|Okay, okay, this interview with
Devin Grayson was originally published way back in 1999, but
given the attention that last week's Greg
Rucka interview received it makes sense to play this
one again. Just the work these two writers have done as part
of DC's Batman team alone has earned them widespread respect.
If you don't know who Devin is, this is your chance to get to
know a writer whose significance grows with project. If you
are already aware of her work, this is a great opportunity to
take a look back and see where she was two years ago and
compare it to her work today. Enjoy!|
Editor ([email protected])
To say that Devin Grayson is as audacious as she is
ingenious is, perhaps, an understatement. A woman in a
predominantly male profession, a profession that she knew
little about before she began her work for DC, one can't help
but be impressed. That's before you actually get a chance to
check out her comics! TheComicStore.com's Howard Price had the
opportunity to talk with Ms. Grayson and brings us this
|--Your Humble Editor ([email protected])
|DEVIN GRAYSON: BREAKING
By Howard Price
just started cold-calling the Bat-office," says comic writing
ingénue Devin Grayson, "offering to send in my resume, writing
samples… it took about two years for them to stop
laughing--who IS this little chippie calling up Denny O'Neil
and Scott Peterson out of the blue and asking for a job?but
eventually Darren Vincenzo gave me a break and let me script
"Like Riding a Bike," a ten page story for The Batman
Prior to the 1990's, Devin Grayson had never read a comic
book--ever! Hard to believe, considering she's currently in
charge of Titans, as well as a few other projects (more
about those later), and has finished some rather impressive
mini-series like JLA Vs. Titans and Black
Widow, not to mention some notable runs on Nightwing
"I blame television," she says with a smile about her
entry into comics writing. It was while channel surfing that
Devin ran across a first season episode of the Batman Animated
Series. Hey, who says there's nothing good on TV?
"I was working as a project manager in the research
division of a large Northern California HMO by day, and taking
creative writing classes at UC Berkeley at night, trying to
finish my first attempt at a novel," says Devin. "But when I
saw that cartoon… I just became immediately fascinated with
the characters and their relationships… and to find out more
about them, I finally followed them back into their original
medium, which, of course, is comics."
Yes, she had contracted that condition known as fanboyus
buysomecomicus—or at least a related strain. "It
immediately became obsessive," she says. "I had a friend
working a comic store in San Francisco at the time, and he
hooked me up with all of this amazing material…suddenly I
could decode the superhero icons on fanboys' t-shirts… it was
like belonging to a secret club.
"And then, as a writer, the only way to really get to know
fictional characters is to write them, and I realized that the
ones I cared about—Batman and Nightwing and the Titans—they
were under copyright to DC Comics, so if I was going to do
this, I was going to have to hook up with DC Comics."
Thus, against every rule about breaking into comics, Devin
Grayson proved the exception. But with all her projects, is
she overloaded? Devin laughs: "I was just admitting to a
concerned friend of mine that there's no way to know how much
work you can accomplish without just… jumping in, taking
everything you can get your hands on, and then looking up one
morning to just sort of go, ‘Whoa. Maybe three projects LESS
than this?' It has been a very busy summer, but I'm really
thriving on it. I generally work well under pressure, and I'm
so excited by so much of it."
One would think just writing Titans would be enough
of a challenge to keep one busy, coordinating plotlines of
characters with their own titles. "The real headache with a
team book—or any project with multiple characters," she says,
"is that you end up having more than one editor.
JLA/Titans, for example; I think there were
maybe two editors in all the DCU that didn't get to--by virtue
of a character under their editorial command appearing in the
seriescomment on and demand changes of the script! That's, you
know, what--thirty rewrites?" She jokes that she didn't
co-write JLA/Titans, but rather survived it.
Devin must not have reached her ‘maybe three projects less'
limit yet, because she still has quite a number of new
developments coming soon. "Watch for (a lot, she hints) more
work in the Bat books, including a story about Leslie
Thompkins' No Man's Land M*A*S*H sector in The Batman
Chronicles #18, with artist Dale Eaglesham (who did "Fear
of Faith" with me)," she says, "and the second No Man's Land
meeting between Batman and Superman (in Shadow Of The
Bat #92, also with Dale).
Additionally, Devin has perhaps the most important piece of
the NML pie--the grand finale. "Greg
Rucka and I just
finished co-writing the December conclusion of No Man's Land,"
she says. "And let me take a second to gush here. I'm a big
fan of Mr. Rucka's crime novels and it was a total thrill to
do this collaboration with him, especially because I honestly
believe that the story rocks!"
But wait… there's more! "I have two creator-owned projects
coming out in December," Grayson says. "One is a three-part
Prestige format project for Vertigo, called User, about
cyber role-playing and how people in trouble sometimes use
games (and fictional narratives… story telling) to reconfigure
their sense of identity. Sean Phillips is doing the pencils,
and John Bolton will be painting the VR scenes, so it's going
to be beautiful, as well as being a story close to my
The other project close to Devin's heart is a DC Universe
project called Relative Heroes. "It's currently a
six-part mini (with an additional story in The Batman
Chronicles) that we hope to turn into a regular series,
with the insanely talented Yvel Guichet handling the pencils.
It's a story about a family of five super-powered teens who,
upon learning that their parents have died in a highway
pileup, assume that they've had an ‘origin' and begin
traveling the DCU in their dad's Winnebago posing as
superheroes. People keep trying to figure out what genre it
is, but I really feel like it's something new--almost a
reverential farce with post-modern psychological-realism
She laughs. "Uhm, yeah, puzzle that one out for a
Devin hardly ever writes without playing the appropriate
music. "I actually dub ‘sound tracks' for every single project
I'm writing," she says. "The mood and rhythm and thematic
content of what you're listening to should compliment and
support what you're writing."
"The music definitely does vary. For instance, a lot of the
music I used when writing "Black Widow" had a dark, hard edge…
whereas the soundtrack for Relative Heroes is
much younger and boppier. And yes, Batman and The
Titans demand yet different mixes!"
But reading fiction while writing is definitely out. "I
love reading," she says, "but I actually find it distracting
to read (fiction) before I start writing. Writing is often a
bit of an exercise in mimicry, and it's easy for me to get
over-influenced by the voice of whatever author I'm reading.
So I generally read nonfiction when I'm right in the middle of
a writing project. But when I have some time to myself…I've
been reading a lot of Milan Kundera, A.S. Byatt, and James
While she would like to get back to writing her novel in
the next year or so, right now comics has her full attention.
"Comics are being so good to me," she says, "I'm trying to let
myself relax and have that be enough."
Outside of the comics' world, Devin Grayson is a very
private person. "I'd so much prefer that readers were
wondering about, you know, who Batman is outside of the cowl,
or what Superman dreams about when he sleeps, than what I do
when I'm not writing. In addition, anything I offer about
myself personally can be used to reinterpret my work, and I
would much prefer that my work be evaluated on its own
However, TheComicStore.com was able to squeeze a few
details out of her. She picks Gore over Bush. She's seen
The Phantom Menace only once ("If you can brave Jar-Jar
a second time, you have a higher Midichlorian count than
But would she ever emulate her characters, toss on some
spandex and go out in public?
"To quote Brian Augustyn--‘spandex is a cruel mistress,'"
she says. "But to be honest, when I was living in San
Francisco, I would sometimes squint up at the rooftops and
wonder, ‘why not…?' It would be pretty amazing to run around
the ‘rooftop express' all night, and if you dropped down from
a fire escape to stop a crime, it seems to me you'd have just
as good a chance at startling the criminal into fleeing as of
getting shot." But, she adds, "the getting shot part doesn't
sound very appealing, though, does it?"
What would she call herself? "…um…crazy?"
And finally, the question on everyone's mind: boxers or
briefs? Without missing a beat, and in her best Alfred
Pennyworth deadpan drawl, she responds:
"With what, Master Bruce?"
For more about Devin Grayson, visit her
excellent website at www.2kcomics.com.