Dynamite Entertainment got two of their writer’s to sit down and talk to each other about their current projects and the writing process and shared those interviews with us. Today we’re giving you the other side of the discussion between Genevieve Valentine, writer of Xena: Warrior Princess and David Avallone, the writer of Twilight Zone: The Shadow. Here we have David asking the questions, where yesterday Genevieve did the asking. Art for this article is by Jenny Frison (cover) and Ariel Medel (interiors).
GENEVIEVE VALENTINE: That was the show! It catapulted them into the future at the beginning of Season 6 (so they’d be running into a grown version of Xena’s daughter), and then had her kill off half the Greek pantheon to boot. It’s kind of a fearless one-two punch, and it made for a perfect place to start this story; there were some other great moments in canon, but this was a moment in the show I always hoped would be explored more, and I’m thrilled I get to explore it now.
DA: I loved the nod to Homer in the opening narration. Did you do any historical or literary research for this series, or do you feel the fantasy elements free you up a little from that?
GV: So, I definitely did some research for this, because I’m a giant nerd, and if you give me any excuse to look things up at length, I probably will. However, some of it I then obviously cast to the wind, because this is Xena, a show that routinely and deliberately casts any historical relevance to the wind. (Next issue I have historically-accurate Roman gambling, and a gift shop. Life is balance.)
GV: The studio is overseeing the storytelling to some degree – you can’t have Xena suddenly start yanking people’s spines out, she’s a family vigilante – but within that, I think there’s quite a bit of freedom. The sense I have is that the show has covered so much ground that there’s a lot of precedent for tone, humor, character beats, and occasionally planning a slow-burn strike on Rome. Hypothetically.
DA: Are you and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (show-runner of the Xena reboot) coordinating efforts at all, or are the two projects two completely different branches of the franchise?
GV: They’re completely different branches (which might be just as well, since apparently it’s very hard to convince networks to let you have people looking out windows sadly because it’s expensive, and I can currently put all the sad people I have at any window that suits me). I did love interviewing him at io9; he seems like a really thoughtful viewer of the show who knows the things that make the story tick, which means that I am pre-excited about seeing his version of Xena take the screen.
DA: The Harpies are a compelling and fascinating bunch. Are you going to have the time and space to let us get to know all of them? I can’t remember seeing anything like them in comics since Lashina’s Female Furies in Kirby’s Fourth World books.
GV: Thank you! I definitely am setting aside a little time for them; by now, Xena and Gabrielle are so much a part of pop culture, and their relationship so devoted and stable, that introducing new characters gives you insight into the new characters but also a glimpse at Xena and Gabrielle negotiating a sudden influx of new people. Plus, in a wider sense, I wanted to balance the returning characters from Xena’s past with some new folks influencing their future. (Xena had so many memorable supporting characters that I would be happy to add to the collection!)
DA: Will Gabrielle ever get some midriff armor? I believe you have some concerns about her vulnerability there…
GV: I would armor every midriff if I could. We needed to stay fairly close to her outfits in canon (though this one is deliberately a little of her Season 5 outfit and a little of her Season 6 outfit, just to set it apart), so she’s still very recognizably Gabrielle. However, one imagines that if they ever got time to prepare before being set upon suddenly by Romans/bands of rogue warriors/more Romans/lawbreaking sorts, she’d try to armor up a little bit. They’re just constantly being taken by surprise! Ancient Everywhere is a dangerous place.