Dynamite Comics and Humble Bundle teamed up this month to help support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) and the National Coalition Against Censorship, organizations designed to protect the artistic community to combat censorship. Featuring one of the publisher’s most recognizable female bad asses, the Red Sonja Humble Bundle offers fans a ridiculous discount on nearly $350 worth of books.
Red Sonja Volume 5 writer Mark Russell (Wonder Twins, The Flintstones) and co-writer Bryce Ingman (Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror) have crafted a special exclusive standalone tale entitled “Petitioning the Queen.” With art by Craig Rousseau (Impulse, Batman Beyond), the story centers on Sonja struggling to prepare for war while juggling her duties as Queen of Hyrkania. A pair of “magical” dwarves cause havoc in the streets and force Sonja to confront powers far beyond her understanding. Colorist Dearbhla Kelly, letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, and cover artist Mirko Colak (Conan) complete the team.
Russell, Ingman, and Rousseau sat down for a brief interview about the standalone story and why this particular Humble Bundle is so important to them.
Deanna Destito: Mark, how does your new story tie into the ongoing and how will it affect the world?
Mark Russell: This Humble Bundle story, while taking place between issues #1 and #2 of the main series, introduces the readers to characters who will return much later in the series and who will impact the final arc of the story. That said, what was really refreshing about working on this story with Bryce was creating something with its own unique sensibility and which readers could enjoy even if they’d never read any of the main series. Plus, it gives us a chance to explore the daily lives of Hyrkanians, so it opens a window into the wider world of the main series.
Destito: What made you want to contribute to this particular Humble Bundle?
Russell: I love the concept behind Humble Bundle, that you can sell your work while helping charities, and that they provide little easter eggs like this that you can’t get anywhere else, so this is something I was onboard with from the beginning.
Craig Rousseau: Honestly, the chance to work with Mark and Bryce was tempting right off the bat, so I signed on right away… and once I read the script I realized it was right up my alley.
Destito: This bundle is also raising funds for CBLDF. Are you all big supporters of the organization and why is a group like this important in comics (or any art form)?
Russell: Speaking as someone who has recently run afoul of the professional outrage industry, I understand how vulnerable, how isolated you can feel as a comics creator. At least Frankenstein was a monster. What do you do when the angry villagers come for you and you’re just some sap who sits at a laptop writing stories all day? That’s why organizations like the CBLDF are so vital. Even if you never need their services (and let’s hope you don’t), it makes you feel less alone, less easily intimidated, just knowing they’re out there.
Bryce Ingman: I couldn’t agree more with Mark’s comments about the CBLDF. While all creative endeavors face the threat of censorship, comic books seem especially vulnerable. Too many adults labor under the misconception that “all comic books are for children.” This often places comic books in the crosshairs of censors who refuse to accept the notion that sequential art can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. The CBLDF’s unwavering support of creators, retailers, publishers, librarians, and readers is our best defense against those who seek to limit the immense potential inherent in the simple act of combining words and pictures to tell a story. They are the true heroes of the comic book industry.
Rousseau: Absolutely. CBDLF and defending of the freedom of speech in comics is seemingly more important than ever.
Destito: What is your favorite trait of Red Sonja?
Russell: Her empathy.
Ingman: My favorite aspect of Mark’s take on Red Sonja is not her skill with a sword. Or the chain-mail bikini. It’s her mind. She’s a brilliant tactician, a wise leader, and a sharp wit. It was great fun pitting her against a different type of challenge in the Humble Bundle exclusive—a new puzzle for her powerful mind to crack.
Rousseau: She takes no crap and kicks all the ass.