: Well, I really appreciate that. Tim Drake really is very important to me. Look, I love all the Robins, but, what Tim portrays…first and foremost, it’s always been his intelligence. But it’s also been his friendships. He understands people. He can get a little cold and clinical. He is way more…like…he is willing to sacrifice everything for his friends. And in a lot of ways, he comes at everything from a very similar analytical angle like Bruce does… but with a more optimistic angle. Which is why he is the one that is fully designing the systems for The Belfry. He’s helping to put together this entire crime fighting system. And that’s the heart of what I’m trying to do here. Because, this is a teenage genius. This is one who, since he first started fighting with Batman, has been thinking about every possible way to make crime fighting better and more efficient. What they are doing now in Gotham City is what he thought they should have been doing since forever. And he has been set free to do everything and anything that he thinks is best to make that work. This is the legacy that he wants to leave in the world. This is what he wants to do more than anything. To make crime fighting better. And smarter. Tim is one of the smartest kids out there. So, I’m really excited for what we have coming up in this book. And how Tim plays into all of that.
BM: In the Jim Lee/DiDio panel that was right after you, DiDio revealed that Anarky is coming up and then was like, “Oh wait. I probably shouldn’t have said that.”
BM: I don’t know if you want to elaborate on that, but if you want to keep that a surprise, we can move on to something else. I’m personally excited about that, but…
JT: Anarky is a character that I would love to play with, but honestly, we have a bunch of big stories coming up that have nothing to do with Anarky. Let’s just say, Anarky is a character we’ve talked about; how to build in/reintroduce, but actually…. What I will say is that a figure from 90s Robin comics who may have been known as Anarky, very briefly, might be returning. One of my favorite Robin villains of all time. But, that may be where the wires are crossed. But everyone should check out Detective Comics this next week. There may have been a little mention of the general in the last issue.
BM: Yeah. I’ve actually noticed all kinds of things that you’re using. Like…the Old Wayne Tower is The Belfry. It’s the same design as the one created by Anton Furst.
JT: Yeah yeah yeah.
BM: And I love the fact that Batwoman is there because, after the 2007/2008 arc, I felt like Detective Comics was her home. Everything that you are doing right now simply feels so right.
JT: Thank you so much.
BM: So…The Colony. I get an Arkham Knight vibe from them. Was that intentional or coincidental?
JT: The whole idea started with what happens when you take the Batman concept and make it a military force with military objectives that doesn’t come from the same ideology as Batman. The team at the heart of Detective comics does not kill. The Colony does. They are out hunting terrorists. That is what they believe is right. And honestly, there is a lot of debate in different media about the different forms of Batman and the relationship between killing and not. I think some people are looking to hear that The Colony was deliberately designed to evoke Gotham Knight or some of the more violent iterations of Batman. But frankly, I was more talking to Eddy and just being like, what would a really cool military Batman look like. And I think that a lot of people have come at that idea from a different angle. But I’m really happy with The Colony design. Most of all, the logo. When you create a logo like that, you hope it’s something that five/ten years from now…there will be a comic where somebody sees something with that logo and be like oohhhh!
BM: The logo you did, which I realize now has nothing to do with what I am about to mention. But initially I saw it and was like, it kinda looks like the Ra’s Al Ghul head from Batman: The Animated Series.
JT: Hahahaha. Yeah. I can totally see that.
BM: Remember that Ra’s Al Ghul story where Ra’s has Batmen, and they were taking over Gotham. That Elseworld story.
JT: Yeah yeah yeah.
BM: And I was like, whoa! Is he going there?
BM: I just love theorizing on all this stuff.
JT: Oh…but that’s what I want. I want people to… Look. Honestly. With the New52 for awhile there the history was off limits. We were building towards the future and… Well, off limits is wrong. But if you brought something back you were supposed to bring it back in a new way, and now people can expect us to do some more deep dives. You know. I mean…well…I already basically spoiled Ulysses Armstrong showing up in the next issue. But, that’s a character I loved from the 90s, and it is a bit of a reintroduction.
BM: I don’t think you spoiled it just now. Because the thing on Tim’s arm said The General. We know who that is.
JT: Yeah yeah haha.
BM: I pulled up images of Ulysses and posted them on our site and was like, it’s this guy right here. (Tynion laughing throughout)
BM: So, a quick non-Batman question that a colleague wanted me to ask. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Batman crossover. Is there going to be a second one?
JT: Both Freddie and I really want there to be. Right now, they just announced this weekend the Batman/TMNT adventures. Which is the crossover between, it’s a comic, but it’s the crossover between the cartoon version of Batman. Like, Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and then the Turtles from the current Turtles animated series. So they are doing that crossover. And once that is done I know that Freddie and I very much want there to be a Batman Turtles 2. We took the Turtles to Gotham City. Now we want to take Gotham City to the Turtles. And That’s really what I want to do. Bring some Gotham characters into the Turtles New York. And let them wreak a little bit of havoc.
BM: I’m guessing you didn’t need to research any of the Batman stuff for Detective Comics, right?
BM: Like, in your personal life you know all this stuff and had already read it all.
BM: You didn’t go back. You were just like, this is the stuff I love and I’m writing about what I already know.
JT: Yeah. There is a lot of that. It doesn’t mean I don’t go back and look back over old stories that I care about. And you know…especially…frankly, the biggest thing I read and reread was every story with the new Batwoman. Going back to her introduction in 52. To ground myself in the character. What are her best stories. What are her best moments. And sort of thinking a bit about…. One thing that I’ve kind of been nailing down is that… Well, Batman’s parents were killed by faceless crime. And so he built himself to overcome that. He built himself into the perfect crime fighter. Kate Kane’s mother was killed by faceless terrorism. So she built herself into the perfect soldier to fight that. To tell really great Kate Kane stories moving forward, I think there needs to be that kind of under current of the war. And that is something that we are really building in and exploring with these different characters. And I’m really really excited.
BM: So, I just got the one minute mark, so I don’t really have time for another question. So I’ll just point out another cool reference. I noticed in the last issue that his code to override the mudroom was 436.
BM: Which is obviously his first appearance. But I also noticed that in Batman&Robin Eternal 436 is the address of his parents house.
JT: Oh Yeah!
BM: At first it’s a reference for us, but now it’s a reference for him.
JT: Yeah hahahaha.
BM: He isn’t just saying, 436, hey guys it’s that issue I was in.
JT: yeah yeah yeah
BM: 436, that’s where my parents live.
BM: That’s awesome!
JT: Yeah. And honestly, those little nods are always so much fun. And these characters. It’s so much fun to play with their history. Both inside the books and out. I don’t know. It feels good.
BM: It is good.
JT: Well, thank you very much.
So, there you have it. My ten minutes with Tynion. If you liked what Tynion had to say, keep a look out for one of my upcoming article which will highlight his comments from the Rebirth Panel.