Amanda Conner: She won’t. She will be the Red Sonja that we grew up with. Fast. Strong. No-nonsense. Hot-headed. Ultra-proficient with a sword. And deadly. Really, really deadly. We get to unleash our inner Roy Thomas and totally get our sword and sorcery on. I am having a great time drawing the covers, and a blast with the dialogue, by Ishtar’s golden girdle.
ICv2: When did each of you first encounter Red Sonja, and what were your first impressions of her?
Conner: When I was around 12 or so, my mom used to deliver artwork to an illustration company, and across the street was a small magazine stand. I was probably in there hunting for the latest Wonder Woman (which I think they were out of) and gum (which they had plenty of). I discovered Red Sonja there, in that corner newsstand, and I was hooked.
Jimmy Palmiotti: I was buying Conan since it came out and when Sonja appeared in the book, I knew instantly that they had to give her a series of her own and they eventually did just that and I have been following her exploits ever since. She is one of my top five characters of all time.
ICv2: It sounds like the story you have planned is very classic. What can you tell us about it?
Palmiotti: Amanda and I are approaching this adventure by making a checklist of everything we ever loved about the character. We have her on a journey, being part of a group of pirates, playing the part of bounty hunter and protector of a princess around a backdrop of thieves, wizards, monsters and something extra earning the title of the book. This is the Sonja we grew up with, sexy, dangerous and living in the moment.
ICv2: What do you think are her essential qualities, the ones that you want to carry through in this story?
Conner: As we mentioned before, she is not to be messed with. What will be fun will be seeing what other characters wear her very quick temper down, and what creative and maim-full ways she responds to them. She is definitely level-headed when she needs to be, but also, I like to sort of think of her as an angry boxer or hockey player, but instead of gloves, or a hockey stick, she has a sword and dagger. And then when she’s all done with the business of kicking ass, she can toss back giant flagons of ale, arm wrestle, bar-fight, and belt out drunken sailor songs with the best of them.
ICv2: Are there any parts of her past you would like to leave behind (for now)?
Palmiotti: We are not visiting her past except that someone in the story has had a past grudge with her and a relationship and deal gone bad that pops back into her life, but this series is about moving forward and getting readers, new and old, into a fun, exciting adventure. In this series, Sonja is living day to day and the best part of this is we are discovering what lies ahead for her as she does. I think involving too much past weighs down a story unless its key to the adventure.
ICv2: You brought Harley Quinn from obscurity to incredible popularity. Red Sonja is already pretty popular, but what thoughts do you have on widening her appeal, or bringing her to new audiences?
Palmiotti: We hope we can bring new readers in with the art by Moritat, with the amazing covers and with a new story that is easy to jump into. We are hoping people give the books a look since we are working on them and hope to bring our Harley, Jonah Hex, Starfire, Powergirl, Atlee, and Painkiller Jane fans along for the ride. What we are doing is again, getting to the core of a character, introducing a supporting cast along the way and letting Sonja take us for the ride of her life.
ICv2: And finally, I have to ask: In a fight between Harley Quinn and Red Sonja, who would win?
Conner: Harley, always up for making a new friend, and having a soft spot for toothsome redheads, would introduce herself to Red Sonja. However, Harley’s constant yammering would soon test Sonja’s patience. Tables would be up-ended. Strong, yet swift sword swinging and hammer-slamming agile acrobatics ensue. Harley, having no previous knowledge of Sonja’s short fuse, and thus, believing that Sonja is just “hangry”, lures the flame-haired she-devil into Nateman’s, where the mouth-watering smell of delectable frankfurters stop Sonja in her tracks. Harley then orders up two dozen, with nine pitchers of Long Island Iced Tea. Sonja is taken with the sumptuous feast and strong drink (so much better than roast squirrel and stale ale while circumnavigating the Hyborean forests!), and the two find common, if tenuous, ground.