Ten Queeries with Allan Heinberg|
by José Villarrubia
Allan Heinberg needs very little introduction to the visitors of this site. The Eisner Award nominated writer of Young Avengers is tackling Wonder Woman next for what could be the hit series of this year.
- You started of in the world of theater as both an actor and a playwright. One of your one-act plays, The Amazon's Voice, involved, according to The New York Times, "a cartoonist who has been asked to reconcieve the character of Wonder Woman for today's audience." Had you read Robert Rodi's novel What They Did to Princess Paragon? It has a similar premise, but it is a comedy... and is life imitating art now that you are doing Wonder Woman?
I started writing The Amazon's Voice in 1993—having just gotten back into comics after ten years away—and inspired by having read George Perez's landmark run on Wonder Woman pretty much in one wide-eyed sitting. I only learned about Mr. Rodi's novel after having finished my first draft, but I read it right away, enjoyed it thoroughly, and was hugely relieved to see that his smart, funny book was entirely different from mine, despite the similarity of their premises. For me, the reinvention of Wonder Woman was merely a jumping-off point for what was essentially a twenty-year history of my slightly larger-than-life relationship with my mother.
- In a great interview on Wordballoon.com you said that Wonder Woman has been your favorite character since you were seven. What do you think is great appeal of this character for gay men? And do you think that it is mostly the Lynda Carter TV version that they love?
I think part of Wonder Woman's appeal to gay men might be that—as powerful as she is—she's still an outsider. Even within the superhero community. She's an all-powerful woman in Patriarch's World and, because of that, she's always going to be viewed as a threat to the perceived "natural order of things." But what's inspiring about Wonder Woman to me is that she never allows her "marginalized" status to get in her way. She is exactly who she is at all times. Even her uniform—which has rankled feminist readers over the years—can be viewed as sending a message that she confidently embraces her femininity and sexuality in a powerful, inspiring way.
- Wiccan and Hulking are, IMHO, the cutest couple, gay or not, in comics. Apollo and Midnighter and Phat and Vivisector are the only other gay superhero couples I can think of… and they never have been written by an openly gay writer. Do you think your sexual orientation affects how you write these characters?
I have a pronounced tendency to write from personal experience, so my sexuality absolutely influences how I write those characters. But that's also true about the way I write Kate Bishop and Patriot, as well. For me, relationships are relationships. The specifics might vary (straight, gay, synthezoid, alien), but the human and emotional dynamics are universal.
- Your writing and interviews show clearly that you are very well versed in mainstream comics. Do you read other kinds, such as alternatives, Manga or European comics?
I'm ashamed to admit that I'm not as well versed in alternative, European, and Manga comics. But recommendations are always welcome.
- I will be glad to make some suggestions. Other than Wonder Woman, do you have any other dream projects in comics? A character you would just love to write, or an artist you'd love to work with?
I have a Barbara Gordon/Batgirl OGN I'm hoping to write for DC at some point. And I'd love to spend more time working on Jessica Jones at Marvel, if Brian Bendis doesn't mind. And my list of favorite artists is long, but a few of the names on it are Mike Allred, David Mazzucchelli, Duncan Fegredo, Stuart Immonen, Phil Jimenez, Jim Lee, Alex Ross, Steve Rude, Ryan Sook, Mike Turner, J.H. Williams and many more.
- Batgirl and Jessica Jones... it seems like you have a preference for women characters. There's a long tradition of gay writers and filmmakers, from Tennessee Williams to Almodovar, who are best known for their women characters. Do you relate to their work at all?
Absolutely. I love Almodovar's work, especially Women on the Verge... and Law of Desire. His screwball, romantic comic sensibility and tremendously soulful humanism have made him one of my favorite filmmakers. And the sublime pain and poetry of Williams' work humbles me, as well. And Truman Capote's.
- I am playing "Moonriver" from Breakfast at Tiffany's as I type this... Young Avengers is a great story for long-time Marvel readers familiar with continuity (like me). Have you gotten any feedback from readers new to Marvel? Are you concerned with making your stories accessible to readers not well versed in the characters' histories?
My goal with Young Avengers was to make sure that, while the book remains deeply rooted in Avengers continuity, we keep any necessary exposition minimal and simple. And I usually try to include bibliographical references in the letters column to encourage readers to read the source material.
- That's a wonderful idea! So here is a geeky question: can you tell us if Wanda will be seen again in Young Avengers? And do you think that the fact that her children are alive will affect the events of House of M?
If everything goes according to plan, Wanda will indeed return to Young Avengers early in Season Two, when Billy and Tommy embark on a search for the true source of their powers.
- Personally, I can't wait! You write more or less regular characters for the screen and mostly superpowered characters for the printed page. Do you have any plans to write superheroes for the screen?
Not at present. I'm working on a medical drama called Grey's Anatomy right now—and developing a non-super-powered pilot for ABC for next season.
- Is there anything in particular you would like to tell Prism Comics readers, any messages for gay and lesbian readers?
Only that I'm extremely pleased and proud to be a part of such an extraordinarily supportive community of writers and artists. Thanks, José!
Thank you so much for your time, Allan, and best of luck in all your projects!
has been a writer and producer on Party of Five, Sex and the City, and Gilmore Girls, as well as Co-Executive Producer on the Fox network's series, The O.C.
José Villarrubia is an Eisner Award-nominated painter/photographer/digital artist and serves on the Prism Comics Advisory Board. A long-time Baltimore resident, he is currently spending a year in Paris.
Prism Comics promotes the works of the LGBT community in comics. It does not implicitly endorse any other material or products associated with those works. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s).