It was the little comic that could, DC’s equivalent of Spider-Girl, coming back multiple times when cancellation came calling. Manhunter had the critical acclaim and the brilliant characterization that everyone says that they want, but ultimately it would not be enough.
In a market where there are constant cries for diversity, Manhunter featured a female lead with a prominently featured gay supporting character written by an openly gay writer. I had moment to catch up with writer Marc Andreyko and ask him about both Manhunter and on being openly gay in comics, and here’s how that went.
Being openly gay, I was wondering if it was easier or harder for you to introduce a love interest for Obsidian in Manhunter. On one hand, I can see the voice being more “true,” but I can also see a lot of criticism that would come with it – “oh, he’s gay; he had to add a gay character.”
I had no resistance from DC; quite the opposite, actually. They were totally supportive. And I added a gay character not as a part of an agenda, but for verisimilitude.
Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh sparked controversy last year with his article stating that gay actors are unable to “play straight.” Is there a similar feeling within comics? Do you find that there is increased scrutiny when dealing with the romantic lives of heterosexual characters because of your being gay?
Nope. I totally disagree with him here. I write people – gay, straight, black, white, male, female. If you write honestly, the characters come alive. I’ve never been called “too gay.”
(At least not to my face. LOL)
While nothing has been produced as of this writing, you have sold a few screenplays, and as an outsider observer Hollywood for the most part seems to me to have a more relaxed attitude about homosexuality when compared to society writ large. Is this an accurate view?
Yes and no. Gay leads are still a tough sell, unless it’s a Sundance/heavy drama. But, that’s changing with actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Zach Quinto, and other young actors coming out. Change is gradual, but it is changing.
Moving on to actual comics, Manhunter was critically acclaimed, and devoutly loved by its fan base, but it struggled to find a place in the marketplace. As the writer of it, with hindsight, are there things that you feel you would do differently from the beginning to change that, or do you feel that it’s an issue with the marketplace itself?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m extremely proud and flabbergasted by fan reaction, and I was lucky enough to tell stories I wanted to tell. And, the market is tough for all comics, let alone a new female lead. If retailers and fans ventured outside the Spider/X/Bat/Avengers worlds more, we’d be a more diverse and interesting place. The New 52 is championing that ideal.
When DC went to its larger format and “second feature” design, Manhunter returned again, in Batman: Streets of Gotham. What were the biggest difficulties in writing for the series in this format, and were there any advantages? As a fan, what were your thoughts on the return of backup features, and then on their departure one year later?
Well, it was a challenge, but writing for a movie serial-esque format was a blast. I think in a better economy, we’d see more of that.