The following is an interview with Stella Bowman, creator of Batgirl to Oracle: The Barbara Gordon Podcast. This interview takes place at Baltimore Comic-Con 2018, where Senior Contributor S.T. Lakata sits down with Stella to discuss the convention and her podcast.
S.T. Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor: Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me, Stella. Are you returning to Baltimore Comic-Con, or is this your first visit to BCC?
Stella Bowman: This is my first time at Baltimore Comic-Con. I’ve been going to San Diego Comic-Con for about seven years now ,and I went to HeroesCon last year, which I would say that HeroesCon and Baltimore Comic-Con are pretty compatible with size and just the general feel of the convention.
STL: Are you local to the Baltimore area, or did you travel from out of state for this convention?
SB: Out of state. I am in Charlottesville, Virginia, not too terribly far out of state. I did drive. It’s supposed to be three hours, but once you hit 495, the capital beltway, it just adds on an hour automatically.
STL: Is there a person or a panel you’re interested in checking out while you’re here or that you already have?
SB: There is a panel today with John Ostrander. I’m a big fan of his, primarily because my show, Batgirl to Oracle, is focusing on Barbara Gordon. He, along with his wife, Kim Yale, took Barbara Gordon when she was paralyzed by the Joker and turned her into this wonderful character, Oracle. And so, he had everything to do with that, so I’m going to check out that panel. And, yeah, checking out the different artists. I love artist alley and Tom King was someone that I also wanted to chat with a little bit. So, those are the primary people I was looking for.
STL: Speaking of Batgirl, let’s segue right into what work would you like to promote today?
SB: So, I have my own podcast. I work for, I guess my parent site is thebatmanuniverse.net, but I started my own podcast in 2010 called Batgirl to Oracle: The Barbara Gordon Podcast. I started from her very first appearance and I have been tracing her history throughout. I always do an old issue, a vintage issue, and then current stuff. So, at the time I started I started with her first appearance and then the current stuff I was doing Stephanie Brown. And now with the vintage issues, I’m in No Man’s Land with Barbara as Oracle and all of that crazy stuff. And, of course, Mairghread Scott just came on the book with Issue #25 of Batgirl. It’s been a labor of love, and I’ve just enjoyed learning more about the character and I love getting to talk with the creators and they’re fans just like us. I appreciate getting to hear more about “why you did you do this sort of thing” or “what went into this decision?”
STL: For those that don’t have a lot of experience with Batgirl (like myself) and for anyone interested, is there something about the character or story that you find really engaging that other people would want to follow along and also check out your podcast?
SB: Yeah, the Batgirl character itself I think is just amazing, because I guess you could potentially consider her a derivative character, but I always feel like she started off, Barbara Gordon anyways, of her own way. There are some different stories, but really, she did it as a joke on her father, and then it just went from there how much she cares about the city and the people. She has tenure as a congresswoman, so you get to see that she really does care and she doesn’t have to be in a suit to do that. With her, with Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, they’re just fun characters that have a level of depth to them. They have their own baggage that they have to carry through. With Cassandra Cain, she had a disability and she was an Asian character, which was amazing, so they were able to diversify that a little bit. Stephanie Brown had a kid, so she was a teenage mother. Barbara Gordon, of course, was paralyzed by The Joker, and John Ostrander and Kim Yale took that and created a paralyzed character that people could look to as well in Oracle. She’s not just a throwaway character, but the DC Universe really relies on Oracle. She’s almost like a linchpin that people would just go to to get information. So, Batgirl and Oracle are just great, well-rounded characters that anyone could latch onto. Barbara Gordon is my favorite. I think she is a wonderful everywoman. Obviously, she doesn’t have super powers, but she’s really intelligent and she can keep in stride with the boys and she’s just a fun character. She’s someone I could envision being best friends with if she were not a fictional character.
STL: People might feel that a character gets justified when they make a movie. Is that something you would love to see?
SB: I would love to see her on the silver screen. I’m nervous, though, because I wonder what interpretation someone’s going to take of her. I think Batgirl needs to be the bright spot in an otherwise pretty dark universe, because the Batman has a darker tone. I think Barbara Gordon and the others are just brighter. They’re supposed to be more uplifting. She should be able to go out in the daylight. I’m just concerned that a transition from comics to that will make it dark because DC, the films generally have that darker tone. That would be my only caution, but it would be awesome to see her up there. I think she has the freedom of being any color, any type of person, because we saw that with the LEGO Batman. Rosario Dawson was voicing her and she was African American, which was amazing. So, yeah, she’s got that freedom. It would be awesome, but I’d be cautious.
STL: Where is your podcast online?
SB: You can go to thebatmanuniverse.net and then you’d be able to easily find Batgirl to Oracle. Of course, if Batgirl is not your thing, we’ve got all these other podcasts. My good friend does one on the Gotham TV show, and he’s interviewed the cast several times, like five plus. There’s Robin: Everyone Loves the Drake, and then you got a podcast that goes through the Batman comics. It’s a great central site where you can just find whatever you’re looking for in the moment.
STL: As a creator, you’re often so busy creating what you love, but when you have down time, what are you a fan of recently?
SB: Yeah, I’m a book nerd, a literature nerd. And so, even on my show, at the very tail end, I’ll say these are my literature recommendations. When I have time, I like to read classics and modern. I do have a PlayStation 4. The recent game I’ve been really loving and I can’t recommend enough is the Spider-Man game.
I think I was a Spider-Man fan first, and from that, my Batgirl fandom developed. It was just such a beautiful game, so well done, the storyline. Yeah, I definitely recommend that. So, those are sort of my nerdy things when I’m not podcasting or reading Batgirl.
STL: Where can people find you online?
STL: Before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d want to mention?
SB: I would just say that, because I like to recommend if anyone is interested in finding out about the Batgirl character, what they could potentially read. If you’re looking to get into it, I would say Batgirl Year One. It’s a nine-issue, self-contained story by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, and penciled by the brilliant Marcos Martín. It’s an amazing story and that’s Barbara Gordon. Bryan Q. Miller’s Stephanie Brown run I can’t recommend enough. And then Cass Cain, you’ve got her, as well, so those are the starting points I would give.
I want to extend a huge thanks to Stella for taking time to sit down and chat with me about her podcast, why she is such a fan of Batgirl, and her extensive knowledge of the character. I also want to give a special thanks to Scott Larson (Visitations) for introducing me to Stella and making this interview possible.
If you didn’t have an opportunity to attend Baltimore Comic-Con, you can find Batgirl to Oracle over at The Batman Universe.