Meghan Fitzmartin Talks Queer Representation In Superheroes

Meghan Fitzmartin. Image courtesy Marlow Photography
Meghan Fitzmartin. Image courtesy Marlow Photography /

Meghan Fitzmartin may be known to some as one of the many minds who helped create stories for Supernatural, but she also became a household name for her work with superhero content. Most specifically, her comic, Batman: Urban Legends, in which Robin comes out as queer. Otherwise, Meghan Fitzmartin is also known for her podcast, Red Rhino, and is the writer for the Tim Drake: Robin DC comic series.

Throughout her career, Meghan Fitzmartin has contributed to the ever-growing superhero content while adding layers to characters who are not traditionally mainstream superheroes. By doing so, Meghan Fitzmartin is reaffirming that everyone deserves to know they are loved.

Culturess: What is your favorite part about creating superhero storylines?

Meghan Fitzmartin: I think my favorite part about creating superhero storylines are the way that you’re able to use metaphors to help understand big, emotional complex problems. So, I grew up with really big emotions and really big feelings and things that I didn’t really understand how to process, and superheroes helped me with that.

It’s really difficult when you’re a kid, and you’re feeling like the world is going to end, but you don’t really have an understanding of why because you know that it won’t end, but everything feels awful so you can read a comic book and read about these heroes that are actually worried about the world ending, and how they become stronger than they could imagine through it, and taking those lessons and applying them to your life is helpful to get through whatever it is that you’re struggling with. At least for me, it was.

Culturess: You champion neuroatypical and queer characters in your work. What is the impact of having that representation?

Meghan Fitzmartin: I think the impact of having that representation is just a reminder that people exist. People who are not just the standard straight cis white exist in the world and deserve to have stories told about them as well.

Culturess: What inspired your podcast Red Rhino?

Meghan Fitzmartin: I have always loved audio dramas. Actually, what got me into writing scripts in the first place was that I really wanted to write an audio drama. At the time, there wasn’t any superhero stories in the indie space. There was a show called The Bright Sessions which is about people with superpowers who are going to therapy which is very good.

But I wanted something that was like the superheroes like the comic books that I was reading. So, I had written a short film in college about a hero called Red Rhino, who, against all odds and against powers that make his life harder than it is helpful, still manages to find a way to save the day. So I built it out to having a show of its own.

Culturess: What is different between how you create your own work versus writing on a show like Supernatural?

Meghan Fitzmartin: So when you’re creating your own work, you’re the boss, so you have to make all of the scary decisions. Versus, I love working on shows like Supernatural or working for Warner Brothers Animation has been such a dream because, for the most part, they know what it is that they’re looking for, and I come in and add some sadness, add some emotion. But they’re the ones in charge. They’re the ones who ultimately have full say at the end of the day whether or not we go in what direction for a story. So I can pitch and have fun and daydream as much as I want. But when it’s my own story, I have to be more of the adult in the room.

Culturess: What is your favorite type of character to create?

Meghan Fitzmartin: My favorite type of character to create or write is a character that I recognize, and what I mean by that is I grew up with so many books that were incredibly influential. So many comics that were incredibly influential. But I didn’t always see myself in there, and that didn’t stop me from reading books, but I definitely missed seeing those things. I missed seeing people like me or people like my friends. So when I create characters now, I want them to look like the world as I know it.

Culturess: Is there any storyline in particular that you are most proud of developing?

Meghan Fitzmartin: I’m really proud of the story that we were able to develop with Tim Drake and his coming out story. Not just because we had a surprising amount of global impact, which was really beautiful, but also I’m proud of the story itself. I worked on that with Dave Wilgus, who was my editor at the time over at DC.

Belen Ortega did amazing art, and together we worked to make the story something that felt real, that felt true, that felt fun, and I’m just so happy with how it turned out and honored to have been a part of Tim’s story in that way.

Culturess: Constantly creating new stories can be hard work. What inspires you the most?

Meghan Fitzmartin: I think what inspires me the most is daydreaming. That’s a very practical answer, I think. But, I’ll turn on some Taylor Swift, and I’ll just sort of pretend, and I’ll imagine stories. It’s what I did when I was a kid. I would turn on music. When I was a kid, I would tell myself stories in my head to sleep at night. So, yeah, I think it’s very difficult to come up with stories a lot. But, at the same time, I’ve never not been coming up with stories. I have a constant well. I feel like I’m always drawing from stories that aren’t just new to this moment but stories that I have been telling myself since I was a kid. I’ve only scratched the surface of all of the stories that I have within me.

Culturess: Who is your favorite superhero?

Meghan Fitzmartin: I think it’s a tie, and that’s a cop-out, and I recognize that’s a cop-out. But I’m gonna do it anyway. I think Bat-Man is the superhero that introduced me to heroes in a way like I remember watching Bat-Man: The Animated Series or Justice League, the cartoon. He was more around and was my gateway into superheroes, and then the superhero that I found on my own is Mr. Fantastic from The Fantastic Four. 

I will defend and be his number one champion ’til the end of my days. I love Reed Richards because I see so much of myself. I think that’s the point that I made earlier. When we find so much of ourselves in characters, it’s hard to let go, and Reed Richards, I’m not a brilliant genius, mind you, but so much of his emotion, and connection to his family, spoke to me at a very pivotal time in my life so, I will always and forever be Reed Richards’ number one fan.

Culturess: Why do you love writing in this genre?

Meghan Fitzmartin: I love writing in this genre because it helps me understand life. I don’t always have a good understanding of the world or of drama. If I were to write a straight-up drama, and I have before, I don’t understand it as much as I understand superhero emotions. I have to put it in metaphors for myself to understand it, and then I can go out into the world for it. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love writing in this genre because I just understand the language and the metaphors.

It speaks to me in a way that sometimes the straight language of emotions doesn’t always speak to me. Also because there’s not a lot of women in this space, and there should be. This is a space that is so proud to be so inclusive. Science Fiction, in general, was one of the amazing bringers of change. It speaks to being welcoming, and we should have more of that. We should continue to be speaking for all folks that exist in the world because that is what science fiction has always been.

Culturess: To people who are watching, reading, or listening to your work, what is the message you want them to take to heart?

Meghan Fitzmartin: The message that I want the audience to take to heart always and forever for anything that I have ever done is you are loved. You belong here, and you are loved, and that is what I infuse every single story that I create, that I write, no matter if it is for a big IP or it is for my own personal project. All I want to do is tell people that they are loved. No matter what you are, no matter who you are, no matter who you love, what you believe, you are loved.

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