Andy Warhol predicted that everybody will get their 15 minutes of fame, but what happens after you’ve reached the peak of stardom? What happens when the reason you were famous in the first place just stops? Writers Eddie Gorodetsky Marc Andreyko, along with artist Steven Sadowski, are bringing that scenario to readers with Image Comics’ The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson.
Nick was the Earth’s only superhero and then one day, his powers just vanished, leaving him to live a life as a man that’s a shadow of his former self even having to perform as a Nick Wilson impersonator for a side job. However, a figure from his past is keeping a close eye on him and Nick’s time in the spotlight might not be completely over.
With Nick Wilson scheduled to debut January 24, Newsarama talked to the creative team (as well as editor Shannon Eric Denton) about the project and what made this a dream project.
Newsarama: So let's talk about Nick Wilson here. How did he go from hero to zero?
Eddie Gorodetsky: Like many of us, Nick didn’t know what he had ’til it's gone. They say youth is wasted on the young and in Nick’s case, superpowers were equally wasted. He was basically aimless through school and when he got the powers, it was a shortcut to fame and fortune. The velvet ropes parted and he was invited to all the places he was previously shunned. Who amongst us wouldn’t let that go to his head? It’s amazing and a mark of what a basically nice guy he was at his core that he did any good deeds at all. And before he could get any equilibrium and grow up a little under the mantle of power, he became a mere mortal again. Even worse, he became a punchline to a joke before he was merely forgotten.
Marc Andreyko: As Eddie said, Nick got his powers mysteriously and they disappeared just as mysteriously. The metaphor we’re using was that of a high school athlete who gets drafted to the big leagues and then blows out their knee, leaving them with no job, no skills, and no education. What do you do then?
Nrama: Wilson's residence is Cleveland, which doesn't have a lot of representation in comic books. What led to that decision for him to hold up base there?
Gorodetsky: We always knew we wanted him to live solid American city that may have seen better days. I come from Providence, Rhode Island, which used to be the leading manufacturer of costume jewelry and novelty crap. In the 1950s and 1960s, cheap stuff from China and Japan just about wiped out that cities economy and grew up in a fading factory town with a vibrant college scene and strong mob ties. There was a thought of placing Nick there but Marc made a great case for Cleveland - it had all sorts of great little bits of story that we hint at - lakes that catch fire, Harvey Pekar, the template for Superman’s Metropolis and much, much more. It’s big city America in decline, kind of a perfect description of Nick as well.
Andreyko: Well, I'm from a suburb of Cleveland and it felt like a more relatable city than New York or Los Angeles. Plus, Superman, the first superhero, was created there so it made for some nice symmetry.
Nrama: Eddie, Marc, with this being your first collaboration how did everything work out?
Gorodetsky: Like any good collaborations, there were moments of real admiration and others of real frustration. I think without the frustration, you just kind of coast through it - I always get a bug up my ass about something and it pushes me to do something a little better. But I wouldn’t collaborate with someone without a baseline respect for what they do and Marc is a smart, fun, soulful writer who forced me to explore the form and encouraged me to try things I might not have otherwise.
Andreyko: I was so flattered when Eddie invited me on board to develop this world and create a supporting cast. Eddie is a master of the sitcom and one of the funniest people I know, so, for me, it was like a master class in comedy writing. And, with Eddie, it is never just about the joke, it's about creating characters that are real and organic humor. (Just watch his show Mom if you want to see him in his element.)
Nrama: Stephen, how is Nick Wilson unlike anything you've drawn before?
Stephen Sadowski: What was unique for me, was that usually my job is to bring characters to life in as bold and robust a way as possible. Drawing characters in their prime. With Nick Wilson, we are meeting him at possibly his worst. While we do have some peeks at what he’s been, the majority of what we see is someone who’s trying to come to terms that he may never be that way again. It was my personal take that Nick was a very sad character and covering it up with humour but I always wanted to show that there was still a hero ‘in there’ somewhere. I might add it was also the most cerebral book I’ve done. It’s nearly entirely a character piece. No fight scenes. No chases. No explosions. That was a first!
Nrama: Are we going to go into how Nick got his powers or is that not necessarily a plot point?
Gorodetsky: We might. Some people write that stuff great and make it interesting. I think i would just write some bullsh-- pseudo-science thing. I mean what is the real science behind any of these origins - people constantly update and modify them - they draw a fancier machine that irradiates the spider that bites Peter Parker (or Miles Morales, for that matter) but it’s still just dodgy science. But who cares, we just want to see Spider-Man. I really don’t care to see the spider bite him again. Nor do I want to see Martha Wayne’s pearls fall in slow motion in Crime Alley one more time though, at least in Batman’s case the origin is tied to the myth. In Nick’s case, his origin has little to do with who he is. He stumbled through life, stumbled into getting powers and then they were gone. Now, he has a big hole he has to dig himself out of and that’s when things start to become interesting. We might see his origin or aspects of his super-life as they touch on his current life but I really don’t care about him flying around punching people.
Andreyko: That isn't what this series is about. It isn't important how Nick gained or lost his powers. It's about the after. Comics sometimes tend to over explain things that don't move the story and Nick's "secret origin" sets the story in the past. This book is about Nick's today and his future.
Nrama: What can you tell us about Nick's relationship with his "business manager”?
Gorodetsky: One of the themes Marc and I kept coming back to was growth. Nick’s maturity was interrupted by his abilities - for a while he lived in a world with no ramifications. He was not only famous - he could fly away from any problems. But once he fell, he fell hard. And just like a drunk or a junkie he spiraled down until he found himself surrounded by bottom feeders and backbiters. Hudson was an opportunist who was helpful to Nick in his tailspin but less symbiotic than the relationship that the remora has to the shark. It is a mark of the growth that Nick has in the series that he his frustration with Hudson reaches a breaking point. But Hudson is not one to be dispatched lightly and I imagine him returning with an embarrassing tell-all book about Nick’s super-powered dalliances at the most inopportune moment.
Andreyko:Yeah, what Eddie said.
Nrama: There's a mysterious figure that's been looking for Nick, what can you tell us about him?
Gorodetsky: Well, we all have a past and when we first met Nick he’s been trying to keep a low profile, making money performing at children’s birthday parties as a Nick Wilson impersonator under an assumed name. But a random paparazzi shot puts him on the radar of on old nemesis who comes to him with, of all things, a business proposition.
Andreyko: Well, every hero has a villain, so let's leave it at that and let readers discover the rest.
Nrama: What do you want readers to take away from reading Further Adventures of Nick Wilson?
Gorodetsky: I grew up reading comic books and I never thought I would be able to fly or shoot heat beams from my eyes. But I understood what it meant to feel alone like Superman, or aghast at violence like Batman or awkward like Peter Parker. I loved the human scale of the stories dressed up in colorful clothes. I also always loved the comedy team of Bob & Ray who said the most outlandish things in serious deadpan. If you only half listened to them, you might think it was a newscast but once you twig to their frequency, its delightful nonsense.
That’s why l like the human scale in comic books - tell big stories small, tell small stories big. Nick Wilson is all about the small gesture dressed up in superhero clothes. It’s for anyone who has ever been publicly embarrassed and wondered how they would come back from it. For anyone who has been somehow diminished- by age or injury or sadness - and has to somehow find the wherewithal to soldier on. This book is for anyone who has been devalued who has been judged and counted out and still has many miles to go, who still has to put one foot in front of the other to prove all the naysayers wrong. It’s probably a hokey thing to say in such a bleak world but I’d like people to take away a little bit of hope.
Andreyko: For me, I want readers to see someone that they can relate to and root for. Nick isn't anywhere near perfect (none of us are), but he's trying to find his place in a world that is moving past him. That's something most of us face if we're on this planet long enough.