As just revealed, Gail Simone’s secret mission to this year’s SDCC was to make a momentous announcement: she’ll be joining the Catalyst Prime Universe as “Chief Architect” a nebulous but powerful position that will shape how this superhero universe proceeds. Catalyst Prime was launched last year as Lion Forge’s dedicated superhero universe and has met with some strong reviews, but also some fine tuning as it tries to find its place in the market.
It’s a return to the world of capes for Simone, and a pretty huge new position for a writer who has made indelible marks on the comics world already.
We had the opportunity to ask Simone about her new gig, and as you can see, she’s bringing the same enthusiasm she’s always displayed to the new position.
In addition to Simone coming on board, Lion Forge announced that Christopher Priest is returning for the 10th issue of the Astonisher series, and Rodney Barnes,(Falcon) is writing Quincredible, now due in November.
A lot is happening at Catalyst Prime.
Q: Wow. Congrats on the new gig. How did you get started talking about taking on the architect role and what were your initial thoughts?
A: The folks at Lion Forge approached me, and they hit me kind of at just the right time, really. I had deliberately taken some time off from superhero books (with a couple exceptions), to do some creator-owned work. I had a blast, worked with great co-creators, but I also was missing the capes a little bit. I just missed the high adventure.
So when they approached me, I was having a ball with books like Domino and Plastic Man, and they said, essentially, “how would you like an entirely new universe to play in?” And I can’t pass up a pitch like that, it just seemed like a ticket to Disneyland on the best day of the year.
Q: What was the biggest appeal to you of taking on the Catalyst Prime Universe?
A: The FIRST thing that really appealed to me was the writers they hired. That was number one. They were all people whose work I really admired, people whose books I buy with cash money. That was the first inkling that, whoa, something cool is going on here.
But the more I learned, it became equally important that the company is carrying on something I really believe in, which is comics for everybody. It’s their freaking company motto.
If you asked me now, it’d be a toss-up; the creative teams, the company plan, and the characters, because I have tremendous feeling for the characters already. I want people to know about Summit and Seven and Accell, all these great new toys to play with!
I don’t really have the capability to feign enthusiasm. If the characters hadn’t clicked with me, I would sadly have had to pass. But I think these characters are the future.
Q: Can you give any thoughts on the characters and titles and who you’re most excited about?
A: Ah, I don’t want to play favorites too much, but there are some concepts that really smacked me so that I had to know what was coming next. I feel like Noble, Summit and Accell are special, kind of our trinity. I love the Astonisher, it just has that great oddball feel that you can’t get enough of, it reminds me of the great outsider superheroes I loved growing up. But all the books have something exciting, there’s no dead weight.
Q: How involved will you be as the Architect? And how much of a transition will it be going from a freelance writer to more of an editorial/oversight position?
A: Well, it’s not really a common position so we are still sculpting that, but I think it’s a little bit pit crew, a little bit cheerleader, a little bit editor, and a lot of whatever imagination and human connection I can bring. We have some huge things I will be writing and others I will be directing, and then there’s an important function of connecting the books in a way that gives the creators the most freedom and the best possible playground.
I am filling notebooks with ideas, things that would be almost impossible to do with other superhero universes (as much as I love them). That’s a dream, it’s just a rare opportunity.
Q: I know you’ll be writing at least one title – what can you tell us about that?
I can’t say too much about it yet, but I will say, she’s going to be AMAZING. People who have read Clean Room know I have a kick for the scary…imagine a superhero in that genre!
But we’re still putting the paint on this, so I can’t say too much. But it’s exciting!
Q: Speaking personally – and it’s an opinion held by most of the Beat Staff – one of the most exciting things about the CPU has been the diversity both on the page and behind it. Can you talk about what that means to you personally and how you hope to continue that legacy?
A: I came into this industry almost by accident, and all I really wanted to do was add some fun female characters to the comic book universes I love. It was going to cons that made me realize how short-sighted that was, and how many people that left out. I’ve had the honor of meeting people like Dwayne McDuffie, and his message was always include everyone, and then write the best damn story you can. Dwayne was a hero of mine and my first comics mentor, he believed in me as a writer before I believed in me as a writer. And again, he made stories about everyone, from Superman to Milestone, and they were all great stories.
I feel like those are the best possible goals. The Catalyst Prime Universe is about great characters and stories, and their loves, lusts, victories, heartbreaks, their friends and foes, it’s all the stuff we love about the best cape books, and it’s a world that looks a bit more like the one we all live in. But above all, great stories.
That’s been exactly what Lion Forge has been pushing for since the day they started, and that’s absolutely why I’m so happy to be here.
I can’t wait!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.