The powers-that-be at MegaCon 2013 exercised vast wisdom and general awesomeness by having a panel dedicated to Gail Simone. For an hour, fans got to ask questions and listen to this excellent writer talk about her craft. V. was there taking notes for those of you who couldn’t be. Here are some of the takeaways.

On being a writer …
Gail was often told as a kid that she’d never make a living writing. So, for several years she was a hairstylist by day and writer by night. When she finally decided to close her salon and commit full-time to writing – she was terrified.

On breaking into comics …
If you didn’t already know, once upon a time, Gail Simone was a blogger-type like us. Exercising her wit and humor on the message boards landed her a comic gig writing The Simpsons. Gail says she didn’t set out to be a comic writer, but felt a responsibility not to waste the opportunity. When Birds of Prey came along, it was very much her intention to avoid using the characters as plot devices. Thank Hera! Her Birds are the best.

On her characters …
Gail doesn’t just gloss over the surface of a character. Through her major in Theatre Arts she learned to build a character from birth and give them an inner dialogue. She says the most important thing about a character is honesty. She tries to find their humanity, and reflect something in the real world in that character. “You have to know what breaks a character’s heart.” She wants to connect the reader to the motivations of the character with what she calls “emotional trails.” The writer/reader relationship is a symbiotic one, and she wants the reader to bring their own emotions to the book.

On honesty in the comics industry …
In comics, there is a lot of surface writing just to get to the punch, but in order for readers to relate there has to be something honest to hold on to. On the other hand, sometimes you have to write a surface character that represents a social issue (à la “New 52” Alan Scott) and martyr them in the media to get over that ideological hump. Doing this creates normalcy for something that wasn’t previously accepted. Then organic stories about different kinds of character can be written and accepted by editorial.

The moderator then asked, “Is it harder to market honesty?” Gail says, “No. I think we’re ready for it.”

On her dream artist …
She was asked which comic artist would be her “dream artist” to work with. After a pause, because that’s a hard damn question, she said Jim Lee, Bryan Hitch, and Amanda Conner.

On Marvel…
Gail’s favorite Marvel characters are Storm, Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde. She really likes Kitty Pryde.

On her social media presence …
Many of you know, Gail is very active on social media – from Twitter to Tumblr, she makes herself accessible to her fans. Gail was asked why that is, because clearly she is a busy person. In my favorite moment of the panel, she said that she got her start on the Internet, and that is her way of “paying back” her success.

On her favorite work …
Of course Gail loves Birds of Prey and Secret Six, but she is most deeply proud of her first arc on Wonder Woman. She feels it is distinct from other Wonder Woman stories because it demonstrates the varying aspects of Diana’s femininity – sister, warrior, ambassador – and the many incarnations that being woman/female may take.

On Batgirl …
To “wave the comic book magic wand” and Babs goes from a disabled character to not being disabled is not fair. You could hear the pang of injustice in Gail’s voice when she said it. So to honor the disabled character, Gail believes that Babs should always be compassionate and inspire compassion in others.

On a continuity note, being that Barbara Gordon is 21 in the New 52, she was never Oracle.

The Movement by Gail Simone

On The Movement
Gail’s new book The Movement is about a group of 17-24 year olds with a whole new set of super powers. These kids are dirt poor and pissed off. They band together to execute their form of justice, but according to Gail – they are not always right. It’s what would happen if the Teen Titans were created today. A new Titans would have to relate to the real world, and The Movement does that. Also, this book touts the widest array of diversity we’ve seen in a DC Comic … like ever.

On Red Sonja
When asked about Red Sonja, Gail reminded the audience of the Barbarian issues of Secret Six, and the crowd sort of nodded with new understanding. She loves Barbarian stories! “It’s a hilarious and badass book, she said.”

Alcohol. Blood. Lust. Dusty. Dirty.

Those are the words she used to describe her Red Sonja story, and it was apparent by her effusiveness that she enjoys writing this character. Her Sonja will be a strong, barbarian warrior that makes her own decisions. She is not a gift to men. Gail expressed that she will avoid the rape continuity that has previously motivated the character. While she doesn’t have a problem with the chainmail bikini, Red Sonja will have other outfits and there won’t be any penthouse poses while she kicking someone’s ass.

Towards the end, a girl in the audience thanked Gail for making it easier to be a female comic fan. The audience applauded. Gail smiled.

Up next … G3 interviews Gail!

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