Bat-tastic for Babs
Something I think we can all admire as a society is the underdog; everyone loves an underdog. But what’s even better is someone who is simply going along, doing their thing, and standing by it the whole time. Not an underneath-er, not an on-topper, just someone who is content and proud of who they are. The industry is ever-changing, publishers are taking risks, and this week I shall tell you about one such risk who is a mountain of cupcakes worth of fantastic. Not red velvet though, those are just wrong.
Batgirl is a classic, and I feel that the artist that gives such a classic life just hasn’t gotten the recognition she deserves. Babs Tarr was unknown in the comic book world before her debut of interiors in Batgirl #35. Probably because she had never done comics before. Like, zero, and she’s an Eisner award nominee already! So how did she get handed such an awesome gig? Because she herself is awesome, and someone at DC just happened to get their noggin on straight and see that. That and Cameron Stewart hand-picked her exclusively for her forward-thinking attitude and her different style. Also, Babs is the first woman to EVER serve as an on-going artist of a Batman-related title, which I think we can all agree is a huge leap for women in the comic book world.
There’s no doubt that Babs is an amazing artist, and was snatched out of the claw machine of artists to work on Batgirl. But what she brings to the series is her brain, which is exactly what the series needed. In one interview, she explains that she purposely put bobby pins on Barbara Gordon’s nightstand because that’s what a, well, real women would have on a nightstand. And a male artist probably wouldn’t have thought to make a tiny yet very significant detail decision like that. Cameron Stewart has said he didn’t want to make a superheroine that men wanted, he wanted to make a superheroine that was a real woman without the super sexual outfits and eye candy-only attitude. Something that was eye-catching, but not in the ‘my eyes are up here’ kind of way. After all, she is fighting crime, so her outfit should be functional, maybe yes? A lady who’s down to earth, who can also draw a mean abstract piece is a lady who can have my heart any day.
Now, this next part is probably going to get mixed feelings, but we’re not androids dreaming of electric sheep, so here goes. Something that speaks volumes about Babs is that she has apparently been known to refuse to sign anything having to do with the controversial Batgirl #41 cover by Rafael Albuquerque. You know, the one that was highly inappropriate for a cover of a comic book that eventually got pulled amidst cries of “What the hell?! My free speech and stuff!” Now, despite your personal feelings about this particular topic, you have to admire the fact that Babs has such a different view than The Killing Joke Barbara Gordon, which is what inspired the Albuquerque variant. Her Batgirl is a strong, real, independent woman who is a symbol of strength, and putting that character into a situation in which she is clearly scared and abused is the complete opposite of the Batgirl we have today. If a cover needs a trigger warning, it ain’t welcome here. Despite whatever argument someone has for why that’s just not cool, it shows immense strength on Babs’ part because she was new to the comic book world, and doesn’t stand for her Batgirl being the typical Woman in the Refrigerator.
I feel with that straight flame of passion, there’s no doubt she’ll be around for a while. With so many new things going on with comics today, a style like hers is exactly the fresh breath of clouds the industry needs. Plus the great thing is, she can draw both men and women equally as well. So many illustrators can draw beautiful women but not men. Babs can do both without straying from her digitalized style, and she seriously throws it down. With women like her, comics are become more stylized, relatable, and truly being pushed to the boss level.