Interview: Red Sonja Goes Black, White, and Red in a New Series

 

The Hyborian legend returns for a series of brutal all-new adventures in the all-new Red Sonja: Black, White, Red (MAY210736) a prestige project by the world's greatest storytellers from Dynamite Comics!

KURT BUSIEK (Astro City, Marvels) and BENJAMIN DEWEY (King In Black: Namor) take you to The Mountains Of Night, a foreboding haunt where the She-Devil With A Sword seeks a precious, priceless item. AMANDA DEIBERT (Wonder Woman) and CAT STAGGS (Smallville) wind you through a mysterious adventure of crimson and ebony. MARK RUSSELL (Red Sonja) and BOB Q (Red Sonja) return to put their final stamp on their classic Red Sonja series, with a coda that will leave you breathless.

It's a whose who of amazing talent, see what they had to say about their take on Red Sonja in the interview below.

Red Sonja has been kicking around comics for nearly 50 years. What makes the character so timeless and compelling to tackle as a writer or artist?

Kurt Busiek: This is the first time I’ve gotten the chance to write her, but I’ve often said that the reason Conan thrives is that he’s essentially a fantasy-figure born of the Depression — he’s the visceral “uncorrupted man” standing against decaying nations that have failed their people. So he was Robert E. Howard’s way of, at least fictionally, fighting city hall and winning. And in the decades since, whether it’s social upheaval like Vietnam and Watergate or economic hard times like recessions and pandemics, any time the public is skeptical of the government, religion or whatever, Conan fits the times. As a character spun out of Conan, I think Red Sonja’s got a lot of that to her, too. She lives in a violent, sexist world where women are often downtrodden, but she doesn’t take any shit. She stands up for herself, for others, and she’ll kick the crap out of anyone who tries to push her around. Any time people feel pushed around, a character like Sonja will be appealing. Plus, hey, the scale-mail bikini sure doesn’t hurt her appeal.

Benjamin Dewey: I think she has a bunch of cool visual hooks and those things translate to a type of bravery that we also see in Conan too. All the exposed skin and flowing hair is like a flag that says, "I'm so badass that I don't need armor, but you do!" It's fun to draw a character that is beautiful, strong, and capable. I also love to play around in that Robert E. Howard sandbox because it's got some ties to reality but not so many that there isn't still occasional deep mystery and terrifying magic. Sonja could be fighting on a pirate ship, delving through ancient ruins for a mystical gem or saving a friend from a cabal of cannibal witches; it is wide open for classic high fantasy sword and sorcery adventure!

Amanda Deibert: Red Sonja is fantastic because she’s first and foremost a fierce warrior. I think most of us are drawn to heroes who fight for the underdog and at her heart, Red Sonja is a character who protects, defends, and gets revenge for those who cannot. That is deeply appealing to me as a writer.

Cat Staggs: I agree with Amanda - I love a good underdog at heart. Plus, she loves to fight, and I am always ready for some sword wielding power.

Mark Russell: For me, it's that she's a warrior who's been forced into violence because of her past. I think of her as sort of being like Clint Eastwood in the Outlaw Josey Wales. Someone who didn't choose this way of life so much as it chose her, but now she knows nothing else. When I write her, I try to make space for that sense of fatalism. The internal monologues of someone who's only known violence but can imagine another way of life.

Bob Q: I’m a simple man so I’ll go with the simple answer - She looks rad and kicks ass.

We'll be honest, the black, white, red, etc. format is really rocking right now. Why do you think Sonja is such a natural fit for this style of storytelling, and how are you planning to tap into that experimentation in your story?

Kurt: She’s an action star in a barbaric world, so you can pretty well count on two things to make an appearance: red hair and blood. That’s going to make a black/white-red format suit her well. The story Ben and I are doing goes further than that — the story’s called “Seeing Red,” and we use the color limitation in what I think is a useful and dramatic way. I just don’t want to tell people about it beforehand, because it’s what the story is built around, so I’d like readers to be surprised when they read it.

Ben: Seeing the element of full color stripped away lets me and Kurt emphasize what the Red in Red Sonja means; it's her hair, spilled blood, and any other special feature we want to showcase. It's like listening to a great song when everything in the arrangement drops out suddenly to isolate the bass for a breakdown section, feature a soulful a capella vignette or launch into a blazing guitar solo. Setting that one color apart gives it a special potency and I think the story Kurt came up with really makes good use of that. I'm also trying to play with screen tones because I don't want the black and white part to be without its own flourish. It's been challenging and fun to work on.  

Amanda: She’s the PERFECT fit for this format. That stunning red hair and all the blood. It is going to be amazing! I am so excited to see what Cat creates with it.

Cat: I am really looking forward to the limited pallet. This kind of dynamic can create some striking imagery and make the impact that much stronger. It will be really fun.

Mark: Well, thankfully, red is one of the colors we get to tell a Red Sonja story. I think the reason this sort of limited chromatic format is taking off, besides being visually striking, is that it suggests something raw and unfinished. That you are going to get a story that isn't super-polished and doesn't fit neatly into what's come before. And that's what I'm trying to accomplish with this story.

Bob: From the art perspective, Black, white, and red… Sonja… you’ll always know where she is in the panel. I’m also experimenting a bit with the look. You’d think that limiting the palette would be extremely limiting, but I find that when I have to play within specific boundaries that’s when technique, rendering approach, etc. starts to come into play, and there’s a TON of options in that arena. I have a lot of ideas, but the final look will have to be in service of the story.

In a prestige book like this, our aim was to assemble the absolute best writers and artists and let them loose for instant-classic collaborations. What can you say about your collaborators on this project and how you work together?

Kurt: I’ve been a fan of Ben’s since I saw a pinup he did for a local convention art book. There was so much energy, charm and gorgeous drawing to it that I knew I’d love to work with him on something. And I’ve been lucky enough to get to — both on THE AUTUMNLANDS, on MARVELS SNAPSHOTS, and most recently before this on NAMOR: KING IN BLACK. And through all of this, Ben’s been an amazing collaborator, getting better and better as he goes (and he was great to start with), making fantasy worlds come to life imaginatively, and making the characters, whether human or not, expressive, engaging, and cool. Plus, he’s a great guy. So, when I was offered this story, my first question was, “Can we get Ben?”

Ben: Kurt has always been one of my favorite writers since I discovered his work back in my teens. It's a real privilege to work with him not just because of his narrative choices but how knowledgeable and thoughtful he is about everything in comics and fiction. He has an unmatched archive in his brain of comics history. He always knows the answer to even the most obscure question about artists, writers, or titles. This all helps him tell compelling stories and I've benefited tremendously as his collaborator because he knows what works and what doesn't. We always have a fruitful back and forth when we go over the thumbnails.

Amanda: Well, I’m married to my artist, so I clearly kinda like her! Seriously though, working with Cat is a dream. We have a shorthand that is so nice and special when creating something together. I always know she won’t just meet my expectations, she’ll exceed them. Plus, I can lurk over her shoulder while she draws which is a fantastic bonus. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off each other 24/7 when we collaborate.

Cat: Yes. It is really a wonderful aspect of working together that we can check in if we have random questions or ideas. It really makes the creative process fulfilling.

Mark: One of the things that really attracted me to this project was the chance to work with Bob Q again, who did fantastic work on our previous collaborations with Red Sonja and the Lone Ranger. We developed a really good rapport in working together and I'm hoping to pick up where we left off. But also, because this was something to be done in conjunction with the other writers who drew me to Red Sonja in the first place. It's a company I'm proud to share.

Bob: Mark is one of my favorite writers to work with but also to read. When I was told about the project and was then informed that Mark was writing, and I instantly cleared my schedule. Red Sonja has been drawn and written by so many heavy hitters in the comic community over the years, it’s hard not to be proud of the company one finds oneself in with this book.

Red Sonja: Black, White, Red (MAY210736) is available to pre-order from your local comic shop now. It arrives July 7, 2021. 

DYNAMITE
(W) Kurt Busiek, Amanda Deibert, Mark Russell (A) Ben Dewey, Cat Staggs, Bob Q (CA) Lucio Parrillo
Dynamite proudly presents a prestige project by the world's greatest storytellers! Red Sonja, like you've NEVER seen before...all presented in beautiful black, white, and red!
KURT BUSIEK (Astro City, Marvels) and BENJAMIN DEWEY (King In Black: Namor) take you to The Mountains Of Night, a foreboding haunt where the She-Devil With A Sword seeks a precious, priceless item...
AMANDA DEIBERT (Wonder Woman) and CAT STAGGS (Smallville) wind you through a mysterious adventure of crimson and ebony...
MARK RUSSELL (Red Sonja) and BOB Q (Red Sonja) return to put their final stamp on their classic Red Sonja series, with a coda that will leave you breathless...
In Shops: Jul 07, 2021
SRP: $4.99
PREVIEWS Page #156
DYNAMITE
(W) Kurt Busiek, Amanda Deibert, Mark Russell (A) Ben Dewey, Cat Staggs, Bob Q (CA) Emanuela Lupacchino
Dynamite proudly presents a prestige project by the world's greatest storytellers! Red Sonja, like you've NEVER seen before...all presented in beautiful black, white, and red!
KURT BUSIEK (Astro City, Marvels) and BENJAMIN DEWEY (King In Black: Namor) take you to The Mountains Of Night, a foreboding haunt where the She-Devil With A Sword seeks a precious, priceless item...
AMANDA DEIBERT (Wonder Woman) and CAT STAGGS (Smallville) wind you through a mysterious adventure of crimson and ebony...
MARK RUSSELL (Red Sonja) and BOB Q (Red Sonja) return to put their final stamp on their classic Red Sonja series, with a coda that will leave you breathless...
In Shops: Jul 07, 2021
SRP: $4.99
PREVIEWS Page #156
DYNAMITE
(W) Kurt Busiek, Amanda Deibert, Mark Russell (A) Ben Dewey, Cat Staggs, Bob Q (CA) Philip Tan
Dynamite proudly presents a prestige project by the world's greatest storytellers! Red Sonja, like you've NEVER seen before...all presented in beautiful black, white, and red!
KURT BUSIEK (Astro City, Marvels) and BENJAMIN DEWEY (King In Black: Namor) take you to The Mountains Of Night, a foreboding haunt where the She-Devil With A Sword seeks a precious, priceless item...
AMANDA DEIBERT (Wonder Woman) and CAT STAGGS (Smallville) wind you through a mysterious adventure of crimson and ebony...
MARK RUSSELL (Red Sonja) and BOB Q (Red Sonja) return to put their final stamp on their classic Red Sonja series, with a coda that will leave you breathless...
In Shops: Jul 07, 2021
SRP: $4.99
PREVIEWS Page #156
DYNAMITE
(W) Kurt Busiek, Amanda Deibert, Mark Russell (A) Ben Dewey, Cat Staggs, Bob Q (CA) Cosplay
Dynamite proudly presents a prestige project by the world's greatest storytellers! Red Sonja, like you've NEVER seen before...all presented in beautiful black, white, and red!
KURT BUSIEK (Astro City, Marvels) and BENJAMIN DEWEY (King In Black: Namor) take you to The Mountains Of Night, a foreboding haunt where the She-Devil With A Sword seeks a precious, priceless item...
AMANDA DEIBERT (Wonder Woman) and CAT STAGGS (Smallville) wind you through a mysterious adventure of crimson and ebony...
MARK RUSSELL (Red Sonja) and BOB Q (Red Sonja) return to put their final stamp on their classic Red Sonja series, with a coda that will leave you breathless...
In Shops: Jul 07, 2021
SRP: $4.99
PREVIEWS Page #156

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