Interview: Gail Simone on Writing Red Sonja For Dynamite

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Red Sonja 02 200x300 Interview: Gail Simone on Writing Red Sonja For DynamiteGail Simone isn’t exclusive at DC any more.  She’s picked up her first non-DC/Marvel title in a loooooong time in the form of a new Red Sonja series from Dynamite, set to launch in July.

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Fiona Staple’s cover for the revamped Red Sonja

Walter Geovanni joins her as the (interior) artist.  Geovanni’s done Red Sonja interiors in the past, but may be better known as a regular cover artist for the series.  The covers?  The cover rotation is going to female comics artists, so Nicola Scott, Colleen Doran, Jenny Frisson, Stephanie Buscema and Fiona Staples are all mentioned in the announcement.

What’s Simone planning on doing on Red Sonja?  We asked her.

Q: Nick Barrucci is nothing, if not a persistent suitor. There are plenty of stories about him pursuing a creator for a couple years before a project happens. How long was he chasing you and how quickly did Red Sonja come together?

Gail: Nick is indeed a determined fellow! He’s asked about me doing projects in the past but was always very respectful of my DC exclusive, which I’ve had for something like eight straight years. The moment the story got out that my exclusive had ended, Nick was the very first person sending me an email, then LOTS of emails.

But I have to say, I am having a blast with Dynamite. Nick’s taken every possible step to make me feel welcome and it’s absolutely been lovely.

And then, of course, there’s getting to write the original redhead badass slayer!

Q: You worked with some traditional fantasy themes in Wonder Woman, how much of a jump is it going from fantasy adventure in a super hero(ine) setting to fantasy adventure in a more traditional fantasy setting?

Gail: Anyone following my work has probably seen that I love shoe-horning in fantasy and pulp elements into my superhero books. Catman was inspired by Tarzan, the Secret Six went to Skartaris, Wonder Woman met Beowulf and Claw. To be blunt, I love that stuff.

I love the earthy primal quality of it, I love the pulp mythos from people like Lovecraft and Burroughs, and of course, Robert E. Howard.

It seems to me that as we increasingly live in an age guided by tech that was science fiction just a couple decades ago, there’s something willfully punk about telling stories of people in loincloths with swords.

It’s just fun. I keep getting up to write pages at odd hours…because, you know, finally, I get to write this stuff with the genuine article, the best she-barbarian ever created.

Q: When your tenure starts, where will it fit in with Dynamite’s continuity for Red Sonja?

Gail: We start from a position of a clean page, all of that stuff is in her story, but we come at this as if people had never read Sonja at all.

I think Sonja is a character people want to love, but sometimes it feels the history can be daunting. This is very much Sonja coming up out of the fire right at your brain. You don’t need to research anything.

I want to also praise the art…we have some magnificent art in Walter Giovanni, he’s doing spectacular character work, I’m delighted with him. It feels like an artist who really cares about the detail.

And beyond that, we came up with a fun idea that the covers and variants would all be done by top female artists, almost all of whom turned out to be closet Sonja fans. We made a dream list and EVERYONE said they wanted in. I can’t wait for people to see these, they are RIDICULOUSLY gorgeous.

Q: What’s your long game for Red Sonja?

Gail: Really, I would like people to feel her humanity. Even in some of her best stories, Sonja herself can come off a little distant.

I think the fun thing to do with a slayer, a she-devil, is to put them in a situation that is ill-suited to their skills and see what happens. These are situations I don’t think anyone expects in a barbarian comic.

Other than that, epic battles, horrible diseases, flying leeches, arenas, war unicorns, stinky pirates, fish men, mouthy twins, unlikely suitors, bits of Sonja’s origin that we never knew, and a duck. AND the most badass nemesis Sonja’s had to face in ages.

Now I have to put a duck in there. I just liked the way it sounded.

Q: It’s been awhile since you’ve done non-DC work. Should we expect to see more of you at Dynamite than just Red Sonja?

Gail: Nick has made it very clear he’d love to have me do more work for Dynamite, and I’m having such a good time, it’s definitely a possibility. Lord knows I love that pulp stuff!

I hope people give this book a try. It is blood-red, funny, sexy, and sometimes very raw, but there’s some real heroism in it. It’s one of the all-time iconic heroines with a fresh spin. I can’t even explain how much FUN it is.

Just pick it up or I’m sending Red Sonja to your house.

That may actually be the most backfiring threat ever, know that I think about it. Who DOESN’T want Red Sonja to come to their house?

Official Announcement and covers follow:

GAIL SIMONE SIGNS WITH DYNAMITE!
SIMONE TO WRITE ONGOING RED SONJA SERIES!

March 1st, 2013, Mt. Laurel, NJ – Dynamite is delighted to announce that the one and only Gail Simone is taking on RED SONJA with a brand-new #1 issue launching this July – in time for San Diego Comic Con!  Gail Simone – one of the premiere writers in the comics industry, is best known for DC’s Birds of Prey, Secret Six, and especially Batgirl! Walter Geovanni will join her, as the interior artist. Covers will be drawn by some of the top female artists in comics today!  We are extremely fortunate to have Nicola Scott, Colleen Doran, Jenny Frisson, Stephanie Buscema, Fiona Staples on covers, with more high profile female cover artists to be announced!  Fans will definitely want to pick up Gail Simone’s RED SONJA #1 this July!

To help kick off the celebration of Gail’s take on The She-Devil with a Sword, Dynamite is proud to give away, to all Emerald City fans, limited edition prints featuring art from the upcoming Nicola Scott covers!  These limited edition, high-end prints are sure to be highly sought after collectibles, and are being given away to fans for free, as premium prints, to be signed by Gail herself at Emerald City Comic Con, to rev up for the launch in July!

“It’s like this…even most of the best female heroines when I was a kid were pretty polite. What I love about Sonja is that she isn’t polite, she says what she means and if you give her any lip about it, hello, sword in the gut. She’s smart, she has a heart, she has some compassion. But when it’s go time, she’s a hellraiser, a mad general, she’s a sword edge virtuosa, she’s death on wheels. She is the woman you never want to mess with. I can relate, Sonja. No offense to all her guy writers, but THIS Red Sonja is about sex and swords! It’s everything you love about Red Sonja, except with more monsters getting stabbed in the eye.”

“Words can’t even express how excited I am to have Gail Simone, one of the premiere writers in all of comics, write RED SONJA, a character she was born to work on.  Fans will see in the first issue that she really cuts in to the heart of the character :-) ,” says Dynamite Entertainment CEO/Publisher Nick Barrucci.  “I have wanted to work with Gail for years, and it’s incredibly exciting that her first choice in working with us is Sonja.  A strong-willed female with fiery red hair writing about a strong-willed female with fiery red hair – AND A SWORD!  It is a dream come true that this project has finally come to fruition!  Gail and Sonja’s will be the blades that cut the deepest to her enemies chagrin!”

Gail Simone got her start in comics writing for Bongo Comics, home of The Simpsons. Following her time there, Simone entered the mainstream comics world with a run on Marvel Comics’ Deadpool, and later, Agent X. Gail is best known for known for runs on DC’s Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Welcome to Tranquility, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl.

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Comments

  1. Looks pretty cool. I’ve never read a Red Sonja book, but the character looks interesting and I’ll probably give this new series a try. Oh, and I love Fiona Staple’s cover!

  2. Pink Apocalypse says:

    So many conflicting thoughts and emotions over this.

    In theory, I love fantasy heroines. I grew up worshipping Valeria (who starred in a movie with some guy called Conan as her sidekick), which inspired me to become a life-long swordfighter (several different forms). But as a child the movie Red Sonja left me cold. Every time I’ve ever tried to delve into fantasy heroines in comics, I’ve been met with a wall of stupid writing and sexist art.

    I love Gail Simone and usually buy anything with her name on it, but….I don’t know. I am *deeply* skeptical that the interior art won’t veer into off-putting male-gaze crap. A google of Giovanni’s previous work does not inspire confidence.

    It feels excruciating that they didn’t go with someone like Becky Cloonan.
    Using beautiful covers like the one above by Staples won’t ‘trick’ me into a purchase. I actually flip first.

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