Ming Doyle has a special place in her heart for Batman, Batgirl and all the Bat-characters. It was this corner of the DCU that got her interested in comics, both as a child and as professional.
Years later, Doyle is one of the more prolific female writer-artists in the comic book industry, drawing books like Valiant's Quantum and Woody and Vertigo's The Kitchen while also co-writing the brand new version of DC's Contantine: The Hellblazer, which just launched in June.
But in July, she'll have the chance to put her unique stamp on the Bat-universe she loves so much, as she joins the impressive list of artists drawing Batgirl Annual #3. Working on stories by Batgirl writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, the artists on the Batgirl Annual also include Bengal, who'll be drawing characters from Grayson; David Lafuente, who's uniting Batgirl with Spoiler; and Mingjue Helen Chen, who's drawing the characters from Gotham Academy.
In Doyle's story, readers will get to see Batgirl uniting with Batwoman. Newsarama talked to Doyle to find out what she thinks of the new Burnside Batgirl, how she differentiated between the two female Bat-characters, and what brought her into comic books and Batgirl Annual #3.
Newsarama: Ming, you're very busy lately, working as both a writer and artist. What got you interested in working on comic books?
Ming Doyle: I always liked comic book characters growing up, being in that prime 8- to 12-year-old age bracket when Batman: The Animated Series premiered. However, I also grew up in the suburbs pre-Internet for the most part, and there were no comic book stores or even spinner racks anywhere near me.
Comics didn't really occur to me until I got to art school, where I was studying studio painting. Several of my professors suggested I look into comics, since I had a pretty graphic and illustrative style. I started drawing my own comics then, as a late teenager.
Nrama: You mention art school, so you're a trained artist? What's your background?
Doyle: Well, I did go to art school and managed to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, but really I've just been drawing nonstop since I was two or three years old. I consider most of my sequential skills self-taught, and I'm still continuing to learn with every panel.
Nrama: How has your style evolved more recently?
Doyle: I made the switch to all digital for my sequential work about three years ago, and it's really streamlined my work process and allowed me to be both a lot more free and precise with my lines.
Nrama: How does your experience writing help inform your artistic approach to comic books?
Doyle: I'd like to say it helps me be more sympathetic towards the artist, and I think that in some ways it does... whenever I write, I always think about the work the artist will have to put in, and if what I'm writing is feasible or more importantly fun to draw. That being said, I've also gone a little power-mad a few times and thrown huge crowd and action scenes in my scripts, since I don't have to worry about drawing them!
Nrama: Later this month, you'll be part of Batgirl Annual #3. What do you think of the Batgirl costume and new visual approach to the character? What did you want to do with that character?
Doyle: I love how streetwise and practical the whole look is. It's something I'd want to wear, if I were a vigilante. I think a lot of people look at it and respond the same way. It's a uniform that was designed very much with its own purpose in mind, and that has to be what makes it so popular with cosplayers and fans. You look at Barbara in that sleek getup, with its two-piece fitted leather design, comfy shoes, and detachable cape, and you think to yourself, "I could dispense some swift justice in that thing, feel cool doing it, and get into it and take it off myself."
I just hope I manage to get that across in my own drawing, that it's made out of real material and that the whole thing would really work! That's probably what I like most about this take on Barbara. She's believable as a real young woman with a very incredibly intense skillset and a reasonable arsenal. I buy her.
Nrama: In Batgirl Annual #3, you're getting to draw Batwoman. How do you differentiate her as a character? How is she different from Batgirl? How are you approaching her character?
Doyle: My take on Batwoman is that she's quieter but also more physically powerful, a little more reserved but just a powerhouse full of packed tight danger. She's all quiet, uncanny consideration, but she's also got that femme fatale styling and a kick that will take your jaw right off.
She is so intense, I just love drawing her. Everything about her character design is genius. She's a dense shadow with flashes of knock-out white and slashes of red, and she will mess you up in one fell, elegant swoop.
Nrama: What were your thoughts about the way you approached this story overall for Batgirl Annual #3? What were you hoping to achieve visually?
Doyle: I wanted to punch up the dynamism and spooky fun! I mean, it's Batgirl, but there's also a Wicker Man. Plus, the opportunity to design and draw the first appearance of a character like Gladius was awesome. I hailed some Jack Kirby frequencies there, for sure.
Nrama: Anything else you want to share about working on this story for Batgirl Annual #3?
Doyle: Just that it was probably the treat of my career to date to draw these two women. Bat-characters were what got me interested in comics, both as a kid and as professional, and I never really thought I'd get the chance to try my hand at any of them in a published work. Thanks so much to all the awesome Bat-kids for letting me throw my hand in!