Interview with Batgirl Creators Brendan Fletcher and Babs Tarr
Batgirl #45 hit stores this Wednesday, and it’s a pretty fantastic issue according to resident write Josh McCullough. Opposed to the regular superhero action, this issue slows things down in order to focus on the wedding of Barbara’s former roommate Alisa. It’s a beautiful, charming issue that acts as a nice breather in Batgirl’s hectic life.
Excitingly, Josh had the opportunity to chat with the creative team behind the book, Brendan Fletcher and Babs Tarr (Cameron Stewart was unfortunately unavailable due to technical difficulties) and after some fun pleasantries, he sat down to chat about the newest issue, where the book is headed and what it’s been like to be part of the book.
It was a super fun discussion, so be sure to read on with the full interview below.
Brendan Fletcher (BF): So you’ve read the new issue then?
We The Nerdy (WTN): Oh yeah I absolutely loved it
BF: Big batgirl fan then huh?
WTN: Oh yeah never miss an issue since you guys took over, it’s been absolutely insane in quality
Babs Tarr (BT): Aw thank you!
BF: Thanks dude! That’s mostly babs though right?
BT: Yeah it really is I’m carrying a lot of the weight over here
WTN: I can definitely tell, this issue was absolutely gorgeous
BF: It’s a total Jack Kirby situation she just goes off and draws 20 pages of whatever she wants and I’m like “what are the words we’re gonna put to this”?
Why’s everyone flirting all the time?
BT: Sorry!… Not sorry!
WTN: So this was a big wedding issue, some good themes tied up in this issue, I was just curious, a lot of this story arc took place with elements from Simone’s arc, such as the return of Alisa. Seeing as a lot of newcomers came on board with your run, I was wondering how you balanced out what came before with some of the own themes and content you’ve been covering in your run.
BF: Well I think, man, it’s always tough to take over or start a new run of a book coming off of a legendary run by a legendary creator like Gail. We had ideas of what we wanted to do with Batgirl and they were completely different from what the run was, and I think that’s why editorial chose us. They knew that trying to exactly follow in her footsteps with the same tone and style would be trying to copy her, which you can’t, there’s only one Gail Simone.
So we did our own thing, but we also couldn’t ignore everything that happened in Barba Gordon’s story coming before us, so there were elements we felt like we could pull in that would be really important to her as a character. One of those was the woman she had been living with, Alisa, unfortunately since we only have 20 pages each issue, each story was a self-contained tale that fed into the first arc. There wasn’t a lot of room to explore new ground with Alisa over our first arc, but there was the hope we would be allowed to do more than six. Thankfully we were successful enough to move on and really dig into what they’re relationship is about and move Alisia forward as a character.
Thankfully we were met with a modicum of success and we were really able to play that out. We have great plans for Alisia, she’s one of the strongest supporting characters in the batgirl book and you’re going to be seeing more of her in the future.
WTN: I’m so excited, I think she was fantastic in the recent issues. I loved her in Simone’s run, but you guys have really weaved her well into your story. Also she looked absolutely beautiful under Bab’s pencils, especially in this newest issues.
BT: Thank you!
BF: Aw come on man who doesn’t look great the way Bab’s draws her?
WTN: Yeah I wish I could look like a Bab’s drawing
Bt: yeah like Brendan was saying this issue contained a lot of promises that were made to me, to get to draw a wedding issue and we got a love triangle on top of it, it was my most easy issue to draw because I just love the content so much.
Bf: babs finished drawing page 20 and she asked who was getting married in the next issue.
We were like we can only do one wedding issue a year, maybe we’ll do another one.
BT: I’ll take it!
WTN: I was also curious you just mentioned the love triangle aspect. I notice Dick Grayson came back this issue of course, but babs- not our babs, Barbara babs- is with Luke fox which muddies things up. But I was wondering what about Qadir? We seem to be forming almost a love rhombus. I was wondering if these potential romances are something we’ll be seeing more of?
BF: We’ll we’re really into complex geometric shapes and we’re just trying to feed that as much as possible (laughs)
No but, Qadir is a character who was never at first written with any hint of flirt in his dialgoue, but I’m sure you can imagine what member of the team suggested he should have a crush on Batgirl and maybe he’d be a bit flirty, maybe there’d be a bit of a connection. One member really pushed for that. (laughs)
BT: I wanted him to be her Q and her Moneypenny combined and thought that idea was so cute. So like nothing ever happens, there’s always this underlining flirt but nothing ever happens with it. I don’t know if nothing ever will, but I love the idea of him knowing both characters, Barbara Gordon and Batgirl, but he has a huge crush on batgirl and not on Barbara Gordon. I think that’s kind of cutesy and fun.
WTN: I definitely get the feeling of him being sort of her Oracle type tech support character, I think it’s just because you draw him looking so adorable I really wanted something to happen for him. I mean I’m getting a crush on Qadir by this point.
BF: Who doesn’t? I could write a whole Qadir issue, in fact I probably should.
BT: Yeah I’d love to see that to, I’d love to draw that!
BF: Yeah we never really get enough time you know, we say it again and again 20 pages is never enough. We have a really great supporting cast, the three of us have worked so hard to develop the supporting cast and they’re sp important to us and we really want to spend more time with them, but we have to remind ourselves the book is called Batgirl.
It’s about Barbara Gordon and about how she moves through her life and spends time with these people as much as she can while trying to better herself, while trying to get an education, while trying to maintain any kind of work she’s doing while saving the lives of people in Burnside and Gotham, She doesn’t have a lot of spare time in her life and rarely spends a lot time with any one person.
It’s that kind of classic Ditko/Romita/Stan Lee spider-man type conundrum. Young Peter Parker bouncing around NYC trying to do everything, never being 100% successful at anything while being a great guy and superhero, maybe his life has to suffer little bit, that’s what Barbara’s going through. But we do have desire to spend more time with these characters and hopefully we’ll get the chance to take another breather like this in a future issue and do another, maybe not another wedding issue, but one that’s more just focused less on foiling a supervillain plot and more on spending time with people.
WTN: I really appreciate this kind of stuff, I think that’s what’s great about this ruin as a whole, it has that grounded spiderman type style, in both the writing and the art. It feels very contemporary life and I feel that’s why it’s so successful.
BT: I hope so
BF: Definitely the bad ass art side of it is a good reason.
WTN: How do you actually feel about your style your art style babs? For a while DC have been really into their house style, but recently they’ve been breaking away from that with books like this, Gotham by Midnight, Bizarro and such. How do you feel to be part of that new style and sort of crafting a look for a new generation.
BT: It’s extremely flattering and crazy, when they contacted me, Cameron reached out first, he was like “how would you like to draw a comic for DC” and I looked around my computer like “is he talking to me?!” and I just didn’t think it was ever gonna happen so I was like “oh yeah I’ll try this. I’m not gonna say no to that because I think I might not fit in.
It’s extremely flattering and extremely cool. I love my art style and I’m always trying to make it more fun and more cool, and to see that getting adopted in more books to look less like the traditional style is only adding more variety and interest to the books. It brings in more readers too, as the house style can be intimidating and has a lot of history behind it. Hopeflly we’ll bring in new readers with these new visuals.
WTN: Definitely, I think that’s what’s been great about the DC You run. They feel very reader friendly and you could jump in anywhere.
BF: Yeah I’m really conscious of that, we do have these overarching plots we have to serve, but Cameron and I are conscious of new readers coming in at any point, and making this series and the other two series I’m writing, Gotham Academy and Black Canary, not feel bogged down by the long histories of the characterizes, by all these decades worth of stories that came before. I never want to discount any of that or make it seem like those points of continuity never took place. But I just think each issue needs to feel like a fresh place for a new reader to start, that they can come in and get something out of it.
WTN: Since we’re talking about continuity, I noticed a few issues back you had Jim Gordon as Batman and DG was in the annual. How do you deal with outside stuff affecting your books? Is it fun getting to play with the larger elements of the universe?
BF: Well I think that for me it’s one of the great things about our editorial team. Mark Doyle is the group editor of the Batman books and we work directly with Chris Conroy on Batgirl, I work directly with him on Black Canary as well and Rebecca Taylor on Gotham Academy, these guys are so incredible and they keep a check on continuity, and a lot of the writers in the bat family we talk to each other on a regular basis so we understand the ebb and flow, how everyone’s kind of changing things month to month. And we have group meetings as well so we kind of know the direction of things, we can plan to duck in and out of other people’s stories and pluck elements form their plots to put in ours and take characters for crossovers. But Mark and Chris and Rebecca are so great and letting us play and have fun. None of this is forced. I think in the past there were directives to place characters in books and plots maybe, this has never happened with us so far. Jim Gordon became batman and we were never forced to tell a story about Barbara reaction her dad was the dark knight, but it seemed like such an opportunity to explore something new with the characters and that’s what’s exciting about storytelling, it’s getting to explore new facets of characters and relationships, so we would have been foolish to turn down the opportunity to play with that.
Same thing with dick coming back to Gotham after everyone thinking he’s been dead for a year. There’s something really meaty that we can dig into so of course we want to bring that in, we want to play wit that a bit and explore those relationships. These are all great opportunities, we’re not being forced to take advantage of them but we definitely want to, and if more stuff like this comes up in the future we are definitely going to take those opportunities as well. It’s all just about fun, it’s all just about having fun and exploring different parts of the characters from the different parts of Gotham. Plus babs needs more cool characters to draw!
BT: I think Gotham has never felt like more of a real city before, now we have all those living breathing neighborhoods. If you’ve ever been to any major city that’s what theyr’e like. Before it felt very one tone, now it’s got all this personality and it’s very cool. It’s a living breathing character along with everybody else.
WTN: I think that’s been one of the best things about the move to burnside, you do get a very fresh real city vibe to it
Bf: Yeah a lot of work went into figuring out how that would feel beforehand. C and I were developing brand and locations, types of music. How does this city sound, what does it look like. Where do people go, how do they operate, and Babs came in to breathe life into the whole thing and makes it really tangible to some degree. And if we’ve met with any success I think that’s part of it, it’s not just the awesome costume design and the fun spirit in the book, Barbara Gordon feels like she’s living in a place that could be more real than any old school generic silver age comic book city.
WTN: To wrap up then, what would you say to people unsure or on the fence to keep them with the book. Can you tease what’s coming up in the coming year?
BF: Issue 50 is gonna be a big one, it’s coming out March 2016 and everything we’ve done so far builds up to that moment. It’s gonna be a massive status quo change for Barbara Gordon and Batgirl, for all of her supporting cast, everything changes for everyone and the ripples of that are gonna be felt through all of the bat family, maybe the DCU. It’s gonna be big, it’s gonna be exciting, it’s gonna be fun and there’s gonna continue to be a lot of cute flirting and sparkles. Thanks babs.
BT: You’re welcome, you’re welcome everybody (laughs)
WTN: Great! That’s all I need in the comic
After this both Brendan and Babs expressed their gratitude to us and the fans for their continuing support of the book and they said their goodbyes.
That’s all for now though, but if you’d like to read more about Batgirl #45 you can check out Jean-Luc’s review of the comic.