'Eureka' Interview, Part 4: Writer Eric Wallace on Comics and Other Sci-Fi Influences
'Eureka' Interview, Part 4: Writer Eric Wallace on Comics and Other Sci-Fi Influences
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Even with the disappointing news that next year's season 5 will be the last one for Eureka, there are still plenty of episodes and excitement left for the show (currently airing season 4.5).

Eric Wallace, writer of the recent episode, "Omega Girls" -- and several other Eureka episodes -- spoke with BuddyTV about his comic-book writing, the relations between comics and television, and his sci-fi influences.

This is part 4 of the Eric Wallace interview.

BuddyTV: How would you compare writing for TV and writing for comics?
Eric Wallace: Well I think for television and writing for comics, they're very similar in the sense they're continuing stories, where you have a setup. Say, in television, with Eureka, there's a town of geniuses, crazy stuff happens every week, the character relationships will grow. That's the template and then you start to tell as many stories as you can.

It's very similar when you're writing for a superhero show like the Mr. Terrific book that I'm writing that comes out September 14 as part of the new 52 from DC Comics.

That is the story of the world's third-smartest man. He's a brilliant scientist with a whole bunch of degrees. He spreads his science knowledge all over the world, and at the same time his job is insuring our future. His job is keeping an eye on science gone mad, so that we still have a future. That's what he does as a superhero, so you have a setup -- it's very clear -- but then it's off to the races.

What are his romantic relationships? He's a billionaire playboy who dates models, but yet is still sad. There's something inside him that longs for something more, something a little more permanent. Why is that? What happened in his background? The people around him, you know, the men and women in his life... There's a woman in his life named Aleeka Okafur , who's clearly, obviously in love with him. And she's his best friend, and so it's that unrequited love.

How does that play out over the course of 50 issues? It's just like, how would Jack and Allison's relationship play over the course of 50 episodes. So it is very, very similar in the sense that they're both continuing story mediums, unlike movies, which are finite. A movie has a beginning, it has a middle, and it has an end. And even if there's a sequel that's set up in the last few minutes or something, it's still... you go to a movie to have a closed story, a finished experience that you can come away with. That's what makes movies different from comic books and television, and I think that's what makes comic books and television so similar to each other as mediums when you're writing it.


BuddyTV: From what I've seen from both Eureka and the upcoming Mr. Terrific, the superheroes or the heroes seem to be a little different -- they're not the more traditional Superman-types. Is that something you find interesting? Who do you see as heroes?
Eric Wallace: I do like... What's happening in superhero comics -- and I think this is very important is -- we're seeing a diversification of the people who are heroes, our protectors in these fictional worlds.

It used to be kind of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. That was kind of it. Superman was "the happy guy" that you want to have over for dinner and Sunday and whatnot. Batman was the guy you were scared of: "Get out of here! I don't like you, but thank goodness you're protecting me from the Joker." And then Wonder Woman was kind of a happy medium of the two. She was an Amazon warrior who could be scary, but yet she had a message for peace and came from Paradise Island. You know, so you would maybe buy her a beer at some point.

We're seeing now, with the new superheroes, especially the ones represented in DC's New 52, is incredible amounts of diversification. And I mean that in the sense of not just racial, gender, sexual orientation -- those things are there too, and I think those things are equally if perhaps not even more so important -- but we're seeing superhero life beyond the big trinity, the big three, the big Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman. You're seeing Green Lantern Corps, with a black Green Lantern, John Stewart, side-by-side with a white Green Lantern, Guy Gardner, side-by-side with an alien being, Kilowog. Wow! That's kind of crazy. That's really exciting. What kind of adventures will they get into, and what will their interactions be like?

In my book, Mr. Terrific, it's a black man in a diverse world, fighting for us all. So what are his adventures like, and what kind of trouble does he get into? It's not only what kind of trouble does he get into on Earth, but there's a cosmic side to it. We'll see him encountering alien beings in other places and whatnot. And what does that make him think of us as Earthlings, us as human beings? How does he now look at himself on a cosmic scale? Where do we all fit in? There's some big questions there. That's really, really exciting.

And you're also seeing new takes on the traditional heroes. You've got Grant Morrison writing Superman from more the beginning of his career. It's not the Superman we've known for 75 years who... We all know he's Clark Kent. We all know he's the protector of the world. We all know how perfect he is and everyone admires him and he's going to save us. This is kind of Superman from day 1, who is an alien from another planet -- and that's kind of scary! Wow, maybe everyone is not, "Superman's our pal." There are people who are just afraid maybe he's the first step in an alien invasion. I don't know, I haven't read the issue. But from the solicitations alone, from the artwork alone, you can see there's a completely new take on the character. It's completely refreshing and that's exciting.

I think anybody who enjoys superhero comics or maybe used to and has fallen away from them or new readers who are looking for something very different and very unique that reflects a 21st century sensibility. I think this is a new sensibility, not the 20th century versions that are very familiar by rote anything is... Anything can happen now and it's a whole new ballgame. I think everyone's going to find there's something exciting for them on these books. I hope folks pick them up, starting in September.


BuddyTV: That's looking forward. But looking back, what sorts of comics, books, movies or TV shows did you find influential?
Eric Wallace: Well, let's see... I always tell folks, without question the biggest writer, the writer who influenced me more than anyone else is Stan Lee. And he's a comic book writer. That's how I learned to read, reading Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four and all those early issues and whatnot. So I'd say he's number 1, but a very close number 2 is Stephen King. Huge Stephen King fanatic. And between those two, I'm constantly ripping those two people off. Because I think they're the best, and why not rip off from the best? So I would say those guys really got me started in these genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror, and they're still to this day my biggest influences.

But there were some specific television shows that I began watching as a kid and really opened up my mind to a whole new world. And that would definitely be Doctor Who, Star Trek and Dark Shadows. I'd say those are probably the top three.

Everything was different after I started watching Star Trek. And as wild as that show was, when I found Doctor Who at the age of 14, everything changed in an even larger way. Because I was used to traditional, kind of Americanized sci-fi stories, I had no idea that there was a show that had been running, by that point, for 15 years and would continue to run nowadays -- and it's been for almost 50 years. The sheer variety of stories that you can tell in the sci-fi genre. I think that's why I learned most by watching Doctor Who.

Then, from Dark Shadows, I actually learned a lot about characterization. That's a soap opera. In soap operas, you're with characters every day. Every little, small, minute emotion and emotional state that they go through, you're with them as it happens. So I think, in many ways, for those of us who really like character, soap operas are actually the ultimate medium, the perfect medium to tell stories in. Now throw in kind of a sci-fi or supernatural bent like you do on Dark Shadows, where they're time traveling, and there are vampires and werewolves and mad scientists creating monsters and whatnot, it just fueled my imagination as a kid.
So those three shows were just so, so important to me. And then later on, as I started to become a writer in television and started to stretch those muscles, it became Twin Peaks, and then later on The X-Files, Buffy, Angel... And I went back and rediscovered The Twilight Zone. I do have a Buffy lunch box sitting next to me right now.

BuddyTV: As it should be.

Click here to return to Part 1 of the Eric Wallace Eureka interview.

(Image courtesy of Syfy)


News from our partners