Eight years ago, Dean Trippe and I had an idea to share, discuss and celebrate the very specific art of superhero costume design. That idea was instigated by the wild success of the Draw Batgirl meme and earlier this year we announced that we were memorializing that event with a new one titled Batgirl Begins Again. The 2006 meme featured talented newcomers and experienced veterans, and this 2014 iteration lives up to that — in spades.
Regular P:R judges Vito Delsante, Glen Weldon, Jessica Plummer, Joel Priddy, Jon Morris, and Rachel Edidin, as well as guests Jamie Dee Galey, Brett White and Dani Vulnavia joined Dean and myself to take stock of this bumper crop of talent giving their spin to Gotham’s girl hero, and now we present to you the top 3 entries. Check back next week for the runners up!
95 out of 100
Jon: 9. Every piece of this is strong – I like the idea of a bat-symbol holster, although won’t that draw fire? – but the bib is distracting me, particularly the bright mustard-yellow color. Great padding distinction on the gloves, I like the balance of black and blue from the feet up through the trunk, nice even balance on the arm and leg pieces.
Rachel: 10. Done. Out. This is perfect.
Chris: 10. *Throws up his hands and leaves in a huff*. Show-off.
Vito: 10. Right behind you, Chris. There’s just no amount of words necessary.
Joel: 9. Oh geez oh pete. We’re obviously in the presence of a master. Simple, bold, and balanced, this costume speaks eloquently to both Batgirl and Barbara Gordon. Single quibble: those are some ostentatiously heavy duty knee pads atop what appears to be spandex or neoprene leggings. Without a little structural rigidity to support them, I’d expect them to end up around Babs’ ankles.
Chris: *Storms back in to make his point* This melds the often-overlooked Silver Age style that Carmine Infantino built into Batgirl’s creation, while at the same time showing a more functional (I read it as experienced on Babs’ part) iteration on the design. The hip holsters show inventiveness and not simply sticking to the status quo of Batman’s methodology, and the Bat-poncho is something someone needs to cosplay right this moment. The only question I have is what is the handle seen on Babs’ left side above the hip holster?
Glen: 10. Just terrific, is all. And an ingenious take on the chunky belt-pouch: a batarang dispenser! Like a change dispenser! But instead of change: batarangs! Oh, and what are we calling the spats? Can we call them sbats? Please?
Brett: 10. I mean, Samnee knows how to make modern looking super hero designs that don’t rely on modern trends. As soon as I saw those hip holsters, I fell in love. I think I’m going to propose to this design.
Jessica: 8. This is really striking but it’s not quite coming together for me – something about the precise detailing on the boots and the hip holsters contrasted with those big broad expanses of color. The yellow’s a bit overwhelming. I think it might work better for me with more of a belt or at least some detail around the waist to bring in those smaller elements on the hands and feet.
Dani: 9. Love almost everything about this. My only gripe is I’m not on board with the blue torso. The bright colors are a little too prevalent here.
91 out of 100
Dean: 10. Joe brought it. It was broughten. This is such a lovely mix of slick and fun. It’s so clearly Batgirl, but like, Joe’s patented mix of retro and innovative, all over the place. The belt pockets reference the 60s Craig design, the scalloped skirt is super fun, and the boots look both playful AND functional. The wig/mask combo is a particularly cute note, and I like the short gloves with the forearm blades on the sleeves.
Erica: I love this, but Joe. Joe, that cape looks like it’s going to fall off so fast. The mask is great. I love it so much. The lenses are a nice touch too. I like the dress (skant?) but the blades on the sleeves with the bulky gloves over top is strange. The back view is great and I like the detail at the top of the cape.
Rachel: 8. There is a super easy practical fix to the cape issue: just attach the front to the shirt and anchor the shoulders, and you get to keep both the cape-front-as-emblem, which I love, and fight crime without it slipping down.
Jon: 8. Such a cute outfit. I truly love the cape, particularly how it hangs in the back. Terrific shaping of the bat ears and they come out at an appealing angle from the head. Good mix of the standard Batgirl palettes, the belt design is super-hip, and the bat-blades being on the sleeve is a nice variation on the standard.
Jamie: Love the outfit, very cute but the cape looks like it’d fall off With even the slightest jog. I don’t really get the wig though.
Chris: 10. Joe Quinones just hit the P:R jackpot. He’s got several innovative elements, but where his expertise shows is finding a way to blend them all in together to be magnified as a whole. If DC doesn’t use this themselves, I wouldn’t be surprised if fellow comic artists print this out and take it to the drawing board chop shop to use these great elements in other superhero/supervillain designs.
Joel: 8.5. This is some wonderful Golden Age goofiness, here. The wig is a very nice touch, and I love the way its style works with those ears! The whole thing speaks of free-wheeling adventure. It’s true that the cape won’t stay in place if it’s just draped there, but I assume there’s something that keeps it anchored in place at just the right rakish angle. I wish the clasp were a bit bigger, however. The ears, belt, seams of her dress, everything else on the costume tends to be a little wider than the clasp, which adds an awkward proportional tension to it.
Glen: 10. Nailed it.
Brett: 10. Yeah, this is a design that I could easily see on a dozen+ cosplayers at any given convention. It’s such a fun and inviting design, just looking at it makes me want to either read this comic or watch this cartoon immediately. I really love the way the mask and ears interacts with her wig, and that smirk.
Joel: Cosplayers of the world, you have your marching orders. Let’s make this happen.
Jessica: 8. Really fun and inventive, but all I can see is a bad guy grabbing that cape and choking her. I’d also like to see more of the black in the top half of the costume.
Vito: 10. 11, if that were a possible score. This is…Joe is just not kidding around. This is an entry from an artist that had this in his backpocket for a few years. Joe was totally just waiting for this day. Mic dropped.
Dani: 8.5 I love so much about this but I just can’t give it a perfect 10. The cape is a huge problem. There is no way that it is staying put while she’s walking around, let alone battling villains. My only other gripe is the footwear choice. I don’t think what he went with flows with the rest of the costume. I would imagine something slick and stylish to complement her dress. Everything else is SO GOOD and I wanna see this cosplayed.
Dean: 9.5. This one makes my heart jump, man. This is so wearable! The mask and earpieces are great. The poncho’s scalloped edge is super subtle, and the simplified belt somehow looks cool, rather than like a fanny pack. God I hate even saying those words. Anyway, the fingers would be great for working on Barbara’s iPad. I usually am annoyed by fingerless gloves, because, you know, fingerprints, but ain’t nobody gonna find Oracle’s fingerprints in no databases, son. Anyway, I love this. Athletic, detailed, fun, fashionable. Nailed it, Beals.
Erica: I love the athletic feel of this one. It really looks like nice activewear but not off-the-rack. It looks like she can really get around like a ninja on rooftops in that getup. I wish the utility belt were a little more utilitarian. I don’t know how much she can keep in there. It’s just too much like those leather “we’re not fanny packs but we totally are” belts that came into vogue a couple of years ago. And I’m with Dean on the gloves thing. The simplified symbol on her chest really fits in with the rest of it.
Jon: 9. I feel that it’s suffering for the absence of a permanent cape (or something similar), but everything else is spot-on target – those gloves, the insignia, the ears, the hip pack (see, Dean, now it’s fun to say!). The hairstyle is nice and youthful, the lines on the costume make exquisite sense, and the poncho seems to nod a little towards the kind of clothes you might find on someone in The Dark Knight Returns’ post-apocalyptic Gothamscape
Jamie: Perfecto. It has the perfect mix of colors and looks super functional.
Chris: 10. This really works for me, the way Dick Grayson’s costume change into Nightwing distanced himself from Batman while still being part of the family. This connects with the somewhat overlooked history Babs has as a star athlete in high school, and expert in judo and karate. This shows that she’s raised by a cop, and inspired by a bat(man).
Joel: 9.5. It’s not easy picking a favorite in this incredible line-up of submissions, but dang, here’s my favorite. I miss the drama of some sort of cape, however. The poncho could fill that function, but as it’s presented here it looks more like a cover-up as she makes her way to the scene of derring-do.
Glen: 9.5. Deceptively simple. In the poncho: anonymous extra in a Blade Runner crowd scene. Ditch the poncho: Irma freakin’ Vep.
Brett: 9. I think the bodysuit design sings on its own, and I didn’t even realize it was cape-less until y’all pointed it out. The asymmetrical haircut is rad, and I can definitely see a Batgirl that chose that hairstyle also choosing to wear everything in this design.
Jessica: 9. I just adore this, it’s young and wearable and adorable. I can’t see Barbara climbing into this costume now, but if she were a brand new character, it’d be perfect. I would like to see the cape as a more permanent part of the costume, but man, this look makes me smile.
Vito: 8.5. It’s darn near perfect. Colors are spot on. Bat logo is identifiable. It’s that poncho that’s tripping me up. Without it, she looks almost like Catwoman. With it, she barely looks like Batgirl…or any Bat-Family character. I see the scallops on the end of the poncho, but that’s just not enough for me. Still, it’s pretty fantastic. Bat ears point up, not back, though.
Dani: 7 I’m gonna be the odd one out here. For me, this entry can’t decide what it wants to be. Are we streetwear or what? I do love a lot of the elements involved here but the poncho is oversized and impractical, and shoes with laces? There is no way that’s staying tied up while you battle baddies. If she’s wearing a jacket and the top is not attached to the pants then the point of the garment will not stay down like shown in this image. It would have to be one piece to be functional. Love the hair, colour scheme, ears and mask though.
Rachel: 8. I have about the same concerns as Dani: I think it looks a little too off-the-rack, without nearly enough of its own distinct visual identity. It’s hella stylish, but it doesn’t say “Batgirl” to me.