Welcome to TV TUESDAY! This week, we have a special two-part feature with ERIC WALLACE. He is an executive story editor/writer for SyFy’s EUREKA as well as a well-known DC Comics book writer (Ink, Titans, Mister Terrific). (Eric has also produced and directed documentaries and reality shows. AND he’s a professional musician, having played bass for a series of rock and jazz bands.)
Eric will be featured as our guest Q&A blogger for today’s TV Tuesday, where he will talk about his latest comic book series from the DC New 52 comic re-launch of MISTER TERRIFIC, along with his work on the TV show EUREKA. And come back tomorrow for our Pt. 2 Q&A with Eric for WRITER WEDNESDAY, where he’ll be talking more about the MISTER TERRIFIC series debut.
I am also featuring a comic book giveaway contest in which one lucky winner will received a signed copy of Eric Wallace’s “MISTER TERRIFIC” Issue No. 1. You can participate by either posting a comment for today and/or tomorrow’s blogs with Eric, or you can email me at paula at paulayoo dot com to be included in the drawing. The Winner will be announced later this month.
For more info on Eric, check out his blog here: http://revealthescience.blogspot.com/ You can also follow him on Twitter here: @ewrote And check out our EUREKA WRITERS blog bio on Eric featuring a cartoon portrait by yours truly (moi) here: http://eurekaunscripted.typepad.com/blog/2010/07/about-us-eric-wallace.html
Eric Wallace’s “MISTER TERRIFIC” Issue No. 1 debuts tomorrow, September 14, 2011. Keep reading after the jump for Part 1 of our Q&A with Mr. Wallace! Plus, you’ll get to see some sneak preview pictures of MISTER TERRIFIC! 🙂
Part 1 of our two-part Q&A with ERIC WALLACE
Q: On August 31, 2011, DC Comics launched “The New 52.” This was a historic renumbering of the entire DC Universe line of comic books. Can you explain in detail exactly what this “renumbering” means for both veteran comic book fans and newbie comic book fans who are just now getting into the comic book scene? What does this New 52 mean for veteran fans – what exciting new things can they expect? For newer comic book fans, do they need to know anything about the previous “universe” to appreciate the New 52?
A: Simply put, the “The New 52” is one of the biggest initiatives in comic book history. It’s an attempt by DC Comics to do two things: 1) invite a whole new audience of comic books readers to the pop culture party and 2) bring back veteran readers who have fallen away in recent years. The renumbering process is the key to both.
For the first part of this, the renumbering of books to create 52 number one issues allows new readers to start fresh. Now, new fans will be able to discover their favorite characters without having to worry about seventy-to-eighty years of backstory. They’ll just be able to jump on board an issue #1 and take it from there. That’s really refreshing.
For the second part, the renumbering says to veteran readers, “Don’t worry about all the continuity you missed. You won’t need it in order to enjoy these new books, so come on back.” Does this mean the old continuity in the “pre-New 52” universe no longer matters? Of course not. Those stories still happened, but they happened in what was essentially a different timeline of events. That means they’re still enjoyable in their own right. However, you just won’t need a lot, if any, of that old continuity in order to enjoy “The New 52.”
As for what readers can expect? Expect anything and everything! I’ve read the first batch of books and I am just blown away by the freshness, the creativity, and the sheer inventiveness of some of the storytelling and artwork. These are awesome 21st century stories for a 21st century readership. Oh, and practically everyone who reads these books will have a different favorite. That’s how much quality there is amongst these books.
Q: Mister Terrific (aka Michael Holt) debuted in 1940s and then re-emerged in 1997 (by John Ostrander and Tony Mandrake, based upon the Terry Sloane character by Charles Reizenstein and Everett E. Hibbard). What was the original response to Mister Terrific?
A: The original Mister Terrific was introduced in the 1940s, and had a solid following in his day. The recent version of Mister Terrific introduced in 1997 has a solid, devoted group of fans. I mean, I’ve met some folks recently that just love the character. I’m hoping with this new MISTER TERRIFIC series that I can continue to grow this character and raise his profile even more in the process. Now more than ever, Mister Terrific is a fascinating modern hero that really reflects our current generation’s obsession with technology. That I hope, plus the fact that he lives in a diverse world that also more accurately reflects modern America, will make him even more popular to a larger, newer group of comic book fans.
Q: How did you get involved with writing the New 52 re-launch featuring Mister Terrific? Did you meet/talk much about his character and storylines with the folks who had created the original comic book? Or is this a new re-visioning of the character? How much does Mister Terrific share today with the original launch of his character in 1997?
A: I was pitching a similar take on a superhero who polices science and technology for a different project when DC Comics offered me the job on MISTER TERRIFIC. Turns out the take I was pitching (for another DC character) was perfect for Michael Holt. We haven’t looked back since.
As for a discussion of storylines and characters beforehand, there wasn’t much of that. Literally, I was given carte blanche on this series. DC encouraged me to “go crazy” and to make it as personal as possible, in relation to the kinds of themes, stories, and characters that I wanted to portray. Therefore, this is very much a re-invention of the Mister Terrific character. Sure, there are a few similarities to the ’97 version. He’s still a widower and he’s still the world’s third smartest man. But that’s about it. The old Michael Holt certainly wasn’t a billionaire! Although ironically, I believe the original Mister Terrific from the 1940s was a millionaire.
Q: What about Michael Holt/Mister Terrific’s character do you respond to the most? When you write comic books, do you draw from your own life or your own personal emotions/tastes/experiences to bring these characters to life? Did you draw any parallels between your own life and Mister Terrific when you were brainstorming his new story?
A: Michael is on a quest to understand everything in the universe. That’s something I can identify with, because I’m a very curious person by nature. And yes, I do draw on my own experiences to bring Michael and his world to life. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m definitely NOT a genius! But I share Michael’s fascination with science as the guiding force of the 21st century.
As for direct parallels between the character’s life and my own, I’ll say this: Michael Holt is a diverse man trying to make a difference in the world. Although he’s more successful at it, I’m trying to do the same thing. So yes, I’d say some of my hopes, passions, and dreams for the future—both for this planet and the human race as a species in general—inform the kinds of stories that readers will experience in MISTER TERRIFIC.
Q: You were a writer for SyFy’s Eureka. Is it a coincidence that you ended up writing about a comic book hero who could easily have fit in as a scientist in the universe of Eureka? In fact, if Mister Terrific ever visited Eureka, what do you think would happen? Would Mister Terrific and Sheriff Carter get along? 🙂 Or would he bond with Fargo?
A: I suppose it depends upon how one looks at things. It’s pure coincidence that I ended up writing this series. But is it, really? I mean the universe couldn’t have sent me a better series to tackle than this one. And I’m having so much fun on so many levels, that it’s hard to imagine myself not doing it. But is it weird for me, because a lot of the storytelling and researching skills I’ve learned on EUREKA over the years—like how to tell a hard science story and still ground it in relatable human emotions for an audience—are constantly coming into play on MISTER TERRIFIC.
Oh, and I think Michael Holt would fit in perfectly in EUREKA. He’d definitely give Sheriff Carter a run for his money in terms of his relationship with Allison Blake. I’d see Michael as a less arrogant, but also emotionally less intuitive version of Nathan Stark as the Stark character was in Season Two of EUREKA. That’s because once Stark was no longer director of Global Dynamics, he became a much more grounded, intuitive, and emotionally connected human being. In other words, he grew up a bit. That’s what Michael Holt still needs to do. However, Michael would never treat Fargo as badly as Stark did!
Q: So Michael Holt was a child science prodigy who studied things like theoretical physics in the first grade instead of watching Sesame Street. When you were growing up, did you like science class? What was your favorite science class? Your worst? If you were not a fan of science class, what do you teachers now think of the fact that you have written fun fictional stories about characters who are genius scientists? Depending on your own science background, how do you get passionate about stories that revolve around science? What entices you about these discoveries?
A: I wasn’t a huge fan of science growing up. I thought biology was interesting, and I did have a certain fascination with chemistry. But I absolutely hated physics. It just bored me to tears! I have no idea what my old science teachers might think of me writing all this science fiction nowadays. Hopefully they would appreciate the fact that in both MISTER TERRIFIC and EUREKA there is always an honest attempt to present science accurately. EUREKA especially does this really well, thanks to our great science advisor Kevin Grazier. But I’ve done a ton of research already for MISTER TERRIFIC. That’s where we’ll really see Michael using his intelligence to get out of a very sticky situation. I’d like to think that the solutions he comes up with could actually happen scientifically… in about 30 years, of course!
Q: Is writing for TV different than writing for comic books? What are the similarities/differences? Why do you write for more than one genre? What do you get out of comic book writing that you don’t get in TV writing, and vice versa? Are there any other genres of writing you would like to explore in the future?
A: Writing for TV and comic books can be very similar in the sense that both mediums tell continuing stories. Also, both mediums feature characters that grow slowly over a number of years, through multiple stories or episodes. So in that sense, the approach to writing in both mediums is very similar.
But then there’s the other side. In TV, you have a budget. If you write a scene in a TV script where the universe explodes and a million spaceships containing the entire human race travel via hyperspace to another dimension… it’s going to get cut. Because that’s going to be too expensive to afford. But in a comic book, there is no budget. So not only can you show this, but also you can go even further. That’s the beauty of writing comic books. Anything is possible.
As for why I enjoy writing in multiple mediums, I enjoy telling all kinds of stories. Funny ones. Scary ones. Thrilling ones. Sad ones. And certain kinds of stories fit better in certain mediums. It’s all about great storytelling for me. That’s why I don’t mind working in multiple writing mediums. It just increases the kinds of stories I can tell, and that’s incredibly rewarding on a creative level. But both TV and comic books are incredibly rewarding mediums. And both have devoted, wonderful fan bases.
If there were one medium I haven’t tackled yet that I’d like to try, it would be a video game. That seems like it would be a fascinating challenge, trying to envision multiple courses of action for a player to take. It would depend on the project, of course, but it’s definitely something I think I would love to do at least once.
Thanks, Eric, for a great interview. But wait… there’s MORE! Tune in tomorrow, Wednesday September 14, 2011 for Part Two of our two-part Q&A with ERIC WALLACE. Tomorrow also marks the debut of MISTER TERRIFIC Issue No. 1!
Please comment or send an email to paula at paulayoo dot com if you would also like to be included in our comic book giveaway contest where a winner will be selected at random to receive a signed copy of Eric Wallace’s “MISTER TERRIFIC” Issue No. 1. Winner will be announced later this month.
Until tomorrow’s Part 2 Q&A with Eric Wallace, as always, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂