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Last year one of the glass ceilings in superhero comics had a batarang thrown at it when Becky Cloonan became the first woman to draw an issue of Batman. The writing side of the Batman ceiling has had a few cracks in it through the years with Devin Grayson, Louise Simonson, Ann Nocenti and Christina Weir all having stints on Batman titles. Women writing Batman books, however, are still rare and a very small percentage of the writers in the Batman-writing world. But in July another female writer will join the ranks. Marguerite Bennett will be co-writing the Batman Annual #2 with Scott Snyder. Bennett, as she discusses below, joins James Tynion IV, who is writing Talon and Red Hood, as one of Scott Snyder’s students to pick up a gig at DC.
Marguerite, congratulations on joining the Batman club! Tell me a bit about your background.
I am twenty-five years old; I like fairy tales, horror stories, foreign languages, cheeseburgers, comic books, foxes, scotch, Disney movies, and German death metal. I’m from Richmond, Virginia (though I’m presently in New York) and went to Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School (’06) for high school and the University of Mary Washington (’10) for undergrad. I’ve got two finished novels I’ve been shopping around to agents, and there was never a time in my life when I did not want to be a writer.
How did you get this gig on the Batman Annual?
I’m currently in graduate school at Sarah Lawrence College (and graduate in two weeks—whoo-hoo!) for Creative Writing, where I was delighted to learn that Scott Snyder was a professor. I threw myself into his Graphic Novel class (which I highly recommend), and about half a year later, when he returned to teach the class, he asked me if I would be interested in assisting him on the Batman Annual (to which there is ever and only one answer, and an impossibly enthusiastic one at that).
I’ve seen you talk about Batman a lot on your Twitter feed so I suspect he’s one of your favorites - what’s your first memory of Batman?
My first memory of Batman is probably a little depressing—I was in an after-hours daycare in elementary school, and I was excruciatingly shy. All the other kids had knotted up in groups—puzzles, action figures, My Little Ponies, tag—but I was terrified to talk to anyone, so I hid by the television. It was playing this cartoon that looked like it was set in the 1930s (and my mother and father had both been history teachers when they were younger—I knew what the ‘30s looked like). This man who looked like a villain (all in black, glowing white eyes) was running around in a cape and catching men even worse than (I assumed) he was, so I intuited that he had been a bad guy and so was now catching other bad guys in order to be a good guy again. I curled up in a cafeteria chair, knees under chin, and fell in love.
tl;dr Kevin Conroy will always be my Batman.
There aren’t a lot of women who have written Batman and even fewer who have written for the title “Batman” - Devin Grayson and Jennifer Skelly are the two most recent. Why do you think that is?
I can’t say I know. I am on-my-knees-and-hands-clasped grateful that I’ve been given the chance to write Batman—even my maddest ambitions never featured this. I’ve also seen the statistics on the gender imbalance and I can’t believe they lie. I’d like to think, with the explosion of mainstream media interest in superheroes, that the perception of comics as a boys’ club will chip away. When I’ve been to the New York ComiCon or midnight movie openings or Midtown Comics or my local comic book store in Richmond, the gender distribution has always been 50/50.
And now some Batman questions! Favorite Robin? Favorite Bat-movie? Favorite Bat anything anytime anywhere?
Dick Grayson is always going to be the patron saint of our household (I live in a house with a few other writers from my graduate program), and my housemate Christina has sh own me the light of his excellence. I admit I am also dreadfully fond of Stephanie Brown.
I know The Dark Knight is the expected answer, and in the contempt for anything mainstream, I am supposed to say a different movie by default. But my answer is still The Dark Knight and will probably always be The Dark Knight. That movie gave me a jolt—it came out the summer I was twenty and working outdoors at a golf club in 100°+ Virginia July heat for twelve hours at a stretch. I felt as though that film demanded of me that I not abandon my writing or my passions for the sake of job security. It provoked me, shook me up, made me pick up my pen again, even when I was tired, even when I was sunburned, even when I was bone-sore and didn’t want to.
Favorite Bat-anything…goodness, my. I have a Joker bobblehead I’m unnecessarily fond of. I have a lovely Court of Owls mask that my friend Christine went on a terrific quest to find me at NYCC 2012. I had a Man-Bat action figure when I was eight that went on all kinds of adventures with my Esmeralda doll and my Lion King figurines. I’m very proud of the Bane costume I wore to the midnight release of The Dark Knight Rises. I thought I saw Christian Bale in a parking lot once, but it turned out to be a lean, good-looking man who did not like to be stared at.
You’re kinda starting at the top for writing superheroes, what other DC character would you like write?
Oh, Lord. I love Batwoman. Love, love, love. I love Swamp Thing, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, James Gordon, Animal Man, Nightwing, Harley Quinn, Aquaman (and Mera—oh, I love Mera), Scarecrow, Catwoman, Black Canary, Huntress, and Alfred freaking Pennyworth. I miss Cassandra Cain. I adore Starfire from the days of the Teen Titans TV show. But I would never want to presume against other writers—their skills are what bolster my love for the characters. They’re what keep me going.
Thanks Marguerite. Batman Annual #2 hits the stands July 31.