Comics Nexus: Batgirl is getting a high profile relaunch with Barbara Gordon and Gail Simone, but today we’re being joined by the critically acclaimed former Batgirl writer, the man who made the prior run such a Comics Nexus favorite, Mr. Bryan Q Miller.
So how’s it going? The last time we talked for the site Smallville was just a handful of episodes into its last season, while Batgirl was easing into its second year with Dustin Nguyen coming on board for art. Things have definitely changed as Smallville has ended its ten year run, and Batgirl ended just a few weeks ago, so I think I’d like to open up by asking you when you found out that Batgirl would be ending at number twenty-four?
Bryan Q. Miller: End of March, beginning of April is when I got the call. Was in the middle of writing a very different Issue 23 at the time. Originally, Steph’s trip to London was intended to be a 2-parter, spanning issues 22 and 23. On the plus side, collapsing 23 backwards into 22 forced me to cut a healthy amount of cute stuff that wasn’t really on-point from 22, like Steph riding in coach alongside an irksome, “Up” type kid who kept waving action figures in her face and asking her about her pearls.
Nexus: How difficult was it for you to wrap up everything in the two issues you had remaining? As a reader I felt you did a great job, but I can only imagine what was going through your head while you were doing it.
BQM: The writing had been on the wall for a few months that my time on the book was going to be coming to a close, so I had started noodling around how I was going to end my time with the title back over Christmas. Then nothing was whispered about it for a while, then I got the aforementioned call that the book was ending outright (and not that I was going to replaced, which is where it seemed things were headed). So I already had a rough idea of the type of story I had wanted to tell in my pocket. Cluemaster was always planned to be revealed as the puppetmaster behind the whole affair, but there were going to be a few more steps getting there, and Arthur was to escape – the villain for Year Three.
Nexus: What sort of plans did you have in mind for Arthur in year three?
BQM: I certainly don’t want to get too much into what might have been, but Batgirl’s journey would have taken abroad in pursuit of her father. Arthur was going to start building an organization.
Nexus: Any chance you can tell us what it would have been called?
BQM: “Batgirl: Odyssey” was going to be the next leg of Steph’s journey.
Nexus: What were some of your personal highlights from Year Two?
BQM: Issue 17, hands-down. It’s probably one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.
Nexus: It was one of my favorite issues of the series. You did some amazing things with Damian Wayne in the appearances he got in Batgirl; what’s your take on the character?
BQM: Damian is an immensely broken little boy. Bruce at least had, what, nine years to be a child before tragedy struck? Damian never had a chance. The first thing Damian did when he came to town, like a cat with a bird or a field mouse, was to behead a villain and bring the “trophy” back to dad for validation. It was all he knew. What Steph is able to get to, by making Damian wander out of his comfort zone, is that he just wants assurance from his father. His undercover name on the fly was “Bruce”. A sad, but telling reveal. And then once she found out Damian didn’t know how to play as a child would… Issue 17 was as about pushing Batgirl’s relationship with Robin in a new direction as it was giving readers a new insight into who the boy is beneath the swords and sneer. Everyone adds their little bits to Damian – the need for childhood was my contribution, I guess.
Nexus: Your work on him was much more humanizing than what we had seen out of other Bat writers, did you get any feedback from them on what you were doing with him?
BQM: There was a hesitance to soften him too much. So I didn’t. He couldn’t admit that he was having fun. Not that he ever would!
Nexus: Of course not, even in the bouncy castle!
Towards the end of the title it seemed as if Proxy was being lined up almost as an Oracle replacement only to quickly depart for Nanda Parabat. What were your plans for her, as Wendy has truly started to come into her own as a character.
BQM: Again, I don’t want to wander too far into “what could have been” territory. There was a plan for Proxy that I had since Issue 1. It changed slightly when the call was made to scale back Babs’ presence in the book after Issue 12. Then had to nudge it again during 19/20/21. The request was made to broom Wendy out during Issues 19/20. I was able to arm wrestle her exit forward into Issue 21. Not the exit I had in mind, but (at least I think), a solid exit nonetheless. Had a back door built in to the (then) run up to issue 30 for Wendy to drop back into the story.
Nexus: Was she being moved out of the book to take up residence elsewhere? Or was she moving to character limbo?
BQM: I have no idea – was just asked to broom her out.
Nexus: Shifting gears a little bit, Smallville ended a few months ago. What was it like working on the final season? What were your favorite moments?
BQM: My two favorite moments from the last season couldn’t be more different, I think – Clark and Lois floating and exchanging “I love you” at the end of “Homecoming,” and Clark and Tess having their heart to heart on the floor in the Luthor library at the end of “Luthor.” One’s very fantastical and romantic, and one very grounded, but both are extremely human.
Nexus: That’s one thing that Smallville really succeeded with; making Clark feel very human. How did you feel about the end of the series and his journey towards being Superman?
BQM: I think Clark finally owned not only who he was, but everything he could be. In doing that, even though he had already been wearing versions of an S for a while, he finally “became” Superman. I feel happy and blessed to have been a part of it.
Nexus: Do you have any projects coming in the pipeline? Anything at DC?
BQM: There are two at DC that I’m working on, that I can’t talk about just yet. Also have no clue when either is being announced or coming out. So that’s probably the least helpful answer I could have given aside from making a rude noise and diving behind the couch. Trying to find the right home for a few creator owned goodies as well.
Nexus: I get it, I mean, if you blow the lid off of them here and someone gets mad, that could be death to a project. Though now I have two upcoming titles that I want to read with no idea about when they’re coming….I take it if I asked if they were Steph related you wouldn’t be able to tell me?
Is your creator owned of the superhero variety or something else?
BQM: All the creator owned stuff I’m trying to put together has a very heroic/adventure element to it. And as for the DC stuff, alls I can say is that the subject matter is well within my wheelhouse.
Nexus: I like the sound of that. Do you have any television projects coming up?
BQM: Lots of stuff up in the air. So, we’ll see!
Nexus: Being a DC guy thus far, are there any dream projects you have for Marvel Comics?
BQM: Though I think Spidey seems the most obvious choice, I’d love to do a RESCUE or Lady Avengers mini. And Runaways owns, so… Also always have much love for Fantastic Four.
Nexus: I would love to see your take on Runaways.
Finally, any advice for the aspiring writers out there?
BQM: Don’t ever sit there and say “if I were to write something, I would…” – just sit down and write it. It doesn’t matter if no one will ever read it. Just do it. Regarding comic scripts, there’s no one way to write them. Check around online, find a writer you like and see how they work with their artists, etc. And if you are fortunate enough to find your way into a position wherein you can pitch an idea to someone who’s interested in publishing with you, don’t just have one idea. Have five. Have ten. Opportunities appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. Experiment with different genres and types of characters, to be sure, but make sure the standards you would hold the work of others to, you hold yourself to. And don’t ever write something YOU wouldn’t read or watch. Enjoy it all.
Nexus: Thank you very much for your time! Let us know when your next project is ready to be announced!
Tags: Batgirl, Batman, bryan q. miller, damian wayne, DC Comics Relaunch, Interviews, Oracle, Robin, Smallville, Stephanie Brown, Superman