BrendenFletcherThe funny thing about Black Canary is that, while I consider her one of my favorite DC superheroes, I haven’t read that much featuring her, relatively. Part of that is how good Greg Weisman has been to her in animation, but the bigger issue is that, in the modern age, Black Canary has very rarely had a spotlight. Birds of Prey was an extremely significant series for her, but fans of the character have often had to kind of piece her together from numerous supporting roles. So needless to say, when I heard that DC was finally giving Black Canary a solo series, from one of the writers of the acclaimed ‘Batgirl of Burnside’ no less, I was on board immediately.

As the common thread between two of DC’s biggest new hits, Brenden Fletcher has clearly defined himself as a part of a reformation hitting Big 2 comics. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than the fact that the DC You relaunch was referred to as the ‘Batgirling’ of DC by numerous sources. Fletcher’s comics have made a name for themselves by being fun, welcoming, and clever without giving up the qualities that have traditionally defined DC’s output.

His position at the forefront of this new wave of DC comics has made Fletcher a popular and sought after figure, though being present, interesting, and charming on numerous DC panels likely hasn’t hurt him any either. I was luckily able to snag a few minutes of his time at SENYC this year to talk about what it’s like being one of DC’s most prolific writers, his strategies for communicating the tone he and his co-writers are looking for, and the future of Black Canary. Unfortunately, in the rush to set up this interview, we never actually got properly introduced, so that’s where we’ll begin…

WCBR: I guess- well, probably, ‘hi, I’m Noah’.

Brenden Fletcher: Hi, Noah. I’m Brenden Fletcher, writer of Batgirl, Gotham Academy, and Black Canary. [Laughs]

That doesn’t sound preprepared, does it?

It’s okay. So, you’re working on all three of these books now for DC.

That’s right.

The first two you were co-writing with different people. And-

Still am-

Black Canary you’re doing by yourself.

That’s right.

Fletcher’s work on Batgirl, co-writing with Cameron Stewart and with significant input from artist Babs Tarr, has turned a title mired in controversy into one of DC’s top sellers, not only with the vocally underrepresented teen and female demographics, but in general.

How does it differ working solo now versus with each of those collaborators.

Well, it’s a lot faster, let me tell you. I always say that it’s more of a challenge co-writing, not only because both writers have different ideas of how to approach things (which isn’t always the case, my co-creators and I are mostly on the same page), but it just takes more time passing things back and forth. I mean, Becky’s on the road a lot. Cameron lives in Glasgow. There’s time differences. It’s just an additional challenge. When I write things on my own, for Annie, for Black Canary, it’s really quick. I just blast a script out, send it into editorial, they ask for changes, I do the edits, I send it off, Annie gets it, she starts drawing. It’s not as difficult. However, I feel like sharing the work with Cameron and Becky makes those books better. I could do those books on my own and I’ve done aspects of them on my own in the past, but I always feel like the collaborative part of it is what makes those books the best possible books they can be. And I miss it, to be honest, on Black Canary. I mean, I miss working with a co-writer on it, but, again, it’s easier.

Yeah. I’m sure with three books that time is valuable.

That time is valuable, yes.

So, we know that the new Batman is gonna show up in the next couple issues of Batgirl. And that is gonna kind of delay some of the ideas you guys were gonna be working with, at least a little bit down the road. In addition to the obvious tension between a new Batman and kind of a new Batgirl, is there anything about that interaction that’s gonna be playing with Barbara’s life in Burnside out of costume?

Well, I-

If you can say…

I think you’re going to see the impact in the next two issues. And I don’t want to spoil anything, but there will be some impact, yeah.

I feel that Fletcher and Cloonan have done something significant in introducing and popularizing a depressed teenage girl as the lead of Gotham Academy.

One thing that I really noticed about Gotham Academy as I was reading it was that it was- Y’know, I think the market is a little bit starved for books with hope, but it actually is quite a dark book. I think that it’s rare that we get a character like Olive who’s kind of morose and down all the time. How do you walk that line of kind of having a character who’s dealing with all of that and then at the same time have a book that still feels warm and-

It’s just hitting a tone. It’s finding that balance. It’s knowing the vibe that we want for the book and then figuring out how many scenes we need of each to kind of make the book feel like it’s well-balanced. And the key is always just following Olive’s story and we know Olive’s story is a challenging one, it’s a difficult one and, if it needs to lighten up at any point, we just throw Maps in a scene. I mean, I make it sound easier than it is, but that’s essentially what we do.

You’re obviously writing three books with all female leads. Even Gotham Academy, the main characters are all women and girls. Having kind of had that experience of actually working with these characters, what do you think are the luxuries  that male characters have that women don’t get in comics?

It comes down to the creators and the editorial teams and the companies and how they want to represent their characters. As characters, they’re all equal. And it just comes down to the creatives. And the businesses.

So, you felt very free to kind of not be limited by what has traditionally been?

I’m not limited, no.

Fletcher argues that the connective tissue between all of Black Canary’s appearances, from this…

Now you’re looking at Black Canary. That’s a 68-year-old character that’s getting only their second ongoing after a very brief one in the 90s. What do you think is the core of that character that keeps her vital? What are you trying to bring out that is essential Black Canary?

Strength. She’s such a strong character and she doesn’t have the power set that other characters do. I mean, she’s- she is…a lot of the time her representation in books has been powerlessness. So, it comes down to her personality. Her strength of will. And her ability to take other people and turn them into a team, which is kind of what’s happening in the Black Canary series that I’m working on. She’s not dealing with super-powered characters or anyone who who’s ever been in an action adventure situation before. She’s got musicians and can she whip them into team, the kind of team that she’s used to dealing with? That’s what we’ll see.

One of the things that was most exciting that I heard at C2E2, I think, was that you said this was kind of gonna be Dinah’s ‘Hard Travelin’ Heroine’ moment. Do you feel like that’s just because she’s on tour or are there other similarities people could maybe be looking for?

I think you might find some other similarities down the line, but I don’t want to spoil it.

Okay. That’s fair. And then, we just got a preview for the series in the back of the “Convergence” issues.

That’s right.

…to this, is strength. Hear, hear!

And it was very quick, but she mentions that she couldn’t pay one of her- one of her fees- one of her door fees because she was dealing with “creatures from another” something. Does that mean that we’re gonna be dealing with some kind of new threats for Black Canary?

There are definitely going to be new threats in Black Canary’s series. I don’t think you’re going to see any familiar villains turn up very quickly. Certainly in the future but not off the bat.

Assuming you get to have your shot as long as you would like with her, do you see the series kind of building up a rogues’ gallery for her?

I think any good superhero series is gonna build up a rogues’ gallery. If it’s sort of attacking superhero storytelling in a traditional way, and I think we’re going down a relatively traditional road with a layer of music on top.

And then the last thing I wanted to ask is, since music is such a big part of it, how do you integrate music into to a soundless medium?

Well, it’s a very difficult thing, but I originally look at this as a trans-media property, so take that as you will…

Okay.

It speaks to what- what may lie…in the in the future for the character or the book or the property.

Okay.

I can’t spoil anything.

I understand. Well, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Thanks, Noah.

Black Canary’s worldwide tour begins tomorrow with issue #1. The first trade of Gotham Academy is also out tomorrow and the renumbered hardcover of Batgirl is in stores now!

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