An American comic book writer known for writing strong female characters — and for drawing attention to the excessive rate of sexual assault and murder that female superheroes are subjected to in comics — Gail Simone took over the DC comic series Birds of Prey beginning with issue #56, and became the regular writer for the Wonder Woman series in 2007, which we wrote about at the time (as did The New York Times). Simone has also written for several other comic series over the years (including Killer Princesses, which wins my vote for best title) and currently also writes for the series Secret Six.
When I discovered that Gail had commented on one of our blog posts a few months ago, I reached out to her for an email interview about Wonder Woman, and women and LGBT characters in comics in general, and she graciously agreed.
This is the first part of the interview, focusing on the Wonder Woman series; the second part will be posted tomorrow. Special thanks to The Linster and StuntDouble for helping me come up with the questions!
AfterEllen.com: You seem to really love Wonder Woman as a character. Why?
Gail Simone: Ah, well, that’s a long answer, there, so I’ll
try to be concise (and probably fail!). But I have a scene in one of my
early issues where Wonder Woman lets an opponent kick the crap out of her,
without fighting back, just her extending an open hand to him, no matter what
his rage makes him do. I think that’s a big part of it — she COULD tear
someone’s head off, she COULD destroy a country if she chose. But she
would consider that a failure as a warrior for peace.
The death of an enemy is not victory to her. I love that stuff. I think it’s
a far better blueprint for the future than most of the action hero stuff out
there right now.
But there are a million reasons. I love that she’s the DC universe’s
premiere badass. I love that she was giving messages of the power of
womanhood in the 40’s, you know, decades before Buffy or Xena or Lara Croft.
And there’s a part of me that loves the pegasi and the princess-ness of it
all, and all the trappings of Paradise
Island. She’s just
And I like her with a dry sense of humor, while we’re at it. The sisterhood
aspect of the Amazons is tremendously compelling to me. Who wouldn’t love
to have that many sisters who loved you AND carried bladed weapons?
AE: You have allowed Wonder Woman’s relationship with Tom Tresser to
sort-of go farther than anyone has ever allowed WW to go. She’s kind of a
virgin figure in comic book, but you’ve let her sexual side out a little. Was
that a conscious decision?
GS: Absolutely, and I can’t quite give spoilers out on an
ongoing story, but I can’t help but feel sorry for poor Tom. Not ONLY is he
dating a princess and a warrior who can lift a battleship over her head, but
she happens to have an over-protective, sword-carrying mother and a royal guard
of albino gorillas.
That’s got to be a bit intimidating for the poor guy. It speaks well of
him that he doesn’t simply crawl away in a puddle of his own urine.
It’s fun stuff to write, as we got to see a bit of the Amazon mating rituals
for the first time, which of course implies that a lot of the Amazons are
coupled themselves, which I think would’ve happened even if they HADN’T been
exiled on an island with no guys for thirty centuries.
AE: What has surprised you most about WW and her supporting cast, as
you’ve gotten to know them?
GS: Well, mostly how entertaining they are. Wonder
Woman’s mother, Hippolyta, is just a joyful and stern character with this very
dark, obscure sense of wit, who commands an army and intimidates everyone she
Characters like that are why I chose being a writer over being a
hairdresser, which I was for a number of years.