NBC is doing its best to get the word out about their new show, "The Cape," and with good reason. I have high hopes that it will give us a grand new superhero for whom to cheer.
Recently, NBC hosted a conference call with Tom Wheeler, “The Cape’s” creator, as part of its promotion for the show.
Most of the conference calls in which I get to participate are a lot of fun. The ones that excite me the most are with people who demonstrate they are making science-fiction or fantasy programs because those are the genres they love.
When Tom Wheeler talks about what he wants for “The Cape” and what inspires him, you know he’s a member of the geek community and loves it. His idea for a created city and characters that have “silver age” sensibilities in a 21st century world comes right out of his love for the superheroes from that era. He admitted to primarily being a Marvel guy and that Daredevil was his favorite superhero.
Palm City has a pulp feel to it with an old Hollywood kind of nightlife, but it has its spooky area as well in Trolley Park, a “Bladerunnerish” place with its own Carnival of Crime.
You know I love costumes and so does Tom. He knew it would be hard to have costumes, but he wanted them and, well, c’mon, a show name for a costume element has to have costumes. Once again, that’s part of that true comic sensibility that the show has.
When I first saw the ads for “The Cape,” I was interested and I knew I was going to give it a try. Now, I’m pretty darn excited about the show. I wish it were going to be on sooner than its Jan. 9 premiere. Oh well, it gives us something to look forward to in the new year of television. Plus, it's just a couple days away.
Since I write a column called "The Fannish Life," I figure that I should try to find out about the fannish life of the people in television and movies with whom I get to speak. Sometimes, I am a little disappointed because they don’t know much about science-fiction or fantasy (I include comics in those categories), other than the movies they’ve seen. Sometimes, they haven’t even seen many of those.
Other times, I find someone who is creating a program for an audience he truly understands because he has been and is a fan. This is one of those times.
What follows is a transcript of my turn with Tom on the conference call. I’ve cleaned up some of the messy bits in my questions, but Tom’s words are exactly as he spoke them.
Ann Morris: I was curious if you have ever been involved in the fannish community, like attending conventions or if you've ever dressed up in costume yourself?
Tom Wheeler: Well I will only reveal certain things. No I'm just - I'm kidding about the costume. But the I - yes absolutely. I mean I went to the - I'm in L.A. and so, you know, Comic-Con before it became...
Morris: Oh yes.
Wheeler: ... like the Super Bowl of genre and it was, you know, I loved going down there.
And, you know, I'm - I feel I'm always having these sort of contests of like who knows more. I mean I'm - and I often lose amongst my own staff. And I've got some really hardcore, you know, they know their stuff.
But yes, I mean I have always sort of considered myself a part of the fan community. And I would go to [San Diego] Comic-Con and I’d wait in line and get signatures. And I loved looking at the artwork.
And one of the most pinch-me aspects of this has been, you know, we got really by just happenstance I managed to get in touch with John Cassidy who I just loved from like it, you know, his run on X-Men and Planetary and just as an artist he was just, you know, he was amazing.
And I managed, I don't even it was just serendipity I guess, but he agreed to do a cover for "The Cape" which was, you know, our Comic-Con comic that we did this past summer.
And just seeing him do a version of a character that I had created was ready extraordinary for me. I mean I like to meet actors and it's cool, but I was really, that to me was a pretty awesome moment in the course of the show.
And so it feel - I'm - I am - I’m really despite - it's a big lift doing all these episodes. But the playground is amazing. And I feel very fortunate and thankful because I'm doing - I mean I, whether we succeed or fail, it’s coming from a place of real affection for, you know, characters like this in this world.
And when I was at Comic-Con this summer, that was the first time I'd ever been there with something that I had created. And it was thrilling. It was just thrilling. It was an amazing ride.
And having been in those audiences and then being on a panel was - it was great and I really enjoyed it. So, knock on wood, we’re there next year. But yes, I've gone to Wizard World and all that stuff.
Morris: Oh Wizard World, yes. So you've done some gaming too I take it?
Wheeler:Well I grew up I was a big Dungeon & Dragons kid, absolutely.
Morris: Oh yes.
Wheeler: I was, I mean yes, there's a - there’s even a - there's a character with that influence coming up, you know. And anytime I can put a sword in someone's hand it’s a good thing so we’ll but we’ll see. But yes I was obsessed with that game as a child and into my teens.
Morris: OK, I played it too so, you know...
Wheeler: It's awesome. It’s just the best.
Morris: Yes so ...
Wheeler: I mean it was my school replacement.
Wheeler: It's - I want to get my son into that some day.
At this point, the operator broke in to move on to another question from someone else but you can tell his interest is not just for his own show but for the whole fannish life.
There was so much more to the call and so many good questions that I could go on for a couple thousand more words but perhaps it’s better to leave you at this point to speculate on and anticipate “The Cape.”
Watch "The Cape" this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. Get a sneak peek right here.
Also, see Michael Hinman's video interview with actor James Frain right here.
About the Author