Exclusive Interview: Andrew Wheeler on his latest comic book Cat Fight “queerness informs my worldview & shapes everything I write”

After snagging a GLAAD Media Award nomination for his sexy caper comic book, Sins of the Black Flamingo, prolific writer Andrew Wheeler has wasted no time creating new stories. A seasoned scribe who has tackled big properties across almost all the major publishers including Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Oni Press—and now IDW—he also hosts the queer James Bond podcast Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. His upcoming new comic, Cat Fight, is an action-packed story of a cat-burgling royal that’s fast, fashion-infused and filled with feline felons.

Ahead of Cat Fight’s publication, Andrew Wheeler took some time out to give The Queer Review a flavor of the new book and answer some of Chad Armstrong‘s burning questions.

GLAAD Award nominated Sins of the Black Flamingo. Art by Travis Moore.

Chad Armstrong, The Queer Review: First off, congratulations on the GLAAD nomination for Sins of the Black Flamingo.

Andrew Wheeler: “Thank you. it was very validating for me as a queer writer who has been grinding away in this industry for a few years now. It was also a little surprising. I was quite critical of GLAAD’s Outstanding Comic Award in my past life as a journalist. GLAAD didn’t name artists as nominees, it had a blind spot for webcomics, and I felt it focused too much on Marvel and DC, though the Big Two are now doing the work to earn those nominations. This was the first year that GLAAD nominated entire creative teams, so I was grateful that I was able to share the nomination with our all-queer team of Travis Moore, Tamra Bonvillain, and Aditya Bidikar. I still think it’s strange that GLAAD largely overlooks webcomics. How has Alice Oseman not been nominated before this year? I really do appreciate the recognition though.”

Can we expect more from the Black Flamingo?

“I hope so. It depends how the first book sells, but I have a lot of fabulous stories to tell about Sebastian Harlow and his tawdry, beautiful life, so if everyone could buy twenty copies to give to all their friends that would be a big help!”

Cat Fight sees you returning to a sexy cat burglar, is this your kink now?

“Well, I’m counting on it being everyone’s kink! There must be a reason so much film footage has been devoted to hot people slinking between laser beams.”

Cat Fight #1 – Cover A by Ilias Kyriazis

How is Cat Fight different from Black Flamingo?

Cat Fight is an action adventure story; thief versus thief on an international stage. It’s very different in tone and setting, and the occult elements of Sins have been traded for magnificent fight scenes. Cat Fight is much more James Bond than John Constantine. Thieves are the superheroes of the outcast set. I haven’t really workshopped that as a theory, but I do enjoy outlaw protagonists, and I don’t think I’m alone, especially in the current climate.”

“The hoarding of wealth is one of the most destructive injustices in the world right now, yet the law protects people like the monopolist pushing up grocery prices and punishes people like the parent who steals food to feed their family. The champions that take down the rich are going to wear gloves, not capes. I think there’s plenty of appetite for stories about outlaws.”

Cat Fight #1 – Art by Ilias Kyriazis, Word by Andrew Wheeler

You’ve said that Cat Fight is “John Wick meets Kill Bill meets…well, Cats!” which terrifies me and excites me (I’ll let you guess which reference does which). Can we expect Judi Dench in the film adaptation, or Uma Thurman?

“I like to provide artists with visual prompts for locations and characters, and that sometimes include actors and models, but I’m sorry to say there’s no role for the Dame or the Bride in this one. Maybe Angela Bassett and Lucien Laviscount?”

Cat Fight #1 – Cover RI by Sweeney Boo

Well, she did do “the thing” after all! And now we’ve mentioned a Marvel diva…You’ve done work with queer characters across the Big Two (Marvel and DC Comics) as well as original characters, why is it important to you to write queer characters? Can you please write more Hercules and Marvel Boy? I love them as a couple!

“I would love to write more Hercules and Marvel Boy. I see so much potential in the cosmos-spanning adventures of a demigod and a science experiment in love. If Marvel asks, I’ll be there!”

“As far as queer characters, there was a time when I worried about being pigeonholed as a “queer writer” because I thought it would be limiting. Maybe it is, in terms of which risks the industry is willing to take, but it’s not limiting to the stories I can tell. Queerness informs my worldview and shapes everything I write. My stories are going to be inherently queered and it would be a disservice to not put queer characters in those stories.”

Marvel Voices: Pride 1 Art by Brittney L Williams & Jose Villarrbuia.

Talk to me about the collaborative process on Cat Fight. How did you come to work with Ilias Kyriazis? Do you write full scripts?

“I write full scripts, but I work with incredible artists and I want them to feel supported by the script without feeling constrained by it. With Ilias I quickly realized that I didn’t need to hold anything back. From glamour to action to emotion, he could make all those scenes electric on the page.”

“Our great editor, Heather Antos, put Ilias and I together, and Ilias brought Dennis Yatras and Auguste on board to complete our amazing art team. It’s been a joyous experience. Everyone on the team knows exactly what’s asked of them and works beautifully together, and I’m really proud of the book we’ve created.”

If this volume of Cat Fight is a hit, can we expect future stories? How far out have you planned things?

“Absolutely, there’s huge scope for future stories about these characters that I’d love to tell. Ilias is very keen to tell a story set in Kitty’s youth, so I’m giving that a lot of thought right now.”

By Chad Armstrong

Cat Fight #1 is released in May by IDW. For more on Andrew Wheeler head to his official website.

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