Don't get too cozy with the line-up of characters in Gail Simone's new ongoing Secret Six comic, about second-string supervillains who get caught up in shady deals. There will be death and mayhem, and nobody is safe, she warned in her panel at New York Comic-Con this past weekend. We'll finally get the Batman vs. Catman showdown we (well, I) have been waiting for. And her Wonder Woman comic will have "so much crazy shit," you'll be playing bullets-and-bracelets with your eyeballs. Are you ready for Gail Simone's onslaught of awesomeness? Prepare yourself below.
Gail Simone opened up to the audience — and her fellow panelists, the podcasters behind Raging Bullets — to applaud the support for Wonder Woman, and discuss that and other projects. We've included some of the best questions and answers below:
Why are you so awesome?
It's the red hair, you know. It affects everything.
Any chance you'll be writing for the new Deadpool comic?
Not super-soon, since I'm doing Wonder Woman, and we're launching the new monthly Secret Six comic. I'm working with the mighty, mighty, mighty Nicola Scott — it's very delicious. We're devising many ways to get Catman topless. Also, Welcome to Tranquility is going to continue on in six-issue increments, and will be bringing back a dead character ....
Dead. [laughs] I've also got this picture to show you: yes, a certain Dark Knight and a certain savage Catman will be bumping heads. It's going to be very cool and very sexy and very wrong.
What is your favorite character that you've written and why?
That is such a hard question to answer just because the way I am and the way I write, I can't really write a character unless I try to get into their heads. So I have to find something about them that is my favorite in order to do it. I really loved the journey — as they put it — of Black Canary in Birds of Prey. I always loved her character. I didn't love her being the wet blanket to Green Arrow and how she always had to go, "ohhh, Green Arrow, don't!" I know people were going "oh my God" in the beginning that I had her bound and everything, but the goal was to tear her down and then build her up again. She was the heart of that book for me — she wore her heart on her sleeve, and was witty and sarcastic and loyal and all of the things that I love.
I love Wonder Woman and the Amazons — do you have any set Amazon Code out there that you're going with?
First of all, I love the Amazons, I think it's a really important piece of DC history and DC comic-dom, but I don't like to only see them in togas reading poetry and stuff. If you really think about it, you have an island that's basically been sequestered from the rest of the world, and it's all women and a warrior tribe. They would have their own rituals and cultures that they would have developed in and of themselves. We've been reading along and doing new things, going into stuff that maybe has been touched upon and maybe haven't. I don't think that an entire island of humans, let alone women, would entirely be of the same mind all the time — I want to make it a little more primal.
Can you please convince DC to add another WW title?
I do think DC is definitely looking at that. They do see that that is an important part of the whole DC Universe and I wouldn't be surprised at all if you guys see that. There's some new stuff coming out of the upcoming storyline I'm doing for Wonder Woman that will create a LOT of new characters in the DC Universe that will be very interesting and different from what you've seen before. It'll open up a whole new world. I'm very excited about it.
Any hints about the upcoming Rogues appearances?
I don't want to give too much, because I really am into people discovering the story themselves and bringing into it what they want. Basically, there's going to be a group of worldwide scientists who believe they've found the mathematical equation to bring down Wonder Woman. In that is going to come something as evil and bad and horrible as a dark side for Wonder Woman. They're going to get soil from genocides around the world and create this horrible thing.
How do you get to know a character?
In my years before I went to hairdressing school, I did a lot of theater and wrote little mini-screenplays, starting as young as sixth grade. I learned how to build a character from theater. When you're playing a character on stage, you really need to build them up from the ground and learn where they were born, what their family is like — even if you're only onstage for 5 minutes. When I'm building a character I really like to go back to ground one. That comes back to choreographing fight scenes and stuff — how would somebody like Wonder Woman fight compared to someone like Doctor Psycho? They have completely different worldviews and completely different upbringing. One has some handicaps and disabilities, the other one has what we perceive as all the gifts she could possibly have ... That's how you to do a character that's more three-dimensional. A character would talk in these speech patterns depending on if they came from the Deep South, or the North, or England, or outer space, or whatever. If you're going to write a good character, you have to think about these things, and that's where most of my time writing is still spent.
You've been quoted as saying that you've contacted some of the past Wonder Woman creators when you had certain questions. What's the balancing act like of trying to be a steward and also putting your stamp on the character?
I think approaching a character like Wonder Woman — as opposed to a character that I've created, like Black Alice — is different because she does have a 60+ year history. I do not want to undo any of that. I do have storylines that were my favorites and also treatments I didn't like as much, but that is her history, and I am not a big fan of coming in and wiping out everything. I spent probably a good seven months thinking about Wonder Woman before I ever really wrote much. Once we got to that first issue, I had a very clear vision of where I thought her character should go and what we needed to do for today and honor the past at the same time. I'm not undoing any of her creation, but I'm just adding to the lore of it.
Now that all the gods are freed, how long will it be before we see Athena again in Wonder Woman?
I don't know. You're going to have to keep reading to find that out. Sorry! We do have a lot of stuff with the gods coming out — it's going to be handled a bit differently than in the past, and it's not going to be bogged down with mythology and stuff like that. Athena does not really have a favorable reaction to the fact that Diana pledged herself to another god, the Polynesian god. So we're going to be hearing about that.
Is the Polynesian god expecting something?
I love your characterization of the Mad Hatter in Secret Six.
Oh, you dirty, dirty boy!
Will we see him again?
Not immediately. We're busy with a lot of other characters: Catman, Ragdoll, Scandal, Savage, Batman, a character I created that Nicola designed — they're all there.
Working as a woman in what is predominantly a male area, do you find it hard to balance trying to fit in to this world? And do you think that fans hold you to a stricter guideline on your own treatment of what being a woman is like?
I don't know if the fans do or not — I can't write with these kinds of things in my mind, I have to just do what makes the best story and what makes the most sense. As far as being a woman in what we're considering a predominantly male occupation ... First of all, it's changing a lot right now — there are a lot of women working in the industry right now. I only think about it when people bring it up; that's the truth. I was so preoccupied worrying about other things, like "am I good enough writer? will people like it?" I encourage anyone going into a creative career — don't let whatever you are enter into it in a bad way.
Are we going to see more of the little quirks like the dating ritual and Diana, the secret identity behind Wonder Woman?
I think at first I wrestled with the fact of whether or not I felt comfortable with her having a secret identity, because she's all about truth and honesty and everything. But if you were her and you were this gorgeous Amazonian princess, and you were walking down the street and everyone knew you were Wonder Woman and knew everything about you — that would be exhausting. For one thing, having a secret identity is a different kind of warfare, in her mind. And it's a chance for her to not be in the spotlight and gives her a chance to explore humanity. She was raised on an island of women, and now she's out in the world and exposed to lots of things. This is a chance for her to explore that without being Wonder Woman.
Will we see more talking apes?
You guys are going to see so much crazy stuff, you're not going to know what to do with it.
One of the great things about you is so accessible — you do blogs, you do podcasts. How important do you think that is to get new readers, and do you think the industry is doing enough of that?
What I think is so great about now, and I think you guys can all see — is that this industry is growing. Everyone was really worried about whether manga would overtake comics, but the internet has really leveled the playing field — that's why we're getting more diversity in comics, creators. There are more ways to break into the format, and more ways to see comics than there ever have been. There are so many people doing blogs and commentary and reviews, and it's all helping. A lot of people complain about it too — there's lots of negativity — but I don't look at it that way. There's a lot more good than negative. I started out on the internet, and I think there's a lot of bonus in freedom of speech and communication, and it's enhanced the medium.
Tell us about your forum community.
We all do a messageboard at Comicbookresources.com. We talk about comics and joke around and do lots of things. I'm from a small town, I didn't know that many people who read comics — and that's how I talked to people about comics. I did that a long time before I ever started doing parody columns and stuff. It brings us as a comics community closer together as well, like if you're not close to a comics store or anything.
How would you feel if DC and/or Warner Bros. came to you and asked you for a script for Wonder Woman? It's way past time. And we don't have any female superhero movies out there.
Without Wonder Woman, I don't think there would be Xena. I don't think there would be Buffy or Alias. This is the difference between my generation and my son's generation — he doesn't even think about it, he just thinks it's normal that we have these strong women in television and film and books and everything. And if they asked me for a script, well, I would be completely honored and scared at the same time if that happened.
It seems like the rest of DC isn't quite catching up to what you're doing. There are so many projects going on in the DC Universe, and it seems like Wonder Woman gets left behind a lot.
We're talking about that a lot, but other writers are working on projects that have Wonder Woman, they've been coming up to me and saying that they really like the take on her, and they want to use that take. I think we're going to see the changes happening over time and that there's going to be more Wonder Woman product out there.
You've worked with amazing artists with a lot of variety. I hear Aaron Lopresti is coming on board now ....
Aaron Lopresti is the new penciller for Wonder Woman, and it's absolutely stunning. The first arc that he's drawing is a very kind of Beowulf-y one — it is very gorgeous and very detailed, and every time I see a page in I'm so excited. I can't wait for you guys to see it. I'm very excited. I couldn't be happier!
Is Huntress really going to teach Catman how to waltz again?
Catman needs so much help.
Since Secret Six is going to be ongoing, are the characters going to be rotating?
I don't know. I mean, I know, but I don't want you guys to know — I don't want you guys to always think there's only going to be one character that bites the dust, because there might be three or four at some point. This is a team that gets involved in some very shady dealings, and have a little bit of moral problems. The very first story that we're doing, the Secret Six is hired to transport a major villain from San Francisco to Metropolis, so the entire DC Universe wants to stop them. Who knows who's going to make it out of that and who isn't?
So they're not gonna turn good on us?
You love to hate 'em, don't you? Or you hate to love 'em, or something like that. No, they aren't gonna turn good, trust me. This is going to be the ballsiest DC book ever, and the greatest thing about it is that it's going to be written by me.