Comics Herstory: Gail Simone
Gail Simone got her controversial start in comics by publishing a list of fictional women in comics who had been “fridged”–killed, depowered, or raped with no real consequence to the story but furthering the plot of their male counterparts. The site, Women in Refrigerators, is still live, though it isn’t regularly updated. From Women in Refrigerators, Simone went on to write You’ll All Be Sorry!, a weekly column for Comic Book Resources.
After writing a series of Simpsons comics, Simone entered the mainstream with a revamp of Deadpool. From Deadpool, she moved on to Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, and Secret Six, among others. After Batgirl relaunched as part of the New 52, Simone took over writing duties. She also began writing Red Sonja in 2013 for Dynamite Entertainment.
With Birds of Prey, Simone wrote a dynamic team, establishing a trust-based friendship between Barbara Gordon and Dinah Lance. Though female characters are slowly becoming more prominent, the inclusion of such a healthy relationship between these two characters was a positive addition to DC canon. After leaving Birds of Prey, Simone began an iconic run on Wonder Woman.
Her writing on Wonder Woman was some of the best the character had seen in years, and gave Diana a retconned history that made more sense for the character. Simone struck an ideal balance between Diana as a warrior and a sympathetic character. She wasn’t the first woman to write Wonder Woman, but Simone still holds the title of woman with the longest run on Wonder Woman.
She writes women as the complex characters that they are, treating them with respect and breaking ground in terms of representation
Simone’s run on Batgirl was also an important one, giving comics its first contemporary transgender character with Alysia Yeoh. She was the most recent writer before the current team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr. Simone currently writes Clean Room for Vertigo. Her massive body of work is largely connected by one thing: her handling of female characters. She writes women as the complex characters that they are, treating them with respect and breaking ground in terms of representation. A polarizing figure, she has been an important contributor to the conversation about women in comics.