Meghan Fitzmartin is a TV, cartoon, and comics writer, and podcaster. She is currently writing DC Comics series, Future State: Robin Eternal and has a DC animated movie coming out in March. I had the pleasure of speaking with her recently about her love of writing in all formats, her love for comics, and how much superheroes mean to her.
The Geekiary: When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? And what got you into writing for TV and comics specifically?
Meghan Fitzmartin: I have always written, I’ve always wanted to write, I’ve always told stories, I was always a reader. I was always very much into stories. I was not an outdoor kid at all, so I just was a voracious reader. And because of that, I was like, “Oh, I really want to do this!”
If I did have to go outside and play, I would be creating these elaborate stories mostly featuring kidnapping. It’s a running joke in my family that [my] story pitches [are] always like, “Well, what if there’s a kidnapping?” At some point I think that somebody should look at that and be like, “Maybe there’s some stuff you should unpack.” But mostly, I just think it’s really fun.
I’d always sort of written, but I didn’t think of it as a viable career, ever. Not at least, at the very beginning. In high school, I’d always written as a side hobby, but I wanted to act for the first couple years.
Then I got really into working with youth, so I ended up going to college to [become] a youth pastor. My degree is in church ministries. I’m from Florida, so my plan was to marry a pastor and be a youth pastor, or [go into] Youth Leadership because the likelihood of me being able to be a pastor was very nil.
While I was at school, I didn’t get along super well all the time with everybody in my religion studies class. I have found that for the most part, I enjoy when people have varied interests. I was going to school with a bunch of people that were all very supremely focused. And I was like, “No, this is good. I also care about religion studies. But you have to figure out how that relates to the greater world as a whole. And you can’t just live in your own little bubble forever and ever.”
I found a sort of release in our very small communications department. I think we had like, three people in the film program, because it was barely even a program. I took a writing class just because I’ve always loved telling stories. I knew that even in ministry, I wanted to tell stories as part of my ministry. I [also] took a screenwriting class because it was supposed to be for radio and television. It was definitely not at all for radio, and it was only for television. But I enjoyed it very much.
A lot of people that I was going to school with that were in the film side of things, were much more into the cinematography or the directing, but they didn’t always like to write. I would always be like, “Oh, I’ll write stories for you!”
I kept doing it and doing it, and I really loved it. I loved reading scripts and I loved just telling stories. It became so much a part of what I wanted my future to look like.
Ultimately, [I wanted] my ministry to [be] to tell people that they are loved. That was always my goal and my plan. I realized that the thing that told me that [I was loved] when I was younger (other than parents, and family, and whatnot), were stories. So, it became incredibly important to me. That is what I wanted to do. That is the course of my life. So, I upended my entire life plan.
[The] last month, right before graduating college was sort of like, “Alright well, this is the new thing. I’ve got one month to really prepare before I leave, and I’m going to go to LA!” And when I did, I knew nobody… well I had a couple of friends. But I was very much [a] nobody in the industry. I knew nothing about the entertainment industry. I came from a Bible school that I had no actual real references for and just sort of hit the ground running.
The Geekiary: Oh, wow! I looked at your website so…
Meghan Fitzmartin: Oh gosh that old thing. I have not updated that in forever.
The Geekiary: Tying into what you were talking about, were there any specific motivating factors when it came to your writing? You had mentioned your passion for working with teenagers on your website. How did that tie in when you started writing for TV and comics?
Meghan Fitzmartin: I mean, I still sort of write for that particular age group. It is wider now, I think. Generally, the audience that I write for is between the ages of 14 to 24. Somewhere around there is sort of my sweet spot. And I understand that it is a 10-year sweet spot filled with a bunch of different life changes that happen during that time. But that is the area and the cognitive brain function that I that I tend to write to. I tend to gravitate towards the CW side of things or Freeform.
Even in comics, I’m writing for Tim Drake right now. I’m not writing Teen Titans, but I always gravitated towards that kind of stuff. Those kind of ages like Stephanie [Brown] has always been so near and dear to my heart on the DC side of things. There was always something where I was like, this matters to me and this really honed in where I wanted to tell stories.
The Geekiary: I was kind of curious because you started writing for TV and now you’re also breaking into comics. How does that differ?
Meghan Fitzmartin: I am a weirdo and I just like telling stories in all sorts of formats. I like the different ways that stories can be told in different mediums. I think it’s really interesting. And I think you can do different things with it. So, I spearheaded the TV side of things, because I knew that would open doors for me to be able to do a bunch of different types of mediums. Also [TV is] an extremely harder spot to get into.
I moved to LA in 2011 and I really put my nose to the grindstone to really push and get into television. During that time, I [took] any class that I could, that was on writing TV, or writing comics, or writing in audio. All of those types of classes were super beneficial.
I also read this book [that] was amazing. It’s one of my favorite books. It’s by Adam Grant [and] it’s called Originals. He talks about original ideas and where original thinkers come from. One of the things that he talks about in that book is on adjacent places; playing outside of the box that is adjacent to the box itself.
There are things that I wouldn’t be able to think of if I hadn’t also worked in comics, or I wouldn’t be able to come up with something if I hadn’t also worked in animation. It just works a bunch of different muscles in the brain. For me, it helps inspire my creativity in every single format. Television helps inspire comics, helps inspire animation, helps inspire audio.
The Geekiary: That makes sense. So, we talked about what led you to writing comics. Can you speak a little bit about your experience in actually writing them?
Meghan Fitzmartin: I have always loved comics. I’ve always read them, but I never really read them in a critical manner until about five years ago. I had been shopping a script around and sending it to different reps. I kept getting this feedback of, “Well, this would make a good comic book.”
I [didn’t] know how to do that. So [I approached it] the way that I do pretty much anything, I [would] figure out how to do it myself. That’s when I started taking comic book writing classes, because I [didn’t] know how to work in this medium. And I [thought] I’d really like to because I’ve always loved comics.
Having a project really helped me spearhead into learning how to write for comics. About a year before I got the chance to write for DC, I had started my own thing where I looked into finding an artist myself, and [into] what I would need to do in order to orchestrate and really produce something like that.
My artist is amazing. I love her deeply. It is a very slow process, because she was on the earlier end of being discovered, and now she is doing fancy things. So, I’m very much along the lines of like, “Whenever you get a chance, I’m still here and I still want this.” That’s much more of a freelance thing.
But I’m so grateful for that, because it really helped me learn how to give notes and learn how to write for an artist. [It’s] just so different than writing for a group of people in television [where] you’re writing for a bunch of different departments. In animation, you’re writing for storyboarding, but you’re also writing for actors, and you’re writing for all sorts of those different types of departments. So, writing for artists, specifically, it’s so much more of an intimate interaction. It’s so much more focused.
It really taught me how to be much more intentional about the static images that I was wanting. Because that’s the other side of it too- you get only a couple of static images on a page to tell a whole story. Whereas in live action or in animation, those things are moving, and you don’t have to worry necessarily about, “Then he opens the door.” You have to either choose the moment where the person reaches for the door or you have to choose the moment where the door is open. Parsing through those very specific static moments was really, really interesting and beneficial.
The Geekiary: As a comic reviewer, I wanted to learn more about the medium myself. So, I was reading books on how the art is used and how you’re actually telling stories between the panels. How involved it really is made me appreciate as a reviewer, just how much work goes into it.
Meghan Fitzmartin: Absolutely. One hundred percent.
The Geekiary: Did you read a lot of comics as a child? You said you’re a fan of Stephanie Brown; did you have any favorite characters or series growing up?
Meghan Fitzmartin: I’m a huge comic book fan because of my dad. My dad is the best person on the planet. I absolutely adore him.
[Growing up] we had a lot of rules [on] what I could and couldn’t watch, especially when it came to PG-13 movies. I would probably not be allowed to see [them], except for superhero movies. My dad was always like, “We’ll go and see Spider-Man,” and my mom never put up a fight because she wasn’t worried about superhero movies. I have all of these really fond memories of my dad taking me to go see these superhero movies.
Even to this day; my family lives in Florida, I live in LA, and my dad will come out [to LA] for my birthday, which always falls on or around one of the Marvel movies. It’s just a really, really special thing.
My dad was much more of a Marvel guy. So I grew up a lot more in the Marvel space. I am a huge Fantastic Four fan. I don’t know where that came from, because it was not my dad. My dad likes the Fantastic Four, but he does not love them as much as I love them. I also sort of departed from my dad, because he only reads DC because I wrote a DC thing. I like all of it, so I’m going to read all of it.
I got into DC a little bit older. I think I was reading Marvel, at 13 or 14 and then I read DC at 15 or 16. But I was drawn to the Batfamily at first. That’s how I knew about [DC Comics], because Batman: The Animated Series was very formative and so was Justice League, the animated series. I was really curious like, “Oh, I’m fascinated by these characters so I’m going to look into them.” I just deeply fell in love with the Batfamily.
I would read almost every sort of Batfamily comic that would come out, even the individual ones. I think one of the first ones that I got was Bruce Wayne: Murderer? And that was so interesting, because I hadn’t really seen this done before in terms of graphic novels. They pulled [this issue] from this book and they pulled this issue from this [other] book to make one whole compelling story. You could be getting these individual comics week-to-week but, it was necessary for you to know what was going on with Nightwing, and with Tim, and with Stephanie, and with everybody. So, I sort of fell in love with the unit.
Stephanie was always a really huge part of that for me. So was Oracle. I absolutely love Barbara Gordon. It was so important for me as a young woman to have all of these very cool, but very flawed women. This was helpful for me to see. It was really great and it was a really good time, at least for me in comics, because I felt like there were these women who were kicking ass and taking names and also having their own struggles in life. That was really important to me.
The Geekiary: Definitely! I started with Nightwing after college. I didn’t actually start reading comics until I was a little older. But I grew up on the 1960s Batman TV show, and Batman: The Animated Series. So that’s how I got into the Batfamily as well.
Meghan Fitzmartin: So there’s a space for that. I am one of the few people in this world – and I don’t even care – I’m one of the few people in this world that’s an apologist for the Batman and Robin, George Clooney movies…
The Geekiary: I love those movies too.
Meghan Fitzmartin: I love it. And what’s so interesting about Batman is the duality of Batman. There is the dark, gritty post-Frank Miller Batman, but there’s also the 1960s Adam West Batman. That’s what’s so gorgeous about the whole thing.
The Geekiary: Exactly. Batman: I work alone with my 10 family members.
Meghan Fitzmartin: Oh, that’s one hundred percent. That was always my favorite joke. Growing up, whenever I would talk to my friends about Batman, I was like, “For somebody who works alone, he’s got the biggest family.”
The Geekiary: Yes, so dark and working alone. But here are all my colorful partners and sidekicks.
Meghan Fitzmartin: Here are all of my children, and I would kill for all of them. But I can never, ever tell them that I love them. And there was something about that dynamic where I was like, I love this.
The Geekiary: Right. No, I’m very unapologetic about being a huge Batfamily fan. And I had mentioned to you on Twitter that your comic, Future State: Robin Eternal, was first Robin solo series that I’m reading. I actually have the original Robin series number one sitting right next to me. But, I have not read it, which is terrible. It’s still in the bag and board. So, your series is actually the first Tim Drake series that I’ve ever read.
Meghan Fitzmartin: Wow! Thank you.
The Geekiary: I definitely enjoyed it. I did want to ask, as far as being a fan of Tim Drake, was that something that was a big deal for you? And as far as your experiences growing up, did that inspire you when you were writing about him as well?
Meghan Fitzmartin: One hundred percent. I love Tim Drake. I love Tim Drake so much. As a good kid growing up, there’s so much that I deeply understand about Tim.
[When] you have to be the good kid, you have to be the one that is not a problem, [the one] that no one worries about. I’ve always sort of resonated with that aspect of Tim because Tim tries so hard to take care of everybody and be the one that’s got it all under control. He’s like the adult in the room when everyone [else] is very clearly not an adult.
And he’s so young, that’s the thing too. I mean, he’s no longer the youngest, obviously, because of Damian. But he was so young, and everybody would have this like family feeling toward him, especially Nightwing.
Nightwing is another one those characters that I love. I got into Nightwing first, because I’m an oldest child and I understand [him]. I was introduced to Tim more through Dick [Grayson]. That was another sort of really interesting way of getting into the Batfamily. To see it through not just the eyes of Bruce, but through the eyes of these kids as they’re sort of trying to learn from each other.
I’ve [also] always really liked Tim, I think in part because he was in Batman: The Animated Series. But the more I was getting into Tim even for [Robin Eternal], the more I was like, “This poor child.” I recognized this desire to do good, especially with his relationship with Stephanie. Tim and Stephanie are so interesting to me as a dynamic. Stephanie is so unapologetically herself, and a mess, and living her best life, which is also a mess.
Tim is, I think, drawn to that aspect of her and it’s so cool. Even growing up, I was like, this is so cool to see the struggle of these two characters. I think Stephanie was who I wanted to be, and Tim was sort of who I felt that I was.
The Geekiary: We talked a lot about the Batfamily. Are there any other characters (in the Batfamily, or otherwise), or series that you would like to write for?
Meghan Fitzmartin: Oh, man, literally anything anyone will give me, I will write for it. Which is not a helpful answer ever for anybody.
The thing that I like most about writing, especially writing an IP that already exists, is sort of “mining” those worlds. I love mining what has come before and figuring out what new stories we can tell, that maybe haven’t been tapped [yet].
And there’s so much. Yes, there’s nothing new under the sun and we’ve got a ton of years of comics under our belts. But it’s still this really cool opportunity to take these characters and really look at them and say, what haven’t we mined.
Human beings are so incredibly complex, and we are so multifaceted. To be able to sort of shine a light on that with these characters, is so interesting, because just like humans, these characters are multifaceted. We can only really focus on one facet at a time, because that is the nature of storytelling.
So, just to have the ability to kind of go into any character, and to really delve into those different facets is the joy of being a storyteller.
The Geekiary: Is there anything that you would like to share as far as current projects or any upcoming things that you would like to plug?
Meghan Fitzmartin: Sure! I’m writing for the Warner Animation/DC Animation, Justice Society: World War II. That comes out on digital April 27th and on Blu-ray on May 11th. I’m really excited about that. I’m happy as a clam if people give me DC characters to play with. That was just an absolute joy to do. And I’m so excited for people to see it. I’m really proud of it.
There’s some other stuff on the horizon that I cannot talk about. But I am really, really excited about it and I can’t wait!
The Geekiary: That sounds great! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. And like I said, I really enjoyed the first issue of Robin Eternal. I’m definitely picking up the second one. Good luck to you in all your future endeavors. I’m hoping to read more comics written by you soon!
Meghan Fitzmartin: Thank you so much! I appreciate it.
Many thanks to Meghan Fitzmartin for taking the time to chat with me and answer my questions. You can follow her on Twitter and pick up her comic series, Future State: Robin Eternal at your local comic book shop today!
Author: Jessica Rae
Jessica has a BA in music with an emphasis in voice and spends her day typesetting, editing, writing, and moderating webinars. Jessica primarily reviews anime and comic book series. She also offers insights on various movies, books, games, and other geeky topics.
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