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EXCLUSIVE: C2E2: John Layman on Detective Comics

Next up, The Batman Universe talked with Detective Comics writer, John Layman. Layman came on to the series just under a year ago and has introduced many classic villains into the series. With the 900th issue of Detective Comics released earlier this month, we talked with Layman about upcoming events and the 900th issue.


Detective Comics #19TBU: A lot of listeners have commented on how your issues have a classic feel to them in terms of the writing style similar to stories of the 1970's. Are you inspired by those stories or is that just your style of writing?


John Layman: I have actually heard a lot of people compare it to Batman: The Animated Series. I'm just trying to give it its own voice that is separate from the other titles that feature Batman. Some of the other books are darker. Others focus on his personal life. But I feel like this is Detective Comics so make him a detective. This is the book that is about the work. So I am trying to give each issue a case and try and play with as many characters as possible because I have never had the opportunity. And I think when you combine those two things, you get stuff that feels like the 70's stuff or the animated series because it is a little lighter and action oriented. I feel that every book should have its own voice and tone. That way there is something for everybody.


TBU: With the 900th issue, was in daunting in any way that you were going to be writing the monumental issue?


John Layman: It was daunting in a way that when writing a Batman book, it is a game of musical chairs. And when the music stopped I was in the right place at the right time and it was like "Holy crap, I'm a part of history." And that was awesome. Getting to write the New 52 Man-Bat was great. I didn't occur to me how big the book was at first. I wrote an oversized story and the back-up and then I saw it was going to be eighty pages and I'm really trying to write the books that I would want to buy. I went to the editor and said that I didn't want the book to be filled with back-ups and fillers. If people are paying $8.00, I want to at least do my part to make it as worth the money as it can be. So I said let me do another story and then I came up with another story. Afterwards I realized that I wrote fifty pages. I am a slow writer so it was kind of a triumph because I did it piece mail that I didn't realize how much I was doing. If they would have assigned me fifty pages from the beginning, I would have been terrified. But afterwards it was just awesome how it all came together. It felt meaty and I was proud and believed it was worth the $8.00 price tag.


TBU: We have been introduced to a number of classic villains in your run. If you were to pick one that you haven't worked with, who would you want to use or reinvent for the New 52?


John Layman: I would say Harvey Dent. Not really try to reinvent, but I keep trying to squeeze him in. With so many Batman books, I have been lucky to be able to use Clayface, Poison Ivy, Man-Bat and Penguin. And even Joker, kind of by extension with Death of the Family. But the one person I keep trying to slide in is Harvey Dent. But I am determined to use him before the end [of my run].


TBU: You have been using a lot of classic villains while some writers choose to create their own villains. Why do you choose to use the classic villains compared to creating new ones?


John Layman: I have been in comics for fifteen years and this is my first time writing a DC book and writing Batman. I have these toys in my room now and it's like I am literally playing with these toys and I want to play with as many of them as I can. When I came on to the series, I didn't know how long I was going to be on Detective, so if I am only on for an arc, I want to use as many characters as I possibly can. It has been going well enough that I am just now looking forward and deciding who to use next.


Detective Comics #20 hits stores this week, May 1.


Posted by Dustin Fritschel

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  • Joe Jinks

    I really like the fact that Layman uses classic villains but this series isn't the collection of one-shots and short arcs that it was initially promised to be.