Continuing our look at creators interviewing creators, Rob Williams, writer of MISS FURY (volume 1 trade now on sale), talked to Gail Simone about the new LEGENDS OF RED SONJA series, which debuted last week.
ROB WILLIAMS: Why did Red Sonja appeal to you?
GAIL SIMONE: Oh, I think the answer to this can be summed up with one word I just made up.
Seriously, she has a take-no-prisoners approach to life that I like. I’ve seen her written as reserved and calculating, but that’s not the Sonja I write. I write the impulsive, terrifying Sonja who wants what she wants and takes it without asking politely.
RW: The voice of Sonja and the other characters from Robert E Howard's worlds seem so familiar to us after their varied incarnations. How, as a writer, do you ensure you steer the story away from cliche?
GS: The vast majority of the characters I write have been around for decades, and have been written by dozens, if not hundreds, of writers. The goal is to not to re-invent them, the goal is to find new facets, to provide new insights, if possible. It can be a very simple thing, like giving Lady Blackhawk hints of an Oklahoma accent and background, or making Red Sonja a bit of a drunkard. If you do it right, if you do it with conviction and care, then it becomes such an accepted part of the character that many readers forget that it was not always part of their personality.
I love to dig for something that makes you look at a great character with fresh eyes. I much prefer to construct, rather than demolish. I feel like my job is to spotlight what makes Red Sonja wonderful, not my own ego.
RW: What does a female authorial voice on Red Sonja bring to the book, do you think?
GS: I’ve given this quite a lot of thought, and I honestly think that me being female is kind of just a fun aspect of writing the book. I feel like I can make her unapologetically female, in a way that might be more difficult for a dude to get away with…but it’s a minor thing, it’s not a core part of the way I write her.
The other thing is, while a lot of great iconic female characters have suffered with lousy writers, that just hasn’t been the case with Sonja. She has had tremendous writers, regardless of gender. Some of my favorite guys; Mike Oeming, Eric Trautmann, Mike Carey, I mean, I’m not being polite, they killed on the book. They did right by her in every way.
What I am trying to bring, maybe, is just a different perspective. It’s not like I have to ‘fix’ what they did, as is sometimes the case. They did great stories, some of the best sword and sorcery comics ever.
GS: Oh, yeah, that was just a dream come true. Red Sonja was having a 40th birthday celebration and we were discussing what to do to party, and I came up with the idea of inviting the best female writers from prose, comics, and other media, and thankfully, Dynamite said yes, immediately, for which I love them forever.
Everyone on the list was hand-picked by me, every one was a writer who inspires me, whose work challenges and delights. You know that feeling when you go to the ice cream shop and they have all your favorite flavors? That’s what this was like, and they all said yes, immediately.
So it’s stories by Devin and Nancy, and Mercedes Lackey, Nicola Scott, Meljean Brook, Tamora Pierce, Rhianna Pratchett, Leah Moore, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Blair Butler and Marjorie Liu. Honest to god, it’s thrilling, because no one will likely ever be able to put together that line-up again. And they all KILLED on their stories, all in a framing story that I wrote myself. It was sheer joy to do.
RW: What can we look forward to in future Red Sonja issues?
GS: After the Queen of Plagues epic, we have six single issue stories that form one larger saga, as Red Sonja has to chase down the greatest artisans and swordsmen for a king’s party. It’s fun, lusty, and violent all at the same time and we’ll see aspects of Sonja that have never been shown before.
I’m having a blast, and I hope the readers will as well!
Join the fun! LEGENDS OF RED SONJA #1 and MISS FURY VOL 1: ANGER IS AN ENERGY are both now on sale.