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SDCC 2016: Interview with Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque

batgirlOur second interview with DC Comics’ creators takes us over to Team Batgirl. The new creative team, whose first issue released just last week, includes writer Hope Larson and artist Rafael Albuquerque. Hope Larson is new to DC Comics and is best known for her work with young adult titles. Rafael Albuquerque is no stranger to The Batman Universe having contributed work for Batwoman, Batman Beyond and a number of other titles. He best known for his frequent collaborations with Scott Snyder on American Vampire. But the topic of discussion this time around is in fact Batgirl and what each creator brings to the table for Barbara Gordon and of course what we can all expect from the series.


TBU: So, first of all, it’s great that you guys are on the book. How excited are you for this particular volume and starting a new era of Batgirl?


Hope Larson: I’m really excited. It’s my first super hero work, period. I get to come start writing on this character that I love. It’s been so much fun and she reminds me a lot of like myself. So, she’s easy to write about.


TBU: So, she’s been through a lot with New 52. So, what nods to the past are you going to make and then push onto the future with her story?


Hope Larson: I don’t really know about nods to the past. I’m just continuing off of the previous run. I love everything they set off in that run, so I’m just–it’s like the natural continuation of that story.


TBU: How often are we going to see her out of the costume and what is Barbara Gordon going to be doing, specifically?


Hope Larson: Oh, well, yeah. A lot of Batgirl is just Barbara Gordon being Barbara Gordon. That’s as important as all of the other stuff to that character. We want to see her life and see who she’s dating and what she’s getting up to. In this arc she’ll be on vacation, basically, meeting up with an old friend sort of paling around in Japan and Singapore with him.


TBU: Are there any other characters that will pop up that are Batman Universe characters or are they all just original creations?


Hope Larson: For this arc it’s all just original creations. That wasn’t really what I set out to do initially. It kind of just happened that way because she is out of Burnside. She’s out of the U.S. So, it kind of made more sense to draw on the places that she could travel to and create new characters.


TBU: So, both art wise and story wise do you see this as a real world building activity? Just new characters and everything?


Hope Larson: Yeah. For sure.


batgirl 2 variantRafael Albuquerque: Yeah. Definitely. Since she’s traveling to Asia, we are trying to get Asia right. I mean, make it believable and we’re looking for lots of references and stuff like that to make it believable.


TBU: Her relationship with her father is something that’s very personal and deep to her character. Will he at all pop up, FaceTime or something like that?


Hope Larson: We do see him one time. Yeah. There’s like the specter of her dad there a little bit in a very small way.


TBU: Are you in communication with the Benson sisters as they move forward? Since their story takes place after your run.


Hope Larson: It’s after my run. I know them, but we haven’t actually sat down and had a pow-wow about what we’re each doing in our respective arcs. So, I have not read their book yet and I’m not really sure what’s going on in there. My editors told me I don’t need to worry about it. But, I am really excited to read what they’re doing.


TBU: There was a little editor’s note in the Rebirth issue that said check out Batgirl #1. So, they’re already nodding, I think, to your run at least.


Hope Larson: Yeah.


TBU: Art wise, the Batgirl of Burnside was so successful, how are you taking that, but also just moving on and doing your original take on Batgirl?


Rafael Albuquerque: Yeah. It’s hard. I talk a lot with Babs [Tarr] before. She sent me references and the books she had on Batgirl. That was very useful, but I’m definitely trying to make Batgirl fit the story that Hope is writing that is different than what Brendon and Cameron did. So, I think my Batgirl looks less cartoony. Well, still it’s my art. It’s different than American Vampire, but it’s still my style. So, it will be naturally different. But, yeah. There’s a lot of things that Babs did that I’m trying to keep up so we can have the character recognizable.


TBU: The tone of the Burnside run was lighter. When the start of the New 52, it was a bit of a darker tone. How would you describe your take on this particular–?


Hope Larson: Splitting the difference. Yeah. It’s not as light and–I don’t even know what the right word is. The previous run is like a little bit candy colored and I mean that as a compliment. It’s like it’s–fluffy is not the right word, but it just has this lightness to it, and we don’t really have that. It’s still–there is still humor in it. It’s still fun, but it’s not as much about being like a millennial as the previous run.


TBU: But, I mean, it’s all about discovering herself, right?


Hope Larson: Exactly.


batgirl 2TBU: So, you said that you see a little bit of yourself in Barbara Gordon. So, as a character, how would you describe Barbara Gordon?


Hope Larson: She just doesn’t quite have it all together as a human. She is great at her job. She kicks ass. She’s a super genius. I’m not a super genius, unfortunately, and I don’t have eidetic memory, but I am not that much older than her and I feel like I get what it feels like to try and figure out who you are as a single lady in the world. You know? So, that’s what I really connect to with her.


TBU: What went into the choice for her to go to Japan, specifically? Or Asia?


Hope Larson: I wish I could go there myself. I mean, she gets to go to Japan and Singapore, South Korea, China, and I would love to go all those places. So, rather than sending her to Europe or some place that you would traditionally go backpacking, I wanted to send her to places that I would like to spend time if I had the option.


TBU: What was research that you did for the art, because that’s such a diverse culture?


Rafael Albuquerque: Well, she sends me a lot of reference of clothes and special beauties and locations, but for the first time I’m working with Asyntic [sic] which is very different–which is changing my art a bit. So, I’m looking at something that’s really helping me with finding digital cities and locations and buildings. That’s helping me a lot to make it believable. You know? To make it real.


Hope Larson: Most of our locations, when possible, are based off of–they are either in a real street or we’re taking a real building and just altering it slightly. These are real places that she’s visiting. Real cities. We’re not making them up. She is not like going to a mountain top in Tibet or something like that.


TBU: So, what overall most excites you about this particular run and what do you want fans to really get from it?


Hope Larson: I honestly just hope people have fun reading the book. That’s what it’s about. I hope they’re entertained. I hope they have a good time and I hope they look forward to the next issue.


Rafael Albuquerque: Yeah. Me too. It’s a fun book. I’m having fun with that. I just want to share that with the readers.


Batgirl #1 is in stores now. The series is still a monthly title and Batgirl #2 will hit stores on August 24.

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