Batgirl Returns

BY Jase Peeples

January 11 2012 7:00 AM ET

BATGIRL ART TALL FOR INSIDE 2 (COURTESY) ADVOCATE.COMWhy do you think Batgirl has such a big gay following?
I think the slightly superficial and silly reason for her big gay fanbase might be that she's glamorous, bigger than life. She had a yellow purse she went crime-fighting with in the early days, I kid you not. But the deeper answer has always been, I think, that she represents some qualities that people all over the gender/sexuality scales want in their own lives--she's caring, and tolerant, and fierce, and loving, and stylish, and she never apologizes for being who she is. We either want to be that, or have that in a friend or partner, or both. The whole mask/closet metaphor is active as well, as many queer writers have discussed.

Women and the LGBT community have both struggled for equal representation in comics over the
Years. Do you think that’s changing?

Like most media, we have a lot of catching up to do. For years— decades, even— it was actually forbidden to allude to sexuality of any kind in comics, which made the idea of gay characters completely unthinkable. Then many of the first steps were pure bullshit tokenism. The female and queer readership is growing, and growing ever more vocal. It's lovely to watch. Every year I do several LGBTQ comics panels, and the interest and attendance continue to blossom. I know that a lot of those in the audience are making their own comics. Once those doors are open, it's impossible to shut them again.

Right now, after the relaunch, there are three solo female titles in the top fifteen books at DC: [Batgirl, Batwoman, and Wonder Woman]. That would have been almost inconceivable twenty years ago. The positive thing right now is seeing more and more women who have extraordinary talent entering the field and developing their own fan bases. Artists like Nicola Scott, and writers like Marjorie Liu, we're being assigned top books. It's something previous female creators had to scratch and claw and bite to make happen. I want to see that continue until gender is no longer an issue.

Do you think female creators are more sensitive to LGBTQ stories?
There might be a bit more sensitivity to queer characters and readership among the female creators, than among the straight male creator community as a whole. That's certainly been my experience. But there are many straight white guys who are dead on great with LGBTQ characters. A guy like Greg Rucka cares deeply about this stuff and it shows. It's hard for me to focus on the past, or even the present, with this. I'm always thinking of what we can do to make tomorrow better and more inclusive.

Can we expect to see a Batgirl and lesbian superhero Batwoman team up in the near future?
Pretty sure that's the plan. Batwoman drinks well, and Batgirl's just turned 21. I see a lusty pub crawl in the offing.

Now that you’ve had a few issues to set the stage for the new series, what’s next for Barbara Gordon/
Batgirl?

She's got a full and tricky plate. The book has been a phenomenal success, and we have a world of rivers for her to cross; classic and new villains, long forgotten family members returning after abandoning her, even some potential high-flying romance.
She's Batgirl. She'll make her way.

Tags: Geek

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