Insights for Non Artists:
Remembering Hilary J. Bader
Over the course of
my still-evolving career, I've written tributes to two of the
greats of the business, William Hanna and Chuck Jones. Never did
I envision I would be doing a remembrance article to someone whom
I'd interviewed personally so early on in this venture. In October
of 2002, animation lost one of its foremost female action-adventure
writers, Hilary J. Bader, to breast cancer at the age of 51. Hilary
became one of my first interview subjects, and among a select
few where I did not have any prior relationship. This loss impacts
me profoundly as a woman, an animation fan, and an animation professional.
Hilary J. Bader's best-known
works to the animation community tie to SUPERMAN and various BATMAN-themed
shows for Warner Bros. Her early works included scripts for the
BATMAN/SUPERMAN ADVENTURES, and she would later go on to write
many scripts for BATMAN BEYOND, as well as THE ZETA PROJECT. Hilary
also wrote for animation-related venues such as the BATMAN BEYOND
comic book and the GOTHAM GIRLS webisodes at Warner Bros. website.
I remember the first
time I saw Hilary; it was San Diego Comic-Con International 2001.
Unfortunately, I don't recall exactly how I first noticed her;
I believe someone else I knew sat down to talk to her and said,
"Hello, Hilary" while we were waiting for a panel to
start. What I do remember, much clearer, are the feelings upon
realizing the person I saw was Hilary J. Bader -- kind of a mix
of awe and excitement. Though I count several of the foremost
female animated writers amongst my friends and mentors (Christy
Marx, Katherine Lawrence), Hilary was the first one that really
grabbed my attention as a prominent writer of the Warner Bros.
action shows. At first, I felt that I would never be able to approach
Later during the convention,
at a professional mixer, I saw Hilary again and got the nerve
to go speak to her. She graciously spent time with me, with images
that remain clearly in my mind. Towards the end, I asked her if
she would be willing to do a mini-interview with me at a website
I wrote monthly articles for (the one I was at before I came to
DIGITAL MEDIA FX) regarding writing animation for the Internet,
as Hilary was a well-known name writing for a venue that seemed
to be staying steady when many other websites folded. Hilary agreed,
and we exchanged business cards. As soon as I got home I started
formulating the questions to email her for the interview. Because
the field of writing animation for the Internet was so new, focusing
the questions proved to be a real challenge given my space restrictions,
especially since I didn't want to limit Hilary's answers. I'm
glad I took that kind of time so that she could answer those questions
candidly and in detail.
The last time I exchanged
any words with Hilary came in an email from mid-September of 2002.
I had a project I was working on involving the use of my older
columns, and I wrote to Hilary making sure she consented to my
reuse of the interview for the project. Her response: "No
prob. Use with my blessing." I did not know of the struggle
she faced; the news of her death less than a month later proved
to be a blow.
I know I did not get
to know Hilary as well as many people in the industry did. But
I am so thankful that I found the courage that day at Comic-Con,
that I got the chance to talk with her. Most of all, I'm humbled
by the idea that I captured and preserved part of her insights
to remain after she's no longer here to share.
In previous columns,
I've encouraged readers to network and get to know others in the
field. This time, I implore them. If the opportunity arises to
talk to someone you've wanted to speak to, reach out and grab
it. Don't think that you'll try the next time, when it's easier
or more convenient or you're braver; there may never be a next
time. That doesn't mean to be rude and run everyone over at all
costs to do it, but certainly don't cop out. What insight you
may grab then, from that one encounter, may serve you well for
years to come. And, things don't work out positively, at least
you can say you tried and never look back with regret for missing
Hilary J. Bader brought
a wit and wisdom to the Batman and Superman mythos that will be
missed by many. I know I will miss her as a writer, and simply
for being her.
here to discuss this column in the dFX
is known in the animation industry for her work as a production
coordinator for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. She also served as
a Production Coordinator for Extreme Ghostbusters and a Production
Assistant for Jumanji: The Animated Series. Muir is an accomplished
writer and often participates on panels or as a guest speaker
at conventions like Comic Con International. Muir moved to Los
Angeles in 1996 from Cheney, WA (population approximately 8,000),
knowing she wanted to be part of the animation business. Since
then, she's never strayed far from making that dream reality,
whether it be actively working on a production or writing articles
about the industry.
You can email
Shannon Muir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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