Dan Abnett is known for his science fiction. With Legion Of Superheroes for DC and Guardians Of The Galaxy for Marvel he's the perfect fit for another space based comic franchise Battlestar Galactica. Our own Jim Kuhoric got to chat with Abnett about his run on the classic 70s TV series turned comic book.
JIM KUHORIC: Classic Battlestar Galactica is one of the properties that helped to define science fiction in the late 1970s. Were you a fan of the original show before picking up the reins with the new comic book?
DAN ABNETT: Absolutely. I remember going to see the "movie" (which formed the first episodes of the series) at the cinema. BSG on the big screen. It left a lasting impression.
JIM: There have been a lot of Classic Battlestar comics over the years – starting with Marvel and running through a host of indie publishers. What was your approach to starting this new Dynamite series?
DAN: I wanted to write it as a continuation of the show, as if these were new episodes presented in comicbook rather than TV form (an approach that's really popular these days, and which I'm sure previous BSG comic writers have adopted). I also wanted to celebrate the anniversary, and acknowledge as much as possible previous comic continuity (without disappearing into a vortex of unnecessary reference).
DAN: Yes, very much. I think it's very much character driven, and I want to explore those characters, to find out what they are capable of. Hence, for example, the single issue that focused on a day in the life of Athena. I also wanted to increase the cast, to give the TV characters new people to mix with (and to create characters that the reader had no expectations of, thus allowing for much more dynamic and unexpected story threads).
JIM: This new arc of BSG features Commander Adama essentially taking himself out of the role as the leader of the fleet due to the ramifications of the second arc. Some classic fans may really feel that is out of character for the Lorne Greene version of Adama. Is there some light you can shed on what is happening with the Commander and the future of the rag tag fugitive fleet?
DAN: I actually don't think it's out of character. It's certainly shocking and dramatic, but Adama has been at 'the helm' for a long time. That's got to take a toll. He is having a crisis of confidence in his own continuing abilities to lead (he was terribly tricked in the previous arc and he blames himself). His decision is based, as ever, on the welfare and survival of the human race. It's a display of true strength, not weakness or fallibility. He's being a great leader by recognizing what he sees as his own inability to lead.
JIM: Retconning the inconsistency from the BSG pilot where Baltar is killed and the series where he continues on with the Cylons was a fun nod to continuity. Having Baltar essentially being brought back as a Cylon hybrid was brilliant. Are there other original series plot threads you plan to revisit?
DAN: Thanks, Jim :) And yes, there are. Two major ones… that I'm not going to give away yet :)
JIM: Do you find it challenging to capture the voice of the original characters from Battlestar Galactica? With their own dialect quarks and the 35 year old jargon from when it was originally on television it must be tricky to create dialogue.
DAN: I hope I'm doing it well enough. I write the scripts with the actors' voices in my head, and try to put that into the dialogue, perhaps slightly modulated with a more modern idiom to get the speech naturalistic (and thus more character weighted). I then always, during tidy-up and edits, scrupulously check to see if I've used modern words rather than the in-show jargon and terminology, and substitute where needed. Sometimes a substitution doesn't work, or robs a line of power, so I try to strike a decent balance: enough BSG vernacular to make it distinctively BSG, while retaining clarity and strength (because it's written rather than delivered, the oddity of the jargon can sometimes be more jarring).
DAN: Colonial all the way. Somewhere, there's a Viper with my name stenciled under the cockpit.
JIM: What plans do you have for Battlestar Galactica beyond issue #11?
DAN: Issue twelve is a kind of "epilogue" issue to the main story arcs that have run so far, from a very different perspective. Then I embark on a massive six part story, yet to be announced, that deals with one of those plot points you asked about earlier… and it's a shocker!
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Dan Abnett is a seven-times New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning comic book writer. He has written fifty novels, including the acclaimed Gaunt's Ghosts series, the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies, volumes of the million-selling Horus Heresy series, The Silent Stars Go By (the 2011 Christmas Doctor Who novel), Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero, and Embedded. In comics, he is known for his work on The Legion of Super-Heroes, Resurrection Man, The New Mutants, Nova, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, Infinite Crisis, Masters of the Universe, and the Vertigo series The New Deadwardians. A regular contributor to the UK's long-running 2000AD, he is the creator of series including Grey Area, Kingdom and the classic Sinister Dexter. He has also written extensively for the games industry, such as the forthcoming Shadow of Mordor and Alien: Isolation. Dan writes Classic Battlestar Galactica for Dynamite (and is loving every fracking minute of it).