Few costume redesigns have caused such a stir as Batgirl’s yellow Doc Martens. Cosplayers were dressing as her even before the first issue of the revamped series landed.
Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr had clearly tapped into something, and the series became a runaway hit. It was so popular that the rest of the DC line is feeling the shake up, with DC commissioning more tonally diverse books.
It’s been called the ‘Batgirling’ of the DCU.
So Cameron Stewart is doing pretty well at the moment.
We stopped by for a chat with him at the London Super Comic Con to find out what’s in store for Batgirl, and how he and his team changed the tone of DC.
What can you tell us about upcoming Batgirl stories?
Our first arc was about how to reconcile the dark past with the current very light tone, and that’s something that we had to get out of the way, and it was something that in order to do properly we felt like we had to do our own little thing and sequester her from the rest of the Bat-world. That’s why we had all new villains and an entirely new cast – everything.
Now that we’ve done that and we’ve sort of made our peace with the past, we can move forward now. It’s almost like issue 41, which is coming out in June, is our real beginning. It’s kind of like our actual first issue where we can forge ahead and not have to worry about any of the past or anything. What we then can do is we can bring her back to interact a little bit with the rest of the Bat universe.
Straight out of the gate [after Convergence] there’s a huge status quo change, there’s a new Batman. And our very first story is about the interaction with the new Batman. We’re going to be bringing back some characters from the DCU who haven’t really appeared in the New-52 yet, and doing our own spin on them. We’re really excited because Babs, as you know, is an amazing designer, she’s an amazing character designer, and she really likes drawing these tough, bad-ass girls.
We’re still trying to keep it really light, we’re still trying to keep it really fun, we’re going to do less of the long six-issue stories, we’re going to try to scale it back and if it’s only one issue, it’s only going to be one issue. We’re going to try to make it light and fun and poppy, and [show] the return of some characters from her past.
Is the ‘Batgirling’ of the DCU a flattering or intimidating thought?
It’s completely flattering. We knew all along that what we were doing was the right thing. I think we were all very confident that this would be met with a positive response and it was the right thing to do, not only for the character but for DC comics as a whole. Shake it up a little bit and not have a consistent homogenous tone all the way across the line. And now that it’s proven to be successful, sales are up and it seems like everybody – not everybody, but our close people – are happy with it and DC has taken the lesson from it, gone like ‘okay, maybe there’s something to this, maybe we can do different books for different audiences’.
So to know that we’re sort of responsible for this philosophical shift at the company is incredibly flattering. That’s honestly why we did it in the first place. I’m doing the Batgirl book because I love Batgirl and I wanted to do it, but also I saw an opportunity to make what I considered to be some positive changes in the overall culture of DC. And it seems to be working. So I’m extremely flattered and vindicated is, I think, the other word for it.
How does the team create an issue of Batgirl?
Brenden and I come up with the basic plot structure and then I draw it all out and that’s kind of the script, then we give the storyboards that I’ve drawn to Babs and she does the final artwork on it and after that stuff, then we do the final dialogue.
You’re known for having quite a noir style in some of your previous work – why the change to the poppy Batgirl tone?
I like to do different things. I don’t like only one kind of story. I watch all different kinds of movies, I read all different kinds of books, I read all different kinds of comics, and for me to just do the same sort of thing over and over again, it gets boring. Not only for me, but for the readers… I like to defy expectations.
Batgirl by Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher is currently ongoing. Pick up the 100 All-Time Greatest Comics bookazine now!