The Swords of Sorrow, known as the ebon blades, have been passed out across time and space, thanks to the Traveler in the first issue of Gail Simone’s epic pulp crossover series. The first team-up book, Swords of Sorrow: Vampirella/Jennifer Blood #1 is set to hit stands this week. With those well underway, we continue to take a look at the future tie-in stories that partner up Dynamites leading ladies.
Mikki Kendall is a writer and pulp culture analyst known for her unique and outspoken feminist and social equality point of views. The science-fiction author is known for leading major science-fiction conventions, written for The Guardian and the The Washington Post. She is also an editor of the website Hood Feminism. Now she has been tasked with taking on perhaps two of the most misunderstood characters in the the Dynamite Universe: Lady Rawhide and Miss Fury. They will appear in the September one-shot Swords of Sorrow: Miss Fury & Lady Rawhide. Before we find out more about Mikki’s take on these two heroes, lets take a quick look at the characters.
Jessica Boyd: What was your first thought when you learned you were going to be pitting Lady Rawhide against Miss Fury?
Mikki Kendall: My very first thought went something like “I’m doing what with who?! They’re trying to stop what?!” I love comics, but as I was reading the project email it struck me that we were doing something really new and exciting, and also not something with a lot of established guidelines. I knew more about Miss Fury than Lady Rawhide, and while I was playing catch up, I realized that I’d have to overcome a lot of assumptions about Lady Rawhide because of her costume. They’re both pretty feminist within their storylines even if their outfits don’t necessarily make that your first thought when you see them.
JB: For those not familiar with the Dynamite Universe what is the best way to ease into the stories? Does Swords of Sorrows and tie-ins such as yours allow people to be introduced to these characters?
MK: I think the groundwork has been laid really well in the Chaos prequel & in the tie ins so that this roller coaster ride we’re taking the audience on is firmly situated. This all plays across worlds that many readers know and love, even if they haven’t been to them recently. Of course if you have a sudden desire to fall into the back issues of anyone I’m sure Dynamite will be more than happy to help you get into those too. You’d be surprised at the edginess a lot of pulp hides behind a skimpy costume.
JB: They come from such vastly different times and settings. In fact Miss Fury has had experience with traveling through time. How does your love of science-fiction equip you to set the reader in the middle of this kind of dynamic?
MK: It turns out a lifelong love of speculative fiction really helps when your first foray into comics is a project this wild. I still spent a good 10 minutes convinced that my imagination wasn’t weird enough for the challenge, but when you’re used to creating new worlds it’s a little easier to twist existing worlds. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a huge fan of public history projects and I got to incorporate some of that into this book.
JB: With your book slated for later in the series, how does the battling story of these two characters play into the overall story? Or does the story allow you to have more free reign to take them away from the Chaos villains and Prince plaguing the characters in the central book?
MK: I’m lucky. I got to really break the walls down, and let my characters run wild in a way that I think writers of the earlier books did not. If everything is already going sideways might as well really cut loose, and show the impact of these villains on the people in these worlds.
JB: If you had to choose between Lady Rawhide and Miss Fury to write a solo series for, who would you choose?
MK: I know the history around Miss Fury best, but perversely the chance to learn more canon history and actual history makes Lady Rawhide more compelling to me. I would love to do a run for her and explore her world post Swords of Sorrow. What happens when she goes back to her regular life complete with villains that haven’t seen what she has? How would her home change after everything that’s happened? That was probably shameless self promotion, but I really would have a lot of fun marrying actual history with what can go in a comic universe.
MK: Word count was probably the hardest part for me. It turns out the dialogue that you can fit in those little boxes on a comics page require more brevity than any short story, novel, or Twitter. I really enjoy writing traditional fiction and non fiction, but writing for comics has forced me to really think about what needed to be said vs what could be shown. I’ve also realized that some projects I’ve struggled with in traditional fiction are probably better suited for a comic format. I can’t say which is more fun…well no I can, comics are more fun because I don’t have the same room to overwrite and it means I don’t second guess myself as much. But I love writing period so I’m going to do all of this again.
JB: What do pulp stories allow you to do that other genres do not?
MK: The rules are so different for pulp. You can write the wackiest stuff, and as long as it flows and the character can conceivably look right while doing it then away you go. Also no one expects pulp to be grimdark so you can be playful and let your characters have some fun as they work.
JB: Is there any message you’d like to give readers who are struggling with the idea of such prominent feminist leaders and writers taking control of traditionally “cheesecake” characters created and historical written by men?
MK: I would say that we’re reclaiming a part of the genre that has unfortunately gotten a rep as not being for women. There’s something really great about a beautiful woman kicking butt, especially when she isn’t someone’s sidekick. These aren’t women who need a man to rescue them, they’re women who can save themselves and everyone else too.
JB: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Comicosity community?
MK: I’m a married 38 year old mother of two who has loved comics since I learned to read. This is a dream come true for me, and I don’t want anyone to ever think they’re too old to try something new. Moms read comics, moms write comics, moms draw comics. We’re not invading anyone else’s genre, this is our space and we can make it amazing.
JB: Thank you so much for your time.
MK: Thank you for having me. This was a fun interview!
Swords of Sorrow: Miss Fury & Lady Rawhide #1, should be solicited in the June or July issue of Previews. You can also check out our other Swinging the Swords of Sorrow interviews here.
If you’d like to read more about Mikki’s work you can find her on Twitter @karnythia