Bat-tastic for Babs

Femmes Fatales of the Fantastic VarietySomething 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 #35 Babs Variant

Batgirl #35 Babs Variant

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.

Batgirl Commission

Batgirl Commission

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.

Spider-Gwen #5 Heroes Con Exclusive

Spider-Gwen #5 Heroes Con Exclusive

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.

Charleston City Paper Cover

Charleston City Paper Cover

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.

13 comments

  • Avatar

    I agree that Babs Tarr is a wonderful artist, and I love the Batgirl book right now. The issue with the Rafael Albuquerque cover is very complex one. When you think of all the greatest DC stories of all time, Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke would be right up there. Along with A Death in the Family by Jim Starlin that came out the same year of 1988, and Alan Moore’s The Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight from 1986. In a two year span DC produced four of DC’s greatest stories. This same period also gave up one of the greatest comic books of all time, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. The Killing Joke itself made the New York Times bestsellers list, had multiple printing, and is about to be made into a movie. Meaning no disrespect to current DC creators, these stories were a pinnacle of creator freedom at DC and moved sequential art to new levels. DC and Marvel no longer provide an environment for creative freedom that was present in the late 1980s. Moving forward Marvel has the power of Disney unlimited mass media market behind it, but will be limited creatively to fit the Disney business model. DC will always be lacking behind Marvel in other media. DC comic sales moving forward are tied to major events and Batman related material. The Batman movies, video games and television show have been the best received and financially successful. The move to pull the Albuquerque cover while making a Killing Joke movies shows that DC has not solidified how to move forward. Creators are no longer tied to the distribution system of the big two. Creators now have many more outlet for their work, and often choose to save their best work for companies like Image that provide them complete creator freedom. This freedom has given fans titles like The Walking Dead, Invisibles, Saga, Locke and Key, The Goon and Chew. Since 2000, a DC creator has won the Eisner for best writer only twice. Brian Vaughan Y: The Last Man in 2005 and Bill Willingham for Fables in 2009. Marvel also has had only two writers win the award, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. DC and Marvel did not fare any better in the other Eisner categories. Marvel will always be limited creatively due to Disney, but DC has a chance to provide more freedom if they choose to do so. I think comics are at a critical time where the big two will have to decide if comics are just a tool to drive sales in other media, or try to create stories that compete with creator owned work. I believe the decision to stop the Albuquerque cover was an indication of DC intentions, and a warning to creators that DC titles are bland feeders for other media. It shows a general disregard for comic collectors. DC fails to understand that even though more woman are buying comics than they have since the 1960s, that the number of female individual issue collectors are still just a very small percentage of total sales. The large number of females at comic book conventions paints a skewed picture that they are a larger portion of comic book consumers than they are. DC also fails to see that female consumers in all media are just as likely to buy a politically incorrect title like The Walking Dead, than to buy a copy of Batgirl or Green Lantern or watch a DC related show. There are always ebbs and flows in the comic book industry, but it will be the traditional demographic of consumers that maintain the industry during the next downturn. Batgirl 41 shows a regression by DC, and it was self-inflicted.

    • Santos

      Very accurate. The big two dont give their writters/artist 100 percent freedom, where as Image does. The past couple of yesrs Image has produced the best content and new series, and i believe thats because Image lets creators do what they want without having to worry about offending people and the stupid media.

    • Steve miller

      Wow, that was a long statement that actually had little to do with your actual conclusion. A recent article, albeit with a limited sample size, found that 77% of new clientele is women. Your strawman argument of women are at conventions are not readers, has nothing to do Eisner winners or writer/creator freedom, or has no actual substance other than your feeling that they are not there because they love the industry. If anything an increase in women at conventions actually solidifies the fact that there is a significant increase in female comic collectors, readers, and superhero enthusiasts. Batman #41 being pulled isn’t regression or lack of freedom; it’s a major company trying to cater to all demographics, even if they are in the minority, to make money. Also, the artist requested to pull the cover, and DC agreed. Seems like they are giving their artists freedom, contrary to what you are saying. If there is to be some sort of downturn in the comic industry like you claim, DC being sensitive to smaller demographics they won’t have to rely the great, white, male saviors, which you infer is the real comic collectors.

      • Santos

        Negative. If DC gaved their employees full freedom that cover wold of never gotten cancelled. Batgirl 41, or whatever it was. Im sure DC told the artist to “request” the cover to be taken down to protect their Image. Theres politics involved in comics as well, specially the with the big two. A series like Sex criminals would never see the day of light over at DC/Marvel. Sex criminal 11 sketch varianta and “supermario” variant would of never happened if DC/Marvel had control over that series. This is why Image comics is getting a loy of new series almost weekly. Many artist and writters have stated that they have gone to Image or decided to debut with Image because of having total control and freedom over their own work.

        • Steve miller

          Your assumption is completely unwarranted and based on nothing but feelings. The artist explained numerous times that it was 100% his decision, and DC was under no obligation to pull it, but did. Backing up your feelings with extreme examples of a story like Sex Criminals proves nothing. DC doesn’t need hundreds of new creator owned stories when they have hundreds of super hero stories, which are still among the most popular stories to read and appeals to a broad audience. Deciding to abide by the artist only shows that they give their artists freedom to decide the art they want to produce.

          • Yroc

            This would be a fantastic subject to discuss on the forum guys. Seriously, some good point of views here.

          • Santos

            Based on nothing but feelings?…. Are you that naive?
            I love DC, but i know how they play the game.

            If DC/marvel say how they want things done, thats how things will get done. Remember that spider woman variant where everyone startes freaking out cuz her ass was “exposed” thats just one example of how marvel decided to please the audience, they endes up putting the tittle over it in big enough letters to cover more of her butt. Theres a lot more examples of dc/marvel being scared of damaging their image….but im sure you hace heard of a few of them, which clearly backs up my opinion/belief that marvel and dc do not give their employees 100 freedom.

      • Avatar

        Steve,
        I thought my conclusion was very simple: Due to a lack of creative freedoms by creators at the big two, the quality of their books have suffered. That was the reason I pointed out how the big two often times do not win Eisner Awards compared to independent companies. It is true that they have a broad base because of established characters, however Marvel has to maintain the Disney image for their books, while DC has a little more freedom. Both companies make more off other media than off the books they produce. The reason they have broad appeal is because of this other media, not because of the books that are being produced now. As for the percent of women who buy comics, I contacted 20 major comic stories in different markets to determine the percentage of women versus men who have active pull list at their LCS. The simple conclusion is that men (white, black, or otherwise) still make up 95% of pull list customers. What I do not have data on, other then talking to females at shows, online, and at LCS is what material they are buying. But from the responses that I have gotten, it seems women are as likely to buy The Walking Dead, Sex Criminals, and Saga, than they are to buy comics from the big two. The comic industry has always been cyclic in nature when it comes to sales and collecting. We are on a high now for the foreseeable future, but there will be a downturn at some point. The reason that it will not be like the 1990s collapse is complex, and a post for another time, but the “great white male savior” was something I never implied. I believe the core that will continue to buy comics is not the politically correct enforcers of the genre, but the traditional collectors who have invested both time and money over a long period of time. If you would like to do the research, I would love to see the average age of female collectors, and if there is a drop off in interest after they are married or have children.

        • Kittie Pop

          You know what, I wasn’t going to say anything because I thought you were done, but woke up this morning and saw that you weren’t. Bluntly, I’m sick of your sexism. I’m sick of you putting that **** on my article, not once mentioning Babs Tarr, but instead deciding to blame women for things you don’t like. Like, do you not get that YOU’RE the type of guy I’m so clearly mocking in my article? Or did you even see that part because you were so pissed about whatever internal thing you’re pissed about?

          Listen, stop blaming women for things. Seriously, saying that we are just as likely to buy a fucked up cover as a man, or saying we’re not big collectors is bullshit. Also, the whole calling comic book stores for their pull files. AND MY FAVORITE: ” I would love to see the average age of female collectors, and if there is a drop off in interest after they are married or have children.”

          Hey, guess what? MEN HAVE CHILDREN TOO. Did you never go to health class? Yet you’re acting like the typical sexist ass with just that mere statement. What about men who won’t buy something because of a cover that has domestic abuse or politically incorrect statements on it? What about men who have a pull file in their female significant other’s name? What about men who stop getting comics AFTER THEY ARE MARRIED AND HAVE CHILDREN. I just don’t see why it’s a big deal to you to make the comic book world so unfriendly towards women, and men who believe a certain thing for that matter. Why are you so narrow minded? You can have an opinion, but once you clearly show that that opinion comes from a place of sexism, fuck you. Seriously.

          And people wonder why more women don’t collect. Guess what, they do. They’re not vocal about it because they’re more than not welcomed in this world because of guys like you. I know several female collectors that remain anonymous because of guys like you. Just because you don’t have some ********* statistic and graph that tells you so, doesn’t mean the information’s there. And let’s face it, you didn’t call 20 comic book stores like you supposedly good to spread that information with good intentions, clearly.

          Oh, and as Yroc said, this would be a good thing for a forum. My article is not a forum. If you have to match my amount of information with information of your own, stating why women suck, you best get moving because it doesn’t belong here. This is a place to talk about Babs Tarr, and maybe you haven’t heard but she specifically really liked this article herself. So learn some ********** respect, little guy.

  • Avatar

    Outstanding article about an outstanding artists and a brilliant take on Batgirl!

  • Avatar

    Great write up! She is very generous in person.

  • Santos

    I love Babs artwork, she has a unique style. From time to time she posts some nice drawing/sketches on her instagram account.

  • Avatar

    Not saying any opinion is right or wrong, but swearing on the website should be a no no. We don’t know if children are reading anything on here.

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