Author Q&A with Kyle Higgins
Q. What's it like working on a huge initiative like The New 52?
A. Depending on the day, it's a combination of exciting, inspiring, nerve-wracking, and a whole host of other adjectives (laughs). This past year has been a whirlwind for me. Coming off Gates of Gotham with Scott Snyder, I kind of jumped into the deep end of the pool by launching two New 52 books concurrently (Nightwing and Deathstroke). And, while the spotlight of The New 52 has been intense at times, I'm happy to report that I'm still swimming.
Q. How are you balancing making these stories and characters feel fresh and new while still respecting what came before?
A. That's actually the most challenging part of all this. With a book like Deathstroke, we moved on from a lot of the continuity that came before. We tried to boil the character down to his core and start fresh. I took the aspects that I liked and expanded on them, crafting a story that—in my mind—felt new for Slade and also tapped into the angle of respect. He's the older gun that's trying to show the new generation he's still got it.
Nightwing has been a bit trickier. Dick Grayson was once Robin, then Nightwing, then Batman, and now Nightwing again. And while we try to stay away from specific instances of old continuity, Dick is a character that exemplifies the idea of change. He's built on it. Our first story, which dives into an aspect of his life that hadn't been explored too much before (the circus and the secrets it might hold) was our way of referencing and paying respect to the old … while still breaking new ground.
Q. What stories or creators inspire you most when working on your character?
A. For Nightwing, I have two big influences: Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel's run (1996-2000) and Batman: the Animated Series. Growing up, Chuck and Scott's series was the first book I bought every issue of, month and month out. It's the run that really defined the character for me.
As far as Batman: the Animated Series goes, Loren Lester's portrayal of Dick Grayson was also pretty seminal. His is the voice I hear every time I write the character.
For Deathstroke, my single favorite moment/portrayal of the character was in Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis.
Q. So what do you consider to be your character's definitive stories?
A. Nightwing: Dixon/McDaniel's first 25 issues; Batman the Animated Series: "Robin's Reckoning" and "Old Wounds"; Teen Titans: the Judas Contract. For Deathstroke: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract; DC Universe: Last Will and Testament
Q. What have you thought about the response so far for The New 52 and your title(s) as whole?
A. Honestly? It's been pretty amazing. The willingness of readers to give these books a chance—in particular, my books—has been nothing short of fantastic.
Q. Do you keep up with any of the other New 52 books? Which ones and why?
A. I try to! Scott Snyder's Batman, Josh Fialkov's iVampire, Pete Tomasi's Batman and Robin, Gail Simone's Batgirl, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato's Flash, Scott Lobdell's Red Hood, Geoff Johns's Aquaman … the camaraderie that we as creators have built over the past year has made the DC Universe feel like one big family. We all try to support each other.
Q. Has social media and increased direct interaction with DC Comics' fans changed your writing/drawing approach at all in regards to The New 52?
A. Not too much. I try to write stories that I, as a fan, would want to read. That said, I do keep an ear to the ground to see what people are reacting to and what they're not.
Q. What creators have influenced the new direction you've taken with your book?
A. Scott Snyder has been a big influence. Between his Detective Comics run, our collaboration on Gates of Gotham, and his plan for the Court of Owls, my current take on Dick Grayson has been informed a lot by Scott's work.
Q. So many classic characters have had their looks changed. What has been your favorite character redesign, even if it isn't in your own book?
A. Supergirl, Batgirl, and the Flash.
Q. There seems to be a lot of storylines integrating both Nightwing and Scott Snyder's Batman title. How in depth is the collaboration process with you and Scott?
A. Well, Scott is one of my best friends, so a lot of the collaboration happens without us even realizing we're doing it (laughs). Since Gates of Gotham, working together has been pretty effortless—we both approach story from the same way. That, coupled with the fact that we're on the phone together a couple times a week and G-Chat all the time, and story conversations just kind of inevitably happen. We just try to keep things fun.
Q. Kyle, you've written Dick Grayson as both Batman (in Batman: Gates of Gotham) and Nightwing now. What differences do you find yourself weaving into the separate personas of Dick?
A. I think the biggest difference is humor. In Gates, Dick was a bit more stoic than I write him in Nightwing. He wasn't as upbeat and quippy, which I think was a combination of the seriousness of the threat, feelings of insecurity, and the fact that he was wearing the Bat cowl.