There are teasers that release dates for the crossover universe featuring Alien, Predator, and Prometheus are going to be revealed by Dark Horse this coming weekend at Emerald City Comic Con, but before they do, we've got some insider insights from writer on the Predator series, Joshua Williamson, and Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief, Scott Allie. Here they plumb the depths of their fandom for the source material and explain what for them is an all new adventure into horror sci-fi. Here's our peek at Predator, complete with first look art images from the upcoming book.
Hannah Means-Shannon: At NYCC Dark Horse suggested that the Predator comic, among others, will use the movies as "canon". What do you feel are the most essential canonical elements of the movies that must be present to create the comic?
Joshua Williamson: To me the most important part of the canon was the rules established in the first two movies. The Predators have a code and I wanted to stick to that.
The Predators hunt. It's what they do. That is the purest version of their story, so I made sure to always keep that in mind as I was developing my piece of this big world that we're building. Even though the setting has changed the tone remains the same.
None of the characters from the Predator films will make their way into my book, but the spirit of what has come before, especially the first movie, is there.
Scott Allie: The other films, Alien and Prometheus and Aliens, provide us with most of the thematic stuff important to our stories. The hunt is a big part of it, predation, but the editors and the five writers have done a good job of knitting together the themes from all the films into one big theme that pulls it all together.
HMS: Tell us your history as fans/viewers of the films. How have the films influenced your view of science-fiction horror narratives? What particularly is going to be influencing your goals in the comics based on your fan experience?
JW: Oh boy. So I saw the first Predator when I was a kid, but back then that wasn't a sci-fi horror movie. No, to my young childlike self that was a Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Y'know what I mean? That was a pretty macho love fest with big GI Joe –like dudes fighting a bad ass alien in a jungle. Lots of guns and explosions.
Then I saw the second movie, still a kid, and… holy crap is that movie violent?! And bloody? I loved it! As I got older I started to see the movie for its survival horror nature. The idea of Man, normally the hunter, now being hunted.
The brotherhood of the first two movies, the survival horror, the tense action, and that feeling of being stalked was all things that influenced my take and story.
But at the end of the day, I really wanted some bad ass aliens fighting and killing. I owe it to the little kid version of me.
SA: My real emotional connection is to the first Alien film. That made a huge impact on me, because it's primarily a horror film, and it scared the hell out of the world back then.
HMS: Do you think science fiction narratives are inherently scary? Why do you think that science fiction and horror elements work so well together in stories?
SA: As Lovecraft said, "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." And science fiction offers a lot of that. Close Encounters is a little bit scary … but in a way, I don't think these are science fiction films, not in a hard SF way. Alien and Predator don't deal with science, with speculative ideas. Prometheus does. It's the material we're developing from Prometheus that turns this whole story into a proper SF story—but still with slavering monsters and a lot of death.
HMS: How cinematic is the comic going to be in "feel"? What is it going to do that will make the narrative unique to the comics medium, and even preferable to film?
JW: My writing has always been a bit influenced by movies and that form of storytelling but I just apply that to how I work in the comics medium because that's where my head is. I don't see things frame by frame or storyboards, I see finished pages or the finished book in my head. I imagine the page turns as I write. And that is something you can't get in film. The comic page itself is a magical thing that has never been able to translate to film on a satisfactory level. It's our and ours alone.
Now we do use some of the same visual tricks that the Predator movies did to build suspense, like the Predator's POV, but just in comics. Playing with the idea that a Predator can become invisible has been fun to play with in the comics medium.
HMS: How intricate are the links between the crossover universe books Predator/Alien/Prometheus that are upcoming? Will readers have to read all of them to fully appreciate the storylines?
JW: Actually the order of the books will be Prometheus, Alien, AVP with Predator coming out last. We'll actually be announcing the release dates at ECCC.
SA: Well, Predator is the last of the four miniseries, but then the fifth book, the Omega book, wraps it all up.
JW: With Predator at first there was a drive, at least on my part, to keep Predator sort of loosely connected to the large universe, but as the group and I worked together I started to see areas to blend the books and really make it a cohesive story. And it would be a disservice to the fans and readers to not go where the characters and story takes us.
SA: All the writers and editors are working hard to make each of the four miniseries stand on its own—we made sure every book tells a complete story, every book has a strong start and finish, and is understandable to the reader jumping in without having read the other stuff. But the fact is, this is a big story, it is all very connected, with characters moving from book to book. These seventeen issues aren't the most massive interconnected story comics readers have been asked to check out. But we are working hard to strike a balance to allow each writer to tell a whole story, and each reader to read only the books he wants to read.
HMS: Also at NYCC new casts of characters were mentioned in the books. How do you build up the cast of characters in this book and make them relatable? Are there any characters you particularly identify with on some level?
JW: Working in the room, the writer's group, has allowed us to see the world we're building from different angles and perspectives. Much like the characters within the story are seeing this crazy sci-fi horror story.
SA: One of the things with the Aliens and Predator comics is that you don't have a lot of continuing characters. Every movie kills off the characters, so fans of the franchises are fans of the monsters. Of course there's Ellen Ripley as a big exception, but her and Dutch haven't been available to us. Readers have been able to follow the adventures of various scientists and colonial marines, but I don't think that's really what comics is all about. Comics readers want iconic characters, real dynamic individuals they can fall in love with and follow from book to book. So the goal with these titles is to create those characters, characters we're all gonna want to be telling stories about for years to come.
JW: Galgo's a character that first appears in Prometheus, but makes his way through AVP and into Predator, becoming the main character for my book. Relating to Galgo is easy on a few levels, but without giving too much away, Galgo… is a talker. If anyone has ever met me, they know I am also… a talker. Especially when I'm nervous. Galgo is self centered and has interesting opinions on what it takes to survive. I don't necessary share those opinions, but… I guess I could describe Galgo as a dark version of me. My favorite characters to write are the ones with dark pasts, that are tortured, but hide all of it behind a mischievous smile and wit. So with that said… Galgo has been a blast to write.
Hannah Means-Shannon is EIC at Bleeding Cool and @hannahmenzies on Twitter