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Marvel & DC need more "experimentation" and "flexibility" to take "big swings" says Scott Snyder

"There are forces at work with Marvel and DC that really are out of our control."

Painting of Superman and Captain America
Image credit: Alex Ross art

'What will it take to make comics great again?' That's been the thought on people's minds the past few weeks, especially those with a memory and nostalgia for the past. Earlier this month Civil War writer Mark Millar opined that if Marvel and DC paid creators of his level more in royalties that they would return and lead to a resurgence. And now, DC's former defacto head writer Scott Snyder is stepping in his with own perspective.

While Snyder doesn't argue that better pay would entice prominent creators to work (or return) to Marvel and DC, he is careful to say that that strategy shouldn't starve out oppportunities for younger creators to have a place and a method to become the next stars. But beyond just individual creators and pay, Snyder says that what would revitalize Big Two superhero comics is the two companies being able to take more risks. Educated risks, but risks.

"DC and Marvel, back in the days that they were doing the first Secret Wars or the first Crisis on Infinite Earths, they didn't have parent companies," Snyder writes in his Best Jackett Press Substack newsletter, referring to the '80s when the companies were more autonomous from their parent companies. "Marvel, after going public, it had shareholders and those things. But still, now DC has multiple companies it’s beholden to as a part of things, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I'm not saying, 'oh, it's in this bad spot.' But I'm saying that it doesn't have the same flexibility to take the same kinds of swings."

Snyder says that the current corporate structures don't disallow for those types of "swings," but in his experience - having worked regularly for DC since 2011 up to the highest level - things are different.

"Does it mean it can't? No, it might be gearing up to take a huge one or not. I mean, Marvel might be gearing up to take an incredibly huge one, too. You don't know," says Snyder. "I'm just saying that there are different forces at work— tectonic, big, seismic things on these companies now that weren't there before that I sometimes think make it more difficult to create a collective inflection point or moment."

Snyder makes it a point to say that the editors at DC and Marvel are the "unsung heroes of comics," and that it needs to be a joint effort from editors, creators, and "the publishing high-ups" to take these "big swings" together.

How big?

"That’s when you get 'Rebirth' or the New 52. That’s when you get Hickman’s Secret Wars and All New, All Different,' says Snyder. "Just these swings that turn your head. Some things work, some things don’t, but those are the moments that really excite me. That's, to me, the thing that would really create a healthy industry right now. And I think part of it is that it's difficult. There are forces at work with Marvel and DC that really are out of our control."

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