This past weekend, Peter and I were able to attend Chicago’s C2E2 and meet some of our favorite writers and authors. Not only did we get to meet Gail Simone, author of Batgirl, she was gracious enough to do an interview. Turns out, she is even cooler than I realized.
Shelby: How has your mentality changed from writing Barbara Gordon in the chair in Birds of Prey to writing Barbara Gordon as Batgirl again?
Gail: I’ve always been a fan of Barbara Gordon, as most everybody knows, I loved her as Batgirl and was crushed when she was shot in the stomach by the Joker. I liked the idea that John Ostrander came up with, that she would become Oracle, it was a story of a character that took something horrible that happened to her and decided to do something great with her life anyway. I enjoyed writing that, and I like writing a really smart character that has compassion and wants to do good things, and as far as those personality traits, they’re still there in Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. We’re just telling stories of her when she’s younger, not as sure of herself; she’s recovering from a very deep trauma, and so it’s kind of cool in the Batgirl book to be able to get into her character so deeply compared to when she’s part of a group in Birds of Prey. We go through how she feels about seeing her mom for the first time after all these years, getting her first apartment she’s not sure she can afford yet, having a roommate and not being able to get the job of her dreams because people don’t think she can do it because she’s too young, even though she’s super smart: all those are fun. Then at night we get to create all new villains for her and have her go out as Batgirl, and the joy she can’t help but feeling at being able to do that again is really fun to write, too. That’s not something we see a ton of either; the joy of being a superhero, even though it’s tough and you get beat up a lot and it’s scary and all of those things, being able to get up and get around and do something physically active like that, that’s nice to show her joy. So it’s really fun and it’s just a different approach in terms of telling a much more personal story that’s not a part of a team.
Shelby: You mentioned the stuff that happened in the Killing Joke, which, I mean, The Killing Joke is considered to be one of the Batman must-read books for obvious reasons, it’s an incredible story. As a writer, what was it like to touch on such a pillar of the Batman universe, and also what was it like creatively and personally to have Barbara revisit those events in the most recent arc?
Gail: The stuff that happened to her in The Killing Joke is major, as far as her character goes, so to not touch on it was something … let’s put it this way, I really wanted to touch on it because I wanted to tell the story of recovery from trauma, not being magically wanded out of it. So, the best way to do that is to touch on the traumatic event that happened. I do go through these feelings and emotions as I’m writing these characters because I have to in order to imagine how they are feeling; you do feel a little bit of that pain and that stuff, too, but you have to step back as a writer to try to get these things across in the best way possible for the reader. And it’s always an honor anytime you get to use a character someone you really admire created, or a storyline someone like Alan Moore, who you’re such a huge fan of for so long, wrote; I start to feel like my life is a little surreal at points, you know? I never would have imagined, as a young girl especially, that I would be writing Barbara Gordon, and certainly in my days as a hairdresser I never would have imagined I would be writing dialogue and storylines for Barbara Gordon, let alone touching on a story written by Alan Moore, so it does feel surreal.
Shelby: One more quick question for you. You kind of touched on this a little bit in your first answer, but what do you miss from working on Birds of Prey?
Gail: I miss writing a team book like that just because when I first took over Birds of Prey my goal was to show that a female buddy book could be done, and it could be done without constant slap fights over boyfriends and bitchy gossip over each other and stuff like that, that we could tell stories about more important things. These girls, whether or not they agreed on every aspect of each other, they could come together and do something good as a team for society. So, that was my goal, and I’m very proud that we could do that, that it did gain such a fan following, and I thank all you guys for reading that, it’s amazing, it’s made my life amazing, and my ability to stay and do what I love, so I appreciate that. But, I definitely miss it, and I like writing team books but this gives me time to stretch some other muscles which I also enjoy.
Shelby: Awesome, thank you SO much for your time today. I know, it’s the last day of a con, it’s busy, and you’re kind of overwhelmed with the whole weekend so I appreciate that.
Gail: Of course, but C2E2 is always amazing; there are just so many supportive fans, people really getting into the New 52 now. The New 52 panel was just filled to capacity with people that were excited about what was going on. And after all winter in my office staring at a computer monitor, coming out and being in a large group like that and feeling the energy, it was very revitalizing for me too, so now I’m ready to go home and do some more writing.
Shelby: Awesome, thank you so much for your time!