Exclusive Interview: Tim Seely on Grayson & Batman Eternal

Seely tells us about getting Dick Grayson out of the Batman family and into a new spy thriller series.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

For years Tim Seely has been synonymous with horror comics. Though his time in the industry has seen him write for multiple characters, it was his Hack/Slash series and the Chaos comic books that brought him to the attention of the comic public. More recently, Seely has been asked to be part of the biggest Batman story ever with Batman Eternal, and to have a hand in the reimagining of the original Robin, aka Dick Grayson

Following the events of Forever Evil, Dick Grayson is believed dead. Seperated from his Bat-Family and on his own, Dick has entered the world of spy games. To some this was an odd throw back to when ionic writer Dennis O’Neil took away Wonder Woman’s power and made her a common spy. To others Seely’s Grayson is a refreshing and off-beat look at a very defined character. I hung out with Tim for a bit during New York Comic Con, and we talked about Grayson, Batman Eternal and the return of Chaos.

CraveOnline: So is it hard to go from writing horror comics to having to redefine Dick Gryason?

Tim Seely: Oh man. Nobody ever put it that way, now I’m aware. (Laughs). I’ve always been into superheroes and that kind of stuff, but the work I chose to write on my own ended up being the horror stuff. Still, I grew up on Batman just like everybody else. When the opportunity presented itself it was another aspect of what I do. My job is to make crap up, that’s what I do, so if it’s making crap up about Dick Grayson I’m fine with that because I grew up with the character, I know what the character should be. I also know what’s flexible about him and what can be changed and bent without changing the character.

You had worked on Nightwing before correct?

Just the last issue of Nightwing in 2011.

How is writing Grayson different than Nightwing?

I felt like this series had to be about the character of Dick Grayson and not the identity of Nightwing.

The book is only a few issues in, how are you starting this separation?

Nightwing comes with Gotham city history, his own long history, Teen Titans and all that baggage. I wanted to figure out what could be done about Dick Grayson the man, who he could be outside of Nightwing. What makes him unique? We picked aspects of the character that we could use. We knew Dick was affable, we knew he was able to change, and that he’s a performer. He comes from a circus background. He loves to perform. I also liked that he’s not originally from Gotham, and that he’s used to traveling around. We wanted to use all those things and yet still keep his moral code, keep that devil may care attitude that Dick has. How do we use all that and make it new?

You have also been a key writer on Batman Eternal, a massive book with multiple writers and artists. How did you keep the focus there? Something like that can easily go off the rails.

That’s all to the credit of Scott Snyder and James Tynion. They created the initial outline of the book, which was broken into three acts and then broken down from there. Our job as writers was to get to that point. If you got issue 37, you had to figure out how to make it a good issue. Everything was there in the beginning. All the beats and where the characters needed to go. It involves a lot of communication. I talked to that crew more than I talk to my mother.

Is your working style with an artist collaborative, or more in the vein of you write and he/she draws?

It depends on the artist. With Batman Eternal, we knew we were going to have a lot of artists so it’s been a little separate. I write it and somebody else draws it really well. With Grayson it’s a lot more collaborative. I talk to Mikel all the time, he’s an amazing artist, and if he wants to change something I’m fine with it. It really depends on the book. When you have an artist you can get familiar with, you get a little more intimate so it becomes more comfortable.

Chaos returned for the anniversary issue. Is there any word on more Chaos books?

Right now I’m co-writing the Evil Ernie book with my brother.

Cool. How’s that going?

Oh it’s a blast. We grew up on horror and heavy metal and Evil Ernie so this was a project we knew we would enjoy together. We have plans to maybe put out another Chaos book, but we’ll see how it goes, how the readers dig the new books.

Are you ever in the middle of writing Grayson and realize the horror books have bled over? Ever write something just too grisly for Dick?

Not usually. (Laughs) I separate my work so I’m able to spend a week on each book. So for that week I’m in an all Grayson mode, or an all horror mode. Rarely do I screw them up. Part of the reason I take such diverse books is so I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t write a book unless I have a good handle on the character.

If you had carte blanche to write for DC, what character would you instantly go for?

The Creeper.

Really? Why The Creeper?

The visual is amazing. This yellow guy with the Joker face and a red furry cape, is the weirdest. I always was attracted to it, even as a kid. The idea that he’s this id unleashed, just laughing like a maniacal mad man, there’s something so cool there. It can be a hard sell for most people because they think it’s just too weird but I love it.

Any juicy teases on Grayson for the fans?

We’re tying together all the loose threads. We know that Midnighter is involved with this; we know there’s some kind of “body parts originator” out there. All that will tie together. There’s a really great fight scene coming up that almost takes up an entire issue.