My Influences #2 - Gail Simone (a continuing list)
I have had many influences over the years, usually in comic books, but this also extends to movies (both animated and live action), TV Shows (again both animated and live action), plays, music, books and on and on. I'm going to start this list and see where it takes me...
In an earlier post, I professed my love for "Birds of Prey", starting from the beginning with Chuck Dixon's initial run. I loved the relationship between Oracle (Barbara Gordon) and Black Canary (Dinah Lance). Then along came Gail Simone and she took BoP up a notch...
Backing things up a bit, Gail Simone, a longtime comics fan, but concerned about the treatment of women in the medium, started a website called "Women in Refrigerators", pointing out all the examples of women being treated as objects, a story point discarded or killed in order to make the male star (98% WHITE male star) something to get mad about. Simone's passion came through the screen, and people in the comics industry took notice.
It took me awhile longer to notice, though. As stated above, I've already talked about my love of The Birds of Prey, first written by Chuck Dixon but eventually taken over by Gail Simone. I love that book and look around on this blog, you'll find out why! So I'll skip BoP and go right to the OTHER main reason I love Gail Simone...SECRET SIX!
Around 2004, DC Comics was getting ready to do a sequel to it's huge 1985 series CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, which re-did all of DC's continuity. But there wasn't just going to be a INFINITE CRISIS series, they also launched four six-issue mini-series as well; The OMAC Project, Rann-Thanagar War, Day of Vengeance and Villains United! The first three were good, but to me, Villains United was amazing! In the series, Lex Luthor and a team of united villains (hence the title) were getting ready to wreak havoc on the DCU. But there were six villains who didn't want to play along and they formed the Secret Six. Catman, Deadshot, Cheshire, Ragdoll, Scandal and Parademon, with their mysterious leader Mockingbird, who no one on the team knew the identity of.
Right away, the unlikely group fought together, lived together, bickered like crazy and had amazing adventures. Sounds like a great idea for an ongoing series (PS I totally stole this idea for myself, but not as well!). After Villains United wrapped up in December 2005, a Secret Six mini-series was published to test the waters. Later the Six guest starred memorably in Simone's BoP, including a big fight between the two teams and some great interplay.
Finally in 2008, an official Secret Six series was launched. While a wonderful, critically acclaimed series (voted 4th best comic run of the entire decade by IGN; the whole "Get out of Hell Free" card run alone is worth your money), it wasn't commercially successful and unfortunately only lasted 36 issues. But it's legacy lingers on - there is now a new version of the team, a New 52 version, alot different than the other, but still worth a read. It is written by Gail Simone after all!
Gail Simone has become a comic book powerhouse, working with DC, Marvel and other companies, writing books such as Deadpool, Red Sonja, Action Comics, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, The All-New Atom, Welcome to Tranquility, The Movement, Leaving Megapolis and others! She has also written on my as-stated-before beloved Justice League Unlimited, writing the episode "Double Date", starring Green Arrown, Black Canary, The Question and Huntress, as well as for the great "Batman Brave and Bold" cartoon, "The Mask of Matches Malone!".
Simone's popularity and influence in the industry is legend these days, as can be shown with two recent examples, both involving Batgirl. With the New 52 company re-launch in 2011, DC Comics decided to take Barbara Gordon out of her wheelchair and put her back under the cowl as Batgirl, removing one of the most loved characters in comics, Oracle.
Oracle meant alot to many people, including myself, as not only was a fantastic character, but she was one of the few disabled characters in comics. Alot of people hated this, but the backlash could have been worse, as DC selected Simone to write the new ongoing Batgirl comic. People, including myself, thought "Well, if Gail is writing the book...I'll give it a chance..." That’s powerful!
The second example of Simone's popularity is when she was apparently being fired from Batgirl. Word spread on the internet that this was happening, and, seemingly at the time, the entire internet rallied around Simone and it lead to her being re-hired as Batgirl's writer. There is alot of unrest on the angry internet, everyday in fact. But not alot comes of it, usually. This was one example where the internet did some good.
I have had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to Gail Simone a few times recently, and she has always been incredibly gracious and polite, even with me stammering and trying hard to say the right thing, but really probably talking nonsense and gibberish. Her husband Scott is also a wonderful person and great to talk to. I got to talk to him alot at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, as Gail was doing press and he would be standing by, waiting, and he at one point saw me and pointed and said "Hey you!". We talked for a half hour, and then again a few more times during the con. And thanks to him, I finally got a picture with my writing idol after the Birds of Prey 20th Anniversary Panel. I usually am too shy to ask for pictures but Scott could see this and helped me get a picture with Gail. At least that's my interpretation of what happened. And then I went a little nuts and wanted pictures with everyone who was on the panel! And then I wanted a picture with Scott himself. He seemed shocked but went along with it. :) And I'll always be thankful to him. Well both of them, of course!
Follow Gail Simone on Twitter @GailSimone
Follow Gail's husband Scott on Twitter @RocketSpouse