Gail Simone, WELCOME (Back) TO TRANQUILITY

Gail, WELCOME (Back) TO TRANQUILITY

As anyone who's read Welcome To Tranquility knows, the comic isn't really that tranquil.

In fact, writer Gail Simone admits that Tranquility has the same wacky twists and dark humor she intersperses in her other comics, only this time, it's "really unleashed and run rampant."

This week, Simone's beloved series returns to WildStorm with the start of a new volume: Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave, with art by Horacio Domingues, a cover by Neil Googe and a variant by Ethan Van Sciver.

The series centers on the superpowered characters inhabiting the town of Tranquility — the place where heroes of the WildStorm Universe move when they reach their Golden Years.

But a town filled with superpowered heroes is bound to have plenty of villainous characters making trouble, and these tough old folks and their offspring don't get much rest. And that's where the fun begins.

Centering on Thomasina Lindo, the tough non-powered sheriff of Tranquility, the series has introduced a slew of original yet adored characters as it earned a loyal following among not only fans, but a lot of comic creators who hail its creativity.

Although the series launched in 2007, Tranquility ended after 12 issues, with characters only showing up in WildStorm events from time to time.

It returns with a new #1 issue, and Simone says story is new reader-friendly and starts the series fresh. We talked to her to find out more.

Newsarama: Gail, it's been awhile since you visited the town of Tranquility. What brings you back to these characters now?

Gail Simone: They’re kind of always in my head. I’ve talked about this before, but once I have internalized a character, I’m pretty much stuck with them. And now I’m the comic book writer version of Sybil. My brain is crowded with these characters.

Tranquility is a little thing I created from scratch, it has lots of characters that make me smile and rage, so it’s on my mind quite often.  One of the interesting things about the book is that it allows me to experiment with complex and interesting structure experiments. The second volume used short stories as part of the larger narrative in an interesting way, I think.  I love playing in this sandbox. It’s a slightly more leisurely pace, as befits the book’s setting. You can stop and admire the scenery a little.

And instead of power rings, there’s a lot of talk about fried chicken and potato salad.

Nrama: What are the basic elements that new readers have to understand about the former series to get what's going on in this next volume? Or does it explain things for new readers?

The basic concept is that the entire community is a small town in the boonies, a retirement community for retired superheroes and reformed villains. It’s like what might happen if the JLA were allowed to truly age. It’s a bit of the Greatest Generation, but it’s definitely their twilight years and many of the younger people, their grandkids, have some resentments and are trying to find their own place. It’s a bit JLA and a bit Mayberry. I think the closest thing on the stands is Astro City, but in a small, small town. It’s fun, and sometimes scary, and even a bit sexy at odd moments.

Because everyone enjoys a nice ggmilf, right?  

Nrama: We've seen the characters from Tranquility in a few WildStorm events. How has it been seeing other writers take on these characters you invented?

Simone: Well, awesome, but it’s purely because of who the creators are. All three asked first, they were incredibly respectful, and did a magnificent job. The names are Scott Beatty, Christos Gage, and Keith Giffen. You can’t go wrong with that line-up. But they all said they were fans of the series and it shows. I’ve told WildStorm that those three guys have carte blanche, if they want to use the Tranq characters, they don’t even have to ask. They totally earned my trust.

Nrama: Those events have also changed things a little for the residents. What's the status of Tranquility as we start this story?

Simone: Tranquility is in a bubble, not affected, really. We’re aware there’s chaos outside the town’s borders, but like a lot of real retirement communities, everything outside the town borders seems very far away indeed!

Nrama: Will things still be concentrated on Sheriff Lindo? Or has focus shifted?

Simone: Thomasina Lindo is the glue that holds the town together. She has no powers, but even these WWII vets respect her and listen to her.  She goes up against these monsters with nothing but an electrified nightstick.  I love her…she won the Glyph Award for best female character of color, which I am extremely proud of. She’s a lot of fun, sort of the center of the world as crazy superpowered hijinx go on around her.

In this story, someone awful from Tommy’s past life comes back to haunt the entire town. This is a revenge story, it’s got some very dark moments, and some very funny moments as well. And a favorite character returns to town in a way that’s really very disturbing.  The whole town is in trouble, and a dark secret is exposed. It’s a ripping yarn!

Nrama: Those of us who read the first volume got to learn a lot about Mayor Fury. For newcomers, what can you tell us about the character?

Simone: Mayor Fury was a cross between a superhero and a pulp style here in the manner of a Doc Savage. He was called Judge Fury during WWII but became a politician, like some war heroes or sports heroes often do, and became sadly corrupt trying to maintain his power.  He’s married to Pink Bunny, the biggest sex symbol of WW and the best cook in town. He’s in prison when we start our story this time.

And then bad things happen, really bad things.

Nrama: What can you tell us about some of the other characters we'll meet in this story?

Simone: It’s definitely a town full of weirdoes! We have Coyote Kid, a seemingly immortal cowboy who kills vampires and zombies and other supernatural monsters. We have Mangacide, the teenager who loved manga so much she gains powers just thinking about it.  And we have Maxi-Man, the closest thing the town has to a traditional superhero…a doddering old man until he uses the power of Indian fire to become a flying, fighting powerhouse.

But everyone in town is a freak of some kind or another.

Nrama: We've seen artist Horacio Domingues draw these characters before. What does his art bring to the series?

Simone: He’s carrying on in the tradition of the great Neil Googe, with that innocent, lively quality. I’ve been blessed with terrific artists, and Horacio has been called upon to draw a lot of things you don’t see in an average comic, everything from ads for toys to storyboards for a beach blanket teen movie. He’s amazing, I hope we can work together again soon!

Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about the return of Welcome to Tranquility?

Simone: You won’t need to read the previous books at all. If you want to start fresh, all the information you need is there. It’s a fun story in a unique setting, at turns frightening and appalling, then charming and sweet, and I think it’s unlike any other comic out there. Ed Brubaker kindly said it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and I’m terribly fond of it. If you like the slightly naughty and oddball tone of, say, Secret Six or Birds of Prey, there’s a lot of that here, but really unleashed and run rampant.

I hope people come visit. Best fried chicken in the country!  

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