Gail Simone's Writer's Commentary for Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 – "Tarzan Is Adopted Everywhere, Sonja Is Alone"

Gail Simone writes on her Red Sonja/Tarzan #3, published recently from Dynamite Entertainment. Pick up your copy and read along; we'll give you the first few pages to get you started.

I keep talking about this, how this book is just a dream come true for me. I've wanted to write Tarzan since I used to pretend to be him in my adventures in the forest around my family's farm when I was a kid. And Red Sonja is in that tiny trinity of characters I could write forever, if given the chance.

Gail Simone's Writer's Commentary for Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 – "Tarzan Is Adopted Everywhere, Sonja Is Alone"
I was very lucky to be able to include some of my favorite stuff from the Tarzan books that are very rarely covered in the film and other adaptations. There's some ERB deep cut stuff in here, fair warning! So here we go!

PAGE 1:
Gail Simone's Writer's Commentary for Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 – "Tarzan Is Adopted Everywhere, Sonja Is Alone"
We pull a little bit of a trick on the reader here, as obviously, you're supposed to think we're talking about Tarzan, but…

PAGE 2:
Gail Simone's Writer's Commentary for Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 – "Tarzan Is Adopted Everywhere, Sonja Is Alone"
Here's a dream page I had wanted to write since the idea was first floated at Dynamite. KORAK THE KILLER!

It's a funny thing, but I've always loved the sidekicks and partners. Robin, Tonto, Kato, all of those. I know time has passed some of these portrayals by a little bit, but I loved all those characters as a kid. I always found them way more interesting, more loyal, more generous as characters.
Gail Simone's Writer's Commentary for Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 – "Tarzan Is Adopted Everywhere, Sonja Is Alone"
It's the same way for me with Korak. As much as I love Tarzan, which I hope is obvious, I adored the idea of Korak, a son who was raised like a gentleman, but was more ferocious in some ways than his father, who was raised by apes.

And while I'm at it, holy crap, look at Walter Geovani's remarkable art here!

PAGE 4:
Gail Simone's Writer's Commentary for Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 – "Tarzan Is Adopted Everywhere, Sonja Is Alone"
Money is interesting in ERB's books. He once said that he utterly failed to see the nobility in being poor, and all indications are that he was a hardcore workaholic. Even so, many of his characters were very contemptuous of greed and the lust for gold.

PAGE 5:
Gail Simone's Writer's Commentary for Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 – "Tarzan Is Adopted Everywhere, Sonja Is Alone"
If you're used to Korak from the comics, he comes off a bit as Tarzan-lite, in a way. But from his first starring role, he's actually a bit more ruthless and unforgiving in some ways, than Tarzan himself. He terrorizes his school masters, he thinks nothing of killing, and very little of death at all.

PAGE 6:
Too fun to imagine a mix of the Mars of H.G.Wells and that of Burroughs.

PAGE 9:
This is a bit of a cheat, as I don't believe it was ever stated for CERTAIN that Tarzan's jungle estate was in Cameroon, but it was definitely implied.

PAGE 9, PANEL 2:
Now here's something that I just find fascinating. I did not make any of this up, Korak in his first starring role, in SON OF TARZAN, falls in love with a young girl he believes is of Middle Eastern descent. And she actually is almost the hero of the novel, in many ways. Her story is incredibly compelling, and they fall in love and marry, after being enslaved in the jungle. This is pretty surprising stuff for the time of the novel's writing, in some ways. It's always made me kind of bummed that this never shows up in the films or even the comics…that Tarzan has a grandson, and a kickass daughter-in-law.

PAGE 10:
Young Jackie doesn't cry, even in deadly danger. And his mother trusts him to hang on. That says a lot.

PAGE 11:
I've spoken about this a lot, but the Waziri tribe in Tarzan's stories were individuals. They are good and bad, noble and not-so-much. There are many tropes of the times, but there's also a real attempt to present them as fully realized characters.

PAGE 14:
I write a lot of villains, one might say I have a reputation for them. I probably have not personally disliked a villain ever as much as I hate Eson Duul. His selfishness, his avarice, his unending narcissism. He is not an allegory of anyone, he's just a massive jackhole. I haven't gotten this much hate for a villain from readers since Junior in Secret Six.

Also, the unexpected ape in the trees is possibly my favorite scene this issue.

PAGE 15:
I take it back, it's this one.

PAGE 20:
I almost turned this book down, because I had a difficult time finding the key element to hang the whole book on. And when I found it (hopefully!), it was this. Family. Both Sonja and Tarzan's families are killed, both are orphaned. And yet, Tarzan is adopted EVERYWHERE. By the apes, the elephants, the Waziri, and finally by English society. He has almost too MANY families. And Sonja is alone at the end of all her travels. I think that's meaningful, and it felt like something to hang this story on.

Incidentally, it also points to a little something interesting. ERB gave families to almost all his major, ongoing heroes. Robert E. Howard, much less so. I wonder if that is reflective of their own lives?

PAGE 22:
This page delights me. It's not just the remarkable acting of artist Walter Geovani, it's also the promise of reckoning for evil done, and the scent of adventure hangs in the air.

This is what I love about the pulps. You know adventure's on the way.

Gail Simone's Writer's Commentary for Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 – "Tarzan Is Adopted Everywhere, Sonja Is Alone"

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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