Interview: Gail Simone on Dynamite’s Red Sonja/Tarzan

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Adam Hughes cover

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Adam Hughes cover


Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Crosswind, Deadpool, Red Sonja, and Secret Six are just a few of the comics written by fan-favorite creator Gail Simone. Now she, along with artist Walter Geovani, brings two classic adventure characters together in Dynamite’s Red Sonja/Tarzan. Simone reveals more about the series to Westfield’s Roger Ash.

Westfield: What makes Red Sonja and Tarzan a good pairing?

Gail Simone: That’s the crux of the thing, that’s the question I ask myself before undertaking any crossover event. I love doing them, but if I can’t find WHY they have chemistry, or conflict, or both, then I turn the book down. It’s what makes a story a story instead of a gimmick.

In this case, I think there are two factors…one is ferocity. They both have that savage side, that unswerving predator instinct, when called upon. The other, the conflict, and we deal with this in-depth, is family. I don’t want to give away too much, but both started as loners, and only one made a change in that regard.

On the other hand, for the sheer, impossible fun of it, we’re taking a character from Robert E. Howard’s world and throwing them against a character from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ world, and that’s the stuff a pulp fan’s (like me) dreams are made of.

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Jae Lee cover

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Jae Lee cover


Westfield: Was it challenging developing a story that worked for both characters?

Simone: Oh, sure, but that’s also part of what you take on with this kind of story. If you’re not willing to carry that load, you should let someone else write the book! Fortunately, both REH and ERB are fantasists to some degree, and that left me some loopholes.

And again, the FUN of Sonja and Tarzan in the same story cannot be overestimated.

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Aaron Lopresti cover

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Aaron Lopresti cover


Westfield: What can you tell us about the story and who are some of the characters we’ll meet aside from Red Sonja and Tarzan?

Simone: There are a few familiar supporting characters, characters I have loved for a long time. And there are some REH and ERB Easter Eggs, as well. I want this to be a pleasure both for new readers and for hardcore fans of these characters.

Westfield: The villain of the piece is Eson Duul. What can you tell us about him?

Simone: Both Howard and Burroughs were great at creating truly hateful villains. I wanted a character who was a mix of their styles, both literary and historic. So Eson represents just sheer consumptive evil, he dominates everyone around him, and he has the physical, mental, and social resources to grind his enemies into the dirt, to humiliate and disgrace them. He can look Tarzan and Sonja in the eye and threaten them…that’s not something the average bad guy can do.

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Walter Geovani cover

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Walter Geovani cover


Westfield: You’re once again working with artist Walter Geovani. What makes this a good collaboration?

Simone: Well, he’s just a huge talent, but beyond that, even with the slight language barrier, he’s one of those artists who understands my weird, off-beat ideas. I love that he can draw savage, he can draw sexy, he can draw funny, all in the same book, sometimes the same page. That’s huge to me. And his runs on Red Sonja and Clean Room were some of the most rewarding collaborations I’ve done. So I didn’t want to do this book without him. Fortunately, he wanted to do it as much as I did! So I definitely lucked out.

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Sergio Davila cover

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 Sergio Davila cover


Westfield: Any closing comments?

Simone: I feel like this is the kind of thing comics still do better than any other medium. We are finding out that Disney tells a pretty great Avengers story on the big screen, but look how few truly great Tarzan or sword and sorcery movies there have been, you know? Let alone Tarzan AND Sonja. And what fun would this be in prose? I want to SEE them fight, and hunt, and confront each other.

That’s one of the things I love about comics. Sometimes, you get to write a thing you love and not have fifty producers telling you to smooth down the edges. I want to KEEP the edges.

It’s Sonja and Tarzan, two of the most wildly entertaining characters ever created. Now we get to see them be wild TOGETHER.

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