It has been fifteen years since Conan and Red Sonja last met, and many thought it couldn't be done again. Now, thanks to a new joint publishing deal by Dynamite and Dark Horse, the two will reunite in Conan/Red Sonja and Red Sonja/Conan, and at the hands of the current writers of their respective series, Gail Simone and Brian Wood.
The two characters are incredibly recognizable, and their crossover is a bigger deal than ever because of who is working on it. With Wood's larger audience than Conan has had in years, and Simone's recent all-female takeover of the world of Red Sonja, the timing was right. Here in this pre-New York Comic Con interview, we talked with both writers about the crossover and what we can expect.
Newsarama: Gail, ladies first, you only just came into the Dynamite fold and the world of Red Sonja - what made telling a crossover with her appealing so soon out of the gate for you?
Gail Simone: Truthfully, it's the sheer joy of it. Few genres are as completely dominated by just two characters as comic book sword and sorcery is by Conan and Red Sonja. When I was offered Sonja, the first thing I asked was if a Conan crossover was possible. Talking to Dark Horse later, about Tomb Raider, I then asked those guys if it could be done. So it was on my mind from literally Day One. But it seemed very unlikely for a number of reasons. Then it happened, and of course I wanted to ride that rocket.
It was very, very much a longshot. I wanted to see it happen, but was told it was sadly very improbable. And I hoped for Brian to co-write, and that seemed just astronomically remote.
Sometimes things just work out. Thank you to Dark Horse, Dynamite, the licensors, and everyone involved for making this come to pass.
Part of the fun for me in writing cherished characters is sharing why I love them in the first with as many readers as possible. Last year I decided I was only going to work on comics that really made me happy on some deep level. I want the readers to be as excited as we are.
Nrama: Brian, likewise, the last time we talked you were somewhat unsure whether you'd keep going with Conan after your initial run - what made this story worth sticking around for in your opinion?
Brian Wood: Well, this is something special for sure. I like Red Sonja, I like Gail, and Nick Barrucci and I have been looking for something to work on for awhile now, so this was all win for me. Both of our titles, my Conan and Gail's Red Sonja have grabbed a lot of new readers and this seems like a great way to combine forces and see if we can reach even more people.
Nrama: For both of you, what are some things you see in each other's writing that you hope to pull out of one another while working on this?
Wood: Gail's extremely prolific - I can't keep track of all the books she's worked on - and as such is very smart and talented when it comes to working on corporate books and licensed titles. She came up with the basic concept for the story, and its good. It's big in scope, has implications for both characters, and will satisfy the hardest of the hardcore fans. I'm also very aware that my Conan title attracted, and held on to, lots of new-to-Conan readers, so I'm making sure this doesn't alienate them by being too wrapped up in details and continuity.
Simone: Brian knows this already, but I think Northlanders is simply a towering achievement, one of the best uses of the medium in years. It made me a fan of Brian's, and I've been reading everything with his name on it, since. I really just want Brian to be Brian. You can't ask for better. The guy is killing it on every book he tackles.
Nrama: Both again, how do you plan to work together on this dual series, what are some traps of crossovers you hope to avoid, some things you're keeping in mind as you begin?
Simone: Everything is execution. A trope in the wrong hands brings a yawn, in the right hands, it brings a gasp. We have a story that deals with a nearly universal terror, so our backdrop, our canvas, is just huge. We just want to tell the best story we possibly can.
It's very interesting, in some ways, how bits of our personalities are reflected in each character. Both of us tend to be attracted to things that are uncomfortable and even unsettling, both conceptually and in the stories, so I am hoping to see that reflected all over the pages.
Wood: Well, I don't have a ton of experience writing crossovers, but I can imagine what you might mean by traps. In this case, its just me and Gail running this thing, and we're giving each other full access to our scripts to make sure we're getting everything just right and honoring the tone of each title. So I can't imagine us falling into any traps on that end. As far as the actual story, we are both aware that this crossover has been a long time in coming so we're making a huge effort to write an appropriately epic story, living up to the anticipation.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the supporting cast here, and the impetus of this crossover?
Simone: I don't think we can say much about the cast, yet. But to not avail ourselves of these characters' histories would be tragic.
Wood: Nothing yet! Right now this is just announcing intentions. We'll get into the nitty gritty of the story, the villains, and the artists we're working with after the hustle and bustle of NYCC passes.
Nrama: Any other hints or teases - or just plain things you're excited for with Conan/Red Sonja and Red Sonja/Conan?
Wood: Personally, I'm a fan of Red Sonja, so I'm psyched to get a shot at writing her! Gail, also, is someone I feel I've known forever online so to get a chance to work with her is pretty great too.
Simone: I think we've come up with a killer story. It's not just some dark wizard has an enchanted golden codpiece or whatever, it's actually meaningful, and that means Conan and Sonja actually have to think about something other than themselves. And they're not used to that, they don't take to it naturally.
It's good stuff. I can't wait for people to read it.