FLASH ANNUAL: Child Actress-Turned-Writer Inspired by Boston Heroes
page from The Flash Annual #2
CREDIT: DC Comics
There are a lot of generalizations that can be made about former child actors, but writing superhero stories isn't usually one of them.
Yet Nicole Dubuc, who played cute little Robin on the TV show Major Dad, gets her first New 52 comic book gig in DC's Flash Annual #2 in July.
Dubuc is actually a veteran of the world of superheroes, thanks to her work on TV animated series like Kim Possible, The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice.
Despite that all-ages resume, Dubuc's Flash deals with a pretty tough subject, as Barry Allen has to deal with a man who has lost his wife in a fire — and he blames the Flash for not saving her.
The writer said she came up with the story after watching news stories about the Boston Marathon bombing.
Newsarama talked to Dubuc to find out more about her influences and what brought her to comic book writing.
Newsarama: Nicole, after your stint as a child actress, what got you interested in writing for animation and print?
Nicole Dubuc: I've always been interested in storytelling, and acting is one facet of that. When I write, I often feel like I get the chance to play every part on the page. I'm usually reading the dialogue and performing it as I edit my scripts, which probably seems incredibly weird in public.
Nrama: I think we've all done the voices of the stories of the characters in our head as we read their stories. But I'm curious about the genres you've explored most. What was the attraction of writing about superheroes in particular?
Dubuc: In college, there was an hour between my classes and dinner. The Batman/Superman animated block was always on at this time, and inevitably I'd end up watching it. There was such great storytelling and art in both series, I was hooked. Writing for established superheroes is an incredible feeling, because there's so much mythos and history to honor. And it's also a real challenge, because you have to be smarter than the supervillains you write in order for your hero to outwit them.
Nrama: Are you a fan of The Flash? How were you first introduced to the character, how did that fandom evolved?
Dubuc: I think the first time I met The Flash was watching a few episodes of the 1990 series with my dad. Then I read Crisis on Infinite Earths. But I feel like I really got to know The Flash on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, still two of my favorite superhero shows to date. When I finally got to write for Wally on Young Justice, he was one of my favorites.
Nrama: So as a writer, what are your thoughts behind the character — particularly your portrayal of him in this story?
Dubuc: Up until now, I'd spent more time with Wally than Barry, even though I was "married" to Barry on Young Justice (I did the voice of Iris West-Allen). Imagine my surprise when I discovered Barry wasn't with Iris in the New 52! At first I thought I'd miss Wally's swagger and quips, but reading Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul's incredible series, I really grew to love Barry. To me, he's a man who would choose to do the right thing whether or not he had powers. Barry Allen's solidity of character and quiet humor really spoke to me.
Nrama: OK, so let's talk about the genesis of the job on The Flash Annual. What was the direction from DC? And how did it end up being a back-up in The Flash?
Dubuc: Being told I could write about anything was a little daunting, especially for my first comic. So I decided to approach it like crafting a short story. I came up with a theme and a thesis and actually wrote my tale as short fiction before turning it into a comic outline. I was also interested in telling a smaller story. I'm always fascinated by what superheroes do in their day-to-day lives, the little things we take for granted on a "super" scale.
Nrama: Ah, now you've piqued my interest. What's the premise behind the story?
Dubuc: The story explores how I think Barry views life — that if you put good in the universe, good will come of it. It's an acknowledgement that we can't control every little thing in life, even with super speed or speed thinking, but we can control how we react. In my comic, Barry has to deal with a man who has lost his wife in a fire and blames the Flash for not saving her. The man decides to take out his rage on the city and do greater harm. But ultimately, Barry's small daily decisions to do good add up to help in unexpected ways.
Nrama: After your all ages stories in the animated series, that's a pretty heavy theme to explore. How did you come up with the idea for it?
Dubuc: I was working on my story around the time of the Boston bombing, and I was moved by all the people who came forward spontaneously to help. They were being superheroes. Here was a horrible tragedy, yet people selflessly stepped in to balance out the negative intent of the perpetrators. I wanted to celebrate the small good things people do everyday without realizing it — and that's where the idea for "Details" came from.
Nrama: Who's the artist on this back-up story, and what's the visual tone you two are going for?
Dubuc: I was lucky enough to be paired with the incredibly talented Cully Hamner. I'm delighted to let him take the reins on the tone and art because I know he will only plus and improve my story.
Nrama: Is there a possibility we'll see more work from you in DC's New 52 comics?
Dubuc: I hope so! I would absolutely love the chance to spend more time in the New 52. It was a dream come true to be invited to write for DC comics. My editor, Wil Moss, was incredibly encouraging and great to work with. I'd love to take a whack at writing a comic with a team of characters.