SIMONE, HERNANDEZ COME OUT WITH GUNS BLAZING IN 'KILLER PRINCESSES'[enlarge]
You say that you really enjoy Gail Simone's weekly razor slashes of humor in her You'll All Be Sorry column, but what you'd really like from her is a black and white miniseries featuring heavily armed beautiful women who wear tiaras?
It sounds like "Killer Princesses" is made for you.
"I'd say it's a comic that finally satisfies that long-ignored, yet still crucial demographic group that enjoys stories about assassins who can't cook toast," Simone told the Comic Wire on Wednesday. "Honestly, this is a book so much about Lea and I, it's hard to separate from it enough to describe it quickly. It's about the horrible, not-so-bright 'in-crowd' girls, and what happens when an agency tells them they can do whatever they like, have whatever they want.
"If they agree to kill some troublesome individuals. Which the Princesses can do, because they don't have much in the way of empathy."
As officially announced last weekend at the Alternative Press Expo in San Franciscio, the three issue miniseries will be published by Oni Press starting this coming December.
Of course, women who can put you in the hospital (at best) and look fabulous doing it are hardly new territory for Simone's partner in crime on "Killer Princesses," Lea Hernandez, creator of "Cathedral Child," "Clockwork Angels" and "Rumble Girls."
"I've been a fan of Lea's for a good while," Simone said. "I adore her art, and have tremendous respect for her writing. She's a genius. What I didn't know is that she's hilarious, also. We met at the CBR chat room, and just kept trying to top each other by saying the goofiest crap we could think of.
"Then she made her big mistake: She asked me to write something for her to draw. So, it is my task to make her suffer.
"Actually, we're both having an incredible time working together. When she first drew the Princesses, she got them so dead on, we just knew we had something."
The collaboration has grown since, of course.
"We make each other laugh, and we support each other completely. She's my hero. And we lucked out by getting James Lucas Jones for our editor -- he's been our guardian angel all along. And THEN, the brilliant Laura DePuy volunteered to do cover colors. This book was meant to happen, it feels like."
"Killer Princesses" is currently at a very early stage: "Still at scripts and pencils," Simone said. "We do have a couple sneak peeks planned, though ..."
The concept of "Killer Princesses" isn't one that most people seem to have a problem understanding: These girls were in every high school in America and, perhaps, the world. Simone won't confess to having been one of them, though.
"I was on basketball rally squad for one horrible season, and I was in a lot of plays in high school, but Princesses were people to stay away from, I felt," she said. "Lea was in bugle corps or something ... she was a Princess, but she denies it."
Just because Simone, at least, wasn't a princess in high school doesn't mean that she's not drawing on her high school experiences for the project.
"I think it draws on things EVERYONE remembers from high school, but the series itself takes place when the Princesses are college-age."
The in-crowd girls growing up to become hired assassins is a concept that could go multiple ways, including parody or a straight-forward approach.
"Actually, it's not a parody at all," Simone said. "It's funny, but it's completely a situational type of humor. The girls are funny because their worldview is so skewed, ill-realized and selfish. They're the Spinal Tap of political assassins.
"But even so, it's hard not to like them, a little. I've grown really fond of all three of them."
For comic fans who aren't online -- there are still scattered reports of them being seen in the wild -- Simone's work with Bongo Comics, Oni and on her other as-yet-unofficial projects would seem to come out of nowhere.
"Most all of the opportunities I have coming up have come from editors and pros who have read Yabs, and Yabs itself came about from joking letters I wrote to friends getting circulated via email. So a lot of it is Jonah's fault for having a popular Web site, the bastard!
"The Simpsons work, which I love beyond words, came about because Scott (Oddball Comics -- go read it now!) Shaw! urged me to try. Bongo, for the record, is one amazing company to work for. I've written a ton of stuff for them, and I plan to continue 'til Homer gets wise and Lisa gets dumb.
"It's a bizarre freak-show situation. I literally have to throw my hands up when people ask my advice on breaking into the industry, because my career path is so inexplicable. I'm working with gifted artists, and contrary to a lot of the horror stories out there, the editors I'm working with have been extraordinary ... I feel very, very fortunate."
And Ms. Simone's wild ride isn't done yet:
"I have some stuff that I'll be announcing pending final approval. I've been offered several chances to work on lots of characters I truly love, some major, some less so."
And the price for this success?
"I used to have time to sleep, sometimes!"
SCOTT KOLINS SETS THE PACE IN 'THE FLASH'
With Geoff Johns settling in to his first post-trial period story arc as the permanent writer of DC Comics' "The Flash" has come changes to the book: A new focus on Keystone City, tackling some classic villains over a prolonged period and a new permanent artist on the book, Scott Kolins.
"I love working on 'The Flash,'" Kolins told the Comic Wire on Tuesday. "I've enjoyed Wally's character since his days as Kid Flash especially as a Teen Titan, and whereas I don't usually care for new people in familiar shoes (Joe Blow is now Capt. Original) -- Wally West's adoption of Barry Allen's costume/legacy always felt right. It felt like family situation; the son becoming the father. That said it's been interesting dealing with this Flash being Wally and not Barry. Since I'm not fond of the White eyes version of the Flash (white eyes equals mystery or godliness!) I'm trying that much harder to make sure it looks like Wally, not Barry. I'm trying to use everything I can to distinguish this: head shape and facial features/expressions, body type, posturing, as well as the speed effects. Even the way I tell a story, I feel has to do with this. I don't think I'd layout a Barry/Flash story the same way I do for a Wally/Flash story. There's just a different attitude, which is very much enhanced by Geoff's writing. Our Flash is a very urban superhero. Even though I've been drawing these fanciful stories for some years now, this feels fresh and full of promise. This is definitely going to be my best work to date."
Kolins' take on the franchise is a little different than previous artists' interpretations, but he said the reaction has been "AMAZING, so far! I've received a totally new and very positive reaction with this new linear/open style. It apparently has allowed my better qualities to shine, and I'm having a great time. Can't get any better than that."
Readers of DC Comics' superhero books have probably encountered Kolins' work in the past, although they might not necessarily recognize it as the work of the same man: "The Flash" marks him trying a new style with his work.
"It started in my sketches while working on 'Legion of Super-Heroes,' and I thought of starting it there, but the winds of fortune said no. I thought the clean style would work great in that clean, high tech future. Then later when Joey Cavalieri ('Flash' editor) offered 'The Flash' to me, Mike Carlin (Executive Editor at DC) suggested I step back and really figure out 'my' take on the Flash and how 'unique' I could make it. I hardly think I'm unique in this attempt, but in sketching Wally and Linda (Flash's wife), I found this style working. I also really enjoy the sci-fi element of Flash and feel this linear style works with that. I can get a detailed as I want with gadgets or the city of Keystone itself. Also, this style says: 'Superhero Comics' to me. We'll see if it lends itself to other genres later."
Ever since the franchise's beginnings during the Golden Age, the Flash has featured a variety of special effects in the art, with the most recent being the addition of "Speed Force" lightning trailing in the wake of the members of the Flash family. Look for Kolins to continue on with that.
"Nothing very original here, I'm afraid. But in this case, I think it's a matter of: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' I've seen many great artist render all those lightning speed effects, and multiple figures/actions, I just hope I'm adding my name in there somewhere. The only thing I've added is a special thin yellow panel border around those panels I feel are in 'Flash time' -- meaning when Wally is thinking/feeling faster than the rest of us. Geoff and I made a point of this in 'Flash' #174 -- where Wally's nervousness jumpstarts his powers and suddenly time goes really slow for him. For Wally, it seems like it takes forever to just exchange a few words. I harken it back to 'Showcase' #4 (Sept. 1956) in Barry's origin where the waitress drops his food and it just hangs in mid-air because his Flash powers are kickin' in. I'm just adding an extra thin yellow border around those kind of moments."
And Kolins is looking forward to a whole host of such moments in upcoming issues:
"Heating it up and tearing it down! Geoff is a great writer who humors me by letting me in on the game. I'll suggest something and then Geoff'll make it sing! We go back-and-forth all the time. Geoff knows how I like to draw destruction -- so I get plenty of that, and we combine that with repercussions. If it's gonna happen -- it's gotta make a difference. I love working with these guys. This entire creative team kicks butt: Geoff, me, Doug, Gaspar, James and Digital! We've got allot of free reign, which is awesome, and look who's in this book! I love designing NEW Villains like the Cicada Cult and Tarpit. We're having a blast with new supporting cast like Officer Chyre and Detective Morillo adding to the mix, and rockin' with great old villains like Captain Cold (who I've drawn twice now OUT of costume around town) and Gorilla Grodd! I really feel like we're getting to play with a whole world of cool fun stuff. One warning: Don't spoil #175-176 by reading the solicitations! Enjoy the comic!"
And for fans just getting acquainted with Kolins' work, he still has some other works likely on the racks of comic shops:
"My only other recent stuff was 'Legends of the DCU' (featuring Green Lantern) #37-38, inked by Klaus Janson and 'Wonder Woman' #160 &161 inked by Dan Panosian. 'Flash' is it for me right now and I'm waaaay ahead of normal schedules (I'm working on #177 now) so there will be NO PROBLEM doing at least 12 issues in a row! I'm shooting for 24 non-stop! NO fill-ins! (Remember those days?) Booya!"
WINDSOR-SMITH RETURNS TO MARVEL
It's been a while since Barry Windsor-Smith was a staple at Marvel Comics but it looks like the artist will have a chance to make a new generation of fans starting this spring.
"Barry's return was very, very simple. I made a call a couple weeks ago," Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada said in one of Marvel's twice-monthly press conferences Wednesday morning. "I just asked Barry if there was any interest. I was very surprised to hear that Barry was intrigued by the possibility of returning to Marvel."
Since Windsor-Smith hasn't done any superhero art in a number of years, he wanted a chance to get his feet wet again before diving in at the deep end.
"'Is there any possibility of doing any cover work?'" Quesada said Windsor-Smith asked. "And the answer was, 'of course.'"
Look for Windsor-Smith's first work this June, with alternate covers for the second issues of the relaunched X-Men books. He has also done other covers, including ones for "Thor" and Wolverine."
But it won't all be covers: "You can pretty much expect sequential stuff from Barry in the near future," Quesada said.
The regular telephone press conference didn't have a particular agenda this time around, and Marvel head Bill Jemas didn't even have any of his by now fairly standard provocative announcements to make.
"I don't have any hand grenades to throw at the industry today," he joked.
Quesada did elaborate on one of Jemas' previous grenades -- a statement made to comic retailers in Diamond Comic Distributors' "Diamond Dialogue" magazine -- that Marvel would soon be producing "bad girl" comics featuring strong sexy heroines, the sort of formula that Chaos! Comics has famously followed to a great extent.
The "bad girl" plans got a bit more clarity last week, when it was announced that Daredevil's back-from-the-grave femme fatale Elektra would be getting a new monthly series courtesy of writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Chuck Austen and cover artist Greg Horn.
"We've had plans to release strong female leads, in strong stories, she's the first one to be announced," Quesada said. Multiple genres will be featured in these titles, including supernatural stories and pulp fiction. "'Elektra's just the first."
Not familiar with Austen's name? Don't feel bad.
"Chuck [Austen] had done some work before, but I had never heard of him," Quesada said. But when some of his art came in over the transom, "It just blew me away. It was like nothing I'd ever seen."
Bendis will be writing "Elektra" for a six issue arc, followed by another writer Quesada did not name. Asking busy creators to add additional projects to their workload has meant being realistic about how many they can crank out in a row, Quesada said, including Garth Ennis on "Punisher."
"Garth had let us know ahead of time that there was only a limited number of issues he could do, but he also let us know that he's coming back, " Quesada said, "He just wants to take a certain amount of time writing them."
Finally, in other X-news beyond the return of Windsor-Smith, this fall's single-character X-Men miniseries this fall are indeed pilots for ongoing monthly books, and if the creative teams are a big success, it's likely they'll continue on any ongoing series.
The next Marvel press conference is scheduled for two weeks' time. As opposed to Wednesday's free for all, the next conference will apparently be focused around an announcement, although Jemas decided against saying just what it was beforehand.
A FISTFUL OF COMIC BRIEF
Here's what's news and press releases in CBR's Comic Brief since the last edition of the Comic Wire:
- CBLDF Cancels Making Waves Cruise
- Hellboy PVC set debuts at Toy Fair
- Dark Horse goes ape with comic-book series based on Twentieth Century Fox's Planet of the Apes
- CrossGen Comics now available in Italy
- Avatar Press solicitations for product shipping May, 2001
- Former WCW Nitro Girl Teri Byrne Signs Comic Deal with Gypsy Press
- Warren Ellis announces new tool for comics enthusiasts