The former WW scribe talks with Christy Blanch.
UPDATED 12/14/16: Unfortunately, the UN bowed to pressure from 45,000 ill-informed petitioners who say Wonder Woman doesn’t deserve this honor. We strongly disagree with their reasoning. Click here for more than that.
Our WONDER WOMAN WEEK celebration continues!
Gail Simone is not only a popular writer, she’s one of comics’ most respected spokespeople. Our columnist Christy Blanch talked with Gail about her Wonder Woman run, her feelings about the character and how she sees her in society.
The interview is a nice pairing with our feature earlier this week, when 13 top creators such as Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp and Trina Robbins discussed how Wonder Woman changed their lives. If you haven’t read it, click here to check it out. You’ll dig it, I do believe.
For the full WONDER WOMAN WEEK INDEX of stories, click here.
Now, on to Christy and Gail! — Dan
By CHRISTY BLANCH
Sometimes life gives you lemons. I have had plenty of those times — including many where I didn’t have water or sugar, either.
But sometimes, life gives you a tiara and a golden lasso. This is one of those times for me. When I was young, I spent my spare time doing two things — trying to use the force to move things with my mind and spinning in circles trying to be Wonder Woman. While neither of those things has happened — yet — I think one of those things most definitely happened to Gail Simone in her life.
In my mind, she spun around and turned into her own superhero and one as close to Wonder Woman as I can imagine. Gail has written not only many of my favorite stories, but my absolute favorite Wonder Woman story, The Circle. Nothing against Perez or Rucka or Marston or any of the other Wonder Woman scribes, the story Gail wrote spoke to me. It made me feel so much and every time I read it, I get those same feelings.
Gail once said “If you need to stop an asteroid, you call Superman. If you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But if you need to end a war, you call Wonder Woman.” That is my version of Wonder Woman, too, and why I connect with her character. She is full of peace, love and honor, while being the toughest superhero around.
And now is when life gave me that golden tiara and I throw the golden lasso around Gail, getting the honor of interviewing one of my favorite writers (and people) about one of my favorite characters. Life is all out of lemons for me today. So, enough about that, let’s get to the interview!
Christy Blanch: So Gail, what has Wonder Woman meant to you?
Gail Simone: This is not an easy question at all, she basically means everything.
When I first came to DC, and we got Birds of Prey back to being a hit book, they offered me Wonder Woman, and I turned it down. I was only being offered girl books from everyone for a while, and it felt like it would have meant a stereotype I would not be easily able to recover from. So I turned it down, despite loving her.
Then I got to write her in some things, a BOP cameo and a JLA arc, and I just loved her. I couldn’t believe how fun she was to write. So a couple years later, Dan (DiDio) calls me into his office and offers me Wonder Woman again, and I signed up faster than Wally West at a lunch buffet. Even though it meant dropping my beloved Birds of Prey, I took the book, because I just loved her. I thought I was her No. 1 fan.
Christy, I had NO IDEA. I came to meet thousands of Wonder Woman fans all over the world. They had tattoos, they cosplayed, they loved her more than their own families in some cases. And over and over, I kept hearing about how this character, this fictional character who was often sidelined and downplayed, kept people alive. Kept them from committing suicide, helped them through a trauma, helped them come out as LGBTQ, helped them get out of abusive situations, helped them take care of themselves, or, in my case, helped me realize how important stories could be.
I have been to countries where they don’t speak English and I don’t speak the language, and readers still come up and hug me in tears, because they know I wrote Wonder Woman.
I think about the people I met, one woman who became a legitimate astronaut, an actual astronaut, because of Diana. I mean, there’s something going on here far, far beyond, “I like this character.”
And that stuff, that Wonder Woman-related joy, it really manifested itself when Gal Gadot showed up in an otherwise semi-dreary movie, Batman v. Superman. When she showed up in armor, the whole audience cheered. I felt something shifted right then, and now the stores have Wonder Woman merchandise and there’s a movie coming and my favorite creators are doing her books and oh, my god, it’s pretty much Amazon heaven.
Christy: Let me dry my eyes for a second. OK, I’m ready to continue. What is your favorite Wonder Woman story?
Gail: My favorite that I have written is The Circle. Even with the best male Wonder Woman writers, there are always topics they don’t seem to cover, somehow. I don’t blame them, it’s tricky stuff. But that story, to me, is possibly the most female Wonder Woman story every written, for good and bad. It’s about mothers, daughters, sisters, birth, death, pain and joy. It’s my favorite superhero story I’ve ever written.
Overall, my favorite Wonder Woman story is the quiet issue with Lois Lane interviewing Wonder Woman, by Phil Jimenez. It’s just a little perfect heartbreaker. But I will read anything by Greg Rucka, George Perez. I think Eric Luke’s run is very underrated.
She’s had a lot of terrific creators, thank Hera!
Christy: Is there anything you regret about your Wonder Woman run?
Gail: There are a few things I wish I’d addressed in my run. One of the things with Wonder Woman is, every new writer comes in and just ignores most everything that came before. They start over with their own take to a degree that would not be allowed with Batman or Spider-Man. So I tried to do a run that said, “all the previous runs happened,” and that maybe ate up some panel space that wasn’t really necessary. Since the next writer just ignored everything I did (which as I say, was common), it didn’t really add to the mythos to take that approach, I don’t think.
The other thing I wish we could have followed up on, is I had a story plan where Hippolyta would step down as queen of the Amazons and immediately propose to Philippus, the captain of her personal guard. My theory was that they loved each other for centuries, but duty kept Hippolyta from actually marrying her beloved. So stepping down, she is finally free.
The cool thing is, DC approved the idea tentatively. I think it would have been amazing. But my run ended as we were almost to that story. Still bugs me.
Christy: Do you prefer Batgirl or Wonder Woman?
Gail: Oh, god, no, that’s Sophie’s Choice right there. I could not possibly choose. Those two women have saved me numerous times, and gave me the career I love so much.
Christy: What do you think about the perception of Wonder Woman in the media?
Gail: I think that she, like many other icons, is many different things. I used to really cringe a little at people who saw her as only a pin-up, or a somewhat corny ’70s TV show, or a Super Friend. But I did come to understand that we all have a favorite Wonder Woman, we all have a version of her that means the most to us.
If the upcoming movie is good, Gal Gadot is going to define Wonder Woman for years, maybe decades. I’m a little anxious, but also excited, because she seems to get what the character can be, and she just looks like the Wonder Woman I have always envisioned.
Christy: How excited are you for the movie?
Gail: Pretty much living for it, at the moment. I watched the trailer eleventy hundred times, and I never do that.
If they get this right, can you imagine what’s going to happen because of it? A generation of young girls and boys who grow up with her as their inspiration? I imagine we’re going to have a LOT more astronauts!
For the full WONDER WOMAN WEEK INDEX of stories, click here.