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Meghan Fitzmartin talks Tim Drake's agency, relationships, and possible future

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Meghan Fitzmartin talks Tim Drake’s agency, relationships, and possible future

The series reaches a “final showdown” with this week’s issue #6.

Tim Drake has been a busy bird these last few years. A lot of that stems from having his history restored in DC: Rebirth — and that process includes three separate restructurings by three separate writers: James Tynion IV, Brian Michael Bendis, and Meghan Fitzmartin. Arguably it’s been Fitzmartin, alongside artist artist Riley Rossmo, who has most informed this “new” Robin with the ongoing Tim Drake: Robin series.

Fitzmartin actually started her tenure writing Mr. Drake during the Batman: Urban Legends stories in issues #4-6 and issue #10, where she had the opportunity to write his coming out as bisexual (and his subsequent revelation to Bruce Wayne). Later, she was able to further develop Tim’s relationship with his boyfriend, Bernard Dowd, in DC Pride 2022 #1. Now, in the ongoing series, we’re seeing Tim strike out on his own as a protector of Gotham City. 

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Tim Drake: Robin is the first Tim Drake ongoing series since Red Robin, which ended in October 2011. Although Tim has appeared in several team stories since then, this is his first chance in over a decade to shine on his own without operating in the shadow of another character. In five issues, we’ve already explored Tim’s new life on the marina, his psyche through a sharper lense, and been introduced to his very own foe/nemesis. The creative team for Tim Drake: Robin has been crafting a Sherlockian mystery that’s flourished as a cohesive story from issue to issue.

We caught up with Fitzmartin ahead of issue #6 — the so-called “final showdown,” per solicitations — where we talked about Tim’s development, her work with Rossmo, how she perceives the character, and many other topics and tidbits. 

Below: potential spoilers for the ongoing series. 

AIPT: Thanks so much for meeting, with me today, Meghan. I really appreciate taking the time to just chat about our favorite Robin.

MF: Absolutely. Happy to do it. I’m, I’m pleased to always talk about our favorite boy.

AIPT: How is this different? Getting into the Tim Drake: Robin the solo series, versus the Urban Legends backups and the DC Pride special.

MF: This has been just a different experience in creating a separate world for Tim, which has been really great to be able to give him his own slice of Gotham in a larger page count than we would necessarily be able to do whenever we were doing urban legend stories. This has been for him to spread his wings a bit.

AIPT: You had a plethora of like great artists to work with: from urban legends, the Pride special with Travis Moore, and a few here in Tim Drake: Robin. Was there one page where Riley Rossmo really just like blew over your wildest dreams with the art?

MF: I mean, all of it. He constantly surprised me in the best way. I think the two pages where I was completely bowled over, and I’ve talked about this before, when he drew the marina, I lost my mind. I could not believe he had reached into my brain and made it even better than I could have ever imagined. It was perfect. And then there’s a page in issue two when Darcy and Tim are going through a bunch of different books in the library and different detective stories there. We got that page back and I was just like, this is, this is gorgeous. This is genius. I love it.

Meghan Fitzmartin talks Tim Drake's agency, relationships, and possible future

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: He really seemed like just the perfect artist to encapsulate that mystery style that you were going for with crime scenes and then the marina both inside Tim’s room and then the entire atmosphere. I feel like he really just captured everything perfectly.

MF: Absolutely. I mean, he was so in sync with just the tone and the ideas and everything that he brought to the table. It was just, it was gorgeous. It was a treat every time he sent some sent art in.

AIPT: The first arc was very much like a mystery story, and I think Riley’s art really helped drive that home with your writing. Was there anything that you listened to, watched, or read that helped you get into that head space for you or for Tim?

MF: So the way that I sort of get into with music is, I tend to find one or two songs that reach an emotional aspect of the character. And that with Tim, I’d have to go back and see really what specific songs that I was listening to. But, yeah, generally speaking, there’s always just one song with each project that really, really hits home and and brings you in and I’d have to go back and see cause I’m obviously working on different aspects of the story, so I’ve moved on to different songs, but yeah, it, there’s always one song I think is, is the takeaway.

AIPT: That’s awesome. It’s really cool cause the entire arc felt like one continuous issue. Each cliffhanger perfectly flew into the next opening page without it being a commercial break in-between. It was very clear, whatever song you were listening to, it definitely got the, the message across that it was one continuous story.

MF: Thank you, I appreciate that.

AIPT: Tim’s really been through a lot in the last seven years now, between DC Rebirth, getting kidnapped temporarily, everything with Young Justice, addressing his own identity, but we don’t really know how much time has passed in continuity for Tim. But given that, back in Detective Comics Rebirth, he was looking at applying to Ivy State University. Did he ever end up going there? Has he finished and graduated or is he doing some sort of like Zoom University concept for it?

MF: I love the idea of Tim doing Zoom, but I ultimately think one of the things that I loved that James [Tynion IV] did in his run with Tim, is have him face that whether or not that’s what he wanted to do. And in that run he was like, “oh, I don’t think so”. And I really wanted to honor that. I think that Tim is drawn to Gotham, is drawn to staying in Gotham, and I don’t think the university is the right course for him right now. I think that he’s still got some, I would like to say that he’s on a gap-year, if anything, but yeah, he’s, he’s definitely still trying to figure out what it is, what the next steps are for him.

Tim Drake

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Definitely. I think he’s definitely earned a gap year too.

MF: Yeah, yeah. Haha.

AIPT: He’s been pretty busy. Do we know, are we able to pinpoint how much time, for Tim it’s very tricky, looking at even just all the way back in his original run, the passage of time seems to be very tricky for him. Do we know how much time has passed? Has it been a very busy month of Rebirth and Young Justice, or has it been a little longer?

MF: It’s been a little bit longer. I’m not gonna say that it’s been like a whole year, but I think it’s been a couple months.

AIPT: Okay. So he is been pretty busy.

MF: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. He’s had, he’s had some stuff.

AIPT: Do we know what happened to his car? I know James [Tynion IV] brought it back temporarily. Is that something that he had to get rid of for the boat?

MF: I think it’s sort of held-up in one of the, one of the, the Bat-Facilities, for lack of a better word. There’s just no way that he could keep it on the boat, unfortunately. I think it’s in storage at the moment.

AIPT: You know, speaking of bats, one thing that was so refreshing about this series was the lack of Batman. Although Bat-Family characters made appearances here and there, Batman’s lack appearance I think really gave Tim a lot of agency that he seemed to need. You know. as you mentioned, he’s kinda on a gap-year right now, and it’s clear that like with Batman there, he may not have had that agency otherwise. How important is it to you that those kind of cameos continue to stay limited?

MF: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s important for any character to be able to stand on their own, and I think Tim can. I think Tim does. You know, the Bat-Family is so important in the same way that my family’s important, but I don’t see my family all the time necessarily. And I think the same is true for Tim. I think his family is important. I think he’s always thinking about them, which we sort of express in the story as well. But, that almost is as interesting to me; they don’t have to be present in order to feel their presence. They’re almost always with Tim, he’s almost always thinking about his dad like his surrogate father or his older brothers. And, it is more powerful to me, I think for Tim to decide who he is beyond that.

Meghan Fitzmartin talks Tim Drake's agency, relationships, and possible future

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Definitely. And you know, I know we’ve talked a bit about Tim, but he’s not the only main character right now in this series. What goes into your writing process for characters like Bernard and Darcy?

MF: I love a found family. I love a ragtag group of individuals who are messy, unique, and are just doing their best, trying to find their own way. And letting them have the space to do it has been really important. So, letting Darcy be her sort of crazy kooky self and letting Bernard come in and out as it felt accurate to the story. You know, Bernard has his own life that he’s dealing with while also dating Tim, and vice versa, and being able to show some of those moments, and some of the moments as how they are their own characters, how Darcy’s her own character, how, how Bernard is his own character, but how that is also affecting Tim; because these are the people around him that are affecting the next phase of his life. So, making sure that they exist, his fully fleshed out characters

AIPT: It very much does feel like a sitcom in that way where they’re just kind of popping in o opening a door and coming into Tim’s life for a few pages before doing their own life again. And Bernard’s become such a prominent part of Tim’s life, but like you said, he’s got his own life outside of Tim, unless he’s getting kidnapped. I’m sure he has a lot of other things going on. What does Bernard do in his downtime outside of popping in and praying for Tim to come and help him out?

MF: Learning how to not get kidnapped I think is big on Bernard’s list of things to do in his downtime. In the next couple of issues actually we’re gonna see a little bit more of Bernard and a little bit more of what he does in his downtime and what he may be going to school for.

AIPT: I know we’ve seen him in the backups of Batman too, with Chip [Zdarsky] working on that. And it’s really nice to see the way that both series’ have showed Bernard and Tim interacting and it feels very connected. Has that been like an active conversation between the two of you since Tim’s popping in the backups every now and then?

MF: Not necessarily, but Chip even sent me an email the other day. He is a really wonderful creator who I love and and respect with all of my being. And I think we’re very in-sync with the story. I think we’re very in sync with what we want from these character. And you see that in Chip’s run, like the, the way that he is carrying the banner, carrying the story, I think is, is really beautiful and is really cool.

AIPT: Clearly, you have a lot fleshed out for Tim and a lot of plans, but having the series called Tim Drake, Robin versus just Robin was definitely an interesting choice I think a lot of fans were curious about. Do you believe that in the future we might see Tim considering, I know he mentioned a few times both in the first issue and a little bit later in the series too, just his identity in so many different ways. Do you think Tim is on the way to considering a new form of a moniker for himself? If you can touch on that.

Tim Drake

Courtesy of DC Comics.

MF: I definitely think that he is in a growth period and I think that there’s some really cool things on the horizon for him. And I think that there’s some really cool things that we’ll get to see Tim grow in and learn. But, with everything, what you want from any good story, you’d want it to be organic, and making sure that we as storytellers are seeding those seeds so that when he eventually does decide to either continue to be Robin or change the moniker that it feels organic and it feels true.

AIPT: Like you said, he’s on that journey his gap-year and discovery for himself, and I think he’s definitely trying his best to figure out what it means to be him in and outside of the mask. But given that, what, and I know we mentioned some music head space for you earlier in this, but where is Tim’s head space at the end of this arc, which was absolutely amazing by the way, versus the beginning of it

MF: I think at the beginning of the arc, we sort of see him be very uncomfortable in the uncertainty, uncomfortable in the unknown, and where I certainly hope we end up with in this arc is that he may not have all the answers right now, but he’s on the right path. He’s on the correct destination. And I think that that is true, that is true in life, right? Like sometimes we enter into a period of time where we’re like “I don’t know, I don’t know anything and I hate that, I hate that I don’t know”. And part of that journey is making sure that we get to the other side of it going: “I still don’t know. I still have no idea, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the living in that in-between space”.

AIPT: What do you think readers can look forward to in the future for this series? I know we’ve seen through the solicits a little team up here continuing the mystery-theme. But what can we look forward to reading for Tim’s life?

MF: I think we’ll get to see a little bit more of Bernard and how Bernard plays into it. I think we’ll get to see a little bit more of, I think we will see a familiar villain pop back up. and through all of that, how Tim’s going to continue living life in the gray spaces.

AIPT: How far ahead do you have Tim Drake: Robin planned? Do you have an end goal for what you’d like to accomplish with the series?

MF: I mean, I am just happy to get as much as DC will let me and I would love for Tim Drake to go on for forever. That’s not always feasible and possible. I will have stories for Tim until the end of time. But I am just happy to be able to play in this sandbox for as long as I’m allowed.

Meghan Fitzmartin talks Tim Drake's agency, relationships, and possible future

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: I think that’s just something that fans love to see in a writer, is that same passion for the character, and willingness to just accept all the different parts and create something brand new, while respecting all the stories that helped shape how he got here, without staying put in there. Given that though, what do you feel like is your favorite Tim Drake story that you gotten to write?

Meghan Fitzmartin: Being able to write Tim’s new understanding of his own identity, I think has been truly such a highlight. I am so grateful to have been able to tell that story, and to be entrusted with it, and that I think has been really special to me, and I hope it’s been special to others. I don’t think I ever in my wildest dreams would’ve imagined being able to tell that story. And so, I am grateful to have been able to be in that space.

AIPT: It definitely was just such an important story for everybody. For all the different ways that people learn about themselves as we grow in life. And I think it was definitely handled beautifully.

MF: Thank you.

AIPT: Do you have a favorite Tim story that you’ve gotten to read, either of old or of recent times? He’s got, he’s got a few books.

MF: I do love a team story. Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans was incredibly formative and I very much loved. Another really good one. I’ve mentioned this numerous times and it’s not just a Tim Drake story, but he features in the same way that everyone does. I loved Bruce Wayne: Murderer and the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive stories, because I loved seeing how each member of the bat-family functions. And Tim is such a huge part of that, and is one of those areas where he lives in those gray areas, in the gray space of like, “Maybe, but, like Bruce does know how to do this murder. Like I know that we don’t wanna believe that it’s him,” but Tim was the one who had to be like, “no, but he does know how to do this.” And that’s heartbreaking and that’s just devastating. And I love, love, love that story and what it shows of each member of the family. And I just think it’s, I think it’s beautiful. So I think that’s one of my favorites.

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