Bristol Comics Expo 2007: Allan Heinberg Stalkage

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Bristol Comics Expo took place again this year on the weekend of 12-13 May. Once more, the exhibition centre was packed with fans with a record attendance for british comics conventions! The Comics Nexus (=yours truly) was at hand to report on the panels, the guests and the big announcements! Stay tuned at the Nexus throughout this week for detailed coverage of the Expo.


Or as Paul dubbed it, ‘We’re here to steal your jobs’.

The first panel I attended in the con, it was hosted by Tripwire’s Joel Meadows who interviewed the two TV writers who have successfully made the jump into comics.

Stale bios first:

Allan Heinberg was most famous to comics fans for creating comics uber-geek in the O.C. Tv series, and has also worked on Sex & the City, Party of Five, Naked Truth, Gilmore Girls and is currently a co-executive producer on Grey’s Anatomy. In comics he created waves with Young Avengers in Marvel, a 5-issue key storyline in JLA with Geoff Johns and the relaunched Wonder-Woman in DC.

Paul Cornell is a prominent Brit TV writer, working on the relaunched Dr Who TV series, the new Robin Hood series and writing several of the Dr Who fiction novels. He broke into Marvel Comics last year with his irreverent Wisdom limited series and has also written X’TNCT with art by D’Israeli.

Left to right: Allan Heinberg, Joel Meadows and Paul Cornell

Meadows is always a competent interviewer and once again he managed to lead a very interesting and revealing conversation, balanced between the two writers. I, on the other hand, am a self-confessed Heinberg groupie so this panel report is going to tilt heavily on the Allan-love side.

Proof positive of my geek-love, me and Allan on the last day of the con (neither photographs well, apparently)

I met Allan shortly before he entered the panel as he was stumbling along looking for directions. He recognised me and my mate from our email exchanges on MySpace and was very friendly from the very start. I’m glad I got the chance to hang out during the con, and he’s probably the creator I most ‘stalked’ during these two days, as I attended every single one of his panels (this one, DC Nation, Prism Comics) and his signings.

• -How did you handle the transition from TV to comics?

• AH had the help of Geoff Johns and Jeph Loeb, who also share a studio with him. Joe Quesada was especially helpful in these first steps; he asked Allan to hand in his first issue of Young Avengers as a screenplay, and then helped him break it down into a comic script format.

Heinberg has the habit of going into laboured panel descriptions in his scripts, since he keeps thinking that someone down the line might be reading the scripts for fun so they need to be entertaining on their own.

• -What was the toughest part during transitioning to comics?

• For AH, it’s getting the different kind of humour on the comics page. What is funny on the screen, spoken out, can fall flat on the printed page. There’s a different kind of timing involved in the delivery of a joke in comics.

• AH: Each page has to be functional on its own, with a beginning, a middle and an ending. He aims to make every page worth his artist’s while, so that the artist can sell the original art afterwards. The process of writing an issue, is breaking the story first scene-by-scene and then going inside each scene and breaking it down page-by-page. The page is the unit in this case. Allan also likes to talk with each of his artists before the start of the project to see what they enjoy drawing.

• -In TV you got a massive crew and cast, 150-200 people, whereas here [in comics] you have 10-15 people tops. Do you find it liberating?

• Do you interact closely with your artist to make sure you give them something to draw that they like?

• -What are the ideal characters you would like to be offered?

• For AH it’s Jessica Jones. Young Avengers gave him the chance to write everyone he wanted to from the Marvel Universe. Although he’s done with Marvel, he still has a lot left with DC. He’s a big Legion fan and a Barbara Gordon Batgirl fan. He’s preparing a new project with Terry Dodson featuring her .

• AH said he can only do one good thing at a time. For the sequel of Young Avengers, he’s already plotted the entire series. Since he won’t have the time to dedicate to write the series, he’s probably going to co-plot the series with another writer and have them script it.

• -Marvel Vs DC?

• AH explained: Marvel is very creator-oriented. They make sure he’s kept happy, he gets to write his own solicitations and the editors check with him when making decisions concerning his books. Over at DC, the characters are more important. He recounts stories from Wonder Woman in conjunction with other books. Donna was supposed to star in 52 from the earlier months as Wonder-woman.

PC has only worked for Marvel. He also writes his own solicitations

• AH talks about his approach to Wonder-Woman:

• The Wonder-Woman Annual will print AH’s last WW story with Dodson, and an all-new bonus 13 pg story with art by Gary Frank featuring the origin of Diana, Donna, and Nemesis. It’s tentatively planned for a September release.

• The most thrilling part of working in comics for AH is getting the jpeg of every page sent to his email inbox .

• -How do outside events affect your storytelling. Do they ever make it inside the story?

• AH: ‘Part of our job is to give people something to hate. People Enjoy hating stuff’. For example the message boards had lit up because of the delays and everyone was waiting for him to comment. Some times he can’t comment on the lateness without implicating people his cooperates.

• AH would like to write the Question for TV. No, not the lesbian one.

In closing, my thanks to Allan Heinberg for being such an approachable and friendly person and my apologies to Paul Cornell for not reporting his side of the discussion, although that was before we got the chance to talk over drinks at the convention bar. (Go buy Wisdom!)

The convention coverage continues tomorrow with the photo parade and the sketches gallery. Stay tuned.

ah, the good old Dr Manolis, the original comics Greek. He's been at this for sometime. he was there when the Comics Nexus was founded, he even gave it its name, he even used to run it for a couple of years. he's been writing about comics, geeking out incessantly and interviewing busier people than himself for over ten years now and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.