Jen goes back to the Hyborian for Red Sonja

Art by Phil Winslade

Art by Phil Winslade

Dynamite Entertainment released news today:

Written by Jen Van Meter and drawn by Edgar Salazar, the Red Sonja: Break the Skin one-shot is a must-read! In the story hitting comic shops this coming April, it looked like such a simple job: Zepur, a princess of the nomadic Talakma Horsemen, sought Sonja’s sword to defeat an unwelcome suitor and his army. When Sonja discovers she’s led her mercenary band into the middle of a bitter and vicious rivalry for leadership of Zepur’s clan, she’s got to figure out who’s lying to her the least, which promises she can keep, and how to fight the soul-eating avatar of an angry ape god.

“It had been awhile since I’d gotten the opportunity to write a character like Sonja–an unapologetic badass who answers to little outside herself–so I dove into this gleefully,” says writer Jen Van Meter. “Red Sonja: Break the Skin is my effort to really look at her mercenary, sword-for-hire life in a world in which the lies and political machinations that are handled comparatively cleanly in other genres are visceral and passionate and immediate, and in which angry gods are active players who can be manifest, grotesque and cruel. The great thing about Sonja, to me, is that she feels like a lone gunslinger and a wild-eyed pirate captain at the same time; there’s tons of charisma, lusty bravado and brazen ego there, alongside this wonderfully quiet isolation. There aren’t a lot of female characters who have both those modes available to them so readily, so it’s been a real delight to write her.”

For the full press release, and previews of the issue, see the write-up at Comic Book Resources.

2 Responses to “Jen goes back to the Hyborian for Red Sonja”

  1. Jean Michel says:

    Hi, Jen
    I was just wondering if you have any advice for a guy who is writing a female sword wielding and butt kicking character?

    I know how I hear her in my head, but there is a definite difference in a woman written by a woman and a woman written by a man and I’d rather not turn my Brody in to any type of uninteresting cliche.

    Your friendly neighborhood Mega-Writer,
    Jean Michel

  2. Jen says:

    Hi Jean Michel,

    Sorry for the long delay in this reply. I’m just getting back to the website after a long hiatus.

    The thing I found most challenging and exciting about writing Sonja was being at liberty to embrace her physical confidence and, to a certain degree, arrogance.

    Sonja’s most important traits are her ruthlessness and her extraordinary competence, and both the character and the world are okay with her being aggressive, angry, terse; she has a freedom that most women don’t feel in my real-world experience, and that was a delight to explore. But that’s who _Sonja_ is.

    For your own character, I would say first look at the world she lives in — does her martial prowess make her unusual, or unusual “for a woman,” in her cultural context? That is, there’s a difference between being the best fighter in an egalitarian martial culture, the only fighter in a pacifist culture, the only woman fighter in male-dominated culture, and so on.

    From there, I think you avoid cliche, with male and female characters alike, by making sure you’ve really gotten to know them. It sounds silly, but we can fixate on a character having a cool look or feel without giving much thought to how s/he got that way, if that makes sense. You know what she sounds like — does she sound like that because she takes after her mom, because she spent time in a prison (and for what?), or because she was the only kid from her community to get a decent education? See what I mean?

    The more you know about Brody, her past, her ambitions, fears, joys, habits–even if only a tiny shred of that is communicated directly to your reader — the less chance you have of tripping unwittingly into cliche.

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