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Exclusive Interview: She-Devil with a Sword: Gail Simone staying on Red Sonja

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Contributing Editor
created 03/31/2014 - 10:24pm, updated 04/01/2014 - 8:13am

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Although Dynamite Entertainment just today formally announced that writer Gail Simone was extending her critically acclaimed run on its Red Sonja comic, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer was already exclusively working behind-the-scenes during the Emerald City Con to get the scoop on this issue.

Discussing her best-selling run, Simone and Brewer talk everything from female characters (and writers!) to working for Dynamite and what makes the She-Devil with a Sword (Sonja, that is) such a great character to write.

Cosmic Book News: Gail, when we first interviewed you about doing Red Sonja for Dynamite, we discussed the seeming phenom of more women writers and more women characters in comics. Is that something that you see continuing in the industry?

Gail Simone: Oh, yeah, definitely...there was a little span of time where the female writers before me had left comics, and I felt very oddball showing up over and over again as the only female writer on superhero panels, and the only female guest at cons. I can't even express how happy I am to not only see people like Kelly Sue DeConnick and Marjorie Liu and more coming into the industry, but some of my favorites like Devin Grayson, Christy Marx and Nancy Collins are coming back after a long absence. It's lovely. It was a dream of mine for a long time, now it's happening.

CBN: Why do you love doing a character like Red Sonja?

Gail Simone: I like that she's earthy and bawdy. She wants a haunch of meat and about twenty ales and three jugs of wine and maybe a good scrap once in a while. I write a lot of characters like Batgirl, who live in their own heads a great deal. Sonja lives in the moment, in the exact spot where she's standing. She changes history waking up in the morning. She's just a blast, she's in my heart now.

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CBN: What was it about this book that made you want to extend your run?

Gail Simone: Well, a lot of it is how Dynamite treats both myself and the book, to be honest. Dynamite has been open to some pretty wild ideas and we all took those risks together. It's a joy seeing so many people discover Sonja for the first time, especially people who don't usually buy Dynamite, or sword and sorcery comics.

But it's also simply a matter of having one of the most charismatic and wildly entertaining lead characters in comics. Simply put, I'm not done with her yet, and she's clearly not done with me.

CBN: Was there a certain story you felt you had left uncompleted with Sonja, or are there numerous arcs that you have waiting for our She-Devil with a Sword?

Gail Simone: We did a pretty serious first arc, the second is more fanciful. In our third arc, it's several connected stories where I get to do the most fun part of these books ... monsters! It's full of creepy crawlies, and a real theme about forgiveness.

CBN: Are there any new foes for Sonja that you are excited about  in your extended run? Any old big-bads returning?

Gail Simone: Not telling ... but yes and YES.

CBN: Why do you think your particular version of Red Sonja has caught on so well with the readership?

Gail Simone: I want to be careful here, because I don't want to give the wrong impression, but a lot of sword and sorcery comics in the past have tended to be a bit alienating. You know, first page is a map and some dull narration about the fallen empire of Wienerstan. I wanted to try to incorporate that stuff in a more organic way.  And I want to present Sonja as a woman with bad manners and many other flaws. I think people know we are all having a blast, and it shows in the book. It's a labor of love.

And I also have to say, SO much of the credit has to go to the art team. It's Walter Giovani just nailing it every issue, topping himself time and again. Great colors by Adriano Lucas and perfect lettering by Simon Bowland, it's just an amazing looking book every time.

And the covers are just a feast, we got the best female artists anywhere, all my favorites, and they have just gone wild with Sonja.

There are a ton of good comics out there, but I think people can feel the love in this book.

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CBN: In a dream scenario, is there any artist you would like to work with on a Red Sonja book or any author with whom you would like to co-write Sonja?

Gail Simone: Well, that's the thing, I HAD all those dreams, and we went out and did them! We got covers by Colleen Doran, Amanda Conner, Becky Cloonan, just on and on and on, and then we did Legends of Red Sonja with a virtual Who's Who of all my favorite female authors, some who had never done comics before. My dreams have already come true in a big way.

And honestly, I am so happy working with Walter that I can hardly ask for more.

CBN: When comic collectors and enthusiasts look back on your run of Red Sonja a decade from now, what would you hope they would say about it? And you?

Gail Simone: I would hope they would say, damn, that redhead is badass.

And Sonja's pretty cool, too!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank the fantastically busy Gail Simone for taking time during the madness of the Emerald City Con to answer our questions. Thanks to Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

 

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