Geek Vibes Interview: Co-Writer Katie Batchelor – ‘Her Name is…Savage’

One of the great things about having an opportunity to review new works is the chance to talk to those creative people responsible. For our recent review of Her Name is…Savage, we had the good fortune of talking to the creator and one of the co-writers for this non-stop action tale. We welcome Katie Batchelor to Geek Vibes Live Interview. As always, we thank you for some of your time, Katie.

In the Beginning

GVN: Let’s start from the beginning. What got you interested in writing and did you have a set genre or style of writing in mind when you started?

KB: I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing. I joke that it’s in my blood—my great grandfather owned a local newspaper, my grandfather was a librarian, and my dad has a vast book collection.

For comic book writing, I’d previously edited a few books and knew that HER NAME IS…SAVAGE was the first graphic novel I wanted to write — so it was already firmly fixed in the spy genre. However, I wanted to invert those traditional spy tropes and have fun with them, heighten the genre by crafting a unique story that hasn’t been seen before.

A Wrinkle in Time

GVN: Well you certainly accomplished that. As for your writing, was there an author or book that you enjoyed that made you think that writing might be your profession?

KB: It was really Madeleine L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME that captivated my imagination at a young age and transported me to a grounded yet completely fantastic world. I was (and still am) drawn to literature with independent, capable female protagonists and voices. As I started to write myself, I was determined to create new worlds, too. While certainly more adult and ‘realistic’ than L’Engle’s work, my hope is that HER NAME IS…SAVAGE creates a fierce new world with a dynamic and powerful lead.

GVN: Were you interested in comics early on or did you discover them later?

KB: I was a fan of Wonder Woman growing up, but not an avid comic book reader. As I got older, my spouse and co-writer Shane Riches worked in the industry — film, television and graphic novels — and I was introduced to a variety of genres and storytelling models. Comic books became part of our regular life; not just reading them but really understanding them and seeing their amazing ability to draw readers in and create new universes.

Working Together

GVN: I can certainly understand that. I have always thought that a well crafted comic book story can draw a reader in as easily as a well done book. So once you decided to make your writing a growing concern, who did you rely on for advice, or perhaps constructive criticism during your early career?

KB: I took an unconventional route to writing. Because I worked as a de facto editor on so many of Shane’s film, television and graphic novel projects, it provided me with what amounted to an ideal apprenticeship that elevated my writing ability and developed a strong understanding of structure and the ebb and flow of storytelling — to pull readers into worlds they won’t want to leave.

Writing with my spouse allows us both to be honest with each other in a constructive way and constantly build on our strengths — that makes us both better writers. Plus, we generally enjoy working with each other.

Her Name is…Savage

GVN: I can appreciate that. I do a PodCast with my wife and it is one of the most fun things we do. Your book is a counterpoint to Steven Grant’s rebirth of Gil Kane’s 1968 creation “His Name is Savage.” Was this female version in the works before that title reboot was released or after? What did you hope for your version of Savage?

KB: The idea hit me to do HER NAME IS…SAVAGE just as Steven was wrapping up his take. Shane was an editor on that book and had asked me to review it, as well as read Gil Kane’s original version. Steven created a fantastic story — modernizing Gil Kane’s iconic creation while keeping it fresh and relevant for today. I felt that both books opened up the possibility of not just a ‘his’ world, but an entire universe. And how great would it be to see ‘her’ world in espionage?

So, the character Her Name Is…Savage compliments the universe of HIS NAME IS…SAVAGE. We have several fun Easter eggs and nods to Steven’s relaunch and Gil Kane’s original. But HER NAME IS…SAVAGE has her own awesome world and identity completely independent of what came before — this badass warrior who’s not only the most dangerous person on the planet, but also the smartest.

[Writer’s note: When I asked this next question I had no idea that Katie and Shane were married. Knowing that now makes this seem like a stupid question. But Katie was a great sport]

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GVN:: You wrote “Her Name is Savage” along with Shane Riches. How did you get together with Shane decide to tag team this title? Had you worked with him previously?

KB: Because we live together, it made for a very fluid collaboration after I proposed the initial concept. Writing HER NAME IS…SAVAGE together was fantastic because we both had enthusiasm and passion for this concept. We got to dive into a world of complex characters, intrigue and action every day. How cool is that? We constantly batted ideas back and forth, regularly enhancing the book. If we did our job right, that enthusiasm and commitment should leap off the page.

The Right Artist

GVN: So after working through it, Shane and you had a great story. Now you needed an equally great artist to bring it all together. Tell us about artist Jesus Antonio Hernandez Portaveritas? How did you get introduced to him and how did that collaboration work? Did you supply him with a full script or did you give an outline of the story you and Shane had worked out? It worked out nicely either way.

KB: Jesús Antonio Hernández Portaveritas is an incredible artist and deserves high praise as he did both the pencils and the inks. Jesús has an amazing eye for action and makes every panel feel impactful and cinematic. And his attention to detail is phenomenal. Every time I look at his pages, I see something new that helped enhance the story. Plus, we partnered him with colorist Falk Haensel who was able to make the art even more dynamic — it jumps off the page.

Our company, Paper Movies, had worked with Jesús on numerous projects before, including Steven Grant’s relaunch of HIS NAME IS…SAVAGE and BLACK JACKETS. We loved his art on those books and thought it would add some nice continuity to have the same artists for the entire Savage universe.

GVN: That certainly makes sense and makes for a cohesive look to the series. And your process?

KB: Process-wise, we gave Jesús full scripts, very detailed, for the action. But once we received his beautifully rendered pages back, we continued to improve the dialog. Jesús’s artistry, without question, made our writing stronger.

GVN: I have been told that by various creators. Having a great artist helps to push the writing up a notch and visa versa. Artists have also said that having a great story inspires them to push themselves artistically. Sounds like that is exactly what you got out of it.

The Nature of Savage

Talking about the book… to say that Savage lives up to her name is an understatement. She is a highly skilled and a proficient deadly Agent? Assassin??…I’m not sure exactly what her title is. She has been compared to a female James Bond. She certainly has the skill set. In contrast however, she appears to set her own agenda and is not afraid to work OUTSIDE the system. Was this aspect always a part of her story?

KB: Absolutely! That is the heart of the story. Savage answers to no one. She’s not an assassin, more an independent agent who sometimes works with the government, but sees the government as working for her. She has her own strict moral code that doesn’t necessarily line up with others, but she has a very clear sense of good vs. evil and is determined to stop those who governments are too afraid, too inept or too corrupt to go after themselves.

The high concept of HER NAME IS…SAVAGE is the cat-and-mouse cerebral game of what her end-goal truly is. I don’t want to give away a spoiler here, but she always plays the long game. Nothing Savage does is without purpose or by accident. She has a plan that could literally change the world and is hellbent on seeing it through to fruition.

Protecting the Innocent

GVN: She certainly acted with extreme prejudice. However, I thought it was a nice touch for her to show compassion to the dog she was forced to defend herself against. Ruthless against her enemies but but kind to the dogs…and children. Was this an aspect that was always planned to be explored or was it added later on? IMHO It works well to humanize her character.

KB: Savage’s kindness goes back to her sense of right and wrong or good vs. evil. Dogs and children are innocent and should be protected. Savage perceives herself as the ultimate protector of the innocent — someone has to do that job and Savage happens to the best.

The Future of Savage

GVN: Well the good news is Her Name is…Savage has been well received so far? Do you see more stories on the horizon for the character?

KB: Definitely! It’s been extremely gratifying to hear all the positive feedback. We absolutely hope to do more stories with HER NAME IS…SAVAGE in the future and continue building that world. Ideally, I’d love to pick up right where the current graphic novel ends — the surprise ending. It would also be fantastic to explore her earlier years. Hopefully, we get to do both.

GVN: You have published “Her name is…Savage” along with PaperMovies and ComixMix. How has that relationship went and do you have any other projects in the works with them or perhaps others? Any you are free to share?

KB: Shane and I are partners in Paper Movies with Jeff Davison and Steven Grant. We could not ask for a better team. To get HER NAME IS…SAVAGE started, I had to pitch Jeff the idea for the greenlight and he was enthusiastically on-board from the get-go. Glenn Hauman at ComicMix has been an awesome partner. He was able to navigate the chaos of COVID and still get the book out their timely and looking great.

With Shane, I’m working on other comic book proposals, as well as various Hollywood endeavors, including a family-friendly podcast that I can’t wait to share. I love that we’re able to work in so many varied genres. We’ve literally gone from a spy-action thriller to a family-friendly podcast and are now working on a horror script. It’s fantastic!

GVN: It looks like we will be getting a lot more from the Paper Movies team. We at GeekVibes look forward to sharing it with our followers when it comes to fruition.

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We thank you again for your time, Katie. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t finish our interview with my tried and true hypothetical for you. So here goes:

You have been proven proficient at writing a full on action story. So much so that you have been offered to give a fresh perspective on any character you wish. Marvel, DC, Image…any single character, female or male in a one-off story. Who might you select and why?

KB: Wonder Woman. Without question. That would be fulfilling a childhood dream. She’s the original female badass. My kids are obsessed with superheroes right now and they’d be floored if I could write her. It’s funny, while writing HER NAME IS…SAVAGE, we mapped out the bones for what could be a great espionage story for Wonder Woman — something that makes perfect sense for the character given her history and duality, but one that we haven’t seen before. Plus, I’d win bonus points with my kids forever.

GVN: That would be pretty cool. You never know. It could happen one day. Keep your hopes alive, Kids. We wish you continued success on Her Name is…Savage and all your future projects. We will be following your career and Paper Movies with great interest, here at Geek Vibes Nation.

If you haven’t had an opportunity, you should check out Her Name is…Savage. Katie and Shane have created a character that holds her own with all the bad ass women out there…or the men for that matter. You can find it where great comic books are sold. If not, ask for it.

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