Erik Burnham’s Writer’s Commentary on Red Sonja #20

Erik Burnham writes:

Red Sonja #20, and the Blade of Skath continues!

This’n was written by Amy Chu and myself — Erik Burnham — with art split on this issue by series regular Carlos Gomez, and Vincenzo Federici, Mohan handles the colors, and the letters ran through Taylor Esposito!

Some great covers again with work by Babs Tarr on Cover A, Tula Lotay on Cover B, John Royle, Jagdish, and Juan Fernandez on Cover C, J. Bone on Cover D, and the cosplay variant at the bottom of the order and Cover E.

The editor corps of Joseph Rybandt, Luke Lieberman, and Anthony Marques kept us all in line, and now… we rejoin the story in progress.

PAGES 01-02

If you recall, at the end of issue 19, Red Sonja tripped over Skath, who was sleeping like a hobo in the streets of the village near his castle. And that’s where we pick up with Sonja, recognizing the lost barbarian ruler.

The DRUNK lost barbarian ruler.

I didn’t expect to see Skath lose his lunch on panel, but Sonja’s facepalm is such a perfectly rendered response…

Check out this great montage, recapping Skath’s past. Good work from Vincenzo.

And here’s how Skath lost his lands — they were bought out by a speculator. Sandak is truly a fiend.

PAGES 06-08
Now we can welcome Carlos back, just in time for a fight scene! Skath does a pretty good job, but he’s still just one old man against a full crowd of younger warriors. That never ends well… and Sandak isn’t above adding a little insult to injury.

Taunting Skath with the knowledge that he can have his lands back when he can take them — but not having the money or the personal might to stand up to Sandak’s hired goons, well, it seems hopeless for the Cimmerian adventurer, and he tells Sonja, Lera, and Taya just that over a drink.

I really like how Carlos rendered Skath’s little tantrum here; he seems as desperate as he should be.

Skath’s last comment would be a good segue to a fight scene, right?

Well, we have too many pages left to just cut right to the fight!

PAGES 11-12
First, Skath needs a barbarian makeover… or at the very least, he needs to wash off some of the stink and get a trim so the parasites are out of his hair. That really helps convince people you could lead a battle, you know?

I mean, that’s what the brochure said.

I mean, anyway, Skath is looking 20… okay, 10 years younger now that he’s been cleaned up, and now it’s Sonja’s turn to step in.

She’s not one for makeovers, though.

And he is so lucky she didn’t take that uppercut personally.

Now that Sonja’s happy with Skath’s progress, Lera and Taya re-introduce him to his villagers. They are clearly curious as to where he’s been and why Sandak has had so much leeway… luckily Lera is there to smooth things over.

I totally know that I’m summarizing. I get it. But the way Taylor rendered the crowd chant in the last panel makes me think some WWE fans will think it was a reference. It wasn’t a reference.

I mean, if you want to take it that way…

Habits don’t break with a few panels’ worth of makeover, Sonja, you should have known.

The two dudes in the last panel… I called them Statler and Waldorf in the script and I was waiting to see (realistic versions) of the two Muppets in this comic. I don’t know whether I’m disappointed or relieved.

And what a cliffhanger, eh? That explains a mystery from a couple of issues back…..

So there’s a story to this. Back in April, when Amy and I were still working on this story, she was a guest in Minnesota for a one-day convention. In April, I say again.

We got a freak blizzard. Just a massive dumping of snow. That killed a lot of the touristy fun she could have had, but we did visit the Mall of America to kill a few hours before I dropped her off at the airport… and at the mall is an aquarium, and in the aquarium are sharks. We were inspired by that!

And let’s be fair, Dynamite probably wouldn’t have let us put Sonja in a Spongebob roller coaster or a too-long line for Starbucks, so it really had to be sharks.

Next issue: Sonja fights a shark!

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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