Certain writers have a knack for capturing the voice of their own gender, then there are some who’ve mastered character voice altogether. No one is a better example of this than writer Gail Simone. Whether it was the warrior of Wonder Woman or the dweeb that is Millhouse, Simone is probably the best of the modern era when it comes to letting our favorite characters speak for themselves. We got a chance to catch up with her on the San Diego Comic-Con floor about her latest creator-owned series at Dark Horse Comics, Surviving Megalopolis. She tells us what’s cool about heroes destroying the human race with her long time collaborator and Megalopolis co-creator Jim Calafiore, Simone even had nice things to say about my hair.
COMICS BEAT: I’m here with the wonderful and talented Gail Simone.
Gail Simone: Hi!
CB: I wanted to talk about some Megalopolis. Let’s start with the self-publishing of the first volume. You had a massively successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the well-received first volume. It seems like you could have produced this new second volume the same way. What made you bring it to Dark Horse?
GS: $100K plus and we’re so grateful to everyone who backed our project. It allowed us to make a really beautiful 120-page hardback and we’re able to hire professional colorist Jason Wright and professional letters which would free Jim [Calafiore] up to do what he does best which is pencils and inks. Thank you to everyone for that, it helped us to retain the rights and do the exact project we wanted.
CB: How did it come about getting published at Dark Horse?
GS: Well we showed it to numerous publishers and Dark Horse was the one who really kinda said the right things in terms of “we want to publish the book that you guys want to do and the way you see it as best.” They were just there to support that which is soo important. Again, doing that freed Jim in particular up because he didn’t have to do the businessy stuff and he could really focus on his art instead of the…you know…back stuff. So it really felt like the right move to make with the right publisher.
CB: [laughs] the back stuff really gets in the way. Okay, I want to talk a little bit about this story. Namely, what your obsession is with superheroes exterminating the human race? Your stories normally have a sliver of hope but this is just so brutal and dystopian, still great but out of the norm for you.
GS: [laughs] It’s not that it’s what I want to happen. I mean I hope it never happens. What intrigued us about telling the story is that it’s kind examining the question of should we give up our own safety and security to another entity. It’s easy to take that for granted and we look at what happens to what was the safest city in the world when the protectors get turned into the hunters.
CB: We’ve left Megalopolis and now you’ve thrown us back to the wolves in Surviving Megalopolis. Was this story [Leaving Megalopolis] always meant to be more than a one-off and if so how far do you have it mapped out?
GS: We’ve created this big world with this large cast of characters so there are years-and-years of stories to tell. One thing about these survivors of the first volume going back into Megalopolis, it shows how much this place means to these characters who are willing to go back in to find closure about their loved ones or the cause of what brought this catastrophic event to Megalopolis. Surviving Megalopolis is a big character arc for Mina and how she finds her place in this brutal world she was left behind in.
CB: Mina is such a fantastic lens to see this world through and how she’s had to adapt from ordinary cop to stop at nothing survivor. One thing I wanted to ask…you’ve worked with Jim Calafiore for so long now; do you find it’s easier to get away with writing some over-the-top impossible scene to draw and say here you go Jim?
GS: Jim has never said “I don’t think I can draw that”, we worked on secret six before new 52 for so long we’re used to each other’s sensibilities. People at conventions would always ask about when Jim and I were going to work together again and we’d discussed it; Leaving Megalopolis became that project. We wanted something we could do on our terms without the guidance of outside forces.
When I wrote the story I felt some of these scenes were haunting, then to see Jim’s pages come in they were at a level that was beyond what I envisioned. You just feel this wave right away when you look at it.
CB: Surviving Megalopolis’ penultimate issue had such an “oh f^*k” moment at the end. In a few weeks, we’re going to see how this chapter of the story ends, is there anything you want to tease people with about the volume two finale?
GS: Well [laughs] I don’t want to give away any spoilers on this because we’ve all been working for years to get to this endgame. But I will say it’s intense and it will surprise people.
CB: Before I let you go and make all the tons of fans waiting for autographs happy. I just wanted to ask a bit of a selfish question which I’ll need you to channel your old hairdresser days.
GS: [laughs] oh no.
CB: My own personal haircut. Do you think it works for me?
GS: I do think it works for you! It looks amazing. Plus I’m jealous of it, I’d like to have a lot less hair. [laughs]
CB: Gail Simone you have just made my con. I and my Gail Simone approved hair will be checking out the Surviving Megalopolis finale when it comes out this August and if you haven’t read the first volume Leaving Megalopolis, you can pick up that edge of your seat experience published through Dark Horse Comics as well.