The Queen of Sharks: An Interview with Gail Simone Part I

Writing this interview made me almost as nervous as getting the opportunity to sit down with the writer who made me care about superheroes again. For the majority of my comic book reading experience, I had been focusing on independent titles. It wasn’t until I went to Emerald City Comic Con a few years ago and listened to her talk about Wonder Woman that my interest in Gail was tickled. Now, I am an addict. If her name is on it, I will read it. She has the uncanny ability to breathe life into a character, to make us care about them when no one else could.

Gail Simone

What can be said about Gail Simone? She was a hair dresser who studied theatre throughout her years in college with an interest in comic books. It was her website “Women in Refrigerators,” which lists the gruesome attacks on female characters and how many are used as plot devices for their male counterparts in comics, that pulled her into the public eye and brought her into contact with many important people working in the industry.

She began working for Bongo Comics, on several titles based on The Simpsons universe, but it wasn’t long before she entered the realm of mainstream comics with a run on Marvel Comics’ Deadpool. When the series was cancelled, Simone continued with the relaunch under its new title Agent X. After a dispute with Marvel, she moved to DC Comics and was given Birds of Prey (beginning with issue #56). She’s worked on Action Comics, The Legion, Rose & Thorn, Hawk & Dove, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, the 2005 Villains United series in which she brought back Catman. The popularity of that title helped Secret Six (which was suppose to be a mini-series) become one a fan favorite.

For the September Relaunch from DC Comics, Gail is going to be working on: Batgirl and Fury of Firestorm.

Kim: Hi Gail, we’ll start off with the big DC relaunch announcement. Can you tell us about the books that you will be working on and how you were approached to do them?

Batgirl #1

Gail:DC approached me for the Barbara Gordon Batgirl and of course I was very excited. She’s the character that’s probably the closest to my heart in the DC universe. I’ve written for her as Oracle for years, but it’s great that I get to do something a little different with her than what I’ve been doing. It’s a really positive book and I’m very excited about the stories that we’re going to be telling and the way that we’re going to be telling them. All of the characteristics that we love about Barbara Gordon are still there; she’s smart, kicks ass and doesn’t take any crap. The book overall is very joyful, for reasons that will be revealed in the stories themselves. There was just no way that I could ever say ‘No’ to writing for that character.

With Fury of Firestorm, I had been approached several times to write the book and said ‘No’ and that I wasn’t interested. Ethan Van Sciver just kept bothering me though and telling me that I needed to do it. Then, sort of all at once I had all of these ideas about Firestorm and between Ethan and I, we came up with is an amazing story. The book is really about what binds us together and what can tear us apart. We both get to explore these two very relatable characters and what’s it like for them having these powers, essentially the ability to hit the nuclear button at any time and what they will or won’t do with that. We built the story together – it has horror elements and touching family interactions and politics, it’s just full of amazing big stories. The closest thing to compare it to would be the early Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern stories in terms of the scope and the game changer that it is.

Fury of Firestorm #1

Kim:You mentioned the horror element of Fury of Firestorm, and DC has announced a lot of the books are going to cater more to that genre. As someone who’s been working with DC for a while, how do you feel about them taking such a big risk?

Gail: I love it. I have been begging for years to get horror back into the DCU. It’s kind of neat to have the different genres available and from what I’m seeing from the books that fit within the “horror” category, I’m so stoked. I mean, come on.. Scott Snyder on Swamp Thing? Jeff Lemire doing Animal Man? I mean, the list goes on and on. I’ve seen a lot of the artwork for those books and I’m really excited. Yay DC!

Kim: It’s awesome to see that all of the writers and artists are looking forward to the change and being able to work on new projects. Speaking of projects, we all know that you’re going to be working on the two books for the relaunch, but I was wondering if you had any plans for more creator-owned titles in the future, like Welcome to Tranquility – which is one of my favorite series.

Gail: Oh, thank you. I would always love to do more Welcome to Tranquility, which I hope to get to soon. I’d also like to do some straight to digital stuff because I’m really interested in that whole aspect of the medium. There are some things outside of comics that I’m hoping I’ll be able to get to and then Ethan and I actually have a really large project that the pair of us are working on. I’m going to be scripting and he’s going be doing the art and it’s amazing, fantastic and huge. Easily the best work of Ethan’s life, even his own brother has said that, but we’re not allowed to talk about it yet.

Birds of Prey will be relaunched without Simone in September.

Kim:Coming back to the relaunch, how do you feel about other writers taking on the characters that you’re known for breathing life into, known for giving them a purpose and personality in the DCU?

Gail: Well, I feel good about it. We all know that when we work for a company like DC that we don’t own the characters, especially if we haven’t had any part in creating them. It’s actually kind of flattering to see a character that no one cared about being featured prominently. I take it as a compliment that people became interested in the character and DC felt that they could spring up and have a life of their own, or be featured in a new book. I think it’s all a good thing.

Kim: In regards to writing – you’re working on two books for DC, you have articles all over the internet appearing semi-frequently and you have a Twitter account that is constantly active. I’m just wondering how it is that you have the time to get everything done.

Gail: Well, I’m pretty fast, especially with the social media and a lot of times I will sit down and do that really quickly and then get to work, or when I’m taking a break. To be honest, I don’t sleep a lot. I mean, I work seven days a week.

Kim: If you weren’t writing for Batgirl and Fury of Firestorm, which of the 52 titles would you have wanted to be part of?

Gail: Oooooh! I think that I would have wanted to work on one of the horror comics. Probably and just off the top of my head, I’d have to say Swamp Thing, though I’m really excited that Scott (Snyder) is writing it because I get to read and enjoy it as a fan. I like those types of comics and I like writing that weird type of stuff, so that would have been cool.

Interview continues with Part II

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One Comment

  1. Posted August 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, especially how Gail talks about Firestorm as a game-changer for the DC Universe. Looking forward to part two of the interview!

One Trackback

  • By Gail Simone on Firestorm | Firestorm Fan on August 22, 2011 at 3:34 am

    […] interview for GEEKIN’ OUT.  They covered FIRESTORM, BATGIRL, and many other comic topics.  Click here for part one of the interview, then click here for part two.  It’s a great interview and definitely worth your […]

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