Back in April, Comics2Film spoke at length to Feedback, the Season 1 winner of "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" Now, in anticipation of Season 2, which premieres this Thursday, July 26th on SciFi, we had the opportunity to speak to Matt Haley, comic book artist extroadinaire and the man responsible for the great comic book art that you see on the show. Matt talked about his role on the show, gave us a bunch of scoop on what to expect for Season 2 and even previews some exclusive artwork from the show!
Laura Ellison for Comics2Film (C2F): So first off, I gotta ask a question about Season 1 that I've always wondered about: Was Iron Enforcer (Steel Chambers) always meant to become a supervillain, and that's why he made it to the finals in the first place? Or was that something that was decided later as you observed him in the game?
Matt Haley: Well, to be fair, all of my work on the first season was done after shooting wrapped, so I don't really know, but to the best of my knowledge, all the contestants were real people, although a few of them had some acting experience, I think the producers wanted people who wouldn't choke on camera and could be natural. The villain could have as easily been Cellphone Girl! You have to admit, Steel made a great villain, though.
C2F: Indeed. So how was the audition process this year? Did you get a bigger turnout than last year, and were there more "villain" type characters that showed up this year (since you turned Iron Enforcer into a villain last year)?
Haley: Oh no, no villains that I recall, after all, the show isn't called "Who Wants To Be A Supervillain", you know? The casting turnout was huge, and we did a nationwide tour to find new people. I think some of the folks who auditioned last year showed up for this one as well, it was a kick to see hundreds of people in a studio all wearing bizarre costumes, a few of them even had special effects built in to them.
C2F: Is there anything that you can tease about Season 2? Any new or exciting challenges that you can reveal?
Haley: Well, obviously it's going to be bigger and more exciting than last year, we have 8 episodes now, and 10 contestants. I met them all during our style shoot in May, and they're a really interesting bunch, we have a circus acrobat, a policeman, a millionaire and a homemaker among others, so they really come from all walks of life. They go through a lot tougher challenges than last year, much bigger problems that really test their mettle and heroism. For example, there a sort of "wind tunnel" challenge that was pretty rough, I certainly wouldn't have wanted to do that one. Stan Lee is back as our host and sole judge, and no matter what anybody says, he's the one who chooses the winner. Stan is on screen a lot more this time out as well.
C2F: Do you think you'll have to work extra hard to trick the new contestants into revealing their "true" superhero behavior now that they've seen Season 1 and seen some of the trick challenges you had - like, for instance, the challenge where the objective was supposedly to change into costume and run as fast as they could to a specific spot, but it was really all about seeing whether they would stop to help the poor little girl who lost her mother?
Haley: Not really, I think it will just teach the new contestants that they have to think flexibly and not be narrow-minded. The challenge is rarely what is seems at first, and Stan (who really is our judge!) has a keen eye for spotting people who aren't really trying their hardest.
C2F: What is the definition of a true superhero to you?
Haley: Actually, somebody like Feedback. We did a convention appearance in Arizona recently, and somebody asked me if Feedback was taking full advantage of his "15 minutes of fame" to cash in and make some money. I replied that he takes no money for appearances, and only takes money for signed photos and such for the Make-A_Wish Foundation, he makes not a cent in profit. The person asking didn't believe me, but it's thr truth, Feedback genuinely just wants to help people in need, he's not doing any of this for personal gain, he still has his day job.
C2F: Will Feedback be making any return appearances?
Haley: Yes, Feedback makes a triumphant return in the first episode, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him come back again before the end, but I haven't seen all of the episodes yet, I watch them as I work on the art. It's a real kick to come back and produce all the art again, so I'm just hoping even more people watch the show this year so I can come back again next summer! If fans want to meet some of the cast from the show, I'll be doing live sketches of some of them at my table in Artist's Alley (BB-10) at Comic-Con in San Diego July 25-29! As far as I know, Feedback will also have a table, signing photos and such to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
C2F: So how long have you been doing graphic art? When did your work first get noticed?
Haley: I've been drawing comics professionally since 1990, mostly for DC Comics. I sent samples in to them and was hired to draw a Star Trek Next Generation Annual. Over the years I've drawn Batgirl, Supergirl, Gen13, Ghost, G.I. SPY, Tarzan, the Defenders and even Squirrel Girl. I got into doing character design and such for videogames a few years ago, but I love comics too much to give them up
C2F: How did you get involved with the show?
Haley: The Cliff's Notes version is that back when the show was at MTV, I saw the casting notice for the show and sent my website link to the producers and they hired me to produce art for the unaired pilot. When the show got picked up last year, they asked me back.
C2F: Do you do all the artwork on the show, then? Including the Comic Book-type panels of the contestants just before an episode goes to break?
Haley: Yep, I do all the artwork seen on screen, just like last year. There's a lot more art in the show this season than last, so I'm kind of swamped, and haven't had time to work on anything else!
C2F: How far in advance do they give you pictures to turn into Comics? And how quick a deadline do you have?
Haley: The turnaround is really quick as they edit right down to the wire, so I have very little advance notice. I can usually do two to three pieces a day. I create them in Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop and occasionally in Illustrator, on my trusty WACOM Cintiq!
C2F: Will Feedback be making any return appearances?
C2F: What other artwork do you design for the show - for instance, are you in charge of designing the final costumes?
Haley: No, I kind of wanted to, but my workload was already so heavy there simply wasn't time. Our costume designer Carrie Cramer did a fantastic job on the revised outfits, though, as you'll see in the second or third episode, I forget which.
C2F: Anything else you can tell me about your role on the show?
Haley: Well, in addition to being the illustrator, I'm also the 'creative consultant', which basically means I'm the 'comic guy', since Stan isn't around for the post-production part of the show. It means that whenever our producers want to be sure they're staying true to the comic-book aesthetic, they run into my office and ask me. I've done a lot of style consulting this time around, too, for some of the green-screen and end credits sequences. It's been a ton of work, but really, I'm happy to be a part of this show, I have a lot invested in it, and I hope we all get to come back and do it again next year!
'Who Wants to be a Superhero' season 2 premieres Thursday, July 26 on SCI FI Channel. Visit Scifi.com/Superhero for more info.