Special Edition NYC was a blast and one of the best part of its laid back comic- and fan-centric attitude was that we here at Comic Attack got to ask some of the biggest and best names in comics some important questions about their work and their lives as artists in the industry and beyond. Our first interview was with the incomparable Gail Simone.
Simone is the writer on such titles as Birds of Prey, Deadpool, Welcome to Tranquility, Wonder Woman and most recently the comic adaptation of the rebooted Lara Croft story for Square Enix’s Tomb Raider. We got to pull up a chair and chat about Red Sonja, video games and stereotypes. Give it a read.
Comic Attack: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. So you’re doing Tomb Raider?
Gail Simone: Yes I am! I’m doing twelve issues of Tomb Raider which tells Lara Croft’s story between the first and second game. We’ve been given the chance to slow down a little bit and do some extra character development and Rihanna Pratchett [lead writer for the Tomb Raider game reboot] is coming on for issues seven through twelve as a co-writer. It’s really exciting to be working with her and her tremendous talent and knowledge, moving the story towards the game.
CA: And have you gotten a chance to play any of the most recent Tomb Raider game.
GS: Oh! Are you kidding me? [laughing] This is the craziest story: Dark Horse asked me if I’d be interested in writing the Tomb Raider comic and I said “No, I don’t think so,” but then I went out and bought the game and played the game and I loved it SO much. I could not believe what they had done with that game and the new version of Lara. So I called Dark Horse back and asked if the project was still available and they said “yes”.
CA: I got a chance to play a little bit. I liked how they pulled her back from just being an eye candy version of 90’s action movie clichés…
GS: And her motivations are different too! Which I really like because while I’m a huge fan of classic Lara I really like how the new Lara has a greater interest in knowledge and figuring out how the world works and how things are actually connected as opposed to just “Tomb Raiding”.
CA: She’s not simply a grave robber. She’s an academic.
GS: Yeah, she’s an academic and she’s a little less experienced.
CA: You are also doing Red Sonja. How are you liking the project?
GS: Well if you go and look back at the projects that I’ve done, I’ve snuck in a lot of barbarian story lines. So it’s obvious I love barbarian stories. I really love the blood-stained dirt aspect of it and to write Red Sonja, who is this super kick-ass character and to be able take her and tell these stories that have connections to modern day even though it takes place in her own time is really fun. To tell stories where she’s drunken and telling dirty jokes and wielding her sword and being a really open character…
CA: Because she’s a warrior.
GS: Yes and barbarians don’t have anything to hide and they like their immediate needs met [laughing].
CA: That’s awesome, I mean if she’s going to be a barbarian, she shouldn’t be dainty.
GS: …and the art on the book has been absolutely gorgeous. Walter Giovanni on the interiors has just done incredible work and all the female artists that have done covers for us have been just brilliant in their interpretation of her and what the essence of her is. If you haven’t had the chance to look at those covers you really should because it’s something that has never quite been done before.
CA: Now I’m sure you’ve been asked, “What is it like to be a woman in the male-dominated world of comics,” and I don’t want to retread over old ground but in this new, somewhat more progressive age in the industry do you feel any pressure on you to be more successful at being relevant to women’s issues?
GS: I’ve never looked at it completely like that because at the end of the day you still need to write a compelling story that will attract a diverse audience. I use to get asked that question all the time, “What’s it like to be a female in a male-dominated industry?” but I don’t get asked that much anymore because it’s changed quite a bit and that’s the best thing that’s happened over these last ten years, is that we have such a diverse creator-ship now in the industry. There are a lot more female writers as well as artists, editors, commentators and convention attendees who are participating in the industry and it’s really made a huge difference.
CA: Do you find yourself being in a kind of a more matronly role to these up and coming women writers?
GS: I wouldn’t say “matronly”, I would say supporter-ship because I really like seeing good work, male or female, but when we have these new female creators coming in with their own voices, their own perspectives, things to say that haven’t been said before — that’s what’s exciting to me. That they are gaining their own audiences and moving forward by doing different projects helps it so that women are not pigeonholed as much. Women writers are doing all kinds of books and it’s really tearing down a lot of those barriers and stereotypical ideas about what a woman can and can’t write.
A big thanks to Gail for the wonderful interview and offering up a nice seat to a press bum who’d been doing interviews all day.