Gail Simone Interview

Gail Simone is one of the hottest writers today, having run the gamut from Simpsons Comics, Killer Princesses, Agent X, Deadpool, and more recently, Birds of Prey. This month she's penning a new mini-series starring classic DC vigilante Rose & Thorn. Our man on the street, Chris Majchrzak caught up with the hair dresser-turned-columnist-turned-comic writer Gail for an e-mail interview and here's the result.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the Rose & Thorn mini-series?

Gail Simone: The specs are: it's a six-issue mini-series written by me, pencilled by Adriana (Star Wars, Iron Man) Melo, inked by Dan (X-Men) Green, edited by the great Mike Carlin, with covers by the guy who won the Harvey and Eisner awards this year for best cover artist, Adam Hughes. It's a gorgeous-looking book.

The story is about Rhosyn Forrest, a young girl whose parents have been murdered by the mob. If that wasn't enough to send her over the edge, she's then placed in a mental health facility that unfortunately exacerbates the problem exponentially. She develops a Disassociative Identity Disorder-like syndrome, and the 'angry' identity, or alter ego, seeks revenge against those who wronged her. It's a thriller... lots of action, and lots of characters who aren't what they seem.

Westfield: How does it correlate to the original character?

Simone: Definitely an update, but it's absolutely possible to consider this Year One of the classic Rose and Thorn.

Westfield: Your books often have a strong 'team oriented' backdrop; will you approach Rose & Thorn this way as well, or more single character oriented?

Simone: Rose is a team when she's in a room by herself!

Westfield: How does Rose & Thorn compare to Birds of Prey?

Simone: Birds of Prey is like a buddy-cop movie with espionage overtones. Rose & Thorn is a bit more like a psychological thriller. It's darker, for one thing, but there's hope there, too.

Westfield: You're getting a lot of attention for your run on Birds of Prey, what can you tell us about what you've done and where it's going?

Simone: I'm just lucky to be involved with creators and an editor who know what they're doing, and how to make great comics. The art, by Ed Benes and Alex Lei, is really slick and sexy, and Lysa Hawkins has been a great guiding force as editor.

We wanted to clearly establish the central theme of the book, Dinah and Babs' complex and genuine friendship. In some ways, they're as close as sisters, and yet they couldn't be more different in others. We're also establishing that they don't always agree on the ethical approach to their job, and it's often surprising that Dinah fills the Jiminy Cricket role.

Other than that, we're focusing on big, entertaining action and drama and humor. It's a very special book to all of us, and it's wonderful that it's gotten such an amazing response, with several sell-outs in a row. Some stores are reporting tripling their previous sales.

Westfield: The Bat-family of books has always seemed to be a bit of a 'boy's club' with token female characters, do you feel that's changed at all with books/characters like Birds of Prey?

Simone: Some of these characters might have been created as tokens, but because the quality of the writing was so high, people still love them. We get endless mail, from guys and girls both, saying either Canary, Babs or Huntress is their favorite character. A lot of people, myself included, have a soft spot for the underdog who makes good, and the Birds are going to become increasingly independent and dangerous on their own terms as we go on. A lot of characters already rely on Oracle. Now the Birds are going to be the espionage branch of the DCU heroes.

Westfield: Also this month you have a new Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer coming out from Marvel, what's the deal with him? Will this be sporadically ongoing?

Simone: I hope so. Though individual sales weren't overwhelming, the response to Gus from people who picked it up was amazing. To Marvel's credit, they see the value in the book, and we hope to take steps to get copies into the hands of more kids.

Westfield: Having done a humor book (Simpsons Comics), a super-hero book (Birds of Prey) and over-the-top humorous super-hero books (Deadpool, Agent X), which do you prefer? Any drama on the horizon?

Simone: No preference, really... I love to make people laugh, but I'm loving writing Rose & Thorn, which is much more dramatic. And my JLA stuff isn't humor-oriented, either, beyond the normal banter the Leaguer's engage in. It's all just story-telling. I love all of it.

Westfield: Any other projects on the way you can tell us about?

Simone: As I say, I'm doing six issues of Justice League, finishing the last three issues of Agent X, and then there's some truly cool things coming up I can't announce yet.

Westfield: In the movie of your life, who would play you?

Simone: Brian Michael Bendis. He takes all the great jobs.

Westfield: Any closing comments you'd like to add?

Simone: Just thanks for all the support!