Soap Opera with a Superhero Twist

By Carmen Comment

What with the staggering success of AS THE WORLD TURNS’ 50th anniversary tie-in mystery novel, OAKDALE CONFIDENTIAL, it’s no surprise that Proctor & Gamble, the soap’s parent company, would want to repeat the same deal with its other flagship TV show, GUIDING LIGHT. But not in the way you think. As the NYT’s George Gene Gustines reports, GL has jumped aboard the comics bandwagon by giving longrunning (and long, long-suffering) heroine Harley Davidson Cooper (played by Beth Ehlers, left) superpowers—and the results run both on TV (starting tomorrow morning, though a sneak preview is online) and in book form, with an eight-page comic by Alex Chung & Jim McCann, “A New Light,” that debuted last week as a backup feature in select Marvel comics. (Reactions from comics fans have been decidedly mixed, with Ron lending his own two cents to the debate at Newsarama.)

Ellen Wheeler, the executive producer of “Guiding Light,” said the idea for a collaboration came from another Marvel comic book milestone: the July wedding of the Black Panther and Storm, an X-Men character, whose dress was conceived by Shawn Dudley, the costume designer for “Guiding Light.” After that, it was simple: “Let’s call them to see if there’s anything to talk about,” Wheeler said.

Indeed there was, though creating the script for “A New Light” was a balancing act, according to McCann. He said he had to give readers enough information about GL’s characters and also fill them in on Marvel superheroes and villains. “I tried to make it as universal and as accessible as possible for both sides,” McCann said. “I threw in a couple of little things for GUIDING LIGHT fans, so they would know I really did my homework on their show.”