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The Batgirl next door: an interview with Babs Tarr

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(DC Comics)

Your friendly neighborhood jman was recently fortunate enough to have the opportunity to chat with über popular Batgirl artist, Babs Tarr.

From her beginnings in the comic book world (Batgirl’s her first book?!?!?) to who she’s most looking forward to penciling, one thing’s for certain: Babs Tarr is proving she’s not just a flash in the pan.


jman:  Your background is in illustration.  How did you get started?  Who are your influences? 

Babs Tarr:  I love to draw, it’s always been something I excelled at and it was almost inevitable that I ended up being an artist in some form! Since I’m pretty versatile and I can make art in many different styles, I had  many paths I could follow to make a living off my art, but illustration has always been where my heart lies.

My influences come from all over. I think the best artists always have a wide range of influences from  eautiful places to contemporary and classical art to video games and candy and anime and manga and fashion and nostagial! I try to make work that I adore and can connect with, and I think by following my heart with what I’m making I am able to connect more honestly with those who love the same things.

jman:  How did you get picked for Batgirl?  Were you surprised?

BT:  Cameron [Stewart, one of Batgirl’s co-writers] emailed me out of the blue about doing a book for DC. I was very surprised for two reasons. Number one, I had never tried comics before and number two, my art style didn’t look like anything that DC was publishing at the moment. It wasn’t ’till a couple months later when I officially was offered the job after doing some test pages for DC. Let’s just say I didn’t really let myself get excited until I was told it was down to two people and I was then like, “This is real!!!” Haha. It has been a wild ride and I am loving every minute.

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(image: courtesy of Babs Tarr / DC Comics)

jman:  Besides the obvious differences, how does your take on Batgirl differ from her previous versions?  More importantly, what do you draw upon to connect Barbara to her prior versions?

BT:  I think Batgirl is more relatable on a personal level. She is going through exactly what every 21-year-old is going through at that age. She’s got college work and studying to do as well as figuring out her dating life and also just figuring out who she is as a person because when you’re at that age you haven’t quite figured out what that is yet–on top of all that, she’s Batgirl! You don’t always make the smartest choices at that age but as Babs always does, she perseveres when things get tough and you have to admire that!

You also get to see a lot of Babs outside of her Batgirl suit as well as in it, which I think is just as interesting. I think that makes our Batgirl really unique. As far as the previous Batgirls go, we know that Babs as a character was wicked smart and tech savvy. We also knew that Babs has been Batgirl since she was 16 but maybe she was so busy fighting crime and dealing with so much darkness that maybe she never got a chance to be young and be herself! We all know Babs can kick ass but maybe she would be kind of awkward in social situations because she’s just not as experienced with those things, which I kind of love that we are showing. She’s human! Just like us. We’re also having her use her eidetic memory which has been mentioned but never explored.

batgirl-35-panels-babs-tarr
(DC Comics)

jman:  Cameron Stewart already had some initial designs in place for Batgirl before you came on board.  You added some touches to make the design your own.  Anything you would like to have done differently?  Or would like to have added?  

BT:  If I had gotten to design her from the beginning I don’t think it would’ve turned out as well or as classic. I think that my Batgirl would have been too trendy and would’ve been out of fashion by 2015, haha. I also would’ve probably made her with more smolder but neither of those things were right for this version of Batgirl and what the boys [Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart] were writing. Everything about her outfit is very deliberate and thought out and I could see that when I got Cameron’s initial design. I made sure to build on top of his design and not take away any of the cool things he had already set up. In the end, I think I love it way more than I would have if I had just designed it on my own. I’m learning a lot from Cameron.

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Concept art for Batgirl by Babs Tarr (DC Comics)

jman:  Stewart and Fletcher share the writing duties on Batgirl.  How much input do you have with story line/direction?  Do you get the scripts and just pencil away?  Are the scripts open to your interpretation?  Or are they pretty exact in what they are looking for?

BT:  The Batgirl process goes as follows: Brenden and Cameron write the script. It is hilarious and fun. I put my two cents in on a moment or two and sometimes they change it which is really cool ’cause I’m just the artist and they are the writers, so they totally don’t have to, but I think they do take into account that I’m also the audience, so BT:  I’m the one to please, haha!! They are very welcoming and collaborative and I adore them. Cameron is doing the page breakdowns because this is my first comic and he so fast at it but I’m learning as I go and eventually I’ll do my own. (Scary!! Haha) Once Cameron has the layouts done, I do pencils and inks on top and then on to Maris Wicks, our super brilliant colorist!

jman:  Who or what are you looking forward to penciling the most in upcoming issues of Batgirl?

BT:  I’m looking forward to this new romance Babs kind of starts in these upcoming issues. I love drawing cute boys, smooching, flirting–all that fun stuff! Haha 😉

batgirl-35-panels-2
(DC Comics)

jman:  Batgirl aside, if you could choose, what character/title would you like to work on the most?  And with what writer?  

BT:  I am still wrapping my head around the fact that I am the Batgirl artist! I think that’s all my brain can handle at the moment, but I would love to draw more kick ass ladies, so that’s always up my alley.

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Many, many thanks to Babs Tarr for doing this interview and to Pamela Horvath at DC Entertainment for setting it up!!!

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About jman

jman
Just a dude. Talking comics. Raising kids. See what all the fuss is about at yfnjman.com. And for even more stimulus to your cerebral cortex? Check out the ! Almost Internet Famous Internet show