If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a Chicago hitman and a Seattle housewife suddenly swapped bodies, then prepare yourself for Image Comics’ new series Crosswind. This comic by writer Gail Simone (making her Image debut) and artist Cat Staggs (Adventures of Supergirl, Wonder Woman '77) will explore how these two strangers deal with switching lives in a story that’s described as “Freaky Fridaymeets Goodfellas.” That unique combination means readers are in for quite a ride as issue #1 hits shelves this week.
In an interview with CBR, Simone and Staggs discussed how their Crosswind collaboration came to be, and what readers can expect from this unique story. The creative team also told us how the comic stands out from other body swap stories, how gender will play a role, and more.
CBR: Where did the initial idea for Crosswind come from, and how did the two of you join forces to collaborate on the project?
Gail Simone: It was mostly me with a weird little idea that I loved and a lot of groveling to get Cat to do it. Well, that's how I remember it.
The truth is, I had been asked to do a book at Image, and I needed a very particular kind of artist. I wanted Cat, but I had no idea how she'd react to this story. Fortunately, she said yes while I was still pitching the book! From there, it's been a partnership, these are our babies.
Cat Staggs: I had been wanting to work with Gail for a few years at that point and our schedules weren’t cooperating. This just happened to align perfectly for me. And like she said, she was still pitching and I said yes. I had been wanting to do something in this genre for years and I jumped at the chance.
How long have you been working on Crosswind?
Simone: It actually took a while longer than expected due to a couple family things. But it's always been our priority.
How would you describe the plot and characters in the comic? The description says "it's Freaky Friday meets Goodfellas," so what does that mean readers can expect from the series?
Simone: There's a hot, talented and respected Chicago hitman named Cason Ray Bennett, and he somehow, one day, inexplicably switches places with a Seattle housewife named Juniper Blue. She's been pushed around by everyone. It's the day that both their lives change forever. On top of that, they have an absolutely deranged killer on their trail. It's like Disney, but with hot lead and cheap sex.
Staggs: Ha, yeah, I would sprinkle a little X-Files-like mystery on this as well.
What has it been like working together? Can you tell us a bit about the process you have working on the comic?
Simone: It's mostly me writing the script and then gasping at every new page Cat produces. I was writing a comic, she was drawing an epic crime film. It makes me deliriously happy. It's a genre we've always wanted to work on, and Cat is my warrior princess and I'm her shield maiden. A blast.
Staggs: I draw it like I see it in my mind. [Laughs] Gail is writing such a beautifully intricate roller coaster of the human condition. The script feels bigger than the page. She is bringing her A game [to] it! Side note, I am now going to bring Gail a shield the next time I see her. I know she already has the sword.
Did you have any difficulty or come across any challenges when balancing the serious, dark elements of the story with the potential humor of the situation? How did you approach that aspect in the writing and art?
Simone: That line, that little equator between "that is so messed up" levels of darkness and "Holy crap, did you just say that?" humor, that's where I live, that's where my joy is. I love anything that makes you giggle and shudder at the same time.
Staggs: Gail really has mastered that timing. She's really good at slipping that in at just the right moment. I have added a few visual tension breakers, as well. It lets you take a breath and reset before you get back in the thick of it.
How do you want Crosswind to stand out from the other body/mind switch stories we've seen in pop culture? What will set it apart?
Simone: Well, a lot of those stories are played for laughs, it's like, "YOWZA YOWZA, I GOT BOOBS" or worse, and you know, that's just not anywhere we want to go. There's a lot of cruelty in body switch stories sometimes, we aren't about that, we're doing a book where people have to look at themselves and it's not always easy. That's what elevates it, I think. In these stories, it's always presented as a curse, it's a whole ugly trope, and there's a nasty kind of puritanism to that. Each new issue is going to show that that's not what we're going for.
Staggs: Right, Crosswind being primarily an action/drama really makes it stand out. They don’t know who or what to trust and have to figure their way back to themselves whether they like it or not.
Cason and Juniper are in very different situations when they switch places, and are treated very differently in their lives by the people around them. One aspect the story seems to have a great opportunity to explore is how women are treated in the world versus men given the situations we find these characters in. Is that something you want to examine in Crosswind? How will gender play a role in the story?
Simone: It's not just women, it's people all across the gender spectrum, but absolutely, we see how Juniper has been somewhat beaten down for having the nerve to exist. She's smart and attractive, and a great many people think that makes her beholden to their own screwed up notions of what a woman should be. At the same time, Cason's surrounded by people who have incredibly lethal ideas of what a man has to be. I don't know that anyone gets all the answers they want in this life, but I do know that there's always someone willing to tell you what your life must be. And a lot of them are buttholes.
Staggs: It has been fun and challenging for me art-wise. In the beginning, I am drawing a confident man and a broken woman. But once they switch, I am drawing a broken woman pretending to be a confident man and vice versa. It has been a great study in general mannerisms and body language. I have a running list for each of them and they each have their own personal characteristics that carry over. Their own personal tells, so to speak.
Is there anything else you want readers to know about the series before they pick up issue #1?
Simone: Just that I think this is something unlike what people are used to from Cat and I. Image is tremendously excited about the book, advance reviews have been amazing. I want it to be a book that makes you laugh, shudder, cringe, and think. And Cat's doing the best work of her career. So I am a happy weirdo writer.
Staggs: People are going to be surprised by this book. Gail is crushing it. I get excited when I get the scripts. I pretty much drop everything and read it right away and then I get to draw that! It has been such an awesome project.
Crosswind #1 is on sale this Wednesday, June 21, from Image Comics.