TULSA — University of Oklahoma graduate Sterling Gates came back to his hometown for the Green Country Comics and Gaming convention last weekend. The comic writer spoke to fans, signed autographs and provided tips for aspiring creators in multiple panels during the weekend event at Marriott Tulsa Southern Hills, 1902 E 71.
Gates, who now lives in Los Angeles, is the writer of the upcoming comic-book miniseries “Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S.” The new miniseries will look at a spy organization in the DC Comics superheroes universe. The first issue goes on sale Oct. 30.
“It is essentially a story about Steve Trevor and ... a super spy organization,” Gates said. “Steve Trevor is Wonder Woman's ex-boyfriend. In ‘Forever Evil,' the whole premise is that the Justice League is gone, presumed dead. ... And Steve Trevor is sure Wonder Woman is not dead.”
DC Comics fans may remember Trevor from the “Wonder Woman” mythos. Trevor was played by Lyle Waggoner in the 1970s TV series “Wonder Woman,” which starred Lynda Carter as the Amazon warrior. In “A.R.G.U.S.,” Trevor's devotion to Wonder Woman is again important.
“It's a love story without a love interest,” Gates said. “Steve Trevor is trying to come to terms with the fact that Wonder Woman might be dead, though he doesn't believe it. And if anyone is going to find a way to rescue her, it's going to be him.”
Gates talked about his life growing up in Tulsa, and how comic books helped him cope after the death of his father.
“My parents owned a comic store here in Tulsa when I was a kid in the 1990s,” Gates said. “So my entire house was full of comics. ... As a result, my childhood was basically full of Marvel and DC Comics.”
Gates' father died in 1998, and the family decided to sell the store. Gates' mother told him to take anything he wanted from the store before they wholesaled the inventory. One comic that he found especially connected with him.
“I found Mark Waid's ‘Flash' run, and that whole run is about coming to grips with the loss of a father figure, mentor. ... That obviously spoke to me given the time frame. I became a Wally West collector.”
Wally West was the new Flash trying to live up to the mantle after the death of his uncle, the former Flash, Barry Allen. That interconnected with many of the feelings Gates had at the time.
Gates earned an art degree at OU specializing in Film and Media Arts. Continuing his connection with comics, he became a cartoonist for the Oklahoma Daily for a semester.
“I found that the best work I was doing was in writing,” Gates said. After college, he moved to Los Angeles to write for television. Working as an assistant on a television series connected him with TV and comics writer Geoff Johns, who became Gates' mentor. Gates has been writing comics professionally since 2007, including top titles like “Action Comics” and “Green Lantern Corps.”
Gates said in writing ongoing superhero sagas, it's important to know your beginning point and end point for the character.
“I deal with a lot of characters that I don't own or make up. I have to make the decision early on, where do I start him, and where do I hand him off?” he said. “The journey can end either tragically or heroically. Often that journey will surprise you.”