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Interview: Gail Simone and Nancy Collins on LEGENDS OF RED SONJA

There's a new Red Sonja miniseries written by some of biggest female writers. We talked to a couple of them and give you a first look at the interiors.

Red Sonja kicks butt. That should be pretty clear. With Gail Simone taking on the regular series, the idea came to do another mini-anthology series. Simone will be involved but so will several of today's top female writers.

To find out more about the series, we had the chance to ask Gail and Bram Stoker Award Winner, Nancy A. Collins a few questions to find out what RED SONJA means to them.

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Comic Vine: How did you become involved in this project?

Gail Simone: Well, I am currently writing the monthly ongoing Red Sonja title, and having a blast. We had this fun idea, what if all the covers and variants were done by female artists? And it was just a smash, it really caught people's imaginations.

So I just thought, hey, what if we could do the same thing with female writers? Grab a bunch of the best from different media, give them some great artists, and tie all their short stories together with an even bigger story?

That's fun stuff, I can't think of anything QUITE like it having been attempted in mainstream comics. There are lots of anthologies, lots of female writers, I can't think of any anthologies with all female authors in a braided format like this. It's a blast.

We got talent like Tamora Pierce, Nancy A. Collins, Mercedes Lackey, Leah Moore, Rhianna Pratchett, Blair Butler, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marjorie M. Liu, I mean, we loaded this ship with serious firepower and we all had a grand party celebrating the worlds toughest redhead swords mistress.

Nancy A. Collins: Gail invited me to participate in the event. I've known Gail for years--even back before The Women In Refrigerators--and was eager to join in.

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CV: What does Red Sonja mean to you?

GS: I think she's hell on wheels, I think she's just a fun ass-kicking type of character, the kind that I got into comics for in the first place. I adore her.

NAC: Red Sonja was my introduction to heroic fantasy & the world of Robert E. Howard. She was the reason I picked up and bought CONAN THE BARBARIAN #23, back in 1973, which was the first Conan comic I ever read. I remember being excited at the time because she was one of the few female characters in comics at the time who was portrayed as being as competent in the ass-kicking department as her male counterpart. That was *very* rare back then.

CV: What is her greatest strength in your opinion?

GS: There's something very appealing about someone who doesn't give a damn what anyone else thinks.

NAC: Red Sonja's greatest strength is her self-confidence in her physical ability to get herself out of tough spots. The gal's not plagued by self-doubt.

CV: What faults, if any, might she have during battle?

GS: During battle, I don't know, skin rash, maybe?

Seriously, she talks about this in an upcoming issue. She is such a virtuosa fighter that she can calculate who is going to live and die in a battle before it even starts. I think that's tough on her, she doesn't want innocent people killed or wounded. That is distracting, as well. It's the hero's dilemma, people she cares about can be used against her.

NAC: Besides her armor? Probably her reach and upper-body strength. But I can tell you, from personal experience, that DDs get in the way. Especially in regard to archery.

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CV: At what point in her 'career' will you focus on?

GS: This is what is so amazing. The idea is that a team of brutal mercs are chasing Sonja, and along the way, people keep telling them stories about the She-devil. So the stories are from different ages. We get to see a wide range of stories. Legends, really!

This first issue has me, the great Devin Grayson, and the wonderful Nancy A. Collins, with art by Jack Jadson, Carla Speed McNeil, and Noah Salongah, it looks amazing.

NAC: I'm focusing on the earlier part of her 'career'--when she was a thief--which ties in with her first appearance in CONAN THE BARBARIAN, 40 years ago.

CV: What can you tell us about your particular story?

GS: I have kind of a fun job, I get to weave all these tales together. I came up with the skeleton, the frame upon which all these wonderful stories are hung, and the main story, the killer mercs tracking down Sonja, weaves in and out of the short tales, so in the end, it's like a novel of connected, really REALLY fun short stories.

Basically, a certain king thinks Sonja has committed treason (she has!) and he hires the worst scum from every part of Hyborea to go FiND her so she can be tortured and executed.

But Sonja is hard to find, when she doesn't want to be found.

NAC: Mine's called "The Eyes of the Howling God" and it was written as a salute to the old black & white SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN magazine stories. It's drawn by the very talented Noah Salonga, who fans will recognize from his outstanding work on other Red Sonja titles from Dynamite Entertainment.

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CV: Were there any guidelines in coming up with the plot of your story or were you able to simply cut loose?

GS: It was my idea, Dynamite were on board immediately. They are terrific to work with.

NAC: Gail asked me to whip up something that would touch on my strengths as a horror/dark fantasy writer. So the story combines both heroic fantasy and horror elements--not unlike Robert E. Howard's original stories in WEIRD TALES.

CV: What's your favorite thing about Red Sonja?

GS: I am TEMPTED to say her hair, but really, it's all about the attitude. There have been a thousand Sonja imitators who have come and gone.

Sonja's still around and as cool as ever.

It's the attitude.

NAC: The girl's not afraid to party.

LEGENDS OF RED SONJA is a five-issue miniseries beginning in November. Stay tuned as we may hear from more of these talented ladies!