Hope Larson On 'Batgirl #1' & Comic Book Heroines

by Charlotte Ahlin

She's a New York Times bestselling author. She's an Eisner Award winner. And now she's taking on Batgirl. Is there anything that writer and illustrator Hope Larson can't do? If you haven't been reading Larson's comics until now, then you've been missing out. She's written and illustrated indie comics like Salamander Dream , YA graphic novels like Mercury, and brilliant graphic adaptations of books like A Wrinkle in Time. Lucky for all us superhero fanatics, she's now bringing her formidable talents to DC Comics with Batgirl #1.

Batgirl is one of the most iconic heroes in the DC Universe. Barbara Gordon may be the daughter of Gotham's police commissioner, and she's worked with Batman more than a few times, but she's also pretty badass in her own right: Babs is a former librarian with mean martial arts and hacking skills, and during her stint as the computer expert Oracle, she provided some much-needed representation for superheroes in wheelchairs. Following DC's Rebirth special, Batgirl #1 takes Barbara far from home on a trip to Japan, in search of another bat-themed lady crime fighter.

Globe-trotting female superheroes helping other female superheroes? Yes please?

Together with legendary comic book artist Rafael Albuquerque, Hope Larson is bringing us one of the most exciting Batgirl stories to date. Larson talked to Bustle about her experience writing for Batgirl:

What makes Batgirl different from the other projects you've worked on?

Batgirl is the first superhero I've written, which has been really exciting. I've been writing and illustrating in comics for over a decade, and in that time my work has shifted from quiet and sweet to more propulsive and action-packed. The opportunity to write this book came at the perfect time in my career, and I've taken full advantage of it to up my game writing fight scenes.

The other noticeable difference between Batgirl and my other work is that it's not strictly a book for kids or middle-schoolers. I write primarily about the trials and tribulations of being a 12-year-old, but Babs is in her 20s, and it's been fun to write a protagonist closer to my own age.

Who were your favorite comic book heroines growing up?

I didn't grow up reading American superhero comics, although I read every other kind. The comic-book heroines I encountered were mainly through TV and movies; I remember watching re-runs of the old Wonder Woman series, and the old Batman series, and the 90s animated Batman stuff, of course I saw the Batman movies. I remember the female villains a lot better than the heroes—Poison Ivy, Catwoman and Harley Quinn were all so tough and cool. And of course I was crazy about Sailor Moon!

The first issue of Batgirl opens with Barbara arriving in Japan. What inspired you to send her so far from home?

It was my wonderful editors, Mark Doyle and Rebecca Taylor, who suggested I send her on a backpacking trip. I love writing about travel, so I was all over that idea! Batgirl's just come through a brutal fight, which she won by the skin of her teeth, and she needs to go away, regroup, and figure out how she's going to up her superhero game. She's trying to take a vacation, but when you're a superhero you're always on the clock.

How does Batgirl fit in with DC's Rebirth? Were there any challenges in taking on a character with so much history?

That part was easy. The previous Batgirl team, Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr, did an incredible job of setting up this character and her world in a way that isn't intimidating for newer readers of superhero comics. My book picks up right where theirs left off.

What draws you to the character of Batgirl, and what are you most excited for in this storyline?

She's so relatable. I've been watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Barbara's character is a little bit like the protagonist on that show: her personal life is messy, as it should be in one's 20s, but she's smart as hell and kicks ass at her job. Batgirl is a book as much about Barbara's personal life as Batgirl's exploits.

As far as what I'm most excited for, everything's new and exciting. Working with Rafael Albuquerque has been a dream; he's a brilliant and generous collaborator. As a writer, it's been a challenge to write a story that changes locations in almost every issue, and to learn about a bunch of places that, with the exception of Seoul, South Korea, I've never visited. I also got to create a whole new set of villains.

Thank you so much for your time, and I can't wait to read more!

Thank you!

Images: DC Entertainment