Joe Harris and Michael Walsh were tapped to be the creative team for IDW's The X-Files Season 10. It is a gig they are taking very seriously. The legions of fans who "believe" are watching, and both men take that responsibility seriously. In this PREVIEWSworld exclusive interview, Joe Harris and Michael Walsh lay out their approach to working with Chris Carter's legacy, and where they think it will take them.
PREVIEWSworld: The X-Files Season 10 #1 kicks off an ongoing series that picks up where the TV show left off. How much of the previous 9 seasons were you both familiar with, or did it involve all-night Roku-streaming or DVD-watching marathons to get up to speed? Did you approach doing this series first as fans, or as creators?
Joe Harris: I'm a huge fan of the original series and watched just about every episode during the first run. Many lonely teenage Friday nights during those early seasons for me. Once IDW reached out to me about potentially taking on this series, though, I did go back and re-watch a lot of episodes. I really approached this gig as both a fan and a creator, honestly. I kind of feverishly pecked out an outline and pitch for the first couple of years, really detailing an opening arc that would re-establish what The X-Files fans refer to as the "mytharc" — the overarching storyline involving extra-terrestrials and the conspiracy within the government to cover up their existence, the collaboration of certain powerful figures seeking to influence and steer things along, Mulder's quest to discover the truth, Scully's ordeal as both an abductee and miracle mother, and all that stuff. I watched that all again, from beginning to end. And I'm always going back and checking out some of my favorite "Monster of the Week" episodes as we're going to be doing some direct sequels to some of those.
Michael Walsh: When the show originally aired, I was pretty young, and it was a show that I wanted to watch but my parents wouldn't let me. So I had to sneak out of my room and watch it while they weren't paying attention. Then I would have fantastic nightmares, especially about the gargoyle episode. When I was offered the gig by IDW, I was ecstatic. It gave me a reason to go back and rewatch everything from the beginning.
PREVIEWSworld: The X-Files creator, Chris Carter, is the Executive Producer for this series. So with the big guy in the captain’s chair, did that make working on this comic a different creative experience than your previous comic projects? Were there more approvals and reviews needed? Did that make things more challenging?
Joe Harris: I don't know if it's any more of a lift than getting to execute what you might have previously gotten approval to do on a superhero book for a major publisher these days. But sure, there are some challenges. I've been lucky as IDW really digs what I've been doing and have been very excited and supportive of my plans.
FOX dug my ideas too, and Chris Carter has been really helpful with his comments and generous with his time. He appreciated my take on things and paid me some very nice compliments after reading what I'd come up with. He knows I have a very deep respect for this series, his work, the fans of the show and the characters. So it's challenging, balancing it all, sure. But I'm too excited for that to be a problem.
Michael Walsh: The last book that I worked on was creator-owned so there wasn't really any kind of editorial involvement. It is quite different, but it's a welcome change. I feel like I'm outputting the best work of my career, and the whole team is really dedicated to making this book a success in every way.
PREVIEWSworld: So Agents Mulder and Scully are back, and that means there is a good amount of history to balance in how the characters “click,” meaning how their chemistry affects the stories. Joe, as the writer of your own creator-owned series Great Pacific, how would you describe the responsibilities you incur with such a project like The X-Files? As this is ultimately Chris Carter’s baby, how do you work through the responsibilities and expectations of being a surrogate parent to The X-Files in order to give birth to a new IDW series?
Joe Harris: The difference between writing a creator-owned series like Great Pacific and a licensed book like The X-Files, obviously, is that I'm inheriting something established here. We all know what Agents Mulder and Scully are supposed to look like and sound like, what they value, and what they might or might not do given our experiences watching them over these many years. I've had the good, fun fortune to write so many iconic characters with complex continuities and relationships and chemistries over the years. Ultimately, this is a work-for-hire project like any other gig in comics. It's my job to make sure these recognizable characters ring true.
PREVIEWSworld: There’s always room for growth. Always time to make a list of do’s and don’ts. Did any of that play into your planning for this series in regards to previous works? Meaning, did any of you read through previous Topps comics and think, “Hey, this was good. This worked.” or “Ah, no, we won’t be doing that”? Was any of that involved in prepping for this new gig? Or is it just the two of you in the cockpit flying solo?
Joe Harris: I've read some of the original comics, way back when. But I didn't put a premium on looking back to those for inspiration, honestly. We're doing canonical stuff in The X-Files Season 10, so juggling the continuity of the series, movies and spin-offs is hard enough. And I think Michael and I want to forge our take on this material, and establish our own rhythm and methodology for how we tell these stories.
Michael Walsh: Yeah, I definitely checked out what I could find of the original comics as I am a big fan of Adlard's work, especially what he has done with The Walking Dead. With that said, I didn't actually reference any of the art he used. My main goal with this project is to capture what defines these characters while still maintaining my own artistic style and decision making.
PREVIEWSworld: If people want to keep up with your progress on this book, where could they find information online? Any Facebook or Twitter addresses you could give out to the fans?
Joe Harris: I'm always updating my site at www.joeharris.net, and I've cornered the "joeharris" screen name market on both Facebook and Twitter.
Michael Walsh: My twitter handle is @mister_walsh. You can find most of my artwork on my tumblr which I update regularly at www.misterwalsh.tumblr.com.