Peter Tomasi Talks Nightwing
courtesy of http://www.newsarama.com – 09-09-2007
As was announced yesterday at the DC Nation panel at the Baltimore Comic-Con, former Nightwing editor Peter Tomasi will be stepping into the writer’s seat on the series, starting in January.
What should readers expect, and who’s going to be joining him on the art?
Newsarama: First off, obviously, how did this gig come about? Was this a book you were pitching for, or something that was pitched to you?
Peter Tomasi: Well, it all started when I decided to leave DC after 15 years to pursue my writing career with an exclusive contract under my arm thanks to Paul [Levitz] and Dan [DiDio].
Dan and I sat in his office knocking around ideas as to which books I should write, and Dan threw out Nightwing.
Being that I was the editor of Nightwing at the time, I felt a bit uncomfortable taking the writing reins from someone I hired after I left, but Dan said by the time my first issue came out, Marv would be writing the book for almost a year and a half, and the way we were approaching the hiring of writers was in a TV seasonal form. We would give writers at least 12 issues to tell their first “season stories” so to speak. After that, direction and numbers would dictate whether someone stayed on for an extended period of time or moved on to something else. So no matter if I took over the writing duties or not, someone else was going to be writing Nightwing come 2008. Actually, when I hired Marv to do his thing on Nightwing, it was initially only for six months due to some other mitigating DCU story factors that were happening at the time. So, after all is said and done, I believe Marv would end up doing close to 20 issues which is pretty decent run and a lot more than six.
Dan said he would call Marv, but I felt that it was only right that Marv hear the news directly from me. So I spoke with Marv and told him that his run would close at the end of 07, and of course he understood and was a perfect gentleman and professional as always.
NRAMA: In the broadest strokes you can – tell us about Nightwing. How would you describe not only the character, but also the tone of the book to someone who doesn’t know it?
PT: Nightwing is a great character and I hope I can do him justice for however long my own run lasts. And as been stated before, he’s truly the lynchpin of the DCU. He’s respected and trusted by everyone. He’s got roots that move through all the teams, and also through almost every hero. In my eyes, Nightwing is at the top of his game. He’s a millimeter off from being as good as Bruce/Batman in every single way, from detective skills to tactician skills, to fighting and weapons, and of course there’s no question his interpersonal skills are a bit better.
In terms of the tone of the book, I honestly can’t find something to pin on it easily, and I find that’s what I’m really enjoying about it. I think the book, at this juncture, needs to feel like a superhero book. I don’t want to lose sight of that fact. I want this series to feel like it’s part of the fabric of the DCU and not out there operating in its own little dark corner. It shouldn’t be put in a box and labeled. I see Nightwing as being easily transposed on almost every genre in some way. As I do on most everything I write, I approach everything from character. The stories you remember, whether in comics, films, or novels, at least in my opinion, are character driven. You don’t close a comic or walk out of a theater and say damn that was the best plot I’ve ever seen. You remember a book, or film, or comic because of your love or complete hate for a character – that’s what pulls you thru a story. Being connected. A reader’s ambivalence is the writer’s worst enemy. And I’ll be doing my best to make sure that never creeps into these pages.
NRAMA: That said, what kind of story does Nightwing work best in? When’s he at his best?
PT: I think I blathered on and answered that in the previous question, but to clarify, Nightwing can work in any story. You could put him on a New York City street in one issue, and in the next arc he can be on the moon. Like I said, I don’t wanna put him in a box. The DCU is a mighty big place. There’s too much cool stuff in the playground not to make use of it.
NRAMA: Okay then, flipside, what kind of story, in your view, does he never need to be in again?
PT: I think the days of Richard Grayson trying to prove something to Bruce is over. It’s done. Finito. And I also will be trying to steer clear of centering stories on street level crimes. Richard will definitely be helping the people of his newly adopted city, but I wanna try and broaden the scope some more, go for some high concepts while still centering all the stories as to how they affect Richard’s life.
NRAMA: What’s your vision of Nightwing? Sketch him out as a character a little… what role does he fill in the DCU?
PT: I don’t wanna get all ‘visionary’, but I also find that I want to embrace the Bat Family aspects more. Sure, Nightwing is his own man at this point, but he’s part of a family and there’s no getting around it. I’d be a fool not to try and mine that dramatic potential. He’s got the best supporting cast in comics: Batman, Robin, and Alfred. Now, I do intend to introduce some New Yorkers as other supporting cast members, and I have every intention of Richard having people and touchstones in the city proper that will make an impact on him and carry over into very personal ways.
The more I’ve been thinking about the family dynamic between them, I find myself looking at it in this way: Bruce, in my opinion, isn’t a father figure to Richard, he’s an older brother. There’s simply not enough years – at least the way it’s being presented now in terms of age difference within the DCU timeline – to justify the father/son thing. And then you have Alfred, who really is the father to Bruce and Richard in my eyes. Now the Bruce/Tim dynamic is definitely a father-son relationship, and the Richard/Tim dynamic is, of course, a brother thing, and that connection between Richard and Tim is an aspect I intend to delve deeper into.
NRAMA: What issue are you picking the series up with, and what gets things rolling?
PT: My first issue is Nightwing #140, and will be in stores in January 08 and drawn by the great team of Rags Morales and Michael Bair, guys who I’ve had a ‘little’ experience with from the other side of the desk. My first story follows the big Ra’s al Ghul storyline that I suggested cross between all the Bat books before leaving DC, and Nightwing #140 is a great jumping on point for new readers. There’s no massive amounts of baggage and continuity that you’ll need to know to walk through the door. I’m writing it so anyone new can get plugged in fast and all the Nightwing fans who’ve been on board for so long can plug in and get the shadings and subtleties.
NRAMA: Well, you know what the last question is from your editor days – we’ve got to end this with the big tease – what’s coming up?
PT: This is gonna sound ambitious and possibly pretentious, but the first thing that occurred to me when Dan gave me the book to write, was that Nightwing doesn’t have a Long Halloween or Dark Victory. I’m not saying my story will resemble those or be as popular(but I can dream, can’t I?), but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was hoping I could pull something like that off, an arc that has reverberations or at least feels classic and timeless and will be considered canonical. But what the hell, may as well hold myself to a high standard and see how far I can climb (or fall for that matter).
Without giving too much away, Richard discovers that some serious stuff is going on throughout the DCU that will have far flung ramifications on a personal and international level. And like I mentioned earlier, Richard’s family of Bruce, Tim, and Alfred are key ingredients that I will not shy away from. When you pick up Nightwing there will be no doubt that he is the star of his own book, but you’ll also see that the DCU is a helluva supporting cast and I’ll be reminding everyone of that whenever possible.
And last but not least, being born and raised in New York, I felt I really wanted to make sure that the city I know and love was a character in its own right like Gotham is to Bats and Opal was to Starman. With New York being Nightwing’s home and base of ops, I want it to have some weight and not just be some cardboard backdrop or generic cityscape with just the right landmarks plugged in from time to time.