At the MCM London Expo, Alex Fitch interviewed Batgirl and Fury Of Firestorm writer Gail Simone as she gave us all manner of insight into her work.
This included the headline that she will be writing a DCU book concerning teenage superheroes, which will involve a story that she wanted to do in Birds Of Prey before the relaunch happened.
Gail also talked about coordinating a storyline with Batman writer Scott Snyder, set across Gotham.
And that the future of Welcome To Tranquility may involve DC… which presumably also means that there’s a possibility it may not.
Alex asked about her transition from writing comedy books like The Simpsons to more serious, darker books. She explained that it was no different from moving from a hairdresser to a comedy columnist, then to a comedy comics writer, each step felt weird as the way people perceived her changed. She was hired on Deadpool because Joe Quesada wanted her to make the character as funny as he used to be, but she certainly told dark stories in that book, and its sequel Agent X.
Gail misses writing her CBR column where she pokes fun at comics, but feels that it’s just not right to do it when she worked inside comics. When writing the column, she “made it all up just to be funny” and didn’t want people to think that what she was writing was based on anything, and anyone, else.
Her sense of the ridiculous was explored by Alex, especially in Birds Of Prey, a fight scene that takes place in male strip club, that was both violent and faintly ridiculous. Gail believes that there’s no better place for this juxtaosition to occur than in comic books. She likes to break the violence with humour, but also vice versa, to mix it up as much as possible. And that she loves writing comics because you can do things differently than in other media.
Gail talked about her freedom on the comics she writes, specifically giving Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Secret Six as examples, the latter specifically giving her reign to push further into darker themes.
I have freedom Batgirl, Wonder Woman, secret six… Was allowed to push hat further, darker themes, that’s the long I loved about doing that book. But she also revealed that she did not know about the DC Relaunch until very late in the day. She talked about how she was initially very skeptical about the relaunch, citing the Lois and Clark marriage, but that the upside is that “now we have a Lois that can be a strong character on her own” and she seems keen to write her.
Talking about Fury of Firestorm, she didn’t mention rumours about her leaving the book after issue 6, but did talk about how she got into the heads of writing two teenage boys at odds. “I’ve had a great time doing it, I have a son, he was a teenager, I have brothers, my son had friends, my husband was a teenage boy. I like writing different characters, look at the body of my work, you’ll see different characters, ages, sexes, ethnicity… I’ve tried to write comics and projects that will appeal to a wide audience, and bring newer readers in who may not read typical comics.” She expresses the view that it’s crazy the industry wasn’t trying more to get to fifty percent of their potential audience.
As to certain sexual scenes in her work, she blames much of it on Nicola Scott, requesting as many topless Catman shots to draw, as well as a certain Nightwing view from behind. “It’s giving traditional comic fans a taste of their own medicine. Not a lot of that has been done in mainstream comics. And the women can make these characters sexy.”
Gail describes Catman was a DC villain for Secret Six that no other editor at DC was able to say no to, and how design artwork of him posing like Tarzan was what won him a position on the team
Gail also expressed great appreciation for the Secret Six cosplayers at the show, that the Ragdoll cosplayer was an actual contortionist and that Bane stayed in character throughout the show.
As to the criticism certain DC titles have received of hypersexualising characters, Gail asked the audience to look to a range of lead female characters across the new DCU, and when it comes to female creators, to look to the planned second wave and third wave of titles for some very positive trends. But also that she doesn’t think it’s such a bad idea to have such a range of characters across the DCU, an a highly sexualised Catwoman is not exactly out of character for the… character
She also promised that the secret to Barbara Gordon’s recovery will be covered at some point in the book, and that while writing Birds Of Prey, it was a storyline she resisted a number of times despite editorial pressure with Green Lantern rings and Zatanna amongst the suggested solutions. But she did insist that there was a recovery, that the wheelchair was in Barbara’s history and specifically that The Killing Joke happened.
Gail also confirmed the suspicions of one fan that her Wonder Woman stories had laid the groundwork for a much grander storyline… but just because she didn’t get too tell it in that book, doesn’t mean she won’t one day in the future…