“The Original Pitch Basically Red Sonja Vs Kang The Conqueror” – Frank Tieri Talks Red Sonja: The Black Tower

We have a writer-to-writer interview for you on this holiday and it’s Greg Pak asking Frank Tieri about working on Red Sonja: The Black Tower for Dynamite Entertainment.

RSTower01CovConnerGREG PAK: Frank! Great to see you writing a Red Sonja book. Seems like this kind of savage story is right up your alley. How did the gig come about?

FRANK TIERI: Long story short… because Nicky Barrucci is one persistent pain in the ass.

All joking aside though, Nicky has been after me to do something with him forever– especially Sonja–  but for whatever reason, we just couldn’t make things work. Well, everything aligned this time and then this crazy story hits me– yeah, I’m talking about the Black Tower– and I figured considering what my idea was, Nicky would NEVER let me do it.

But to his credit… he did.

GP: Without delving too deeply into spoilers, you’re doing some fun and surprising things here — bringing some sci-fi to this fantasy world. What can you tell us about the big concept behind the storyline and was the genesis or inspiration for it all?

FT: I had decided if I was going to do Red Sonja, I wanted to do something different. Something that stood out, that had a threat we really hadn’t seen her face before. So the original pitch was basically Sonja VS Kang the Conqueror– and I thought, what would that look like? Sonja fighting robots, dealing with advanced tech and weaponry, etc.

That was interesting to me. I thought putting her in that situation would be something that not only I’d find fun but the fans would as well. And I’m glad to see a lot of them agree with me so far.

GP: Just from glancing at Amanda Conner’s beautiful covers, readers might notice a key difference from Gail Simone’s Red Sonja books — Sonja’s wearing an eye-patch in your book at one point, for example. Is there a shared continuity between the books? 

RSTower02CovConnerFT: Our story is definitely in continuity… but we sort of have developed our own continuity as well. If you’re reading the series, you’ll see each iss starts with the words “Time passed”. And by that, we’re not talking days, we’re talking YEARS. So, in between the events of iss 1 and 2, years have passed– and within that time period, Sonja has been battling the warlord Fengar Tolt and has lost an eye in the process. Between iss 2 and 3, more time has passed, and we see Sonja has gone a little grey to show the further passage of time.

Of course, the question now is what will happen after Issue 3 now that Sonja doesn’t have a head anymore…

GP: About that… You genuinely shocked me when I hit the last page of this issue. (issue #3) Clearly, you’re going places no one would have foreseen. How hard was it to get this story approved? And what the heck are you thinking, Frank? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

FT: I don’t think anybody really wants to know what I’m thinking at any given moment, Greg. Not even me.

But hey, in the very first issue we said this was the story of the day Sonja died. So should anyone really be surprised that we’ve kept our word here? And again, here I’m going to give credit to Nicky and Dynamite because most companies would not let me do this. They wouldn’t let me chop the head of one of their flagship characters in the middle of a story. But Dynamite had faith in me to pull this crazy story of mine off and by issue 4 I really do believe we tie everything together nicely and reward that faith.

RSTower03CovConnerGP: What’s the most fun thing about writing Red Sonja?

FT: Like you said earlier, Greg– Sonja is a character that very much suits me. Wolverine, Punisher, Batman… I think it’s pretty established by now that I tend to like to live in the grim and grittier neighborhoods of the comic book world. And Sonja of course fits right in there.

So it’s been a great ride. One I’d gladly take again. Also…

Did I mention I got to chop her head off? That was fun. As chopping off people’s heads off in comics tend to be. Although… I kind of have to find a way to put her head on again if I ever have plans to write her again, don’t I? Hmmm… let me get back to you on that one…

For more on Red Sonja: The Black Tower, click here.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.