The queen of Sword & Sorcery is back as Red Sonja battles her way into a one-shot, Red Sonja: Berserker, come February by Nancy Collins and Fritz Casas.
A writer known more for her horror novels than comics, Collins has written for Swamp Thing, Jason vs. Leatherface, and a Predator graphic novel.
After conquering two dragons and a giant, our own sword-wielding M.E. Byron Brewer exclusively questioned the scribe about the coming one-shot.
Cosmic Book News: Nancy, tell us what intrigues you about the character of the swashbuckling Red Sonja.
Nancy Collins: Red Sonja was one of the first female comic book characters I can remember reading who was portrayed as being as daring and dangerous as her male counterpart--in this case, Conan the Barbarian. For the most part the others were simply weaker carbon-copies of pre-existing, more-popular heroes: Supergirl, Batgirl, Hawkgirl, etc. Those that were original characters, such as Invisible Girl, Saturn Girl, and Marvel Girl, usually sported 'psychic' abilities, as opposed to physical strength. Red Sonja was one of the few who physically threw down and went toe-to-toe against the baddies. That held a lot of appeal to a young, female teenaged reader like myself. It's a real kick to finally get to write her, after all these years.
Nancy Collins: Well, in Red Sonja: Berserker, Sonja finds herself thrown into prison on trumped-up charges and is sold, along with some other prisoners, to a 'promoter' who stages gladiatorial fights for a living. Those who survive are guaranteed their freedom. The only problem is that no one has yet to do so.
Nancy Collins: Gladiator games were a very dark and fascinating part of human history. They combined sport, entertainment, theater, pageantry and death. And they were very much an important and lucrative part of ancient society, not unlike modern sports or show business. One could argue you can still see it reflected in such modern amusements as Mixed Martial Arts. Bloodsport in the arena was what passed for popular entertainment among upper and lower classes alike. It served as their TV, movies and video games. Also, the gladiator arena has long been a staple of heroic fantasy fiction and historical fiction, as well--the drama of humans forced to fight to the death, either against one another or wild animals, is the most primal narrative of all.
Nancy Collins: Yes, Red Sonja ends up being forced to fight an old friend she hasn't seen in some time--one she was once quite close to. I wanted to tell a story about her that showed not only her kick-ass side, but also highlighted her innate humanity and sense of fair play, as well as showcasing her loyalty towards those she calls her friends. The readers will get to see a tender side to Red Sonja, as well as the side that will avenge a fallen comrade.
Nancy Collins: I combined elements of Gail's take on Red Sonja with Roy Thomas' original version, with just a dash of spaghetti western, ala High Plains Drifter. Although I am better known for writing horror comics such as Swamp Thing, I grew up reading Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber and Leigh Brackett. Believe it or not, I know my way around a swashbuckle.
Nancy Collins: I don't want to give too much away, but the idea for the story was inspired by the cover for Legends of Red Sonja #1. You can see Sonja's old friend hanging around in the background.
Nancy Collins: About time, and more please, until it no longer seems 'unique' and we're regarded simply as creators and not female-creators. We ARE half the human race, ya know. About time we got some representation up in this thing.
Nancy Collins: The third book in my Golgotham urban fantasy series, Magic and Loss is out from Penguin right now. I've also got four of my Sonja Blue novels available in revised and updated ebook format for Kindle and ePub readers such as Nook and iPhone/iPad. Sunglasses After Dark, In The Blood and Paint It Black are available from Premier Digital Publications, and A Dozen Black Roses is available from Biting Dog Publications. I also have a serial novel called Absalom's Wake being published by Biting Dog--it's a weird fantasy set on a 19th century whaling ship. I also expect to have the revised and updated ebook edition of my werewolf novel, Wild Blood, available on my ebook imprint Hopedale Press in time for the holidays. As for comics, I am looking forward to doing more work for Dynamite in the year to come, and the re-colored/revised graphic novel version of Sunglasses After Dark, drawn and colored by Stan Shaw and scripted by lit'l ol' me, is scheduled for a 2014 release from IDW.
Cosmic Book News would like to thank Nancy Collins for taking time to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Josh Green who helped make this interview possible.
“Red Sonja: Berserker” #1 hits stores February 5th!