Photo credit: Aaron Albert
Veteran comic writer Gail Simone focused on the Wonder Woman series in the first part of our interview with us. In the second part, we ask her about LGBT characters in comics, the Birds of Prey series, and the new lesbian Batwoman series.
AfterEllen.com: You mentioned in a comment you left on our site that
“Comics have a ways to go regarding decent portrayals of LGBT characters, but
we they’re getting better, thank god.” Which comic series and LGBT characters
do you think are most interesting/promising in this regard?
Gail Simone: Oh, there are a few. It’s a small
handful, but still a huge improvement over just a few years ago.
Manhunter had a great mix of gay characters. We have the new Batwoman
coming out, featuring a lesbian lead character, as written by Greg Rucka, who
is very good with this stuff. Over at Marvel, Young Avengers is good
in this regard.
The dumb thing is that the gay comics readership is one we should be
welcoming with open arms. They are spectacularly supportive and communicative
and just essentially a dream audience. That’s not to say they don’t call it
when they smell bulls–t, because they do, but I’m continually delighted to see
the verve and swerve of the gay comics-reading community.
They own comic stores, they provide some of the best voices in the comics
press and in comics criticism. It’s just ridiculous to let them down
for some dusty perceived fear of alienating some small portion of bigots
and homophobes in the mainstream audience. It’s not how a vital, vibrant medium
should be thinking.
I always say if we insist on being dinosaurs, we deserve the tar pits.
But things ARE getting better…there are more openly LGBT creators, and I
personally have never been asked to ‘tone down’ or eliminate LGBT content and
I’ve had some in nearly every series I’ve written.
I think we have some catching up to do, but there are a lot of creators that
really do understand that it’s not about tokenism, it’s more a question of the
acceptance of basic humanity in the work we do. I think there was a time when
the industry believed that ANY gay character was going to, I don’t know, I
guess mollify the gay and lesbian audience, and so the first tentative steps in
that direction were pretty vile and laughable, even if they were well
intentioned. You know, sort of pure tokenism, Decorator Man and Scissor
We’re doing a little better now, thank God.
AE: What’s your opinion on the recent announcement about the lesbian Batwoman
taking the lead in Detective Comics? Do you think the comics world is ready for
a lesbian superhero to lead a comic series, and for a lesbian relationship to
be front-and-center in a series?
GS: I think they were ready a decade ago,
frankly. But comics have been ahead of the trends in entertainment many
times, and I think we’re in that position again, in some ways.
certainly imitating comics even in non-comics movies.
And there are always progressive writers like Grant Morrison, Alan Moore,
and many others, that are simply always going to be leading the zeitgeist, no
matter what project they work on. Most of us have been recruited to do some
film writing, so that line is very blurry.
But for Batwoman, they have one of DC’s top writers, best-selling
novelist Greg Rucka, telling her story, and he’s dead solid on LGBT material. I
suspect it’s going to be not just acceptable, but quite frankly awesome.
There are lesbian relationships front and center already. I just turned in a
new issue of Secret Six where the entire story is a lesbian first
I think we’ll see more and more of this as people realize the days of
burning comics by lunatic bigots are long since gone, and shouldn’t have been
taken seriously anyway. If we’d ignored them in the first place, imagine what
the industry could have accomplished!