Through comics, criticism and poetry, alumna explores Batman, queerness, death and everything in between
Poet, critic and artist Tiffany Babb ’15 explores the world of pop culture through her poetry, comics and other writing. (Photo: Courtesy of Tiffany Babb.)

Through comics, criticism and poetry, alumna explores Batman, queerness, death and everything in between

Since graduating in 2015 with a degree in comparative literature, Tiffany Babb has made a career out of writing about the things she finds most interesting. [4¾ min read]
ByMeredith McGroarty


  • Tiffany Babb’s cultural roots — from Taiwan and Mexico — sparked her interest in literature that explores cultural differences.
  • As a queer woman, she enjoys looking at art through the lens of gender and sexuality.
  • In her serial comic, All About Me, Babb creates four-panel snapshots pulled from her everyday life.
  • She dabbles in writing comics, but her main focus has been cultural criticism, including reviews of comics.

When looking for inspiration for her recently published poetry collection, writer and artist Tiffany Babb turned to a subject that most Southern Californians view as a backdrop, bland and unthreatening: the weather. Five years ago, she moved from Los Angeles to New York City, which left her fascinated by a sky that was capable of more than endless sunshine peppered with the occasional light shower.

“I think in California, as a child, I’d always kind of imagined the weather as something that was in the background, not something where you had to actively prepare to go outside, or something that prevented you from doing things,” she says. “And then, in New York, poems about the weather started turning into poems about death, which turned into poems about memories of childhood. And that eventually became A list of things I’ve lost.”

The book debuted in December 2021. In its poems, Babb explores the changes in her life, including the death of her father, which occurred when she was still a student at USC.

Babb, who graduated from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature, says she started working on the book while living in New York, where she had moved to attend graduate school. (She received her master’s degree in American studies from Columbia University in 2017 and an MFA from The New School in 2020.) After earning her MFA, she submitted her manuscript to several publishers, with Vegetarian Alcoholic Press ultimately running with it.

Comics and criticism

Although she is a published poet, most of Babb’s writing falls into the realm of nonfiction. Her cultural criticism articles include a feature article on queerness in the classic Jimmy Stewart film Harvey published in Paste magazine, a piece on class consciousness in the 1970s detective television series Columbo published by Neotext Corp and a review of Batman Black and White #1 published in The A.V. Club.

A child of two immigrant families — her mother immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan and her father’s parents came to the country from Mexico — Babb is fascinated by literature that explores cultural differences. And as a queer woman, she is interested in looking at art through the lens of gender and sexuality. When she enrolled at USC Dornsife, she originally majored in political science but ended up transferring to comparative literature because it provided space for cultural analyses.

“In comparative literature, a lot of the focus was on criticism, which intrigued me. Being able to read a story and then write analysis on it or a creative reading about it, that was something that my brain was suited to do,” she says.

At USC Dornsife, Babb took courses in several different genres: science fiction, postcolonial literature, and Shakespeare among them. She also developed an interest in comics as an art form.

“My sophomore year, I went to the comic book store for the first time and thought, ‘This is going to completely change what I’m studying.’ From then on, I think almost every paper I wrote in every class was comics analysis,” she says.

It was while working at Kaya Press, a publisher housed at USC Dornsife’s Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, that Babb discovered she could take her passion and turn it into a career.

“I met professional writers all the time there. I talked to them over dinner and hung out with them, and I realized, ‘Oh, the difference between someone who is a writer and someone who is not is just someone who sits down and writes and takes it seriously,’” she says.

The critic as artist

While studying at Columbia, Babb tried her hand at writing professionally. She reached out to the online journal Women Writing About Comics and began writing critical pieces on comics regularly, and from there she began pitching to other outlets. Although she reviews and comments on a wide variety of comic genres, she’s come to love the more supernatural works.

“If we look at a romance, it’s usually two people falling in love, and a lot of times it’s very rote,” she says. “In horror, you have to find new ways to frighten people, so you tap into people’s fears, their worries — the things they don’t even know they’re scared of. There’s something beautiful about that.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Babb decided to return home to L.A., and she soon found herself itching to do something creative. She started drawing her own comic series, All About Me, a diary comic that provides small observations on life.

In each four-panel set posted to her Instagram account, Babb writes about things both topical, such as the Oscars or Thanksgiving, and perennial, including pet ownership, hot cocoa or Paul Newman.

For now, Babb plans to continue both her professional and personal writing and drawing while she contemplates the next steps of her career.

“I’ll keep drawing comics until it stops feeling useful to me or to others. Fiction is really fun and rewarding, but it may not be my focus. But as for writing in general — I’ll always be writing. That will never stop,” she says.