Dynamite has sent over a Writer's Commentary from Amy Chu about Red Sonja #1, which is on sale now. Cover by Nick Bradshaw, interiors by Carlos Gomez.
When Dynamite asked me to pitch a story with Red Sonja in the modern world, I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't realize how hard. First to be following in the footsteps of some amazing writers. And then there were SO many details to puzzle out — how does Sonja travel? What does she eat and drink? What are her views on guns and gun control?
But then I had this epiphany (I think it was actually in pub — you'll see some of that in Issue #2) that ultimately what we're here to do, Sonja and I, is have fun together, explore this new world, learn some new tricks, and kick some evil sorcerer butt.
Establishing shot… It's TODAY and it's NEW YORK. Okay, I know a few of you are thinking — it's been DONE. Remember those What Ifs? Mary Jane and Spider-Man? Conan and that taxi driver? Fun stuff and there will be some nods to those in the story, don't worry. The editors and I did discuss other cities, but Red Sonja in New York feels right and for a good reason. You'll see as the story unfolds.
So, moving on…
MAX. New character. Important. You'll be seeing a lot more of this guy (and maybe some abs…)
Introducing Max's pal Jay. I wanted to make sure we had some women in law enforcement. You'll be seeing some more of her too!
First appearance of Sonja, so a nice big splash page. In one issue, I typically plot out maybe 3 or 4 of these spaced out through 20 pages. Sometimes it's not so clear what deserves a splash and what doesn't. This one was a no brainer. It's on the left hand side so you can have that little bit of extra reveal. Yes, writers have to think about these things. It doesn't always work out in the end — when ads get inserted, or when the collected edition is put together. You just have to hope the editor has your back on these details.
I originally set this in Times Square but that truly has been done so many times including Poison Ivy Issue #6, so downtown Freedom Tower seemed a better idea.
Now here's the problem: imagine you are a belligerent, disoriented, barbarian warrior suddenly in New York City. You don't understand English and are waving a big pointy sword at a bunch of cops with guns. Well you can pretty much guess what is likely to go down… and we're only on page five! You paid $3.99 for this comic, and now it's the shortest comic ever. Writer's nightmare!
Well hey, guess what? Some quick research reveals the NYPD has been going through ACTUAL de-escalation training. I didn't even have to make that up. I don't know if they're actually putting it into practice, but just to be safe, don't do as Sonja does…
Red Sonja's first contact with a gun. Again, immensely tricky to script.
Sonja's first contact with a bullet. Good thing our rookie cop had his eyes closed! A complete aside, way back when I was geekling in college, Physical Education was a requirement and those of us who were less inclined towards the conventional sports could choose golf, ping pong or pistol. I chose pistol and loved it so much I took it twice. So I know for a fact, it's really hard to shoot a gun accurately.
How many men does it take to take down a wounded and pissed off Sonja? Well at least three big guys, probably more if she was in top form.
I like to think Sonja is a much quicker study than Conan. Here she is starting to understand how this world works…
Sonja meets Jay for the first time. Something there, maybe? Max does something incredibly risky…look away…
Another writer's headache – Sonja needs to learn English ASAP. If you read the What Ifs it worked fine because they were one shots, but Sonja's going to need to start learning words fast!
Hmm… the plot thickens. Good thing Max is multi-lingual.
You were expecting Bellevue Hospital, right? A little bit of trivia. Apparently, only male mental patients go to Bellevue, but women are sent to Elmhurst.
The plot thickens… You and I know they're really not NSA, right?!
Scary doctors with needles. No one likes needles… By Mitra, these are followers of the evil sorcerer Kulan Gath! Now it all makes sense. Good thing they have identifying tattoos!
Make Gath great again…!
When things don't go according to plan. Never underestimate an angry redhead just because she doesn't have her sword.
This is my second favorite page in this issue. It's what you don't see that's important.
And this is my FAVORITE page. I love how Carlos drew this non-fighting moment. She's looking off the page, thinking, planning…
And cut to first appearance of our nemesis. Does that necklace look familiar?
If you follow me or the artist Carlos Gomez on Instagram you might have picked up on some sneak peeks of Issue #2. It's going to be another really fun, action-packed 20 pages. Working with Carlos is a really eye-opening experience. Aside from fantastic talent, he's such an incredibly consistent and disciplined artist, working each page at a steady pace without jumping around.
I've mentioned at comic-con panels that creating monthly comics is a little like competing in a biathlon — it's a timed race and you do your best to hit your targets while skiing down the slope. And as soon as you get to the bottom you have to do at again. It's not easy sometimes to look back and spot all your mistakes, but it's really nice to see where artists like Carlos, Mohan the colorist or Simon Bowland the letterer stepped up to fix something that helped the storytelling. You can't see it, but I do. And this is why I LOVE working in comics.