John Layman On Leaving Batman Eternal

layman bio pic

John Layman writes for Bleeding Cool, on yesterday’s story about the Chew writer leaving the upcoming Batman weekly title, Batman Eternal.

So yes, it is true that I am leaving Batman Eternal. I’m writing 4 issues of the first 20, one of which I still have to turn in, and then moving on to solely concentrate on Chew for a while.

People looking for scandal will be sorely disappointed, as my experience working with DC and the Bat-office was an overwhelming positive one. I’m leaving after honoring my commitment to what I said I’d write and leaving on amicable terms, told that I will be welcomed back to the Bat-office when I am ready. This is something I fully intend to someday do.

I agreed to Eternal while I was still on Detective Comics, intending to play off events in Eternal in Detective. If there is one downside, it’s that I was taken off Detective to make room for the fantastically talented Booch & Manapul, as part of a month where the entire Bat-universe is being shaken up. I didn’t necessarily want to lose Detective, but I watch numbers just like everybody else, and the “standard attrition” slide was there, and after 16 issues, I can’t blame DC for wanting to try something new. DC, to their credit, offered me a shot at XX book, and then YY book, but it was never my goal to write a ton of super hero books.

As I was writing my last Detective issues I realized I was saying goodbye to the Bat-characters, and it was hard to get back the focus back I needed to for Eternal. I’ve said before I’m not a fast writer, and writing nearly two years on Batman means two years of something else I was not writing, and I was getting the urge to do something new. Not to mention prop up my creator-owned book Chew which at issue #40 is no longer the new hot thing, and could use some extra attention going into the final third of its run. Batman will always be around, but Chew has just a couple more years, and I’d be a fool to fuck that up after coming this far.

I took on working on Detective in large part because I’d already worked with Mike Marts before, and was convinced he is the best editor in this business. My time in Batman only cemented these views. As I said, working on Batman was a joy, and that’s largely because of Mike Marts and Katie Kubert, not to mention the great artists and friends they teamed me up with, Jay Fabok, Andy Clarke, Scot Eaton, Aaron Lopresti.

There were no creative differences, no drama, no bad experiences, no unreasonable rewrites or capricious changes, during Detective or during my time on Eternal. Tim Seeley, Ray Fawkes, Scott Snyder and James Tynion are super guys and collaborators.  It was a tough decision to leave, but it’s since proven to be creatively recharge me. Since deciding to leave Eternal I’ve finished a Chew card game, a Chew crossover, and feel like my brain is now bubbling over with the space that was previously occupied with Bat-stuff. (I wish I could talk about the Chew animation stuff that’s being worked on, but not yet…)

So, yeah, that’s the story of my leaving Eternal. Batman was great, but as a slow guy more and more I felt like I was spending too much time playing catch-up or keep-up. I want to wake up and face the day looking at a blank word processor page, and discover something new, at least for a while.