Writer's Commentary: Erik Burnham Talks Red Sonja #12

Dynamite has sent us a new writer's commentary, this time featuring Erik Burnham talking about Red Sonja #12 that hits shelves today. Burnham co-wrote the issue with Amy Chu and it features interior art by Carlos Gomez and covers by Ben Caldwell and Juan Doe.

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Hey, everybody! Erik Burnham here, back in the Red Sonja sandbox for the first time since that Long Walk to Oblivion back in May. Feels good to be back, joining Amy Chu and Carlos Gomez on a tour of, um, as it turns out, Hell.

They bring me to all the nicest places.

(And don't give me any lip about spoiling the locale — this is the commentary, you should've read the book by now, right? Of course right!)

Let's dive in!

First off, though I was given story credit with Amy, she deserves the lion's share of the credit. I added a few things when the story was expanded by an issue, yes, but that's just scribbling a nice two-car garage onto the blueprints for the country estate she'd already turned in. Now that's off my chest we can all enjoy the pretty pictures of Carlos Gomez and Mohan together!

Picking up where we left off – a terrible portal. Red Sonja and Professor Wallace. DREAD! DOOM!

And, for Sonja, an existential crisis. Is she real? Is she a magical duplicate? She's off to find out!

PAGES 2-3:
Hey look, a desert. That's not the most hospitable place to end up, but good news — Sonja still has her sword, a sidekick, and there's no evil wizard threatening their deaths yet! Things are looking up for the ol' She-Devil.

…Sadly, Wallace doesn't have the power. If it had been appropriate, it would've been fun to ask Carlos to draw some kind of sad reverse-He-Man image where Wallace yells "I DON'T HAVE THE POWERRRRRRR" but it was most definitely not appropriate. I've been warned by editorial about this. (They use orange post-it notes.)

Cut to Shamballah! For those who wonder, Meru is made up of seven cities that circle the lake Sumero Tso. Shamballah is the largest of those cities, — oh, heck, is that MAX? And it looks like he just called Kulan Gath MASTER! That's a terrible turn of events, way more important than a history of the city. At least Max doesn't look too happy about it. STAY STRONG, MAX!

Back in the desert with Sonja and Wallace.

Look at this merchant. I want to punch this guy. If I'd known Carlos was gonna make him look so smug, I would've had Sonja punch him. He looks like a swindler. All things considered, he'd almost have to be. But at least he can give good directions at swordpoint.

Trust Red Sonja to be able to find a place where she can get a drink and find the information she's looking for, no matter where she is. I'm starting to think she's a film noir PI. Or maybe she will be, in her next life.

The plot thickens as a set priest barges in looking to hire some mercenaries–

–Lucky for Sonja. She needs some cash, and here's a ready made job. She invites herself and is told no.

Um… this guy must not read her comics. That's a bad move, fella.

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….Told you so.

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Page 11, and the party sets out after a night of drinking. No one has a hangover, for this is a land of magic.

And yes, we got Sonja back into her classic duds so no one would ask "where did you get those shorts?" Probably a lost opportunity to have Wallace explain the history of denim to a slack jawed barbarian yokel who was staring at them before Sonja cut off his head, but these are the kinds of things we see in hindsight.

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Sonja, you've been doing this a long time. You should know better than to walk over to investigate a dead hand sticking out of the sand. That couldn't be more obviously a trap.

Wallace, you're distracting her from her instincts, you old fool!

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I bet no one even thought about inviting Ub Iwerks, either.

In any case, we can see now that that priest was right to be freaked out, and he was right to hire a bunch of mercenaries. Those skeletons look like they mean business.

Also, I know I wrote it, but I can't fathom how a skeleton, with no tongue or throat-flesh, is hissing.

Um… MAGIC! The answer is magic. Let's move on.

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…That's what you get for hissing without a face, skeleton.

To be serious for a second, I really love this splash — it's dynamic as all get out and the flow from cape to arm to sword to skull suggests movement in the best possible way. All the props to Carlos for killing it on this page.

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I like the big guy with the mace. He makes me think of Obelix.

But poor Wallace — be easy on him, Sonja. Some guys aren't built to fight!

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I feel like I cursed the big guy by comparing him to another, more popular comic book character. My bad, big guy.

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And now the priest is gone! He paid in advance, though. He should've known better.

PAGES 18-19:
Outrunning the skeletons, making their way to a ziggurat, and finally taking a moment to get their bearings, our heroes finally figure things out.

I just want to take a second to point out that expression on Sonja's face on page 19 — another great bit of work by Carlos. Love how her hair is falling and the set jaw — Sonja just looks great here. And ticked off. But where was I? Oh, yes. I was telling you our heroes figured out where they were —

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HELL. Heck of a view out the back of that ziggurat, isn't it? I wonder what kind of property values that place has.

In any case, this is where we leave you — Sonja, her sidekick professor Wallace, and the mercenaries they just met all atop a ziggurat, in hell, with a legion of the dead after the priests they'd been paid to protect.

Great place for a cliffhanger, right?

Hope you had fun with this issue! Things only get more nuts from 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.