NYCC: Spotlight on Tom King Panel Liveblog

On Saturday morning at New York Comic Con, Batman and Heroes in Crisis writer Tom King took to the stage in room 1A21 to talk about his career and tease what's next in a panel.

King was joined onstage by Mitch Gerads, who draws Sheriff of Babylon and Mister Miracle.

King teased more dead superheroes, including "one more big one," to be revealed in Heroes in Crisis #2.

The upcoming trade paperback of Mister Miracle will be available in January, and will start with the "introduction" to Mister Miracle that King did with artist Mike Norton for Mister Miracle #1: Director's Cut.

Coming up in Batman, King asks, "are there any Titans left I can shoot?" and then joked, "We're doing a 12-issue arc called 'The Death of Aqualad,' and it's just 12 issues of him falling off a building going I hope there's water at the bottom!'"

The upcoming storyline will deal with Batman and KGBeast fighting in the fallout from the attack on Nightwing. The fight will be intercut with Mark Buckingham art that King says is "the most crazy art that's ever been in a Batman comic since Bat-Mite showed up in the Morrison arc."

After that, Penguin will return.

"Bane broke his heart -- he crushed him in a way he's never been crushed," King said, "And now you're going to see how a man will live with being crushed."

Gerads said "I'd like to apologize for the issue that comes up after the Penguin."

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(Photo: Russ Burlingame)

King said that bringing heroes back from the dead is in part a response to the feeling that life is a series of rebirths.

"As creatives, we can't worry about the next guy," Gerads said. "We just have to tell our stories, and then if they want to bring them back, they have to figure out how to do it."

A fill-in story will feature Professor Pyg, "and now we all have to deal with what a Tom King Professor Pyg comic is like."

After a question about his novel A Once Crowded Sky, King was not sure that he would ever go back to writing novels.

"I'm doing TV s--t, which is awful, but I really like money," joked King. "The TV stuff takes all my time, then I'll have to do some more TV s--t, but if that doesn't take off and they kick me out of comics, then yeah, I'm going to be a great novelist."

Booster Gold and Ted Kord will be getting back together in Heroes in Crisis, and King says he is looking forward to that.

"Harley ends up teaming with someone too, which I think is going to be an interesting dynamic," he said.

Talking about the role of therapy in Heroes in Crisis, King said that when he was a kid, he used to be in therapy but he never got anything out of it. Years later, he had a massive panic attack and went into therapy.

"You're trying to walk down a dark alley and see yourself and say 'he's cool,'" King said.

King compared Heroes in Crisis to "The War of Jokes and Riddles."

Every two issues, there is going to be another two issues that comes in -- Lee Weeks is the first one, Mitch Gerads is the second one -- that will explore what happened before the murder, and look at what Sanctuary is and what it can do.

Asked about whether he ever struggles with depicting people with mental illness as supervillains, King said, "sometimes you have to just accept the metaphor."

He said that while characters are called crazy, they are really evil in most cases, and so Batman is not about mental health.

"I think killing Robins is easy; it's like the easiest thing a writer can do," joked King. "Arkham is a metaphor for evil and killing Robins is a metaphor for bad writing."

King said that when Rebirth originally "killed" Tim Drake, he was against it.

King and Gerads have already decided on their next project.

"I've sort of told my trauma story, and that's the next thing, but I think it's going to be the most ambitious thing I've ever written," King said.

King says that while there is not much of a theological statement in Mister Miracle, an innate feeling that people need God is something he hopes comes through.

Gerads said that King is one of the few writers in comics who "gets" that in the real world, people aren't always talking or narrating everything.

"I come from novels, so the cliche is 'show, don't tell,' so I try not to have my characters talk too much," King admitted.

"In Batman #61, Professor Pyg and Batman go on a date," joked Gerads.

"...Then Porky shows up and it gets weird," King added.

King said that his favorite issue of Batman is the one with Lois Lane and Clark Kent. He said that he loves comedy issues, and hopes to do more soon. He also said that Amanda Conner has expressed interest in doing a flashback issue with Catwoman's bachelor party.

When asked about bringing characters back just to kill them, King said, "Everyone comes back, but to tell a story that has meaning, real consequences have to happen and real hurt has to happen. When I look around at reality today, I'm feeling real hurt and I'm feeling pissed and I'm feeling mad and there are sometimes I just want to escape into the joy of an escapist comic, where I just want to read a Usagi Yojimbo comic and go 'fuck yeah.' There's also times that I want to look into the heart of the sadness...and to do that, I have to do things that hurt, I have to do things that are bad, and those get you to that place. I don't like to do it, but my job is to create empathy and if you look at these comics and you think there are no consequences and everybody are safe, then it won't work."

Gerads added that "being mad at a comic is way better than being complacent about a comic."

Both King and Gerads say that they have no intentions of doing another New Gods story, and that Mister Miracle is their definitive statement on that corner of the universe. He said that when they announced a follow-up to his Vision, he never regretted that it wasn't him writing it.

King said that for years, he used to be very pro-gun, and that after the Newtown massacre, he changed that position. He said that the fact that bullets haunt Batman is a continuing theme in his life, and that was part of why Nightwing was shot instead of something else.

Asked about Poison Ivy, King says that she will play a role in Heroes in Crisis, since there is so much Harley in the book.

Asked about the presence of the Bat-family, King said that they are trying to help Bruce through his trauma in upcoming issues.

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"Keith Giffen is one of my superheroes in comics," King said. "He's probably the most underrated writer in the history of comics."

King revealed that at one point, he pitched DC that he wanted to put Tim Drake on the Autism spectrum, but that story was turned down by the publisher for timing reasons.