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EXCLUSIVE: Gail Simone on Dynamite's wild new Red Sonja/Tarzan mashup series

Contributed by
May 3, 2018

Grab your mosquito repellant because Dynamite Entertainment is trekking into the jungles of comicdom to pair two pulp heroes in a swinging new comic series titled Red Sonja/Tarzan.

This is the first (and possibly last) occasion these muscled warriors match up for an adventure of epic proportions destined to be labeled a classic when it drops into comic shops this week.

Written by Gail Simone, the acclaimed wordsmith behind the renaissance of Wonder Woman and last year's Wonder Woman/Conan team-up, this new project brings together the barbaric worlds of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Simone's confident storytelling talents are further amplified with artist Walter Geovani's evocative pencils that capture the rousing old-fashioned saga. It's a stylish presentation that showcases the finest qualities of each character as they cross paths to defeat a ruthless common enemy.

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Here's the official solicitation synopsis:

The She-Devil with a Sword meets the Lord of the Jungle!

Eson Duul is an evil man. The mere mention of his name makes powerful quake with fear. He has no regard for life, including that of man. But he may finally have met his match when he finds himself up against Red Sonja and Tarzan! Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Red Sonja) and Walter Geovani (Red Sonja, Clean Room) reunite to bring us the crossover event featuring two of fiction's greatest heroes side by side at last!

Red Sonja began life as Red Sonya of Rogatino, a pulpy sword-and sorcery heroine in Robert E. Howard's 1934 short story, The Shadow of the Vulture. The beautiful blade-wielding character was further refined for Marvel Comics in 1973 by legends Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith with a slight name change and relocation to Conan's Hyborian Age.

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Since then she's been the swashbuckling star of numerous comic series, tie-in books, graphic novels, and even a 1985 feature film starring Brigitte Nielsen and directed by Richard Fleischer (Fantastic Voyage, Soylent Green).

Simone resurrected Red Sonja for Dynamite starting back in 2013 and since then she's had intimate associations with the female gladiator and her legacy of thrilling tales.

SYFY WIRE connected with Simone to learn about this epic new Red Sonja crossover series, what keeps her intrigued by the charismatic character, and what readers can hope for as this exotic pairing of the She-Devil With a Sword and the Lord of the Jungle unfolds.

After the chat, check out our six-page preview with seven vivid variant covers in the gallery below! Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 drops Wednesday, May 2.

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What is it about this Red Sonja crossover with Tarzan that makes for a particularly rousing adventure tale and what can readers expect?

Gail Simone: "Oh, man, there are so many answers to that first bit. First, for me as a writer, it's the first real mixing of the worlds of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. These guys were titans of the pulp realm, they imagined more worlds than almost anyone else. And it's Tarzan, and Red Sonja, I mean, both have a thousand imitators and zero equals.

But as a reader, I hope what people get out of it is a rousing tale. Both characters feel very modern to me, we're not really going for pastiche or nostalgia. Tarzan is a feral child in a suit, Red Sonja is the last Amazon, in modern terminology, those concepts really work, even if you are not familiar with their long histories.

And as always, the goal is to find that single element that binds them, either in compatibility or in contrast. There's always that one thread, if you look hard enough. For this book, it's family, which comes in as a theme in ways both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

And finally, you can't beat two rare hotties in loincloths, and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise."

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After pairing up Wonder Woman with Conan the Barbarian, how does this new team-up compare and might they all crossover in some future title?

"No one really expected all that much from Wonder Woman and Conan, I don't think, it seemed pretty gimmicky. But we put our hearts into that book, we just leaned into it HARD and readers responded. It's getting a hardback collection, people ask for more...hardened reviewers were saying, WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO END?

So that was huge fun. I feel some of that same magic here, it's not some goofy meaningless story, it has some real moments, things that feel full of import about why these two characters are important. We're not coasting. Tarzan is the character that made me love adventure stories, his first novel was MY first novel, as a reader. I want to do him right. And of course, I love Sonja like a bad sister at this point.

I don't think there would be a crossover, Conan is now back in Marvel's hands, and as cool as that is, I don't know that any crossovers are happening in the near future. We feel blessed we got WW/C in under the wire!"

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How does Walter's art capture the essence and style of your story?

"When you are like me as a writer, and prefer to write just a handful of stories of all your favorite characters, rather than being known for one extended run, you work with a lot of artists. I have been a million times blessed in that I have gotten to work with some of my heroes, people like Michael Golden, George Perez, John Byrne, Jose Garcia Lopez, on and on.

And there's this side thing, artists who just GET your scripts. Every writer I know has one or two such artists. I've been lucky and had a few; Cat Staggs, Nicola Scott, a few others. But I don't know if there's any other artist who lives in my head like Walter Geovani. No matter what I ask for, he draws it, better than I had hoped. In my entire time working with him, I've had almost zero notes, because he just knows what's needed. And he can draw comedy, tragedy, blatant sex appeal, violent fighting, nightmarish monsters...I can't say enough about him, and I'm always sad when we have breaks where we're not working together.

So I begged Dynamite to get him for this, and was delighted when they told me they agreed and had ALREADY signed him up."

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"He draws the best Sonja, I adore his take on her, and now we are seeing a very Kubert-inspired Tarzan, the lithe gymnast-looking guy, who is somehow savage even in full gentleman's dress...it's amazing. Walter is outdoing himself.

I hope people take a look at this book. This match-up may never happen again, so for many readers, it's a once-in-a-lifetime story. And it's fun, scary, angry, happy, sexy and tough. It's Tarzan in Cimmeria and Red Sonja in the jungles of Africa, and so much more. It's really why I love writing comics."