Talking Comics with Tim | Bryan Q. Miller
This Wednesday marks the release of writer Bryan Q. Miller‘s Batgirl 19, an issue in which “the “Order of the Scythe unleashes its first weapon in their war on Batgirl”. Miller was kind enough to do an email interview with me last week. I was surprised he was able to make the time, as I found out in the course of our discussion last week was also when he officially cleaned out his Smallville offices, where he served as executive story editor in the show’s final season. In addition to discussing Miller’s thoughts on Batgirl, we also delve into the collaborative aspect of writing Smallville. Miller also takes this interview as an opportunity to ask fans of the book to help spread the word about how great a series it is. As a fan of the series myself, I hope word of mouth on the series continues to grow and agree with Miller’s belief that “Stephanie Brown is ready for a bigger spotlight”.
Tim O’Shea: I’m looking forward to Batgirl going up against Slipstream, if for nothing else to see how she tackles someone with superspeed. Was that part of the appeal of pitting those two characters against each other?
Bryan Q. Miller: Batgirl’s been very re-active, as opposed to pro-active. As the Reapers start throwing themselves at her, she’ll have to learn to start being more of the latter, and less of the former. What someone with superspeed (like Slipstream) does for Steph is forces her to have to think even faster on her feet. Their first encounter may not go all that well, either.
O’Shea: How did the idea come about for Batgirl to have a car (versus a motorcycle or no vehicle)?
Miller: It was all a part of the Firewall 2.0 upgrade that Bruce’s Batman Inc. announcement made possible. The Ricochet was never intended to be Stephanie’s – it was Babs’ “just-in-case” escape vehicle she kept in her secret garage. The Compact is Batgirl’s very own little James Bond car.
O’Shea: In the coming months will we be learning the full scoop on the Order of the Scythe, or is this a mystery you want to take a little more time revealing?
Miller: Each issue that features a Reaper until the end of their story is going to have at least SOME kind of twist or turn in the story the Reader (hopefully) won’t see coming. It’s all leading to something, but I don’t want the Reader to get there too far ahead of our girl.
O’Shea: How important is Proxy’s presence in terms of allowing the series dynamics to gel and further set the series apart from the other Bat books?
Miller: Though she’s very important to how Batgirl’s world operates, Proxy has some personal issues coming up that may start to get in the way of her duties in Firewall.
O’Shea: In terms of storytelling dynamics what are you hoping to explore with the vigilante Grey Ghost (who has a role in issue 21) juxtaposed against a hero like Batgirl?
Miller: That’s kind of what 21 is all about. Clancy (this version of Grey Ghost) was someone we met as a mad train bomber way back in Issue 9. But he was doing what he was doing to try and wise people up to the fact that Gotham is a wreck. He’s misguided. He wants to be a part of a cause and to do good… he just goes about it in absolutely the wrong way. And now he’s hitched his wagon to Batgirl. She isn’t going to be terribly happy about that.
O’Shea: The rapport you quickly established between Supergirl and Batgirl a few issues back was impressive. How much of a struggle was it to find the character nuances to make them click so well?
Miller: Thanks! I tried to frame Supergirl in the light of how Stephanie would see her. So if her responses or enthusiasm seemed a little off to some folks, that’s why. We also didn’t dive into Kara’s head for narration at any point. The book’s all about how Batgirl sees the world around her. And, relatability wise between the two young women, Supergirl quite literally just came off of a year of being ostracized and an outsider. Steph constantly feels like she doesn’t belong. Batgirl’s the first place she’s felt at home in a very long time.
O’Shea: Speaking of rapports, your approach to Damian Wayne is incredibly refreshing, are you itching to work him in the series again. I was surprised at how effective he can be used for comedic effect, for example.
Miller: Damian and Stephanie are wonderful foils for one another. And I definitely want to use him again (he SHOULD be popping up in the big Reaper finale towards 28 or so). But Damian’s the kind of character who works best in small doses. I love writing him, but would never want him to go full-on Scrappy Doo. As a side note, I’m pretty sure Damian would kill Scrappy Doo. And Shaggy.
O’Shea: How gratifying has it been to be involved in (as the Cool Kids Table recently described it): “not just the longest-running Superman TV show ever but the longest-running comic book TV show ever produced.”
Miller: The Smallville thing has been wonderful. It was my first job in the industry. Everyone there made it a fantastic experience. Cleaned out my office officially as of yesterday. Bittersweet. Very bittersweet.
O’Shea: I loved how you recently described a Smallville writing collaboration with Anne Cofell Saunders as going “halvesies with @acofell on ‘Prophecy’, which will air as Episode 20″. What’s the most rewarding aspect with collaboration of this type?
Miller: There’s someone watching your back at the script stage. I’ve never written on a team before. As a solo writer, the pressure’s on you to get it all right. Anne was able to vet my parts of the script and help me work through some things, and vice versa. Writing for a show is already a collaborative process, but it was nice to have some help. I’m sure she feels the same way (stares out of the internet at Anne).
O’Shea: You’ve had to answer a bunch, now I’m curious if you have any questions you’d like to ask your Robot6/Batgirl fans?
Miller: Not so much a question as a request – if you love the book, let people know. Write the letters column. Tweet. Finished with that copy you just read? Pass it to a friend. Stephanie Brown is ready for a bigger spotlight.