New Look BATGIRL: Who She Is and How She Came to Be

Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher talk to 13th Dimension about the superhero on everyone’s lips and Tumblrs. A BATGIRL WEEK triple MIGHTY Q&A extravaganza!


I’m not gonna spiel at length here other than to say the whole reason we’re having BATGIRL WEEK now is because her New Look — brought to you by newcomer Tarr and veterans Stewart and Fletcher — starts 10/8, with the release of Batgirl #35.

I haven’t been this excited for a character revamp since I don’t know when and I’m not alone. The fans and pros alike have been wildly excited by the new design, with artist after artist contributing tributes (check out 13 of them here). That’s unheard of for a book that hasn’t even come out yet.

So here you go — a full-blown Q&A with this terrific trio. (Oh and for more BATGIRL WEEK coolness, check out my spin on Why Batgirl is So Damn Great and Batgirl: Year One co-writer Scott Beatty‘s Young Heroes in Love.)


BABS TARR, artist

Dan Greenfield: So what’s it like being an overnight sensation?

Babs Tarr: It’s insane! I figure these things happen all the time in comics and it was no big deal and I would just be another artist on the book BUT people seem to really be falling in love with our Batgirl and thankfully they are excited I am the artist. Now I walk in a comic shop and introduce myself and people get star-struck. It’s pretty crazy but really exciting to be a part of something so many people are passionate about.

How surprised were you by the overwhelmingly positive response to Batgirl’s new look?

I am so new to the industry I don’t think I quite comprehended how bananas the reaction is that we are getting!! I asked one of my comic friends if every comic announcement had reactions like this and they were like “No Babs, it’s never like this!”  We were trending nationally on Twitter and crashed the Doc Martens website! It was crazytown.

Your work is really expressive and cartoony and pretty awesome from what I’ve seen. Tell us how you got into this racket and who some of your influences were.

Cameron emailed me gauging my interest in doing a book for DC! That’s how I got into the comics racket but I have been doing all kinds of other illustration work for years. Before Batgirl I was working full time as a game artist and freelancing as an illustrator. I have done toy design for Hasbro, I have done editorial work for newspapers and I even used to do oil portraits!

Babs' variant cover

Babs’ variant cover

Where else can people find your work?

I’m brand new to comics but you can find all my past illustration work at

Up to now, what’s your favorite version of Batgirl — whether it be Cassie or Steph or Babs, or Silver Age, Bronze, TV, etc. Why?

Barbara Gordon was always and will always by my Batgirl. I grew up watching the Animated Series so Babs was always Batgirl to me.

Which of the Batgirl of Burnside pieces you’ve seen pop up on the web has been your fave?

There are tons of amazing pieces but this one is hands down my favorite piece!

Who’s the best Batgirl artist ever?

(Laughing) ASIDE FROM CAMERON AND MYSELF, I love Bruce Timm‘s Batgirl!

Babs? Really? That’s your name? Come on!


Bruce Timm. But you knew that.

Bruce Timm. But you knew that.


Dan Greenfield: How surprised were you by the overwhelmingly positive response to Batgirl’s new look?

Brenden Fletcher: I was bowled over by the sheer amount of love and support we were shown by fans. We always knew we were moving the character in a positive direction that would resonate but weren’t quite prepared for the level of enthusiasm we were met with.

Taking the New Look out of it, who drew Batgirl best, since Barbara Gordon’s Million-Dollar Debut back in the late ’60s?

C’mon now, guys. Nobody beats Carmine Infantino‘s work on Batgirl’s earliest appearances but, that said, Gil Kane‘s stunning character acrobatics later in the ’60s came close, for me. You know, though, I will have to fess to also loving the looser line quality of the Don Heck backups in Detective in the ’70s. Also, Marcos Martin‘s art in Batgirl: Year One is die for. All right, I’m sorry. I can’t pick a single favorite Batgirl artist. That wasn’t a fair question at all!!


Gil Kane

Which of the Batgirl of Burnside pieces you’ve seen pop up on the web has been your fave? 

There have been so many incredibly creative illustrations of our version of Batgirl it’s probably impossible to pick a favorite. I will say, however, that Becky Cloonan‘s piece is quite special to me. She’s my co-writer on Gotham Academy and managed to sneak our little school crest into her drawing. I love it!

Becky Cloonan

Becky Cloonan

Tell us how you’re collaborating with Cameron and Babs, what you’re responsible for, and so forth.

Cameron and I are writing every issue of Batgirl together. We spend a great deal of time on Skype and FaceTime (I live in Montreal and he now lives in Berlin) beating out the story. From there, we break each issue down, which usually involves writing fairly specific and detailed actions along with a chunk of somewhat usable dialogue for every page. To my knowledge this is a fairly common approach for writing partners to take in comics.

But this is where things get interesting — it’s at this point that Cameron takes the page breaks and creates layouts for Babs to follow in her finished illustrations. He essentially draws a loose version of the entire book from our breakdown! While he’s doing this, we’re riffing back and forth on specific beats and lines of dialogue for each scene, so when he hits Page 20 — the end of the issue — we’ve formed a fairly full and complete script that just requires a little polish to get into shape.

It’s a unique process that seems to work for our team. It’s like nothing I’ve ever been a part of before but man, is it ever a rewarding experience!

CAMERON STEWART, co-writer, artist.

Dan Greenfield: How surprised were you by the overwhelmingly positive response to Batgirl’s New Look?

Cameron Stewart: I think we were always confident that we were doing the right thing, and so we expected a positive reaction, especially based on the comments and reactions of friends and colleagues we showed the costume to long before it was made public.

What we weren’t expecting was the huge tidal wave of positivity, and how fast it seemed to catch on with everyone. I think we tapped into something that was bubbling under the surface and gave it an outlet.

Up to now, what’s your favorite version of Batgirl — whether it be Cassie or Steph or Babs, or Silver Age, Bronze, TV, etc. Why?

I don’t have much of a relationship with Cass or Steph, although I appreciate their huge popularity with fans. I think Batgirl at her most iconic, the version that is the most known and resonates the strongest with not only me, but also the greater public at large, is Barbara Gordon, as depicted in the ’66 TV series, and again in Batman: The Animated Series. It’s really those iterations of the character that we’re intending to draw on the most for our version, with a more contemporary spin.


I know you’ve been or will be asked 1,000 times, but was it your idea to revamp the outfit or were you assigned the task? Talk about what went into it all.

I was approached to take over the book, and my first question to my editors was, “Can I redesign the costume?” Allowing me to do a redesign was really the main condition I had for taking the job.

The intricate, armored New 52 look that’s been around for the last few years isn’t really to my taste, and so I definitely wanted something that I would enjoy drawing repeatedly.

I also wanted to reflect the tone of the book — I knew that I wanted to take Batgirl away from the darkness and bring her into a brighter, more fun series of adventures, and the costume needed to match that approach.

I decided that I wanted to do a modernized version of the ’66 Yvonne Craig costume, and make something that was functional and stylish. When it became clear that I wasn’t able to do the book on my own, and I requested that Babs be brought on board, I showed her the design that I’d come up with and she made some simple but significant additions that really elevated it and made it something that appealed to so many fans.

Which of the Batgirl of Burnside pieces you’ve seen pop up on the web has been your fave? Have you seen Mike Maihack’s?

It’s really hard to pick a favorite. Mike’s strip is great! I’m overwhelmed with happiness at all the incredible fan art and costumes that have been produced. One of the things I love is that there are so many different styles being represented — we’ve seen photorealistic paintings, stylized cartoon versions and chibis and fashion mashups, Lego minifig versions and strange abstracted drawings, and they all work.  I’m also really happy to see that a significant portion of the fan art is coming from really talented women.

How old is Barbara in your book?

Barbara is 21, as she has been since the New 52 relaunch. There has been some concern that we have made her into a teenager, but that’s incorrect. She is college age and in fact entering grad school at the beginning of our storyline. However, 21 is only 2 years away from being a teenager, and so we felt that it was necessary for our story to depict her honestly as a girl of that age.

Page 1

Page 1

I confess I wasn’t crazy about the way Batgirl was portrayed in the New 52 to date. But I have high hopes here. What can readers look forward to in the first couple of arcs?

In our first arc we’re setting up a new status quo, and an entirely new setting and cast of characters. We are sticking with the current continuity but completely changing up her environment, which opens up many story possibilities and also provides a perfect jumping on point for new readers.

We won’t be seeing any of the regular Bat-cast, Barbara will be facing a variety of new villains that all have some relation to a mysterious antagonist from Barbara’s past.

It’s a high concept blend of detective procedural, high-velocity action and youth-oriented soap opera.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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