Babs of Burnside – An Interview With Batgirl Artist Babs Tarr

Posted June 17, 2015 by Randy Z. Ochoa in Comic Books

Last year a new creative team consisting of writers Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher, and newcomer artist Babs Tarr came onto DC Comics’ Batgirl series and changed the way we saw both Batgirl and Barbara Gordon. We the Nerdy was lucky enough to interview Babs Tarr on her art, and the release of the first collection of her Batgirl run, Batgirl Vol 1: The Batgirl of Burnside, out yesterday June 16th 2015. Be sure to check out our early review here.

WTN: When you, Cameron, and Brenden first came onto the title there was a big response and people that never read a comic before or hadn’t read Batgirl in a while rushed to get this title. Now that the first trade is out, what can you say sets it apart as a Batgirl story and Barbara Gordon story?

Tarr: Before we jumped on it was dark and gritty and it wore some people down and we changed the tone of the book to be light and fun and less murder and more detective. We wanted to establish that Babs was more of her own person. She really had a lot to do with Batman and we kinda wanted to see what she would be like if we moved her into her own place. She’s got her costume and has got a really great supporting cast of characters added to that. If you want to read something a little more fun and sassy, pick up our book.

WTN: About that lightness and sassiness, there are several sequences the fight with the motorcycle assassins and a lot of emotion that you nail with your art. There’s a lot of energy and emotion. What do you do to get to the levels of that into your art?

Tarr: That’s funny you mention Batgirl #36, with the motorcycle assassins, because those villains didn’t exist when I was pulled onto the book. I think one of the only reasons I was able to shine so much was because my writers knew the kind stuff I like to draw. In my personal portfolio I had this piece that went viral with Sailor Moon inspired girls on motorcycles and it was really badass. Those villains were totally inspired by this piece I did for fun in my spare time. If the writers are smart they write for the artist so that it’s easy to bring the energy to something when you’re already really interested in it and it’s fun. I really have them to thank for making cool things for me to draw. And it’s just easy from there on out and it’s just like “yeah, this is awesome and I’m into this,” and the energy just flows from there.

WTN: Kinda going into that collaborative nature that just exists with comics in general, I know you work with Cameron Stewart a little closer since he does the art breakdowns. What was that process like in the beginning and how did it change over the course of doing the first arc?

Tarr: I had never done comics before so it was necessary for me to feel comfortable enough to say yes to the job because I just didn’t want to jump into something I couldn’t handle. Cameron was like “your style is great and you’ve got the chops and I’m going to do the layouts for you for a little bit and then you’ll learn and then you’ll have to do them on your own.” I was like “that sounds amazing,” and I could not be more thankful. Cameron would do the layouts and then Brenden would look at the layouts and then add dialogue and stuff. Then I would get the layouts and the script and draw on top of his layouts from there. Now, after this first arc is over I’m doing it all on my own which is really scary. So issue #41 is all me and it’s Babs Tarr style layouts versus Cameron Stewart style layouts. He’s still my sensei and I’ve definitely taken a lot from him and learned a ton. You won’t believe how much he Mr. Miyagi-ed me through this whole process. I do remember when I started doing the layouts and being like “oh my gosh. Look what I can do that that I never knew I could do before.” It’s been really positive and I wouldn’t be here without him and I’m really thankful for both of them for collaborating with me on this book. I’ve learned so much and it opened up this whole new world that I would never have dreamed being part of before.

WTN: You mentioned you haven’t been in comics long, and now you’ve been nominated for an Eisner, is that correct?

Tarr: Yes, for my inks! It’s also absurd. I’m so thankful, but it feels so surreal. There are so many talented people in the comics industry and I just never dreamed that I’d be picked out among them. It’s very surreal. I’m very honored.

WTN: You should be. It’s all been great from start to finish! Now just to finish off, what can people expect from the future of the Batgirl title?

Tarr: Personally for me I’m on the layouts for a little while, so you can check out how that kind of changes, and then I’m doing the colors for issue #44 and on. Then we have old villains that you haven’t quite seen in the New 52 yet. I’ve told the writers I wanted to draw more badass ladies and they gave it to me. So that’s two new villains coming and a new love interest, and there’s going to be a wedding issue. That’ll be really fun. So stick with us and check it out.

Batgirl Vol 1: The Batgirl of Burnside is on sale now in comic shops and everywhere books are sold. Buy it today.

You can follow Babs Tarr on Twitter @babsdraws

About the Author

Randy Z. Ochoa