In the recently released Masked anthology of all-original superhero fiction, ace editor Lou Anders assembles talent from the worlds of comics, television, and prose fiction. In the case of author Paul Cornell, we have a veteran of all three in addition to accomplishments in the fields of non-fiction, audio-plays, and determined blogging (http://www.paulcornell.com/). All three episodes he scripted for Dr. Who (Father’s Day, Human Nature, and The Family of Blood) received Hugo Award nominations as did his novelette ‘One of Our Bastards is Missing’ and his work on Captain Britain and MI13 for Marvel Comics (with artwork by Leonard Kirk). Some of his other comic book work includes Wisdom (with artist Trevor Hairsine who also illustrated the cover for Masked), Dark X-Men, and Black Widow: Deadly Origin. He has a horror pilot, Pulse, set to go to series and, as of issue #890, Paul is taking over the writing reins on Action Comics.
His contribution to the Masked anthology, “Secret Identity”, is a terrific tale about an atypical caped crusader – The Manchester Guardian – protector of the Canal Street gay quarter. Although others have tackled the premise of gay superheroes, I’ve yet to read one that delivers the depth of humanity and good-natured fun of of this protagonist. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Paul ranks “Secret Identity” his personal favorite of all his own short stories. Yes, it’s that good.
I asked Paul to offer up his thoughts on “Secret Identity”, perhaps share a little insight into its genesis, and he responded with the following for this special blog entry:
Lou Anders asked me to take part in the Masked anthology, because we go back a long way, and he’s hoping I’ll forget he owes me money. I’ve always been fascinated by the Shazam type of superhero who turns into a completely different person when he’s a hero. Given that this was to be an SF anthology, I felt that could easily open up questions of identity, nature vs. nurture, etc.. Given that superheroes often represent a community, and that those questions are written large in the gay community… well, here we’re at the point where one can say ‘it wrote itself’. I showed it to some of my gay friends, particularly the ones who’ve frequented Canal Street, a line of bars and clubs in Manchester that prides itself on being the city’s gay quarter, and made changes accordingly. The Manchester Guardian’s name is a bit of a pun, because that’s also the full name of one of the UK’s leading broadsheet newspapers. I’m very proud of this short story, to the point of thinking of it as the best I’ve written. The shape of it pleases me. And I think I’m in some brilliant company. Introducing comics writers to prose and prose writers to superheroes seems to me to be an exciting thing to do, particularly since there seems to be so much crossover these days. Myself, I write comics, prose and television, notably Action Comics for DC, a BBC3 pilot(we’re waiting to see if it goes to series) and a novel out from Tor next year. It’s great to see more and more writers becoming ‘amphibians’ like that.
Thanks for letting me go on and on, Joe, and for SG:U (my favourite show!) and for a blog that brings media and prose fans together.
And a Stargate: Universe fan to boot! How cool is that?
Speaking of Stargate: Universe – as promised, I continue to offer cryptic clues to the show’s second season using pics from a few first season episodes…
Ponytail writes: “Think there is something in that book for me, who has never read a comic book in my life?”
Answer: Absolutely. If you like good, character-driven stories, you’ll enjoyed Masked.
link022 writes: “1 Is destiny looks like the ships before oris and ancients part”
Answer: That’s a safe assumption.
“2 Shall have we the opportunity to see one of them”
Answer: Hmmmm. I’m going to go with “no comment”.
“3 Is it possible the database of atlantis Could contain the solution of return to earth for the destiny (we have translated everything yet)?”
Answer: Possible but unlikely. It’s more a power issue than specific strategy.
“4 Will you do a movie a movie about the fourth alliance?”
Answer: No plans to touch on the fourth alliance in either movie.
Lana writes: “Hey sorry if you already said this, but when are the answers to our questions for Erika being posted?”
Answer: Great question. Ask here: twitter.com/ekennair
BMc writes: “Who is Alex?”
Answer: Assistant Director Alex Pappas, Master of the Blade…
Answer: Production resumes next week.
SG7 writes: “Just curious if you’ve ever written a bucket list?”
Answer: No. Why? What’ve you heard?! WHAT’VE YOU HEARD?!!!
german_2 writes: “A few days ago in your blog are submitted questions from Russian Stargate community. Perhaps it is not correct to bother you with this, but our fans are very much looking forward to your comments.”
Answer: To be honest, next to questions about the Ancient timeline, I find technical queries the least interesting to field. And when these technical questions arrive in a bunch, my eyes glaze over and I tend to move on – especially when there are eighteen of them. If I have to field tech questions, it’s far easier for me to do them in smaller batches. In this case, I’ve picked and chosen from among your questions…
“Ancient communication stones. Does the terminal have the opportunity not only exchange the bodies, but also to transmit data, for example, text information, drawings, reports?”
Answer: No, it doesn’t.
“How did the Ancients themselves plan to get on the Destiny? Is there a specially equipped place, which could, if found, to use the earthlings?”
Answer: Presumably they possessed a power source capable of getting them aboard.
“What happened with a young clone of O’Neill? Will he be mentioned in Revolution or in other franchise series, because he has almost all O’Neill memories. Will he generally join SGC?”
Answer: Given his experience and knowledge, he probably will join Stargate Command – but we have no plans to follow his story in Revolution or SGU.
“What dishes makes Destiny’s chief cook?”
Answer: Protein powder porridge at first. Eventually, the cooks will incorporate off-world produce as well as produce from the ship’s hydroponics lab into the menu. Lots of ratatouille and caponata.
Arctic Goddess writes: “You have bars on your windows? Don’t you live in a safe area, or is that normal for Vancouver?”
Answer: I put bars on the windows out of concern for the dogs after this incident: https://josephmallozzi.com/2009/03/21/march-20-2009-hi-i-was-just-in-the-neighborhood-and-thought-id-break-in/
Answer: Not sure. This is a question for VFX Supervisor Mark Savela. I’ll ask him when I’m back in the office – and happen to remember.
“2.I’m currently writing a book called Project Scythe, its in its first draft stage at the moment and im about halfway through writing a basic mass-description-free draft which is around 45,000 words so far, and was wondering: What do you do to cure Writers Block?”
Answer: I write. Nine times out of ten, pushing myself does the trick. When it doesn’t, I just set my script aside and take a break.
“3.Also, would you have any tips for a new writer? Just like, things to watch out for?”
Answer: Read a lot. Write a lot. Rewrite a lot. Learn to accept constructive criticism.
E writes: “If you had given the pregnancy storyline to some other female character instead of TJ – as it was originally planned – would’ve the outcome still been the same?”
Answer: No. The pregnancy storyline was originally planned for a minor character in the episode Faith. When Alaina became pregnant, we excised the storyline from the episode and gave T.J.’s pregnancy a more significant arc through the back half of season one.
Gabriele writes: “you said that we have not heard everything from Goa’uld-possessed Kinsey. Are we going to hear something in the movie “Stargate: Revolution” or generally speaking in the future of “Stargate” or there are no plans yet?”
Answer: No plans to revisit Kinsey in Revolution.
Major D. Davis writes: “1. When do you resume filming of season 2?”
Answer: Next week.
“2. Do you think reuniting the cast of SG-1 and SGA a problem for the movies, or do you think it won’t be a problem?”
Answer: No idea.
“3. I remember you talking about VFX shots in SGU. What counts as a VFX shot. When theres VFX in a live action shot, or just pure VFX shots?”
Answer: Both. A VFX shot can be anything from a pure CG shot of a shuttle in flight to a shot of someone being zatted.
Simon writes: “1) Was at my Dad’s tonight (UK time) and we were both watching the SG-1 episode you wrote called ”Prodigy” how was it writting a scene for General Ryan?”
Answer: Both General Ryan and General Jumper were a pleasure to work with. And they were much better actors than we expected!
“2) On the subject if ”Prodigy”, are the glowing creatures we encouter in that episode the same creatures that appear in SGA’s ”The Defiant One”?”
Answer: I don’t think so.
“3) Any chance of getting Robert Carlyle to do a Q&A?”
Answer: It’s possible. I’ll have to ask him.
“4) I’m writing a fic based on SG, but I am unsure what the usual number of pages/scenes go into an episode. I know you said a while ago it usually comes down to five scenes per act, but what I was unclear on was, is that a story factor?”
Answer: It’s not written in stone but, from my experience, it usually comes down to 4-6 scenes an act.
“5) Will we be seeing an AU storyline in SGU sometime?”
Answer: The magic 8 Ball says “Signs point to yes.”.
susan the tartan turtle writes: “Is Akemi a ‘foodie’?”
Answer: Not yet. I’m working on her.
Juergen writes: “1. Have you ever watched any fan movie about stargate? I know, you aren’t allowed to copy the stories , but have you ever seen one? And if so…which one? What’s your opinon about such projects?”
Answer: Alas, no, haven’t seen any fan movies.
“2. Do you have any plans to appear yourself as a cameo in SGU? Or have you been in there before and we only didn’t see you? ”
Answer: No plans to make a cameo. I’m holding out for a much meatier guest role.
“3. Asuming, SG-1 movie will be green-lighted in winter 2010/2011. How long from that moment on would it be, until the movie get’s finished?”
Answer: That’s a pretty big assumption. Three weeks of prep. Three weeks to shoot. About five months of post. However much time the studio will need to put together a push for the release. A while.
silver_comet writes: “There was an article in our local newspaper about the characteristics of pets. According to them pugs are anxious to please their owner. Are you under the impression this is true?”
Answer: Quite the opposite, actually. Pugs are anxious for their owners to please them.
dasNdanger writes: “How does Akemi pronounce her name? Like A-chem-ee or Ac-eh-me?”
Answer: The former.