If that was all Red Sonja was, I wouldn’t want to write about her at all. She’s a lot more than that to me, and to her fans, I’m sure. A thousand imitators showing more flesh have come and gone, and Sonja is still here. [...] But I also think it does a bit of a disservice to lump all male readers together like that, as well. I have found the male readership to be remarkably supportive of great female characters again and again, with Birds of Prey, with Wonder Woman, with Batgirl. I want a Red Sonja that isn’t just a cult title, with every character I love, when I take them over, I want to preach their gospel, I want people to know why I love them so much. Red Sonja kicks a megatonnage of ass, that’s what she does.
— Gail Simone, whose Red Sonja series debuts in July from Dynamite Entertainment, in a Q&A with ICv2
Simone goes on to say she will be changing the character somewhat: “I think she’d gotten a bit omnipotent, and a bit icy, over the years. I want her to be more impulsive and prone to rash judgment.” And she’s going to tinker with Red Sonja’s origin story because “it needs to be reconsidered and retold in a way that’s less about weird gender politics from ages ago.”
The metal bikini, though? That’s gonna stay, apparently. But Dynamite has commissioned regular and variant covers from some of the top female artists in the business, including Colleen Doran, Fiona Staples, Amanda Conner, and Steph Buscema, which opens the door to some interesting interpretations of the character.
Gail Simone has one of the most personable and idiosyncratic voices in comics. It’s why fans follow her in books like Batgirl, Birds of Prey and Secret Six, and it’s how she broke into the comics industry from being a Comic Book Resources columnist. And 2013 is shaping up to be a big year for Simone with the launch of her creator-owned Leaving Megapolis with Jim Califoire, a new Red Sonja series at Dynamite and The Movement at DC Comics (which she spoke about at length Friday with Comic Book Resources), and continuing on her cathartic run on Batgirl.
I reached out to Simone following the Red Sonja announcement to talk to her about that new book, but also her career in general. Her off-again, on-again time on Batgirl has already been covered ad nauseum, and there’s more to her story than that.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the big announcements that came out of this weekend’s Emerald City Comicon, our contributors’ picks for the comics of the week — from Age of Ultron to Al Capp — and the top events to look for in the next seven days (hint: convention season is fully under way).
With the announcement this week that Dynamite Entertainment has acquired the rights to do comic books starring the Shadow, the New Jersey comics company has become the home for a majority of pulp heroes in comics. Although an argument could have been made that DC Comics held that title when it was publishing its now-canceled “First Wave” line, with this latest announcement the Shadow joins other proto-comic heroes like Zorro, the Phantom, Dracula, the Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, Buck Rogers, the Green Hornet and others in Dynamite’s line.
While this isn’t the first time that multiple pulp icons have been under one comic publisher’s roof, it’s by far the most concentrated in some time. Although most weren’t created in comics, pulp characters have a long history bouncing around from numerous publishers over the years. The Shadow, for instance has been published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Archie and even a newspaper strip that’s run off and on through the years — and his pulp brethren can claim similar paths over time.
The notable absences to Dynamite’s de facto pulp line are tied up — or have been until recently — by other publishers. DC’s rights to Doc Savage, the Avenger and Rima The Jungle Girl are currently unknown, while Tarzan resides at Dark Horse, and Moonstone, another pulp-inspired comics publisher, publishes stories about the Spider and the Domino Lady.
But with the potency of Dynamite’s line-up so far, it casts a potentially long shadow (no pun intended) on the comics industry and what’s possible. Imagine a pulp line firing on all cylinders, perhaps even a crossover at some point or even a Justice Society-style team-up.
Update: And today Dynamite announced they’ll be making comics starring another pulp hero, The Spider.
And thus begins what I can guess without even googling are a thousand racy fanfics. But it’s also the premise, more or less, of cartoonist Dave Kiersh’s thoughtful, funny minicomic Amazons, which he’s now posted online in its entirety on his new site Teenage Archive. The strip imagines what life would be like if these pulchritudinous paragons of fierce femininity were to attend high school, navigating the uncharted waters of jocks, nerds, preps, angry teachers, uncaring administrators, and unyielding dress codes.
Kiersh’s About Me blurb on Teenage Archive reads “Afterschool specials and the American dream,” and that pretty much nails what his comics are like: Whimsical yet melancholy explorations of teenage lust, boredom, romance, and desire to escape — and adult desire to return. Amazons is more of a goof than his usual stuff, but underneath the silliness is something true about the way dudes idealize beautiful women and the sense of unattainable freedom and fulfillment these fantasy figures represent. Read it in tandem with Kate Beaton, Carly Monardo, and Meredith Gran’s “Strong Female Characters” for a very different but I think complementary take on the power such images have.
One of the things I love most about conventions is the artists who visit and show off their sketchbooks and draw sketches for people. Even if you don’t attend the convention, you can follow artists’ blogs and see work they did during the con begin to trickle in. With last week’s Baltimore Comic-Con in the rear-view, that’s beginning to happen. Take, for example, Terry Moore, who did a phenomenal drawing of the girls from his Strangers in Paradise series dressed up as Slave Leia from Return of the Jedi.
You can view several additional pieces on his blog, including a Red Sonja and a piece he did for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Our guest this week is Van Jensen, writer of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater. To see what Van and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.