Talking to Writer Andrew Wheeler about Freelance and Queer Representation In Comics!

Freelance Cover 1 Andrew Wheeler Chapterhouse

Check out our interview with writer Andrew Wheeler where we talk about his series Freelance and what fans can expect from this queer-inclusive comic book story.

I got to know about Freelance a while back while browsing a list of comic books with action and adventure. I don’t know why, but the cover for Freelance Issue 1 looked queer to me. So, I decided to read it and sure enough, it had two queer male leads!

I even talked about it on our Admin’s podcast discussing queer representation in comic books. Also, be on the lookout for a Freelance recommendation post by this weekend. Until then, enjoy our interview with Andrew Wheeler, who co-wrote the series with Jim Zub.

How did you become involved with Freelance?

The folks at Chapterhouse were looking for a team to relaunch this golden age Canadian superhero as a gay hero, in line with their philosophy of creating a shared superhero universe that reflects the real world around us. They knew my work from my Oni Press fantasy series Another Castle, and they knew I was a loudmouth when it came to the need for more gay superheroes! It’s something I’ve been very passionate about since my old life as a comics critic and commentator. We need more LGBTQ heroes in comics because we need heroes for every kind of reader.

Was there something in particular that attracted you to the current series?

Aside from the opportunity to bring another gay superhero to the world, there were two things that really excited me. First, I’m a huge fan of globetrotting adventure. I also write a series of novels in that genre, Valentin & The Widow, set in the 1920s, and I’ve always been drawn to the international adventures of characters like Tintin, James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Corto Maltese. This is a series and a character that bridges the gap between superheroes and pulp heroes.

Second, I got the chance to work with an amazing artist in Vaneda Vireak, assisted by the fantastic Cindy Leong. I love that this is a superhero book that breaks away from the “house style” approach of most superhero titles. There’s an incredible energy and emotional power in the linework that’s really refreshing.

How was it like teaming up with Jim Zub?

Jim is incredible to work with because he’s one of the smartest writers out there when it comes to understanding story. He’s also an old friend of mine – I’m in his D&D group, the Danger Dice Gang! – so we always knew we could work well together.

Working with Jim really helped me find my feet in this genre. I’ve been reading superheroes all my life, but this was my first time writing a superhero comic, and my first time writing a shared universe comic. He was basically my superhero mentor!

Freelance Issue 2 image ChapterhouseAs a writer, what defines Lance as a character?

On the one hand, power. He’s incredibly strong, incredibly resilient. He doesn’t know the extent of his power because he doesn’t know where his power comes from.

And that brings us to the other thing that defines him; humility. He wants to use his power to help, not to harm, which is why he tries to stand apart from every flag, every agency, every agenda. But he also feels like he stands apart from the people he’s protecting, and that creates self-doubt and fear. That creates vulnerability. That’s his weakness.

How was it like writing the Lance and John romance? How has the feedback from fans been like?

The feedback has been great! I really feel an attachment to these characters and their relationship, and I think that comes through on the page, and readers are responding to it.

The cliché you usually see in fiction is a good guy like Lance and a bad boy like John competing for a woman’s affections; here they’re trying to navigate a relationship with each other, and it’s a very different tension, and that’s really compelling to me.  They’re a complicated couple. And handsome as heck, of course.

Any idea when we can expect a second season?

We’re working on it right now! The Chapterhouse approach to its shared universe superheroes is to do one short season for each title each year, which means there’s an array of different books out there, but we’re not going to break your wallet!

The next Freelance arc is coming in 2018, and the scripts are already underway. It’s going to be a really fun season; we learn a lot more about Lance’s history, and we introduce a pretty major complication to Lance and John’s relationship.

With Freelance being part of the Chapterverse, any chance of Lance, John, and Tasha meeting up with the Captain or other characters down the line?

Absolutely! In fact, you’ll see Tasha in the pages of another Chapterhouse title soon, and you’ll see some other Chapterhouse heroes in the pages of Freelance over the next couple of years. It’s one big universe. You don’t need to read every title to follow our stories, but you’ll spot references and plot threads connecting the books together if you do!

Any other comic book series that you’re working on and would like our readers to check out?

My focus is on Freelance right now, and on Valentin & The Widow; the first volume of my novel series hits stores this fall, from Chapterhouse’s prose division. The series is about a feisty English aristocrat and a gay Russian sailor trying to take down an evil cabal, so it has a lot of stuff that superhero fans will enjoy, and a lot of stuff fans of Freelance can enjoy!

All four issues in the first season of Freelance are available.

You can also connect with Chapterhouse and Andrew Wheeler on Twitter.

Have you read Freelance? What did you think of the series? Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Masters in Psychology and is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies. He reviews shows such as Gotham and Teen Wolf.

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