Part two of Dark Horse’s Conan/Red Sonja talk at Emerald City Comicon concludes with co-writer Gail Simone! If you haven’t read part one with Jim Zub, I strongly encourage you to do so on pain of death! That I will somehow accomplish through the internet…once I’ve mastered magic? Okay, just know that the interview with Jim Zub is fantastic as well. Gail was lovely to talk to and it’s always great getting her insights on the comic book world and how much we’ve grown as a community.
Fun fact: The Dark Horse booth was across from the ECCC equivalent of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H, so there were times during the interview where, after I asked a question, there would be a swell of cheers coming from the room as if the audience was showing their approval. So know that my confidence was running high from all that.
Also, look out for the special guest appearance by Dark Horse’s Publicity Coordinator, Steve Sunu. Hi, Steve!
Author’s Note: All italics and parentheses have been added for emphasis and clarification.
Gail Simone: Okay, great.
MG: He had a lot of glowing things to say about you. So, you wanna give us the real story about working with Jim Zub?
GS: Yeah, the real story is quite amazing. I haven’t done work with co-writers too often but when I have they’ve been really great ones and Jim has been really great. It was so fun when we first started talking about, “Well what do we want to do?” We’ve got four issues and this type of a team-up hasn’t happened in forever. It’s very exciting, we’re both very excited about it. So it has to be epic!
GS: And so then we started thinking about what would be epic and we decided to tell a story that spans a lot of time. And so, ya know, we write our separate pages and then we both go over each others pages. And I think it worked very well, I think it’s very seamless and makes a really exciting, fun story. I’ve known him for years, he’s a great person, he’s a great writer, he’s a great collaborator. So it was great. And then when the art started coming in and it’s so fantastic, it’s so gorgeous and people have been coming up to my table all convention and telling me how gorgeous and how much they love the art and how excited they are about the story so I think we hopefully hit our goal with it.
MG: I read the third issue right before the con so I’m all caught up with the bloodroot and everything. I was asking Jim about the idea of legacy and storytelling because each issue is narrated by a…is it a vizier? A teacher and the young prince?
MG: What does legacy mean to you in terms of these stories?
GS: Well, this is a character that’s been around a long time and people, some people, are familiar with her stories, some people aren’t but they still know who Red Sonja is for one reason or another; whether it’s a movie or an old comic or just seeing art and material out there they seem to know who she is. And that’s kind of a really cool thing. And then when you can take modern themes and use them with legacy characters and set them in a totally different and unfamiliar time period – I love that mixture of being able to be kind of current with the themes and the thought processes and the actions of the characters but the setting’s a completely different time.
MG: What do you feel is Red Sonja’s arc? In the Dynamite series but also in this one?
GS: She has a couple different things going on. The first arc was kind of more about how she became who she is and what formed her into the great warrior that she is and the second arc was more about “Do you still have friends and friendships and contacts and things when you become this person?” And then the third story arc that takes us through issue 18 is more about…emotion. It’s a lot more deeply emotional story than the other two arcs so she has a really strong emotional arc that she takes.
MG: And when you say that, talking about Sonja’s arc with “can you keep friends and be this person still?” It reminds me of how we are in general; we grow, we become a different person. Especially women in these [nerd culture] industries.
GS: Well I think, too, there’s something to be said about when you become the best at what you do, then when you take a look around – who’s left? Who’s still standing with you or beside you? And sometimes that can be lonely and sometimes you can fall into really good friendships that are equal.
Steve Sunu: Sorry, Sam, just about two more questions.
MG: Okay, yeah. [to Gail] Next question: What was your favorite metaphor that you used as a descriptor for Red Sonja or for Conan?
GS: [laughs] Oh my gosh! Favorite metaphor? I don’t know. The thing – there is some metaphors but the thing that I like most about writing the Red Sonja character is that it’s pretty straight forward. It’s pretty grounded, it’s pretty filthy and bloody and sexy and all those things. I think that – in the second arc where she’s having trouble getting with somebody, nobody wants to be with her and she can’t quite figure out why or what to do about it. I think that – I wouldn’t say that’s a metaphor but I do think it’s something a lot of people do go through and could relate to. At least they’re telling me that online that they could really relate to her current problem. So I enjoyed telling that story. It was humorous but also it was still a little painful.
MG: And last question: Who’s the best Monkee?
GS: [laughs] Who’s the best monkey? Hmmm, the best monkey…? I don’t know. Gorilla Grodd, right?
MG: [laughs] Well I mean Monkees like the band.
GS: Oh the band? The Monkees?! Oh no!
GS: I am. Michael Nesmith. [laughs]
MG: [laughs] Yeah, no, I agree! I’m all there with you.
GS: I hate to say it –
MG: No, don’t hate!
GS: If I was going to have to pick one it would be him.
MG: All those Davy [Jones] fans, “NO, Gail! Curse you!”
GS: Gotta go with the lyrics.
MG: That’s right. The guy with the hat. Thank you so much, Gail. I appreciate the time you’ve given me. It’s all great. I love reading your work. I read [Now Leaving] Megalopolis as well. So fantastic.
MG: I’m looking forward to all your new stuff that’s coming out.
GS: Me too. I can’t wait until it starts coming out.
MG: And is there going to be Nightwing butt in Convergence? You gonna have just like one shot – “NIGHTWING BUTT!”
GS: [sing-song] There’s some cute Nightwing stuff!
MG: [sing-song] Okay! Thank you so much!
GS: Thank you.