Now that Gail Simone is winning over critics and fans with her current run on Red Sonja (Read her first issue for FREE right here), she's sharing the attention with some of her favorite female writers with the limited series, Legends of Red Sonja.
Since the series launched late last year, a slew of female writers have been showcasing their talents by sharing stories about the redhead warrior.
In the next installment later this month, readers will get tales from Simone, comics writer Marjorie Liu and fantasy novelist Mercedes Lackey.
Legends of Red Sonja features an all-female group of writers and several female artists as well, including Devin Grayson, Carla Speed McNeil, Nancy A. Collins, Marjorie M. Liu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Blair Butler, Tamora Pierce, Leah Moore, Rhianna Pratchett, Nicola Scott, Mercedes Lackey, Meljean Brooks and more.
The comic has a framing story that allows the comic to include various short tales by other writers and artists. The framing story, written by Simone, follows the journey of a group of mercenaries known as The Grey Riders — a brutal, tough band of killers who were hired to kill Sonja for a crime they believe she committed.
"They won't stop, and there's too many to fight all at once," Simone told Newsarama. "While they are chasing Sonja, it gives our writers a chance to tell all kinds of stories, 'legends,' about the She-devil."
Newsarama talked to Liu and Lackey to find out more about their experience working with Simone on the series, and what readers can expect of the next issue of Legends of Red Sonja. We also have an exclusive and extended preview of Legends of Red Sonja #4, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.
Newsarama: Marjorie, how did you get involved in the project, and what did you think of the idea when you heard about it?
Marjorie Liu: Gail Simone reached out to me, and as soon as she mentioned "Red Sonja" I didn't have to hear anything else. I was committed. Of course, when she explained that this would be an anthology situation with amazing authors such as Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey, I had to take a moment to just breathe -- and breathe. You have to understand, I love those women -- their books were a huge part of my life. I can't even describe what a privilege this was.
Nrama: What about you, Mercedes?
Lackey: My husband Larry and I have been friends of Gail's for several years now; we met at an event down in Dallas. When she got the green light for this series, knowing I am a huge fan of gutsy women characters, she dropped me an email. Of course I said yes, immediately! I thought it was a fantastic project, and I couldn't wait to start!
Nrama: If you're a fan of gutsy characters, does that includes Sonja?
Lackey: I've been a fan of Red Sonja from before there was a comic about her; my first introduction to her was the (very different) character that Robert E. Howard created. That version was a sword-and-pistol-wielding, female swashbuckler of the Renaissance.
I later was a big fan of the comic version, since to my way of thinking there were just not enough strong female characters in comics or books who could give the boys a run for their money.
Nrama: Marjorie, since you've been involved in comic books for awhile, were you at all influenced by the Red Sonja character?
Liu: Let's just say there was a Marjorie who was pre-Red Sonja, and a Marjorie who was post-Red Sonja, and the two were — and are — vastly different people. I was always into fantasy characters, stories of magic, but after Red Sonja I became obsessed with the persona, the image, of the warrior woman — the sword-wielding, defiant, fearless woman.
I wanted to be her, I wanted to write her. Red Sonja became anchored in my imagination like a mountain.
Nrama: Let's talk about the stories we'll see in the next issue of Legends of Red Sonja. As we've seen in the series so far, a group called The Grey Riders is chasing her, but each of them have encountered Sonja in a different manner. And as they chase after the character, we get to hear their individual stories about her. Marjorie, let's start with your story — what inspired it?
Liu: I wanted to flip the traditional roles of the warrior savior. Male heroes are entitled to particular privileges, and why not the women, as well? But I also wanted to weave in magic, romance, and the idea that Red Sonja profoundly influences all whom she touches.
I had a chance to work with Phil Noto again, which totally made me dance for joy. I reached out to him, and he very generously worked the issue into his busy schedule. He's an amazing talent, and seeing his Red Sonja, seeing the world he built around her, was an absolute joy.
Nrama: Mercedes, what about you? What inspired the story you wrote for the Legends of Red Sonja series?
Lackey: I knew that most, if not all of the others would be writing epic clashes and classic conflicts. And of course, there is going to be a lot of that in the life of a larger-than-life heroine like Red Sonja.
But not every day in her life is going to be like that. Some days, it's just going to be Tuesday, an "oh crap, I have to beat up another bunch of morons in a tavern, yawn" sort of day.
Of course, a Tuesday for Red Sonja is the most amazing day of her life for any ordinary girl that happens to be involved. So my story is told from the point of view of one of those girls, and how she saw the encounter.
I'm amazed to have been part of this project; Gail put together an incredible package of talent, and I still can't believe she asked me to participate.
Nrama: So your first comic was enjoyable, despite the challenges you might have faced? I mean, this was your first comic, right?
Lackey: This was my first comic script, ever, and it was quite the learning experience! It was immensely enjoyable, and quite liberating to be able to concentrate on the story and dialogue, knowing the artist was going to take care of "the other half." Since I'm married to an artist (Larry Dixon), who has done several of my covers, I know from experience that I am going to get a much better result if I don't specify more in the way of detail than s/he asks for, and let the artist interpret the story his/her way. Nothing kills creativity like nitpicking and micro-management. I got an incredible artist in Nei Ruffino, who did a fantastic job of differentiating "the story as it actually happened" (just Tuesday for Red), and "the story as Jenny remembers it" (The most amazing thing, ever!).