Filed under: Interviews | Tags: Batgirl, Firestorm, Gail Simone, Secret Six, Thought Bubble
Thought Bubble 2011 allowed the CA-Team to catch up with writers/artists that we wouldn’t normally get the chance to see, and we were particularly fortunate to have the time to talk with Gail Simone, the only female writer currently on-board with the New 52. Here’s what we discussed:
How are you enjoying Thought Bubble?
Thought Bubble is amazing, it’s such a celebration of comics because conventions nowadays are tending to be a lot more multi-media and this one really focuses on comics, giving the same weight to mainstream comics as independent and more literary comics… which is amazing.
Batgirl’s post-traumatic stress has been interesting, have you had any flack from fans based on their own experiences?
I try to do my research, I’m very careful about it and I spend a lot of time talking to people about it. Right now I’m talking to traumapsychologists and people who have gone through it. I used to volunteer in a crisis centre and so I’m drawing from my experience; I was a hairdresser for a number of years so you go through these things with people as they deal with it in their lives. Between that, [and talking to] experts and individuals who have gone through it, I feel pretty comfortable that we are going to do credit to peoples stories. Things are not always perfect, or I may not tell the story that one particular reader was hoping I’d tell, but I think overall it’s going to be her story and it’s going to be done in a way that makes sense and is accurate.
Do you feel that you get to bring in a lot of life experience to the characters you write?
I do. I don’t know if it’s so much from my personal life experience, but because of my career before being a comic book writer I just knew SO many people. As a hairdresser you go through births, marriages, deaths, divorces, traumatic things that happen in their lives, happy things as well and with people from everywhere and all economic levels. So I have that, and a theatre background where we were taught to build characters from the ground up, so it’s drawing on all of that as well as things and other writers that inspire me.
So what kind of things inspire you just now?
Personally, what inspires my writing is more things like travelling, history, meeting an interesting person, or someone telling me of an interesting situation they’ve been in or sometimes reading a newspaper. In Secret Six I did a whole arc exploring prison systems and what that means about the country. Among these crazy characters that have all these other things going on in their life, there’s a deeper story about prison systems. I’d read an article about a prison in North Korea and I thought that would be interesting to find out more and that’s kind of what I do as I’m an information-a-holic – so I find things interesting that I look into more for a story. I read novels, comics, I’m kind of behind right now but I’m inspired a lot the innovative work that’s done by other creators or even scientist are doing because it comes from everywhere for me. It’s more a matter of turn off the brain and relax for a bit instead of constantly searching for ideas and although writers have to work really hard and develop their skill, I do think our brain is wired a certain way from the beginning and almost every writer I speak with has this great imagination.
So how much time are you spending on your New 52 work?
I write full time… pretty much full time PLUS I would say. Stuff I’m doing for Batgirl and Firestorm is a certain section of the day. I’m also working on an episode of Leverage and some prose stuff so I have things going on all the time. Then I’m thinking about what the next project is. There’s another project with Ethan Van Sciver, that’s not Firestorm, which hasn’t been announced yet and that we’re spending time on – and I have some new stuff that I’m trying to get off the ground.
Is that new project a DC book?
The one with Ethan is a DC book and the new stuff I’m trying to get off the ground is with DC as well.
I’m not really working on anything creator-owned with DC; I’m more working on high-concept type of stuff. I’d like to do something with the teen female characters and stuff like that. Not right now but that is something I’m going to be focusing on in the next couple years.
Your role within DC as THE female writer must take a lot of focus and you seem to take that quite seriously.
Well I take being a writer seriously and I take the fact I’d like to have barriers broken down for other writers, not just female writers but writers who live in other countries who feel they’re never going to be able to write because they’re not in New York. I feel that the female readership is our only growing demographic and to NOT take that seriously seems ridiculous.
With your work on Batgirl, do you get involved with Scott Snyder and the other Bat-creators?
We haven’t had any formal meetings, but we’re back and forth on e-mail all the time, and Scott and I are doing some stuff in the Bat-verse with the Gordon Family that’s really interesting. We are really excited about that as its game-changer stuff.
As a Blue-Beetle fan [Linsay] – Will Ted Kord come back?
I don’t know, some of the stuff with the New 52, I don’t really find out until everyone else does.
Gail Simone has done some stellar work on DC’s titles before and she’s managed to tap into the whole idea of why the reboot had to happen and how to get the best out of that. She’s writing characters and stories that we give a damn about, which is no mean feat given the criticism DC have taken for the lack of female involvement in the New 52. The number of female creators has gone from 12% to 1% and it seems that Gail Simone is the woman to carry that burden for now while DC gets its act together. If you’re not reading Batgirl or Firestorm then you should be – it’s a good story and it just happens to be written by a woman. If anything, the writers of the titles that have let us down in the reboot could take some pointers from what Gail has achieved in her books so far.
All photos courtesy of Fiona Watson Photography.
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