Love them or hate them, reality TV shows are now nigh-inescapable in the American entertainment industry. In addition to the ubiquitous television shows, there's Survivor alumnae Jerry Mathey in "Playboy," American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson in record stores and (in a few weeks) movie theaters and, this fall, they'll even be coming to your local comic store.
Todd Nauck's "WildGuard: Casting Call," a six issue miniseries published by Image Comics this September, will feature the familiar sight of an endless procession of hopefuls auditioning for a coveted spot in the limelight, only to be whittled away, bit by bit, as the series progresses.
"'WildGuard' is a made-for-TV superteam," Nauck told CBR News on Sunday. "An 'American Idol' for superheroes, hundreds of heroes converge to try out for this reality TV show. Yet, only five will be chosen to fill WildGuard's roster. Casting the team members is the driving force to this six issue mini-series."
And like many of the reality TV shows, the audience will play a part:
"Readers are invited to www.wildguard.com to read mini-profiles on many of the characters. Later this summer, they can begin voting for the hero they want to see on the team," Nauck said. "Fans can also try and make their predictions on who will make the final five.
"The series starts off with so many of my original characters at the team auditions I don't think I could describe them all here. The cast moves to smaller and smaller groups of characters as the series progresses. Initially readers will meet heroes like Red Rover (a man with superhuman/canine abilities), Starchart (a woman imbued with cosmic energy), the Shrubling (a wood sprite), Ignacia (a pyro-kinetic young woman), American Icon (a symbol of the USA), the Wandering Eye (an enigmatic giant eyeball), several speedsters, and a couple of stretchy heroes to name a few. These and other characters can be found on www.wildguard.com."
While reality TV is in full bloom at the moment, the roots of the series go back more than a decade.by Todd Nauck
"I got the idea for 'WildGuard' in 1992. I was a big fan of the show COPS at the time and thought it'd be cool if cameras followed heroes around on their patrols. I had put out two 'WildGuard' ashcan mini-comics back in '92 and '93 and did four more solo character mini-comics that later led to my employment at Image in 1994. Now, it's coming full circle as I come back to Image to bring these characters to the comic book shelves.
"With the proliferation of 'reality' TV, I have so much more to draw from. Programs like American Idol, Pop Stars, and Making the Band led me to the origin story of WildGuard. That is what the 'Casting Call' mini-series is all about."
And like those television shows, "Casting Call" will touch on why these characters want to be in the limelight as much as on how they intend to do it.
"The main theme is the characters' motivation for acceptance and recognition. I'm a fan of 'reality TV,' and it seems like most people on these shows want their 15 minutes of fame. Generally, I think people have a need for attention in one way or another. Oftentimes we think that if many people are aware of us then they know us. But are the people who have fame truly known, or just known about? Will recognition really fill that need? I will delve into this with this mini-series as well as in possible future stories."
Casting Call"by Todd Nauck
The series marks the first time that artist Nauck is spreading his wings and taking on other areas of comic creation in addition to art chores.
"Well, I've spent my first nine years being a penciller and letting the editors handle coordinating all the other aspects of creating a comic. Now, I'm writing and lettering and it's been a fun challenge to my creativity. I've even started coloring my work for the Web site. I've also been learning more of the technical aspects of producing a comic: solicitations, promotions, etc. It's definitely opening me up to a whole world I didn't have to deal with before. It's an incredible education. With all this, I've still managed to stay ahead of schedule, and I'm currently drawing issue #3.
"Lary Stucker will be inking the book. Lary and I have worked together for years including our run on Young Justice. I've also got another 'Young Justice' regular on board. Tom McCraw will be providing the colors. He came on to 'Young Justice' for the last six issues and did a great job. In 'Young Justice' #50-51, we had dozens of guest stars and Tom was able to handle them all. So, I knew he would be able to handle the huge amount of heroes in the first few issues of 'WildGuard.'
"'WildGuard: Casting Call' is set for a September 2003 release. It will be full color. Each story is 24-25 pages and each issue will feature an alternate cover by today's top creators picking the five heroes they would choose for the team. Look for covers by Art (Tom Strong's Jonni Future) Adams, Keron (New Mutants) Grant, Paco (Thor, Superman) Medina, Ed (Batman/Superman, Thundercats) McGuinness, Phil (Birds of Prey) Noto, and Mike (Fantastic Four) Wieringo."
And just as Survivor was followed by Survivor: Australia, if "Casting Call" is a hit, expect to see more of the heroes of WildGuard.
"I have plans for what I'd like to do with the characters after 'Casting Call' is done. If WildGuard is well-received, I hope to do more mini-series or even a regular series if the readers take to the book. So, check out the site, check out issue #1 in September, and let me know what you think!"