I know what you're all thinking. Some of you are wondering who is this Gail Simone and when did she piss in Dan Traeger's Cheerios. Others of you are wondering how I could possibly hate one of the nicest comics writers on the planet, and some of you Bendis fans are cheering me on to a frenzy of Gail-bashing goodness. Well…
Okay, you got me. I really don't hate Gail Simone. I just used that as an intro to sucker you all in here. In point of fact, aside from a somewhat unhealthy obsession with fish nipples, the color purple (that's the color, not the Spielberg movie), Disney stuff, and Canadians, she has always seemed quite congenial to me.
I have been told that, on occasion, she eats live kittens and that she killed and ate an Internet journalist to get her Villains United gig, but the source is highly suspect. Gail is in point of fact, one of the nicest writers I've ever met.
What makes Gail unique is that she started her writing career on the Internet, and she still takes great pains to maintain a strong Internet presence. Over the years I have been lucky enough to correspond with her. Sometimes at length, other times just a quick, "Hey, nice article," but it's always nice to hear from her. For the record, Gail Simone is endlessly patient with her fans and eternally graceful to her detractors. She's funny, waaaaaay too self-effacing, and if it weren't for that whole Internet journalist incident, she'd have long since been nominated for sainthood.
So, my children, we gather here today in this small, overly cramped side room in the largest convention center in the world, to sing hosannas to the stunning creative talent that is the great and terrible Gail Simone. Beer and kittens are optional.
Gail Simone announced her presence on the Internet with the authority of a born superhero fan who had the intestinal fortitude to ask a question that disturbingly, no one had really asked before. It was discussed in hushed whispers at the local comics store and pondered over by the occasional casual reader of comics, but it was never discussed out in the open and definitely never brought up in front of the potentially limitless audience of the Internet.
The springboard was a Green Lantern story by the great Ron Marz, wherein the hero's girlfriend ends up dead and stuffed into his refrigerator. Gail posited the question, "Why?" To paraphrase, "Why is it that comic book women always seem to end up raped, humiliated, folded, spindled, and mutilated in a wide variety of strange and interesting ways?"
The answers she got to that simple question run the gauntlet from the simply asinine, "As regards the female characters thing, I'm afraid I think it's giving male creators a bum deal." The list does read pretty shocking at first until you think of everything the male heroes have gone through, too, in terms of deaths/mutilations/etc." to the downright disturbing, "Well, I think part of the problem for female characters is that, since our readership is dominated by males, they aren't perceived as having the same economic viability as many male characters." The whole sordid story is hosted for anyone who wants it at Unheard Taunts, among other places. It's called “Women in Refrigerators,” and it's one of the most important essays ever written about the culture surrounding comics.
The next time the amazing Ms Simone crops up is with her ongoing column for Comic Book Resources called, ”You'll All Be Sorry”, or YABS in the common Internet parlance. With “You'll All Be Sorry,” Gail got the opportunity to prove that not only did she have a master's grasp of impressionistic writing, but that she also had some remarkably professional comedic chops. YABS became an Internet darling and proved implicitly that Gail Simone could competently skewer every writer, artist, journalist, and fan on the planet, from her dead accurate parodies of icons like Frank Miller and Mark Millar, to easier targets like Dave Sim and John Byrne.
My personal favorite is her spot-on parody of Planetary, wherein the three major players unearth the remnants of a certain modern stone-age family. It's written in near perfect Warren Ellis style, and it's absolutely hilarious. The “You'll All Be Sorry” archives are located on Comic Book Resources, and they're well worth a read or two, or three, or 20.