Rock stars and superheroes have something in common: While others are safe at home asleep, both assume alter egos and fearlessly go out into the night.
It makes sense, then, that someone is mashing them up.
Heroineburgh — a new video series about female superheroes — features enough Pittsburgh musicians to fill a decent-sized venue, including members of Love Dumpster, Action Camp, Thunder Vest, Torn Apart Hearts, The Working Breed, The Red Western, Gas Tiger and Benefits. Actually, that’s only episodes 5-7, which are premiering at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont on October 20 (screenings at 6 and 9 p.m.). There are dozens more in other episodes.
The project is driven by long-time Pittsburgh music promoter/writer/label owner Manny Theiner, who found himself getting back into comics, and comics-related television series. The humor and local flavor of Pittsburgh Batman was a big inspiration.
“I guess I’d call it high camp with a side of second-wave feminism, drawing on all areas of comics and shows,” says Theiner “In other words, maybe not the obvious camp of [1960s] Batman, but … the influences, as far as shows go, range from Batman and Wonder Woman to ’90s stuff like Xena and Buffy.”
Instead of Metropolis or Gotham City, everything is set in Pittsburgh, using actual neighborhoods and landmarks as backdrops.
“The heroines represent the real neighborhoods and real ethnicities in Pittsburgh,” says Theiner. “It’s a varied group of professions or jobs: physicist, schoolteacher, computer programmer, reporter, mechanic. They all have identities; some are secret, some are not.”
“I was excited to join the project as I love comics,” Action Camp’s Maura Jacob, who plays Etherea in the series, tells us, “but growing up, I didn’t read many superhero stories — they didn’t feel like they were written for me. I’m excited the project gets to show all different types of women and heroes — and I was, of course, thrilled to work with such talented local women!”
Each heroine gets powers that fit their interests, skills or background.
“The Irish superheroine is a big fan of Celtic Warrior queen Boudicca, and gains the fighting skills of legendary Irish warriors,” says Theiner. “In Episode 6, there’s a physicist working on superconductors at very low temperatures. She has a cold, aloof personality — Arctica can control extreme cold. Cybrina, a coder genius, can turn herself into data, then turn back into a corporeal body.”
The half-hour episodes don’t yet make clear Pittsburgh’s need for a profusion of superheroines. Still, Theiner mentions “a convenient dark energy meteor bombarding the city.”
“The first season will conclude with 12 episodes,” says Theiner. “Each is 30-40 minutes. They’re all self-contained origin stories. [Eventually, they’ll get together] and form a Pittsburgh-based Justice League or Avengers.”