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Exclusive: Gail Simone & Cat Staggs on Their New Image Title, Crosswind, Where Freaky Friday Meets Goodfellas

Crosswind_ImageExpoTeaseImage Expo is going full force in San Francisco right now but The Mary Sue has the exclusive first interview with creators Gail Simone and Cat Staggs for their new title, Crosswind!

Crosswind is described as a black humor, suspense fantasy about a “sharp hitman from Chicago and a seemingly unremarkable housewife from Seattle, and how they accidentally end up switching lives.” Sounds like some interesting things are about to happen! We spoke with Simone and Staggs to find out a bit more of what to expect from this title and how these two fantastic creators feel about working together for the first time.

The Mary Sue: How did the creative process start for Crosswind? Did you collaborate from the get go or was it one of your ideas and you reached out to the other?

Gail Simone: The original spark was my idea, it was just a scenario that I had never seen done before, not in these genres. And that’s always the engine I’m looking for, something that is new and feels like walking on the thin ice over a frozen lake.

I spent a lot of time thinking of the right artist, and then it just hit me that it absolutely had to be Cat. She has elevated this thing so much, she put her guts on the page and it’s just wrenchingly powerful.

When I told her the idea, it turned out that she’d been dying to do something in the crime genre, and everything just clicked. We both have lots of offers, we could do something cool with someone else’s characters, OR we could make our own dangerous thing and blow the doors off.

So that’s the plan we went with.

Cat Staggs:  When Gail contacted me about this project, she had me from “so, I have this project that I would love you to…” “YES!” I believe was my “playing it cool” answer.

We had talked for years about wanting to work together and I can’t think of a better way to do that then with this book. I am such a fan of her work and it is an incredible honor to get to work with her on something like this. Gail is such a wonderful character writer and gets the delicate emotional balance with a story that is so nuanced and filled with subtleties. Developing it is going to be a gleeful artistic challenge.

TMS: And how did it find a home at Image?

Simone: Eric Stephenson has been hugely inviting for quite some time, but I was DC exclusive for years, and then quite swamped for a bit. When this idea came to pass, and Cat signed on, I knew we had something special. We chose Image out of all the choices because it just seemed a natural fit…this is edgy as hell, and Image doesn’t blanch at that.  They want the creators to do their thing with the nitro on, that’s what we wanted.

TMS: Gail, you can write for any audience but you’ve certainly made an impression with some of your more grown up work. Crosswind seems to rank with the more adult fare, can you tell us a bit about the premise and inspirations, if any?

Simone: It’s adult, there aren’t going to be any CrossWind Lego sets any time soon.

The general idea is that two characters who have nothing in common, who could not possibly be any more different, are forced to switch lives.  A suave Chicago hitman and a wallflower Seattle housewife have to suddenly rethink everything about themselves and survive, while desperately trying to find out who did this to them.

Also, it’s got sex and violence and bad language and overdue library books and all manner of generally poor behavior.

photo (2)TMS: What can you tell us about the lead characters?

Simone:  Cason Ray Bennett is the guy who proves that Crime DOES In Fact Pay, Pretty Damn Well, In Fact.  He’s handsome, gifted, sophisticated, and he kills people for money.

Juniper Elanor Blue is a housewife from the suburbs, a closet science fiction fan, a bit beaten down by life, whose biggest challenges most days are not overcooking dinner and trying to keep her son from hating her.

TMS: Not sure how much you can give away at this point but with the swap is there going to be a lot of discussion in the book about traditional gender roles?

Simone: I think so, it’s Goodfellas meets Freaky Friday.

But  the thrust of most such stories has always been a ‘curse.’  This is not that kind of story. It’s got twists and turns and no one is going to see the end coming.

Staggs: She is not kidding. I mean, getting to draw Joe Pesci water skiing at the fundraising event was such a challenge…oops. I think I said too much.

TMS: Cat, if I recall correctly it’s been a while since you’ve done a creator owned title, how does it feel to be digging into that again?

Staggs: This is my first creator owned project and one I am eager to devote my time too. It is going to be incredible.

TMS: Could you both speak a bit to how you feel about collaborating with each other?

Simone: I have been blessed with a lot of magnificent artists, it’s always a surprise to me. But sometimes, something clicks. When Cat turned in the character designs, they were so incredibly perfect, so full of life and flavor, that it just raised the entire projects. And each cover, each illustration she’s done, it just proves she was the ONE to do this. I’d take a bullet for her, especially if it was a gummi bullet.

People are going to look at Cat in a new way.

Staggs: Hopefully in a good way and you won’t have to take that bullet. Gail’s descriptions made it very easy to fall into this world. I think her fans are going to be beside themselves with joy. I’m so incredibly happy to have been asked to be a part of this. And I’ll see her bullet and raise her a Trident. I’ll take a Trident for her any day.

TMS: Looking at the teaser image I have to ask, have either of you ever defaced a bathroom wall in real life?

Simone: I’m secretly Banksy.  I deface Citibank.

Staggs: I have just put Gail’s information on the wall of a restroom…but I won’t say where.

TMS: Anything else you’d like to tease about Crosswind you think might get comic readers putting in their orders now?

Simone: People should only order this book if they like black humor, assassins, dark creatures in the shadows, hot sex, and pasta.  I’m incredibly proud of it, and it looks like dirty heaven on a platter. Cat knows how to bring the sexy.

I keep saying this is the book that Frederic Wertham is going to jump out of his grave to bitch about.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Staggs: Yes. I am all about bringing sexy back with a side of pasta while reading an overdue library book. I mean, drawing all of that. I’m all about drawing all of that and assassins in the must have book of the year.

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."