Over the week Newsarama had a interview with writer Kyle Higgins regarding Nightwing’s back-story and the process of compressing his history as to rethinking and updating the character.
Newsarama: Kyle, since you’ve been writing Nightwing, you’ve been slowly filling in Dick Grayson’s back-story. How much of it was sketched out before you started the series when it was relaunched in September 2011? What elements were in place as you started, and how much was that coordinated with the rest of the Bat-family?
Kyle Higgins: To be honest, a lot of it was up in the air. The big, seminal beats in Dick’s life — as far as I was concerned — were always going to stay. However, as we got into the series, and got a better understanding of the New 52’s landscape, we realized there would be a number of things we would be required to rethink or update.
For example, with our first arc hinging on the Court of Owls connection to Haly’s Circus, Dick’s childhood was something I went about developing in a slightly different way. That led to the story behind the Grayson name (in issues #8 and #9), which was something I pitched to DC and Scott to dovetail with the Court of Owls material.
Higgins: Lots of back and forth communication with my editors. Lots of conversations about what needs to be addressed, what’s best left untouched, and what pitfalls might develop from anything we do update.
Typically, the way this works is we’ll have a story — like Zero Year — that necessitates using elements from Dick’s past. When that happens, I’ll pitch what I think the best solution is and we’ll start a dialogue that way.
Nrama: But Zero Year takes place not only before Dick Grayson became Robin, but it’s even before Bruce Wayne became Batman. Now that you guys are going back to “pre-Batman” history in the DCU, how long ago are you thinking this Zero Year story happened that you’re telling in Nightwing?
Higgins: A year before Dick’s parents died. So, whenever that is [laughs]. I try not to get too hung up about the “five year history.”
Nrama: OK, so introduce us to the world of Dick Grayson during your Zero Year issue. What’s his life like a year before his parents die?
Higgins: Well, he’s a trapeze performer/acrobat in Haly’s Circus. When we meet him in our story, he’s in the midst of one of his favorite activities — watching a movie.
Nrama: So will we see characters from the first story arc you did (when you had Dick traveling with the circus)?
Higgins: Yeah, there might be a few popping up.
Nrama: OK, give us a bit of a tease into what the story is. The solicitation said it’s in Gotham? What happens to kick off the story?
Higgins: A night at the movies — gone wrong! We kick things off in Gotham, where Dick and his parents are at a screening of a new movie called Swordwalkers. During the movie, something big happens… which separates Dick and some of the other kids from their parents. And, in the spirit of the movie, Dick takes it on himself to lead everyone to safety, having to navigate treacherous Gotham in the process. It’s a fun, action adventure story.
Nrama: It sounds a lot like a done-in-one, but does the Zero Year story tie into what’s happening now in Nightwing?
Higgins: A little bit, yes.
Nrama: What’s the experience been like, going back to writing young Dick Grayson? How does it provide insight into how his current personality and psyche was built?
Higgins: It’s always fun exploring a character in an era different from the one they usually exist in. For Dick, it’s especially fun to watch him interact with his parents again… in scenes that aren’t just the typical “hey mom and dad, I’m super excited for our performance tonight in Gotham— I love you guys so much!” Cut to — Dick watching his parents fall to their deaths.
Nrama: Although this is a Zero Year tie-in, Dick Grayson didn’t know Bruce Wayne before that fateful day when his parents died. So I assume this is just a Dick Grayson story? Or is Bruce and/or Batman involved in the story?
Higgins: It’s 100% a Dick Grayson story.
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art and cover by WILL CONRAD
On sale NOVEMBER 13 • 40 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
A BATMAN: ZERO YEAR tie-in! Dick Grayson frantically tries to find Haly’s Circus—and his parents—as Gotham City is plunged into total darkness!
At the end of the interview Kyle Higgins was asked what his thoughts were on his new artist Will Conrad. To read the rest of the interview head over to the source.