Gail Simone is one of my favorite people in comics. Her work is always interesting and entertaining, and she delivers a great interview, as you’ll see below.
Jason Sacks for Comics Bulletin: You’ve been busy. You have a lot of projects coming out.
Gail Simone: I do, yeah.
CB: How was it doing a Kickstarter project?
Simone: That was amazing because Jim did a lot of the work, which he did a fantastic job. He has that kind of brain that likes details and sorting out details. It works good.
CB: It ended up doing really well.
Simone: Yeah, it did.
CB: Are you thinking of doing that kind of thing again?
Simone: I may do that kind of thing again in the future, but I don’t know if it will be super soon. I’m involved with other people’s Kickstarters, providing content stuff. What we decided to do with the second volume of Leaving Megalopolis is have Dark Horse publish it without doing the Kickstarter first. So it’s going to come out weekly and then be collected.
Because people were like, “What happens next?” And that was the quickest way that we could figure we could get the material out.
CB: Do you feel like you got different publicity from doing the Kickstarter than you would otherwise get?
Simone: I think that we gained some audience that wasn’t a typical comic audience, which is always a good thing when you bring new people in. So I think so. There was a lot of our audience from Secret Six in particular that were trying it out. But there were a lot of people that helped fund it that were not from comics, which I thought was extraordinary.
CB: I know that’s important to you to expand the base.
Simone: I like expanding the space. I like bringing new people in to try the stuff that I love so much and it usually will lead to them trying something else if they like what they read the first time.
CB: So we have a limited amount of time, so I want to ask you the thing that I most wanted to ask you. I’m writing a book about comics in the 1990s. I’m currently writing about 1994 and Kyle Rayner and his girlfriend being trapped in the refrigerator. Obviously in an odd way that was a launching pad for your career. When you look back at that era and the way that women were treated in comics and then thinking where we’re now, how do you think things have changed?
Simone: Oh, I think there has been amazing change. I think the trend, we were kind of coming out of it in the late ’90s and early 2000s when I was entering into the industry, but there still was some. It used to be literally when I first came into the industry, I asked one of the people at one of the top two companies what percentage of their audience was female. And they said, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
That was evident by the material that was being put out. They didn’t feel that they, number one, had a female audience. And, number two, they didn’t seem interested in trying to gain a female audience, which was very puzzling to me because in any industry, why would you want to eliminate fifty percent of your potential market?
Simone: So if you want to talk about the business side, it just didn’t make sense to me. Then on the other side, this is such a wonderful way to tell stories and to communicate with other people, people of all ages from all over the world, people from different walks of life. Why wouldn’t you want to open it up and tell some different kinds of things to attract a different audience or a larger audience? So I think it has changed tremendously.
The creatorship and material are so much more diverse now. And we have so many amazing female creators that are inspiring a new creators and readers. It’s a dream come true. We have the Valkyries, which are the female retailer group. I didn’t even dream hardly that that could happen when I first started. And now that we have that it’s like a dream come true. You can’t deny how many female participants are in the industry from creator to business to executive, all throughout.
CB: It’s amazing writing about the early nineties. Obviously that’s twenty or twenty-five years ago now. It was such an old boys network and such a boys club. The guys who made it big in the early days of Image were all guys. And almost everyone who worked at Valiant were men. All the high rollers were men. It seems like the industry has really changed in a deep way these days.
Simone: Well, yes it has. Obviously DC Comics, the president is female, Diane Nelson. You feel that influence. It’s not to exclude anyone or to exclude any particular group. Some people feel like, “Oh, we have all these new creators. It’s going to take something away from what we love.” That’s not the point at all. It’s just open it up. When you start talking about markets that are in a different country and you don’t see any comic books with let’s say Asian heroes, it just doesn’t even make sense anymore.
I’m excited by it. I’m excited by the audience. I’m excited by the potential that it gives it for storytelling. I just got back from Mexico City, where I had no clue what the industry and the market or anything was like there. I was so delighted to see comics being sold on all the street corners, in major department stores, drugstores. Everywhere they were buying comics, American comics of all kinds. That was really exciting and eye-opening.
CB: I had never heard that.
CB: I didn’t realize it was such a big thing there. So you’re writing a strong female lead character with Red Sonja. How is the Red Sonja versus Conan series going for you, collaborating with Jim Zub on that?
Simone: It’s amazing, so much fun, and such an honor to be able to do a team-up of Conan/Red Sonja. It hasn’t happened in years. It’s a natural thing I would think. And then to be able to tell this epic story with a great co-creator/co-writer is amazing.
CB: Do you have an upcoming series that you are especially looking forward to either getting out there or writing?
Simone: Well, we got a little bit of a start on the new Super Six series. And then Convergence is happening. And then in June, Secret Six comes out strong with issue three. And then going forward I’m very excited about that. It’s very different. Still really quirky and weird and pushing the edges of what mainstream comics can be. And then also I have a new Vertigo series coming out called Clean Room in the fall.
Jim Calafiore and I are working on the second volume of Leaving Megalopolis, which is coming out through Dark Horse. And I’ve got big crossover at Dynamite with the women of Dynamite characters called Swords of Sorrow, which I’m so excited about. Everything getting turned in by the writers and the artists is amazing. It’s a huge story.
CB: That sounds like a fun project.
Simone: Yeah, it really is. It’s a project that I dreamed of. I always wanted to do a crossover, and to be able to do a crossover with all of these fantastic female characters. Basically they get mashed into different worlds. So we see Vampirella in the mouth of a T-Rex. It’s so fun. It’s so fun.
CB: When you come up with these story beats, how do you decide what you want to include in your stories? How do you pump these things out?
Simone: Ideas are not usually the problem for me. I have to calm my brain down sometimes. But to be able to think about an epic story like this, we’re dealing with numerous writers and artists and getting all of those puzzle pieces to fit together and I’m writing overarching story. It’s kind of a different way of working for me because I’m not usually in an editorial type position, which I’m not editing these, but I’m overseeing all the pieces. And I like that. I like being I guess you would call it a project manager type position. I enjoy that a lot. I can’t wait until people see it because it’s amazing.