Red Sonja is not someone you'd want to mess around with. Unless you had a death wish. Her regular on-going series has recently reached its 60th issue. In today's market, that's a huge milestone, especially considering the title centers on a female character, something we're sometimes told doesn't work.
With those sixty issues under her belt, she is far from finished with her never-ending battle. We talked to writer, Eric Trautmann to find out a little more about what makes Red Sonja tick.
Comic Vine: Red Sonja Just celebrated her 60th Issue, what's next for her?
Eric Trautmann: A lot of tying together seemingly unlinked plots from my run—the Brythunian merchant she works for in issue 60 is the same one who encountered Sonja in issue 55, for example. That's part of the fun of a long run, taking supporting characters and building them out a bit.
Starting in issue #61, Sonja's travels move her deeper into Stygia, which is not a very nice place. Ancient magic, strange rituals, deadly intrigues—just another day in the office.
Sonja's in a period of wandering, trying to put the disaster of Persemhia (from issues #51-55, collected in Red Sonja, Vol. 9: War Season) behind her, but the past has a habit of catching up with her. Some unresolved matters from War Season will be dealt with, including the fate of Persemhia's exiled princess, Yazmina, and a cursed artifact—the Horn of Nergal.
After that, Sonja's travels will carry her and her allies to the east, into Khitai (Robert E. Howard's Hyborian-age take on Asia/Japan), something I'm very eager to write.== TEASER ==
CV: What works better for the character, single or shorter arcs or are there plans for a longer arc?
ET: I tend to like shorter, punchier arcs, though the one I'm completing now is probably the longest I've done. My preference is to take these shorter arcs and tie them together so they make a continuous hole. The events I'm wrapping up now, in Stygia, is a capstone to what started as a four-issue arc in War Season.
CV: What keeps Red Sonja motivated? How long will she continue her journey?
ET: A good chunk of my run has dealt--albeit obliquely--with that very question. I think her primary motives are simple: survival, personal enrichment, and a desire to not lead an ordinary life; she's an action junkie.
Beneath the surface, though, I think she's probably driven by a combination of survivor's guilt and a nearly-bottomless anger. If a quest for action is the engine that drives her, anger is probably the fuel.
I don't have a "last Sonja story" in mind, though in Howard's Hyboria, lives tend to be short. I guess what would end her journey is death, and she'd go down fighting.
As for how long she'll continue her journey? I have bare bones plots worked out in my head or on paper covering maybe as many as 50-80 issues or more. In many ways, Sonja feels like a character I was, if I can use this cliché phrase, born to write, which came as a tremendously pleasant surprise to me when I started. So, hopefully, those adventures will continue for a long, long time.
CV: Now that you've been writing both Red Sonja and Vampirella for a while, have you given any thoughts to how a crossover between the two would play out?
ET: Not seriously, no. A very careful reader might spot an extremely oblique reference to the first Vampirella arc I wrote in Red Sonja #60, but I'm not sure how a more traditional crossover would work.
Give me time, though. I'm sure I could come up with something.
CV: Because Red Sonja won't settle down and is always in battle after battle, where does she get her metal bikinis? You have to assume they'd get a little damaged after some battles. Does she own more than one pair? Does she get the one repaired? Are they custom made?
ET: All of the above?
That's why she fights for money: to make sure she always has a sword, a horse, and armor. I assume she has more than one change of clothes; most people do.
It's funny you bring up the armor. I've actually done away with the "bikini" for a while — my run starts earlier in Sonja's timeline, prior to her first appearance in Marvel's Conan The Barbarian from around '71. So, I put her in the chainmail "byrnie" as a visual signifier that we'd gone back.
Over the course of War Season, she upgrades her armor a few times — and I do have some visual reference stashed away, a design for a suit of plate mail that Sonja would look amazing in, that I hope to get around to eventually.
I would think, too, that at this point, Sonja's pretty good at maintaining and repairing her own weapons and armor (though you make a good point; I should probably show her doing that).
That said, the "bikini" makes a return around issue #62 for four or five issues. Sonja's traveling in a desert, so less restrictive armor made a certain amount of sense. The tunic/byrnie (and probably some new armor designs) will show up when she moves on to Khitai.
RED SONJA #61 is on sale in January. Check out these pages from issues #60 and 61.