Geek Syndicate interviews Drew Pearce, creator of ‘No Heroics’

Drew and the Hotness

Ladies and gentlemen meet Drew Pearce, the writer/ creator of the new superhero sitcom ‘No Heroics’ coming to ITV2 on September 18th 10:30pm. It will be the channel’s first ever original sitcom.

Taking some questions from the folks over at our forum we pitched them to Drew and here’s what he had to say.

So what’s the premise of ‘No Heroics’ Drew?

Put simply, it’s about a bunch of mates who just happen to be off-duty superheroes, hanging out in a capes-only bar in Soho. It’s about loads of other stuff as well, though: friendship, being rubbish with girls, bullies, and the fact that everybody wants to be famous nowadays. Plus there’s some jokes about balls.

Why superheroes?

Because they’re supposed to be exciting, and so it’s intrinsically fun to show the really mundane aspect of their lives. Plus, I’ve been a comic book fan since forever – who wouldn’t want to make up their own superhero universe?

Will this appeal to both comic and non comic fans alike?

Well, I’m probably the wrong person to make that call, cos I’ve been working on the show for about three and a half years, so I’m pretty close to it right now. Having said that, it’s purposefully written to work on a non-parody level – as long as you understand the basics of a superhero universe, you can move past that pretty quickly, I think, and enjoy the comedy of a bunch of mates bickering and jostling for success. Having said that, there’s an entire second tier of visual imagery in the show, which we called geek detail, that’s there for me and you and the other millions of people who do actually care about the last 50 years of superhero culture.

Were there particular superhero archetypes you tried to stick with, or did you just go with what you thought would be the funniest?

Well, because I wanted to be able to get to the funny as soon as possible, having heroes with recognisably archetypal powers was pretty important – strongwoman, machinetalker, etc. Also, there’s humour in how common the most popular powers are – like, The Hotness is only the 9th most successful heat hero in Greater London. Having said that, as well as working as archetypes, they also had to work as metaphors for the characters’ frustrations – the old Stan Lee method of creating powers, essentially. Plus, of course, they had to give me scope for humour. She-Force will break stuff. The Hotness will light cigarettes. Electroclash will steal cash from ATMs. Timebomb will see exactly what he’s goin to do in the pub toilet in 60 seconds time. Having said that, the title of the show is a mission statement in itself too – no heroics isn’t really about powers. This is about what happens to c-list powers when they’re away from their day jobs.

Do you need to do much research for this and, if so, how much?

Just reading loads of comics for twenty five years. Tough gig.

What comics inspired you to create this series?

That is the shortest question for the longest answer. But the abridged version is – Zenith was the starting point. Plus a bit of Animal Man. That filtered through loads of deconstructivist, dark age stuff. Like Watchmen, which of course I adore. Basically everything by Alan Moore, in fact, Top Ten etc. Loads of Bendis, but particularly Alias and Powers. Ellis too – mostly The Authority. Bit of Mark Millar, in Skrull Kill Krew and early Ultimates. Then, going back, early Fantastic Four – all the fame stuff starts with them. Plus all the classic Claremont and Byrne X-men, and BKV’s Runaways, and Busiek’s Astro City and Marvels, and the first two She-Hulk books by Dan Slott. Lots and lots of stuff that’s been undercutting the superhero ‘verses for years, basically.

Have you watched the Tick or any of the other superhero parodies and did they influence you in anyway?

The Tick. The Specials. Mystery Men. Sky High. Captain fucking Zoom. Even Super Soul Brother. I made it my business to track down every live action hero comedy there’s ever been. The thing is, most of those shows kind of trap themselves in the idea of parody and camp, and that’s the opposite of my sense of humour. I like things undercut and maybe a bit more honest, more real. Which I realise sounds moronic because it’s a show about superheroes. But applying real-world rules to their lives – showing the mundane side of being a cape – was the direction I wanted to go.

This is the first original sitcom on ITV2. How does that feel?

It makes my balls tingle. It’s a channel that people watch, and it’s quite nice to be the first of anything. The world may not expect narrative comedy from ITV2 yet, but it’s already got a profile with shows like Call Girl, and at least we’re not following five other crappy attempts at sitcoms on the same channel, that might tar us with the same brush. Alternative answer : I’m crapping my pants.

Any there plans for a US Première?

What, other than on Bit Torrent two hours after the first UK transmission? Yes, I hope so. We’re working on it. Again, the more sense of demand there is for it on the web (and the better the UK show performs) the more chance people outside the UK have of seeing the show. Legally, that is.

Do you envision these characters venturing outside of the UK?

Maybe. But there probably won’t be a hilarious special where they all go larging it in Ibiza for the week. Mostly because I can’t afford it. Plus it would be shit.

Do we get to learn just how many superheroes there might be in the world of No Heroes?

Only if we get a second series. You know what to do.

Do you have a fave character out of the No Heroics gang?

My mum says I’m most like Timebomb, the retired, psychopathic, gay, Spanish hero who can see up to sixty seconds into the future. I couldn’t see it myself at first, but I guess she’s got a point. More worryingly, the character I find easiest to write is Excelsor. I have no idea what that says about me.

Did you ever read Super Hero Happy Hour (later changed to just Hero Happy Hour due to DC/MARVEL having joint rights over the term “super hero”) by Dan Taylor and Chris Fason?

I actually didn’t. I’ve seen it around but that type of comic – the very cartoon-y drawing style – though brilliant looking, were never really my bag. As far as the idea of heroes in bars or hanging out post-heroics goes, I think it’s as old an idea as comics themselves. But I’m told Hero Happy Hour is very funny, so maybe when this is all over, I’ll catch up with it.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

Yes. It’d be a bit lazy of me not to be, right? But I can’t tell you what they are. Okay, I’m thinking that for my next sitcom, I’m going to do a thing like No Heroics, but they’re not superheroes, just normal people, and maybe they’re in a coffee shop rather than a pub. The working title is “Friends”, but that will change because nobody will ever watch a show called something dumb like that.

Why should everyone watch No Heroics?

Because otherwise I’m going to have to go back to making country rock records. And nobody wants that.

Many thanks to Drew for taking the time to answer those questions. If you want to hear more from Drew check out our exclusive podcast interview with Drew over on our interviews page where you will gets further insight into the crazy mind of Drew and and ‘No Heroics’!

GS Reporter: The Nuge

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