Gail Simone, longtime comic book writer for DC Comics (and snarky Twitterer), is in the midst of a career evolution at the moment. Simone's comics work started with the Women in Refrigerators website, which was a commentary on how female characters are all-too-often mistreated in comics (named after the 1990s story in which Green Lantern Kyle Rayner discovers his girlfriend's body stuffed in his refrigerator). WIR became an important part of the discussion of how female characters are treated in superhero comics - a discussion that continues today. Simone's work on WIR led to a column at Comic Book Resources titled "You'll All Be Sorry" and the humor in that column in turn led to Simone working on Simpsons comics.
It was her entry into superhero comics, however, that permanently shifted Simeone's career. Although she worked for Marvel a bit, including a run on Deadpool and then Agent X, Simone has primarily made her home at DC over the last decade. Popular books like Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and others solidified Simone as super hero writer with an outspoken fan base.
Now Simone is in a brand new position: that of a non-exclusive freelancer. For many creators, this can be a difficult hustle, as the shift from guaranteed work minimums to having to look for gigs can be a struggle. Simone seems to be thriving, however. Between working on various Red Sonja projects at Dynamite and writing a Tomb Raider series at Dark Horse, Simone is also still working at DC, with a Vertigo series called Clean Room on the way and preparing to relaunch of fan-favorite Secret Six, which is in stores on December 3.
In part one of this in-depth two-part interview, Simone spoke with ComicsAlliance about Women in Refrigerators, women in comics, and her occasionally tense time at DC.
I've always been a pretty big fan of DC Collectibles' line of Batman: Black and White statues. Like the comic series of the same name, they put the spotlight onto visionary artists' distinctive interpretations of the character, and the results have been pretty awesome. Over the years, being invited to design a statue for the line has become a prestigious achievement and recognition of creating a memorable vision of the Dark Knight.
Now, though, after offering up stylish Black and White versions of characters like the Joker, Harley Quinn and even the Penguin, the line is expanding with its first ever Batgirl statue -- and it's based on Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr's new Batgirl of Burnside design.
Years after her rebooted New 52 series debuted, the Bat Signal illuminates the iconic hero Batgirl more brightly than ever before in a retooled title written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, drawn by Babs Tarr (from layouts by Stewart) and colored by Maris Wicks. A stark, dramatic departure from the decidedly dour tone of previous issue, the new book introduced Barbara Gordon's new life in the newly created and decidedly hip Burnside neighborhood of Gotham, where she makes time for crime fighting in between her graduate studies and hanging out with her new supporting cast. Vividly youthful, funny, cute, action-packed and even sexy, the new Batgirl of Burnside sparked interest amongst existing fans, lapsed Batgirl readers and curious newbies (and inspired criticism from people who just hate fun). Crucially, cosplayers immediately started replicating Barbara's new self-designed Bat-digs while the Batgirl of Burnside Tumblr debuted with daily boosts of fan art inspired by the hero's new look.
With the new run's inaugural issue, Batgirl #35, flying off the shelves and Batgirl of Burnside cosplayers running, jumping and otherwise posing all around the Javitz Convention Center, Barbara Gordon was the It Girl of last month's New York Comic Con, where we sat down with the series creators to talk about fashion, boys, and Batgirl's new villains, the Jawbreakers -- a gang of cosplaying bikers making their debut in this week's issue #36.
That sound you just heard is the sound of one million Tumblrs updating.
On Tuesday morning DC announced titles, teams, and plot outlines for ten of its forty planned two-issue Convergence mini-series, which will coincide with the publisher's big event comic next spring and take the place of its regular monthly output. From the looks of it, there's plenty of fan-service involved for people who loved pre-New 52 DC continuity.
Not only is Renee Montoya getting her own two issues as The Question, written by Greg Rucka -- who initially put Montoya in that role -- and drawn by Cully Hamner; but there's a Stephanie Brown Batgirl series, a Nightwing/Oracle wedding story, a Wally West story, a Superman/Lois Lane marriage series, a Bruce/Damian Batman & Robin series, and so on.
Barbara Gordon is for girls. This truth has been obscured over the years, most notably in the Batman: The Killing Joke, in which the classic Batgirl was shot, sexually abused and paralyzed by the Joker and taken out of costume for decades. But just as Superman stands for unimpeachable hope and Batman for rigid justice, Batgirl stands for girls doing what the hell they want. From the moment she debuted as part of the classic Batman TV show of the 1960s, this was clear: she was a librarian, she rode a motorcycle decorated with chiffon ruffles, and she did not give a damn that Batman wanted her to hang up the glittery puple cape and cowl. She was no sweet-tempered Kyptonian cousin, no kid sister, and no swooning girlfriend. As Mike Madrid detailed in The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, “Batgirl is a female Batman can actually regard as a brilliant peer and a partner in the war on crime, the same way he would a male.”
Q: Aside from the amazing cover for Superman #180, what's the best DC Comics story featuring Dracula? -- @brendan42
A: October is the month where I always find myself thinking about Dracula even more than I usually do, and just the other day I was thinking about how weird it is that there's never been a really good story about Batman fighting Dracula. They've tried it a couple of times, sure -- including a direct-to-video movie that takes a premise like Batman vs. Dracula and ends up committing the cardinal sin of being boring -- but it never really takes. Once I got your question, though, I started thinking about it, and I realized that there aren't many good stories about any DC Comics character fighting Dracula.
It turns out that dude just doesn't show up a whole lot in the DC Universe. And that's pretty weird.
It's Celebrate Bisexuality Day today, also called Bisexual Visibility Day -- a day to celebrate and promote recognition of those who are sexually attracted to people of more than one gender. The day exists because people with non-monosexual queer identities face unusual challenges in being recognized by both mainstream and queer cultures, yet visibility helps break down barriers and encourage acceptance.
In superhero comics, the problem of bisexual invisibility is as ingrained as anywhere; the medium struggles to acknowledge the existence of anything that didn't exist in The Honeymooners or The Andy Griffith Show, unless it's a space god, a shapeshifter, or a parasitic psychic monster. Having a character say, "I'm bisexual" is apparently more implausible than any of those things. There are signs that the industry is changing in this regard -- but slowly, and rather half-heartedly.
By this point, you've probably noticed that we here at ComicsAlliance are already huge fans of the new Batgirl of Burnside costume making its debut next month in Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr's Batgirl #35, but there are some out there who don't like it. For a few eaders, the stylish leather jacket and snapped cape just seems so much less practical and realistic than the heavily seamed skintight spandex, leading them to express genuine concern about Batgirl's effectiveness as a crimefighter.
Fortunately for those compassionate souls, Cameron Stewart has made a concession in the form of a variant cover for December's Batgirl #37, featuring a new variant of Batgirl's costume that is more practical.
A: Here's the least shocking thing you're going to read this week: I love Cassandra Cain. That probably goes without saying, given that she's a relatively obscure member of the Batman family that made her debut when I was a teenager, but really, it goes deeper than that. She came out of the gate with a compelling edge, some phenomenally solid storytelling, and a hook for drama that put her in contrast to the rest of Gotham's assorted heroes and hangers-on, while still feeling like a natural compliment to the other characters. And then, less than a decade later, she'd gone from being a new character with an incredible amount of potential to an also-ran who only really shows up to fill space in crossovers -- something that almost never happens to characters in the Batman family, especially when they've got 70+ solo issues under their utility belts.
So what happened? Man, I can't even tell you, I just read the darn things. But folks, it got really weird there at the end.
Since you are reading this on the Internet, I'm going to go ahead and assume that you're already familiar with the Ice Bucket Challenge, wherein folks are being nominated by friends, fans and colleagues to dump buckets of freezing cold water on their heads on camera to raise awareness of (and money to combat) ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord -- or Lou Gehrig's Disease, as it is popularly known. Over the past few weeks, we've seen plenty of famous folks taking the challenge, but now, it has busted right through the Fourth Wal, and all the way to Gotham City's Burnside neighborhood.
This particular challenge was issued by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, the creative team for the revamp of Batgirl, and the challengee is Barbara Gordon herself, who seems set on finding out just how helpful that new jacket is going to be in fighting off the cold.
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