Hey, That's My Cape! - Simone's Talking, But Not About WW
BIRDS of PREY Returns w/ Simone & Benes
It was a pretty normal Tuesday afternoon. I was goofing around on Twitter while I should have been writing (sucks having all of your bosses on Twitter by the way) (Newsarama Note: That's right, Jill, we're watching you. And clean your room.) when all of a sudden the news hit. Wonder Woman, the Amazon Princess, was being reinvented from top to bottom.
And then the internet exploded. But don’t worry, there haven’t been any casualties. Not yet anyway, though my first thought after seeing and hearing about the drastic change was, “I wonder what the hell (outgoing Wonder Woman writer) Gail Simone thinks about this?”
Not a whole lot, or at least not that she’s sharing with the public. Simone of course is stepping down from the title and character she loves so much to make way for writer J. Michael Straczynski after the anniversary issue in stores today. But whether by choice or an order from the top she hasn’t said anything about Wonder Woman’s new direction.
So this week, I decided I’d see what else one of my favorite DC writers is up to. She’s continuing her work on Secret Six (which is constantly brilliant) and just recently kicked off the newly relaunched Birds of Prey title. All well and good but what about her off time? You don’t think I’m the only one who kills time online while they should be writing, do you?
Simone has a shiny new Tumblr blog, or does for the time being. She’s thinking of quitting it, but I hope she doesn’t. There’s great tidbits about stories she’s written, characters she loves and some wild tales from the comics world. For instance, she had some very interesting things to tell us about the Birds of Prey, old and new, after a fan asked about including a male member to the team.
“I always intended to add a male Bopper. That was always the plan. It was just a question of when,” she said. “We talked about Ted Kord joining, or Nightwing, or Argus. We just ran out of time before I left the book for Wonder Woman.” She added that even though it’s a female driven book, “I can’t see Babs refusing help from, or refusing TO help, someone just because they gots the penis, you know?”
Speaking of male genitalia and associations therewith, Simone has always thought of Black Canary as bi-sexual and regrets to this day a mistake that would have put it into continuity. “I’ve had a single lettering correction missed fairly often. Some issues might have a couple. But this is the only time in my 300+ comics that the entire correction set didn’t make it to print. And it had to be THAT one. It drives me nuts,” she said. According to Simone, Black Canary would have been thinking to herself that she was “70% hetero” while fighting Talia al'Ghul.
But for Simone, romance was not on her radar for the Birds during her initial five-year run. “I felt it was important to show that a book with female leads didn’t HAVE to be about romance or the girls talking about boys,” she said. “It’s a way of saying that women have no value absent from their relationship and value to men. Male action heroes can go without a romantic subplot and no one blinks twice.”
Clearly, one of Simone’s favorite characters is Barbara Gordon. You can see it in the way she writes her in the comics and the way she writes about her casually. But she’s also got a spot for her father, Commissioner Gordon.
“I loved writing him in BoP because, again, it was about love, about having a family that cared about you. Many of us didn’t have that growing up, and a dad who brings you flowers and listens to your secrets and nicely threatens to shoot your physical therapist if his hands start to wander…that’s a bigger wish fulfillment fantasy for many of us than flight or invisibility.”
When it comes to personal relationships in comics, familial or otherwise, Simone has strong opinions. For example, the marriage of Lois and Clark.
“I hear all the time from writers that the Lois/Superman marriage is boring. I don’t know what to say. I might never have married them if it had been my choice. Maybe. But man, I LOVED writing them as a couple,” she said, “I loved Superman bringing her her favorite biscuits from halfway around the world and them taking moonlight walks on the Great Wall of China. And if people think that is boring, fine, then let’s bring in Black Adam and have a super-punch-out and let THAT be the conflict. Because Clark and Lois are in love, are husband and wife, and they care about each other.”
I have to admit though, as cool as it was hearing about characters and plots, I was most entertained by stories about other comic professionals. Like this one about her Birds of Prey collaborator Ed Benes.
While in Barcelona, artist Ivan Reis told Simone about how Benes taught himself to draw. “He was in rural Brazil, and he had one ballpoint pen and one comic, a Conan comic with art by John Buscema. And he would draw the pages and figures over and over,” she said, “That blew my mind, that an artist of this quality could learn from a ratty issue of Conan and a ball-point pen, and some people can take art lessons their whole life and not be able to draw a decent apple.”
Then there’s the comedy you couldn’t make up if you tried.
Simone has an amazing story about the "Sophie’s Choice" of comic art with New Frontier creator Darwyn Cooke, which you should read in it’s entirety, but it’s this sentence that had me in hysterics. “Darwyn has a crazy sense of humor and once terrified Dan DiDio by waking Dan up from a dead sleep wearing a Winnie the Pooh costume,” she said.
So as you can see, although Simone isn’t speaking out about the huge status quo change for Wonder Woman, she certainly still has a lot to say and I for one, am enjoying it.
Though she did mention on Twitter that she was looking forward to the new Wonder Woman book and made this odd remark soon after, “I just gave my dog a new look. TUBULAR!” I leave the interpretation up to you.