“Spoiler Was Gonna Die” – Inside The DC Writer Meeting That Killed Stephanie Brown

At the Auckland Writers And Readers Fest, one panel saw Adrian Kinnaird, Ant Sang, Chris Slane, Dylan Horrocks and Karen Healey talk about the industry and the artform.

And it got onto sexism in comics. With Karen Healey recounting to the audience the example of Stephanie Brown’s (Spoiler, Robin, Batgirl) death in the DC comics and her lack of memorial case in the Batcave.

Luckily Dylan Horrocks was one of the writers of the crossover event in which this happened, working on Batgirl, and was able to explain the workings of her death from inside the Batwriters meeting held in a New York office over a weekend.

As well as a Dan DiDio impersonation, he told the audience that the writers were told two things about the Batman: War Games crossover event they were writing, that it would “involve some kind of Gang War in Gotham” and that “Spoiler was gonna die”. Thirty-four minutes into the video above, he recounts the experience.

It was one of the most depressing weeks of my life, because we basically spent the whole week in this horrible office planning how to kill this poor teenage girl who I really liked, I thought she was a great character and she was one of the few friends that my character had, and I tell you the whole thing about her being Robin, was simply a trick.

The whole way through it was planned purely as a trick to play on the readers, that we would fool them into thinking that the big event was that Stephanie Brown would become Robin but we knew all along it was a temporary thing, and she was then going to die at the end of this crossover story.

It was really seedy, and I think about two days into it, I basically said look, I don’t want… because they planned this big long torture scene, I said I don’t want to really have anything to do with that. And there was another scene which was… I was Pilate, I was Pontius Pilate, I don’t want any of that in Batgirl, in effect what I did is I wrote my comic out of the key events in the story, cos I said I didn’t want to have anything to do with the big shoot out at the high school scene, so it was a really strange experience, for me that was the most depressing…

So when there was that big online debate about Stephanie Brown’s death I felt kind of really pleased and vindicated, and the other person who I think was probably happy about that but I don’t think she’s ever said so in interviews was Devin Grayson who was writing Nightwing at the time… she raised several issues during this meeting, she was one of the other writers in the meeting who said how come we’re always killing off the girls, and also how come we’re killing off the ethnic characters,[Karen mentions Orpheus], there was a lot of debate in that meeting, well ultimately it all came down to this is what we’re going to do. The editors I was working with were nice people,…[INTERRUPTION] no they weren’t all white, they weren’t all straight…[Karen asks if they were all men] yes, they were all men, but the writers weren’t all men, but I think the thing is the industry is much more diverse and much more liberal and much more politically liberal than the comics necessarily imply, but there are these kind of commercial expectations on where the stories are going to go and we do get these directives from the head editorial office, the tone of the whole industry has dug itself into a hole, and it means that really decent people who would love to be good stories end up writing these whole…

The conversation then moved on…

It's Comic Con week! Comics, Film, TV, and much more... Check out complete coverage on the Bleeding Cool San Diego Comic Con Hub.