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Gail Simone talks representation, women in comics, and her new eBay partnership

Simone, along with artist Cat Staggs, worked with eBay on a ‘Superheroine HQ’

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The eBay-exclusive Captain Marvel variant cover Ryan Brown/Marvel Comics

To celebrate the release of Captain Marvel on International Women’s Day, eBay announced a partnership with comics creators Gail Simone and Cat Staggs. Their project, “Superheroine HQ,” curated a page of vintage comics, vinyl figures, and other collectibles featuring female superheroes past and present.

Since eBay’s early days as an online auction site, many comics collectors have turned to it when looking to fill gaps in their collections. It makes sense, then, that the platform wants to continue courting that market — even as it aggressively expands to take on big players like Amazon.

And that market seems to be growing. According to eBay, sales for merchandise related to female superheroes have jumped by 34 percent, with an even bigger spike — 63 percent — specifically around Captain Marvel.

Of course, the captain herself, Carol Danvers, features heavily in Superheroine HQ. Ryan Brown even designed an eBay exclusive variant cover for Captain Marvel: Braver and Mightier. You’ll also find plenty of rare editions like Wonder Woman #1, currently going for a cool $149,950. Also on display: posters and other art, apparel, plush toys, and figures, including the ubiquitous big-eyed Funko Pops — all featuring comic book leading ladies.

eBay Supereroine HQ promotional image by artist Cat Staggs
Comics artist Cat Staggs created the inspirational promo.
Cat Staggs/eBay

For Simone, at least, what this collection represents is way more meaningful than just a place to browse out-of-print comics or snag a new toy. She told Polygon that when eBay approached her about partnering on a hub for female superheroes, it brought tears to her eyes. “This was something that I never would have imagined when I was a little girl ... the thought that some parent can buy their little girl [a gift related to] their favorite superheroine anywhere in the world makes me cry,” she said.

Many fans of female superheroes (and female fans of superheroes) can relate to that feeling of possibility — I told Simone that I started tearing up when I saw the images going around Twitter of a young girl, decked out in Captain Marvel gear, looking up in pride and awe as Brie Larson signs her comic. She agreed, saying “That is gonna change someone’s life, just like seeing Batgirl on television changed my life.”

She was quick to point out, though, that it’s not just young girls who are enthusiastic about superheroines. As women steal the spotlight both in comics and, finally, on the big screen, Simone has started seeing more middle-school-aged boys come through her signing lines at conventions. “They’re so excited to talk about Batgirl,” she says, “asking, ‘How did you make her so badass?’” But they’re not surprised that it’s a woman who’s powerful — they want to be just like her.

Simone has long been vocal about the importance of representation in comics — for young girls and young boys. In recent years, fueled by the success of Wonder Woman and now Captain Marvel, the industry has started catching up to her. When she started out writing at DC, she says, she was mainly assigned to properties that were struggling and in danger of being cancelled, most of them featuring female characters. Undaunted, she set out to prove them wrong. “I’m gonna prove to you that your female characters are just as important as your male characters,” she recalls thinking.

One of those titles was Birds of Prey, which she helmed for over 50 issues. The now-beloved series is getting a film adaptation of its own in 2020.

Gail Simone is the perfect representative for Superheroine HQ because she’s not only a legendary writer of female superheroes, she’s also their biggest fan. I asked what one item from the shop she’d most want to add to her collection. While she’s “so jealous of whoever gets their hands on [Wonder Woman #1],” her pick was a little more sentimental: a copy of 1977’s Ms. Marvel, signed by Stan Lee.

“It’s very difficult in mainstream comics to get a new character up and running and really solid and here to stay,” she said. “Ms. Marvel is one of those and to have it signed by the late, great Stan Lee would be very meaningful.”