Eric Heisserer

ComicsVerse got the chance to talk to Eric Heisserer about his involvement in the Valiant Universe, his screenwriting in film, and more at New York Comic Con!

ComicsVerse: ComicsVerse is live from New York Comic Con 2017, with the writer of SECRET WEAPONS, Eric Heisserer.
So Eric, what can you tell us about Secret Wars’ involvement in the Harbinger Wars event?

Eric Heisserer: Well, I mean we’re going to continue the story from the limited series. So, we’ll see where the kids are with Livewire after all of that. We’ll learn about the the events of other books in the Valiant universe, especially HARBINGER RENEGADE. We’ll realize that what happened in Rook, Michigan in particular, and affects everybody else. There’s a giant ripple in the universe that sends everybody to one side or the other of a big conflict. On one side there’s obviously going to be Livewire and the kids from SECRET WEAPONS.

ComicsVerse: Now you’ve done a lot in film, and now you’re doing a comic event. I know you get asked the question a lot, the difference between comics and movies. Well, what does that difference, especially when you’re involved in a big project like Harbinger Wars, because you have to work with other teams, you have to stick to a cohesive story. Is it about the same, because you’re still working with editors, still working with a team, or is there is a little bit of a difference?

Eric Heisserer: There’s a slight difference, I mean there are a lot of similarities, so I feel like it’s an easier transition than say, going to novels. I’d have to say that I need to put on my director cap a lot more writing for comics. I need to think about really what do I want to do on a page, or in a panel? What do I need to emphasize? But the prime difference is, in a movie the writer and the director really get to dictate the pace at which a viewer consumes the product. They can focus in on the things that we want them to see. Whereas in a comic the reader gets to control how fast they plow through that, as well as they get to decide where they want to put their attention and time to.

So if we want to bring specific attention to some things, we have to be more conscious of that in the books, we have to make sure that if there’s a dramatic pause between say, a question and an answer, that we visualize that better than just say an ellipses. And so that’s the thing that I’ve learned most about the switch-over to comics.

ComicsVerse: Is there something you like more or less writing comic strips, and vice versa with movies, in comparison to each other?

Eric Heisserer: You know, I’d say that the thing I like more about comics is, it’s a smaller team. Therefore there’s a greater chance that you’re all working together to make the same thing. The risk with film that I’ve run into is it’s a far bigger process. It has so many more cooks in the kitchen. So, there’s a much greater risk of you trying to make, you have different ideas of what the product should be in your head and you end up with something that’s kind of a mediocre mix of what you wanted to do. Whereas I got very fortunate with Raul and Patricia in particular that they saw the same thing I wanted. Therefore we managed to make it better than any one of us could.

ComicsVerse: So for that art process, did you write your 22-page script, send it off to the artists, they give you feedback? Or is it a little more personal where you’re kind of going page by page, panel by panel, creating together? How does that work for you?

Eric Heisserer: Well, I had written the first issue script before I had learned for certain that I had Raul and Patricia. The minute I did, I raced to get that script back. I said I’m going to pull out all the very specific panel stuff, because I don’t want to give them that. Like, they don’t need that. And I just got into something that is a luxury that I get to do in comic book writing that I really don’t get to do in screenwriting, which is, I can just talk directly about subtext.

Subtext is really important for me as a writer because that’s the emotion I want to portray on the page. If you do that in a script then actors justifiably get upset. They’re like, “No, that’s my job, let me understand the subtext.” Whereas we don’t have any actors in this. We have the artists that understand that they’re going to create that on the page. The moment I saw early panels in Issue 1 of SECRET WEAPONS, and how you saw Livewire’s reaction to the willows. For instance, I knew I was in for a great ride, because they got it. They nailed it.

ComicsVerse: So for the Harbinger Wars too, how much of that scripting or story do you have done? How much of that connection is it to the overall process? Is that something you have completed and ready to go, or is it still a work in progress?

Eric Heisserer: It’s early in the process, and we’re finding our foothold with that. It’s me and Matt Kindt co-writing. The trick that we’re trying to pull off this time is we’re telling a story that’s happening simultaneously on different fronts. However, what we want to make sure to do, because we have this amazing opportunity, is to subtly communicate that they’re happening simultaneously. As an example, say if X-O is having a massive fight in lower Earth orbit, and it’s an amazing battle, I can then have at the same time Livewire and my SECRET WEAPONS kids at night seeing shooting stars, and we understand later no, that’s falling satellites from the X-O fight. And we get to coordinate it that way.

ComicsVerse: When can we look for your addition to the Harbinger Wars event in stores?

Eric Heisserer: Well, the nice thing is that both mine and Matt’s will be grouped together. So Valiant is doing something that’s either really smart or really dumb. They’re putting both books together in a massive 44-page issue for the same price as a single issue, and that drops in May of next year.

ComicsVerse: So we can look forward to it next year. Any other projects in the meantime that you’re working on besides the comic? Or are you kind of just sticking with that?

Eric Heisserer: I’m sticking with this. I also have a special Issue 0 of SECRET WEAPONS that just focuses on Nikki’s backstory. That will be out in January. I’m really proud of that. That’s something that Adam Pollina drew. It’s just an experimental issue. I got very interested in these videos that were like one second a day for a year videos. The way that they were framed and how they told the story just by showing you a different environment. I thought what if we tried to do a comic book version of that, where every panel is a different day, or a different moment in a certain day, and Adam was up for it.

So I appreciate that he was willing to take a risk. He had to do an enormous amount of work. Every panel wound up being like an opening splash page with the amount of information that he had to convey there.

ComicsVerse: Thank you very much for your time. Thank you Valiant.  You can catch us all over the web, on all social media handles, ComicsVerse.com. Thank you again.

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