Get to know the legendary Gail Simone!
Gail Simone is among the most influential female comic book writers of all time.
She single-handedly changed the way female characters are portrayed not just in comics, but in other media formats, too!
Simone is best known as the writer behind DC’s Birds of Prey and Deadpool, but she’s also the Wonder Woman writer with the longest run!
Let’s get to know Gail Simone and explore some of her best works!
Who is Gail Simone?
Born in 1974 in Oregon, Gail Simone studied theater at the University of Oregon.
Although she’s loved comic books since she was a child, she was never particularly fond of the stories from the Modern Age of Comics.
This era is also called the “Dark Age of Comic Books” because of the gritty storylines that prevailed. Remember how gloomy The Dark Knight Returns plot is?
Anyway, what particularly bothered Simone about the Dark Age comics weren’t the dark stories themselves, but the way women were portrayed in most of them!
She became vocal about it in 1999 and started expressing her views on the site she named Women In Refrigerators.
Gail Simone’s Beginnings
Women In Refrigerators was the first time Simone had a chance to share her opinions with a big audience.
Why did she choose such an eerie name for the site?
In Green Lantern #54, Kyle Rayner, a.k.a. the Green Lantern, discovers that his girlfriend was killed and then placed in a refrigerator. This is what inspired the name of Simone’s website and its contents. On the site, she lists all female comic book characters that had been killed, raped, or tortured in any way in comics.
As a woman and a comics buff, she questioned the reasons why male characters died as heroes, while female characters seemingly served just to move male characters’ plots forward.
Needless to say, Women In Refrigerators caused a lot of fuss among fans and in the comic book industry as a whole. The majority of readers was on the same page as Simone, highlighting the particularly violent language of how female characters get killed.
And then there were the fans and peers who were inspired by Simone’s implied criticism and this is, arguably, one of the main reasons why we’ve seen more powerful female characters in comics in the past decade.
A lot of authors heard what Simone had to say, and, as a result, we’ve seen an increase of powerful female characters in comics! For instance, Simone is the sole author behind the all-female star group in Birds of Prey!
Simone’s views also impacted entire pop culture, causing creators to question the role gender plays in their work.
Following the impact Women In Refrigerators had on the comic book community, Simone started to write a weekly column You’ll All Be Sorry for Comic Book Resources.
In the column, she shared satirical views of the comic book industry and posted parody scripts.
Since we’re on the subject of comics, the BioWars comic book describes the battle between BioWarriors, the protectors of your immune system, and microbes who wish to make you sick. To see how the battle between the two sides unfolds and the lengths to which your BioWarriors go to keep you safe, we invite you to read the BioWars comic!
Gail Simone’s Comics
Gail Simone’s career as a professional comic book writer started in the early 2000s.
Her You’ll All Be Sorry column was a huge hit and it caught the eye of some big names in the industry and beyond, Matt Groening — the creator of The Simpsons — being one of them.
1. The Simpsons
Groening hired Simone to write for The Simpsons Comic in 2001 and that was her first time writing as a pro!
Simone wrote Sunday strips, the Bart Simpson comics, as well as the Treehouse of Horror, a.k.a., The Simpsons Halloween Special.
Soon after, she got a chance to work for one of the biggest comic book publishers in the world — Marvel!
In 2002, Simone joined Marvel and started writing for Deadpool!
She worked on five issues and her run is widely regarded as one of the best ever!
Simone joined the team when Deadpool wasn’t that popular. In fact, the comic was about to get canceled!
She worked on Deadpool #65 and the series ended with Deadpool #69.
Alongside Joe Kelly, who worked on Deadpool before her run, Simone helped shape Deadpool the way we know him today — a goofy anti-hero!
Before Kelly, Deadpool was a downright villain, but he and Simone made him the sarcastic, chatty and cheeky guy who likes to break the fourth wall!
The series was a huge hit and it introduced a new character who would go on to become Deadpool’s successor — Agent X!
Agent X got his own comic series and Simone worked on it until issue #7, but she left due to disagreements with Marvel’s editors. Later on, she did come back to write a concluding story that reintroduced Deadpool.
3. Birds Of Prey
After Marvel, Simone joined the DC family!
In 2003, she began writing Birds of Prey. Her first issue was #56 and her last #108.
Simone has always been very vocal about sexism in comics, and Birds of Prey was her chance to show the public that female comic book characters can be strong and powerful just like their male counterparts.
Simone depicts Birds of Prey as a group of women who are unapologetically smart, strong, fierce, sexy and the leading stars of the comic!
Simone’s run on Birds of Prey is widely considered the best of the bunch!
The characters in Simone’s Birds of Prey act as a group of friends, and female friendships weren’t really a thing in comics and pop culture! Instead, female characters would often be pitted against one another and positioned as competitors rather than allies.
4. Wonder Woman
In 2007, Simone started writing Wonder Woman and went on to become the longest-running female Wonder Woman writer to date!
When asked about the character, Simone said:
“When you need to stop an asteroid, you get Superman. When you need to solve a mystery, you call in Batman. But when you need to end a war, you get Wonder Woman.”
And that’s exactly how she portrayed Diana’s, a.k.a. Wonder Woman’s character, not just in The Circle, but in all issues.
Diana is a smart, savvy but also compassionate superheroine.
During the pre-Simone era, Wonder Woman’s character wasn’t particularly relatable, but Simone changed that.
Her Diana is a sincere, strong woman who doesn’t respond to violence with more violence. Her first response is to deescalate before using force.
Let’s look at a famous example of this!
In The Circle, one of the first issues Simone wrote, Wonder Woman fights genetically enhanced gorillas in a jungle who are on a mission to take back the land that once belonged to them. They believe they are so strong they can fight Superman, but they decide to test their skills against Wonder Woman first.
Diana defeats their leader, but doesn’t kill him despite his devious intentions. Instead, she offers him peace and says that she will do whatever she can to prevent future violence against gorillas.
To show just how much against unnecessary violence Wonder Woman is, Simone had her say this:
“We have a saying, my people: ‘Don’t kill if you can wound, don’t wound if you can subdue, don’t subdue if you can pacify, and don’t raise your hand at all until you’ve first extended it.”
5. Secret Six
Simone’s Secret Six follow the adventures of six underdog villains/anti-heroes.
The Secret Six plot is based on Mockingbird’s (Lex Luthor’s clone) decision to create the Society of the absolute worst supervillains to punish Justice League for earlier mind wipes, every villain loves the idea except for these six baddies: Catman, Deadshot, Ragdoll, Parademon, Scandal Savage and Cheshire.
Secret Six stories are action-packed much like any comic book we’re used to, but what makes them unique is the nuance in character psychology that Simone has become known for.
Sure, they’re all villainous, but they won’t commit a crime just like that, just because they are villains. Simone’s Secret Six have their moral codes, are able to forgive, bond and even grow together.
Here’s to seeing the Secret Six in a movie!
Gail Simone’s Other Notable Works & Contributions
Aside from writing comics, Simone has also written for television.
Simone also wrote an episode of Batman: The brave And The Bold animated series titled “The Mask Of Matches Alone.”
She wrote the original story for the animated Wonder Woman movie, and most recently, the “Between Dark And Dawn” episode for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
Gail Simone & The LGBTQ+ Community
Aside from celebrating women through her works, another thing Simone has always made sure to do is give visibility to marginalized groups in her stories, especially LGBTQ+ characters.
For example, Scandal Savage from Secret Six, Creote and Savant from Birds of Prey and Achilles Warkiller from Wonder Woman are all members of the LGBT+ community.
Simone also introduced a transgender character Alysia Yeoh as a Batgirl, who became the first major transgender character to appear in a mainstream medium!
Gail Simone’s Awards
Throughout her career, Gail Simone has won many accolades for her work.
Some of the awards she’s won include:
- Friends of Lulu’s Women Cartoonists Hall Of Fame (2009); Friends of Lulu was a non-profit organization in the U.S. that stood for the promotion of comics among women and the popularization of female characters in the comic industry
- Eisner Award Winner for Tori Amos Comic Book Tattoo anthology (2009)
- Harvey Award Winner for Tori Amos Comic Book Tattoo anthology (2009)
- GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award’s Outstanding Comic Book Nominee for Secret Six in 2010 and 2012
- London Film and Comic Con’s True Believers Comic Award for Roll of Honor/Comic Excellence (2014)
- Inkpot Award on San Diego Comic Con (2017)
Quick Overview Of Gail Simone’s Notable Works
Throughout her successful career, Gail Simone has written over six hundred comic books, including the classics Birds of Pray, Wonder Woman, Secret Six, Deadpool and Batgirl.
She single-handedly helped change the position of women and LGBT+ people in comic books and pop culture as a whole by celebrating their strength, wit and compassion!