We talked to Babs Tarr, the artist behind Batgirl. NBD.
At San Diego Comic Con, Hello Giggles had a chance to talk to Babs Tarr, the artist behind Batgirl. The new Batgirl has a fun, exciting, and incredible original story, about Batgirl as she moves to Burnside, a Gotham City version of Brooklyn, and fights off anime punks, corrupt DJs, and an evil version of Batgirl herself. The newest trade, The Batgirl of Burnside, came out last month, with a new issue on the way for next week on July 29th.
I really liked reading the new Batgirl. What was the inspiration behind it?
They had this vision for doing a brighter more fun, more youthful Batgirl. That’s the only reason I’m on the book right now without having previous comics experience. My art already hit all those marks: it’s youthful, it’s fashionable, it’s got badass ladies in it, and that’s exactly what the new story arc is about. We wanted her to feel like a 21-year-old, and we wanted her to get away from the darkness before. So much stuff happened, and she just needs to get away from it, so she moves to Burnside which is a cool borough, like a Brooklyn-type kind of borough. We wanted to embody that and make it super fun and fabulous.
Can you talk about why you used social media in the story, like “hooq” the dating app, and “Pixtagraph”? How did you use it in the comic?
At our age, we kind of are struggling with identity, and I think the use of social media added to the story because she’s trying to reinvent herself and get away from everything. She was able to do that. I think a lot of us, as young kids, can relate to trying to be unique and be our own person and make some noise in this world where everyone’s making noise. So when Batgirl assumes some responsibility of her own identity and starts her own “Pixtagraph” account, that’s kind of what the whole arc is about. It’s her identity and trying to find it and get a hold of it.
I feel like superheroes now would use social media a lot more.
I think so too. I think it’s so ingrained in our culture right now. And it’s silly that there’s not more of in the other books, because everyone… if you’re 13 years old or if you’re a 40-year-old dude, everyone’s on their phone. I think it’s very reflective of the real world.
How did you get into drawing comics?
I got pulled in by one of the writers, Cameron Stewart, and he liked my work. He got me onto the book and drawing it ever since.
How’d he find your work?
How I got this job is so insane. It’s a very Cinderella-like story. I’d never pursued comics before, and I just posted on all the social medias. It was my own personal work that I thought was really fu,n and drawings I was doing for myself because I enjoyed it. To hear from Cameron Stewart and have DC hire me… They’re like, “We love your style. Please put it on a book of Batgirl and we’ll pay you to draw your stuff all day.” I was like, “Okay!” Cameron was really awesome. He was doing the layouts for me at the beginning because I had no comic experience, and now I’m doing it on my own and it’s scary, but it’s also very fun to take that ownership of it. I’m really excited about the future.
Do you have any projects coming up that you’re excited about, especially?
Right now it’s just Batgirl and we have this next issue coming up. The guys, I give them a list of things I want to draw in the book, and they slowly check it off every issue, so I’m excited. We’ve got some fun stuff coming up.
How do you draw action sequences?
That’s the tough part, because all my drawings before were cute girls doing everyday things. But I got this neat book that helped. It’s a Japanese pose book, and it’s just people fighting. I have pictures taken from all these different angles, and I’ve been using that to help me pose people and come up with different actions. I also reference old comics to absorb how other people do the fight scenes. Cameron Stewart’s my comic sensei, and he’s one of the best in the industry with fight scenes, so I’m always showing him my work. At first, I was really intimidated. I did not really enjoy that bit that much, but now I’m kind of getting into it. I’m like, “Yeah! Punching stuff!”
What sort of stuff did you draw before? Did you draw fan art or did you just draw women? I feel like when I draw, it’s so much easier to draw women than dudes.
I think so. I think it’s more fun when you’re a lady, and you just look in the mirror: “Oh, that’s how that works.” Before, I was drawing illustrations on my own, original characters, and also fan art. My fan art obviously resonated with more viewers. Maybe the most viral thing that I had happen was the Sailor Moon biker gang that I did. I punked them all out and I put them on motorbikes, and drew Crystal Tokyo behind them.
I tried to just embody them. I feel like being a nerd doesn’t mean you don’t have to be fashionable or like cool things and makeup. I’m trying to inject more modern coolness into old school characters. I think that’s really resonating, because the more movies that come out, the more comics are at the forefront of main culture, and the more, I think, people are hungry to have them be more relatable and more cool.
Did you come up with that or was that something Cameron Stewart saw in that fan art, and that’s why he integrated that kind of arc in the book?
He originally got offered it himself. I think we just all wanted to be part of something that was a little more fun to draw and create, and that’s where that really came from. One of the first things he asks is, “Can I redesign the costume?” Like when he got offered the character, he had done this great costume design, I came and added some modern bits to it, to cool it up a little bit more.
Last question, do you have anything to add, and do you have any advice for the girls?
Yeah, I would check out Batgirl! The next issue comes out really soon. I think my advice would be, if you want to get into comics and draw and stuff, learning to follow my heart and draw the stuff I wanted to draw and not draw things I thought would get me gigs, was the best advice I ever had. Don’t be scared. Just try and try some more, and I swear, if you work hard and follow your heart, good things will happen. It might be slow at first, but just persevere and put the blinders on and follow your heart. I know, it’s so cheesy, but it’s true! It worked! It worked for me!
[Image courtesy DC Comics]