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Today in Awesome

Gail Simone Has A Thing For Redheads – Writing New Red Sonja Title For Dynamite

Once again, Gail Simone took to Twitter to hint at a big announcement and once again, her teasers did not disappoint. Simone will be writing a new ongoing Red Sonja comic book for Dynamite Entertainment. Hit the jump for more info plus the fantastic cover from Fiona Staples

Artist Walter Giovani will join Simone on the title starting in July, according to Comic Book Resources. Covers will be handled not just by Staples but also Nicola Scott, Colleen Doran, Jenny Frisson, and Stephanie Buscema. Yup, that’s right, all women.

“Part of the joy of my career, for me, has been giving these iconic females a bit of shading of that unapologetic female vibe,” she told MTV Geek. “I think it’s an interesting approach. And it’s kind of fun to have a book with so much female firepower still be full of beheadings and sex and monsters.”

And what about that sex appeal?

“Let’s face it, for a period of decades, most female characters in comics were not designed to attract female readers. They were designed to attract male readers. That left us females who loved comics to sort of appropriate these characters for ourselves. And we did,” she told CBR. “But out of that pool, some characters refused to just be pin-ups and sex objects. Some captured the imaginations of young girls, and they survived when the others fell into disinterest and disuse. For me, there’s something incredibly appealing of a weary, terrifying Red Sonja under a blood red sun, holding a bloody sword over the bodies of her enemies. That isn’t about bikinis, and it’s the soul of the character.”

Though the bikini can’t be missed. Even if you don’t know much about the character of Red Sonja, you probably know what she wears. CBR asked Simone how she feels about writing a character who fights in a bikini.

“About the T&A thing, you know, people said that same thing about Black Canary when it was announced I would be taking over ‘Birds of Prey.’ Red Sonja’s got a metal swimsuit, sure, but she wears more clothes than Conan,” she said. “She’s a stunning image just standing still, I love that — but if you look up ‘ferocity’ in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Sonja (well, there should be). In a sea of testosterone-laden barbarian comics, Sonja was more kickass than any of them, to me. I just dearly love her.”

However, she did mention Red Sonja would be getting different outfits.

Red Sonja has origins that begin in the 1930s but Simone said she always tries to make every issue new reader friendly. Speaking with Wired Simone said, “Red Sonja, she was a hellraiser before Buffy, Xena and Ripley even existed. When so many heroines in comics were all hung up on romance and the bizarre gender politics of comics at the time, Sonja was out cutting off the heads of dragons and pirates…This is a clean slate, by the end of the first few pages, you know where Sonja has been, what she’s lived through, and why she has the mission she has.”

Will you be picking up Red Sonja #1?

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  • Kathryn

    The cynic in me has a raised eyebrow at this. Not so much at the fact Simone is on this, but more Dynamite. Dynamite still haven’t got past the “sexy covers” thing, so much so that it can often mis-represent the title within (this, I believe, is currently true for Vampirella).

    But, also, I think Dynamite will be less open to Simone completely changing things. Other writers/artists have had issues in the past trying to get things cleared for their stories, and I’m not sure Simone will be the one to break that.

    I completely disagree with her “Conan wears less clothes than Sonja” thing, though. That statement is surprisingly dismissive for Ms Simone. Conan doesn’t have a pair of huge, unsupported breasts last I checked, whereas Sonja has loose fitting chain (which offers NO protection and NO support). And, depending on the artist, this chain will be “slightly covering” at best. Can you really, really imagine Sonja having no issues swinging her weapons (and herself, come to that) around in battle with those two things flying around in her face?

  • Anonymous

    The image in question does an excellent job at illustrating the difference between T&A with a character in a metal bikini and just a character being in a metal bikini. Whereas other images accentuate Red Sonja with curvaceous slanted hip posture to emphasize her sexual appeal, this image shows her without any emphasis toward sexual gaze and emphasis on her identity as a fighter. Her body posture suggests that she is determined, exhausted, and possibly pissed. Her position is pragmatic, on one knee, resting her arm and supporting herself with her blade in the ground, to her need for a breather rather than voyeuristic. Her hair is limp, wet, and falling messily around her, rather than inexplicably dazzling, conditioned, and windblown.

  • Kathryn

    And, sadly, that’s simply a cover (though it’s by the AMAZING Fiona Staples).

    I think it’s great, all things considered, but just think how much more amazing it would be with Sonja in some genuine armour and her hair tied back.

    Or maybe that’s just me.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    While I won’t argue with unsupported, I’m pretty sure that Conan’s ass and breasts are much larger than Sonja’s, and the iconic Conan is usually only dressed in a thong made from two dead squirrels tied together at the tail.

    My argument was going to be that that while Conan is often depicted in his squirrel or possibly monkey-ass thong, he’s usually wearing full chainmail or furs or something…so, his moobs are covered.

  • Anonymous

    Depends on which Conan you’re talking about: the Marvel Conan didn’t tend to wear armour much, at most a helmet and mail shirt. The current Dark Horse iteration has Conan wearing substantially more when the situation calls for it (i.e. battles and sieges), as does the original literary character by Robert E. Howard. And for what it’s worth, the very first appearances of Red Sonja gave her a long-sleeved mail byrnie, which Eric Trautmann adopted in his run. If Trautmann could do a run without the chainmail bikini, I don’t see why they’d refuse Simone some freedom.

    In any case, Red Sonja still inhabits the Marvel Conan universe, or at least Dynamite’s version of it, where it’s a step between “realistic” fantasy and over-the-top “Heavy Metal” fantasy. Sonja’s costume is unrealistic, but the setting is too: it’s almost a fevre-dream of blood, guts, sex, sorcery and chaos. It isn’t like Northlanders or Vinland Saga, it’s more like Slaine. Not that I don’t think Sonja has her share of issues, but I’m going to give Simone the benefit of the doubt.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Regardless, Kathryn’s right that the depiction of Red Sonja in the public conciousness is more akin to a swimsuit model than a warrior, and the loose-fitting chain mail bikini top is worthy of an eye roll everytime I see it.

  • Nick Gaston

    ‘Love that illustration, too…it really screams “I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, I am content.”

    Well, not so much “screams” as “gravely, smoldering rumble.” Very Robert E. Howard.

  • Katie

    I’ll spare a glance at it when it hits the comic shop, the cover compels me to at least do that. I’ve never read Red Sonja because from covers I never thought it was for me. Now, I’m not about to turn down a comic just because the main female lead is dressed skimpily (I’ve always been pro pantsless Wonder Woman and I miss PeeGee’s old uniform) but to me there is always some sort of balance for it all. If its good I’ll pick it up.

  • Anonymous

    OH MY GOD THIS IS A MASHUP OF MY TWO FAVORITE WOMEN CREATORS IN COMICS. I think I may have just had a coronary. Someone revive me so I can go buy this when it comes out!

  • Anonymous

    “Smolders” really does describe it well.

  • Kathryn

    Dynamite are pretty defensive of Sonja’s current appearance, I believe, if my (public) Twitter conversations with Peter V. Brett (writer of Red Sonja: Blue and the current miniseries Red Sonja: Unchained) are anything to go by.

  • Kathryn

    Fiona Staples is just doing a cover. She’s not doing the interior art for the comic.

  • Starman

    And yet, they’ve had Sonja wearing outfits other than the infamous chainmail bikini in the main Red Sonja title by Eric Trauttman. Heck, the last issue she was traveling around in a tunic and pants before changing into black studded leather armor when the fighting started. Okay – the black studded leather looked like Callisto’s outfit on Xena, but it was a change.

  • Starman

    I think this should prove interesting. Simone is a great writer, of course, and Sonja does have roots in comics as one of the first heroines to get her own solo book back in the 1970s. I wrote an article about the Feminist undertones of Sonja’s background a couple of years ago that may be enlightening to those unfamiliar with the character.

  • Ben Lundy

    This is awesome! Kudos to Dynamite for bringing better and better talent to characters that used to be one-dimensional. The same thing is happening for Vampirella right now. Maybe if Simone is successful with Sonja, it will inspire more people to check out other oft-misrepresented classic characters.

  • Kathryn

    Maybe so, but I doubt it’d have lasted long. And even if so, Dynamite have a habit of not representing any changes on the covers.

  • Lucas Picador

    “Red Sonja, she was a hellraiser before Buffy, Xena and Ripley even existed. When so many heroines in comics were all hung up on romance and the bizarre gender politics of comics at the time, Sonja was out cutting off the heads of dragons and pirates…”

    Well, she was mostly shooting Turks back in those days, when she was a Russian rifle(wo)man during the Siege of Vienna. Not so much with the chainmail bikini in those days.

    Her first appearance, R.E. Howard’s “The Shadow of the Vulture” in 1934:

    It was a woman, dressed as von Kalmbach had not seen even the
    dandies of France dressed. She was tall, splendidly shaped, but lithe.
    From under a steel cap escaped rebellious tresses that rippled red
    gold in the sun over her compact shoulders. High boots of Cordovan
    leather came to her mid-thighs, which were cased in baggy breeches.
    She wore a shirt of fine Turkish mesh-mail tucked into her breeches.
    Her supple waist was confined by a flowing sash of green silk, into
    which were thrust a brace of pistols and a dagger, and from which
    depended a long Hungarian saber. Over all was carelessly thrown a
    scarlet cloak.

    This surprizing figure was bending over the cannon, sighting it in
    a manner betokening more than a passing familiarity, at a group of
    Turks who were wheeling a carriage-gun just within range.

    “Eh, Red Sonya!” shouted a man-at-arms, waving his pike. “Give ‘em
    hell, my lass!”

    “Trust me, dog-brother,” she retorted as she applied the glowing
    match to the vent. “But I wish my mark was Roxelana’s–”

    A terrific detonation drowned her words and a swirl of smoke
    blinded every one on the turret, as the terrific recoil of the
    overcharged cannon knocked the firer flat on her back. She sprang up
    like a spring rebounding and rushed to the embrasure, peering eagerly
    through the smoke, which clearing, showed the ruin of the gun crew.
    The huge ball, bigger than a man’s head, had smashed full into the
    group clustered about the saker, and now they lay on the torn ground,
    their skulls blasted by the impact, or their bodies mangled by the
    flying iron splinters from their shattered gun. A cheer went up from
    the towers, and the woman called Red Sonya yelled with a sincere joy
    and did the steps of a Cossack dance.

  • Kathryn

    Or maybe they should use the talents they have and sort out the “misrepresentations” anyway? I mean Peter V. Brett is on his second Sonja story (well, it follows on from his RS: Blue one-shot), and it gets basically no press despite the fact he’s a NYT Bestselling Author, one of the bigger names to come out of the recent waves of fantasy writers, etc.

    The problems are within Dynamite themselves. They’re the ones who control these comics, they’re the ones who can sort this out.

    They won’t, though. No more than Aspen or Zenescope will.

  • Ashe P. Samuels

    That cover is frustratingly badass.

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    In reply to Vampirella, I currently read the new Vampirella Strikes series in which she no longer wears the red swimsuit but instead normal street clothes. Now for covers, they offer a variety both in her traditional red as well as the interior artists given look (which I prefer).
    Dynamite is also currently publishing a Sonja series birthed from the Blue one-shot of her in a different outfit. So I see effort being made, but sadly Sonja is known for her metal bikini. It’s her cowl or cape or tiara.

  • Kathryn

    Yes, Red Sonja: Unchained. In which the covers are still somewhat sultry at the very least (the variant for Issue 2 has some megaboobs). It’s still not an ideal costume.

  • theycalledmeamary

    not sure what to think. Have you noticed though. There’s seems to be more interest in the politics of her working at DC than people buying the comics? Just checking

  • JW

    The politics thing actually called my attention to the fact she was writing Batgirl, and I picked it up and enjoyed it.

    Just prior to that, I found out she was going to be at a con in my area. Having liked the TV series that was loosely based off it, I started picking up the Birds of Prey comics from her run and have yet to be disappointed. I went to see her at the con and she was lovely; that’s when I personally found out at about the Red Sonja run. I’m also planning on picking up her Red Sonja title now, especially since the initial reviews are tentatively positive.

    So, just from my persona experience… no, actually, I’m more interested in her comics. :)

  • JW

    The Red Sonja comics have been around since the 1970s though, and Buffy and Xena, at least, were 1990s creations.