#CreativeInsights: Hope Larson

Are you ready, friends? I’m so excited for today’s interview. Meet Hope Larson, bestselling graphic novelist, Eisner Award-winner, and author of Batgirl for DC Comics’ Rebirth re-launch.

hopelarsonYour most recent/high-profile venture is working on the newest Batgirl, in a writing capacity, not illustrating. Aside from the iconic status of working for DC and with a Bat-related character, what drew you to Batgirl? What are your hopes for your incarnation of her?

DC approached me and invited me to pitch on Batgirl, which I was thrilled to do. I’ve been moving toward more action-adventure stories over the past few years, and this felt like a perfect fit–plus the superhero audience is one I hadn’t written for yet. What I love about Batgirl is that she’s a butt-kicking mega-genius superhero, but she’s also a 20-something woman trying to figure out how to be an adult. I’m a few years older, but it was fun to write a character closer to my own age, as opposed to 12-year-olds, which is what I mainly write the rest of the time.

The previous Batgirl series took her to Burnside and tried to establish her as her own hero, separate from Batman. Will the new series continue on that development?

Yes, it will. Batgirl pretty much has her own turf staked out in Burnside (the Brooklyn of Gotham City), although familiar faces do pop up from time to time. My first arc has her traveling through Asia and learning how to be a lone-wolf superhero again, after working with a lot of other heroes in the arc before mine. And in the next arc, she’ll be back at home, watching over Burnside once again.

It seems like every day I see my Twitter feed explode with news about women in comics and graphic novels– usually because a woman has done something notable in the medium and there’s dude backlash. In an ideal situation, how can we do more to normalize the presence of female creators and consumers in comics?

I’ve generally been insulated from this kind of thing. I get the micro-aggressions, and I’m used to being looked down on and belittled in small ways, and I have to do a lot more work to prove that I can do my job than men in my industry do. I was lucky to come up through the comics ranks with a group of supportive female peers: Raina Telgemeier, Jillian Tamaki, Vera Brosgol, Jen Wang, and many more. Female creators have always been normal for me. I don’t know what we can really do except dig our heels in, refuse to be pushed out, advocate for other female creators, and fight to get paid what we deserve.

Barbara/Batgirl’s skills as a computer programmer/hacker (not sure of the right word) have long been integral to her character. Does her work in another male-dominated area play into her status as a hero separate from Batman, rather than a sidekick or girlfriend role?

Hacker works! That’s an interesting question. I do address sexism with a light touch in Batgirl and all my work, but in a lot of ways I’m writing a wish-fulfillment story. Batgirl’s generally up against bad guys (and bad girls) who see her as a real threat, and if you see someone as a threat, that means you respect their abilities.

Outside of DC, you have created several graphic novels and comics, and many of them award-winning. What’s the largest challenge of creating original comics content?

I write mostly original comics, so writing serialized licensed books is the big new challenge. At this stage in my career, 12 years in, I would say the biggest challenge is balancing what I want to do artistically with what will (hopefully) do well commercially–like Compass South, which balances my love of historical fiction with tons of action. That’s the price you pay for making a living from your writing. The challenge is making time for those little, uncommercial, deeply personal stories that are important to you but aren’t going to pay the bills.

ComicCons and “geek” events have turned into a rather booming business. From a creator’s perspective, what makes a good convention?

A great convention lets me interact with a few old friends and a few creators I haven’t gotten to know yet, and features fans who may not be familiar with my work but are willing to take a chance on something new.

How can our readers stay in the loop on your upcoming projects?

Twitter! I’m @hopelarson. I also have a website, www.hopelarson.com, but it hasn’t been updated in forever.

Want more? Check out our previous #CreativeInsights interviews here!

And a huge thank you to our writer, Andy Michaels, for offering me some comics-related training wheels for this interview. Featured image, Batgirl #1 cover art, courtesy DC Comics.

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