It was a true fan experience at the Creator Spotlight: Tom King panel at Fan Expo Boston this year. Batman writer Tom King went to the podium as casual as ever and explained he wanted to answer fan questions for 45 minutes first and then from there show the audience how to write a script. He discussed not eating bread as they set up and had the ease of a trapeze artist on the stage. Fans then simply raised their hands and King called on them.
King was first asked about how he goes so big with every story arc. King related how he steals all his ideas from the best. When he met Scott Snyder for instance, King said he asked him, “Why do you sell?” That brought a laugh from the audience, but it was true. His honest advice for King? “I set it up big,” King said. Looking at Snyder’s run on Batman, King said, “The first issue of Batman has the Court of Owls appears, the Joker is on the second page, Year Zero the world is destroyed.” He raises the stakes immediately, “So I just copied that.” King was somewhat joking, but then said, “I write big because I copy Scott Snyder.”
How does Batman stay in shape? Again, casually joking King said, “He kicks trees you didn’t know that?” King said he often wonders what Batman eats to stay in shape. “He’s out all night, does he have a Power Bar?” He went on to say Dan DiDio wouldn’t like a food issue, “F--k it, we’ll do a food issue.”
King was then asked about spoilers and rumors showing up on Reddit. He related a story about Dan Jurgens changing a story which ended up being hated. “He shouldn’t have changed it,” King said. Ultimately King said it’s not something he worries about because he’s more focused on the story, not the consequences of a story.
When asked about a Sheriff of Babylon sequel King said its written, but he’d love for it to be a movie. Another joke about getting an EGOT came up which brought a laugh from the crowd.
When it comes to character writing King said it’s all about breaking down the character. It’s about themes, things that will happen to the characters, and then he asks DC or Marvel to give him the character he can use. That way, “I can f--k them up and it’s their fault because they gave it to me.” That’s how Vision, Omega Men, and Batman started, King said. If you’re a character in DC comics King said, “I’ll probably destroy you at some point.” He related how he “blew up” Catwoman and people were angry, but tearing down a character shows who they really are.
A fan asked how King implements quotes in Mister Miracle and the process of adding them to the story. He explained every issue of Mister Miracle opens with captions from a Jack Kirby Mister Miracle comic. It was an idea that originally helped him add words to a blank page. “Starting with Kirby’s words launch me,” King said. He added the first five pages are the hardest to write.
King was then asked if there was anything he wished he knew before entering comics; King said he wanted to write comics when he was little and even called Archie Comics to sweep their floors, which they promptly refused. He was a kid after all. He related his mom didn’t want him to be a writer because she thought it was like a “lottery” and after trying different jobs like being a lawyer and ultimately being in the CIA he realized writing is a job you can get good at. It takes hard work and practice.
What is the significance of number 37 showing up in his work? It’s a shout out to Grayson aka Agent 37 that he co-wrote with Tim Seeley.
Any story he would have done differently? He related something that happened recently when the Batman and Catwoman wedding was spoiled by the New York Times. He said he was on vacation and saw a notification that the New York Times would spoil it. He decided instead of attempting to stop the story he decided DC could handle this and go back to his vacation. Unfortunately, Tom said, DC did not know what they were doing. The audience laughed at that one.
What was your mindset on Wonder Woman and Batman kissing? “What was my mindset? Regret,” King said. He went on to say he is proud of a lot of his cliffhangers (like when a fight is about to happen or something could break in the story), but in this case, he was trying to introduce the Gentle Man and he needed a cliffhanger even though he knew they wouldn’t kiss. He said it was not fun because people really hated it. “It wasn’t worth it. Some things aren’t worth it,” King said.
King then went on to talk about Batman #61 and how it’s a one-shot about Batman chasing Road Runner.
From there King used the projector to write a fake, and funny, script with the audience. It was his way to share how to write a comic and the audience loved it.