Next year, Red 5 Comics brings back the cult favorite SyFy miniseries “The Lost Room” back for another season. The original miniseries, starring Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Kevin Pollak, has become a critically acclaimed cult-favorite amongst fans since its initial airing. Now, “The Lost Room” creators Laura Harkcom and Christopher Leone are ready to get back into their mysterious abandoned motel room for another run.
The original “The Lost Room” miniseries put its focus on Detective Joe Miller, who discovers a mysterious key to a forty year old motel room detached from the plane of existence. The key turns any door into an enterance for the room. “When he goes into this room, he can come out of the room anywhere in the world, so it becomes this bizarre teleportation device,” explained Leone. “The room has all these very strange properties. Every time he leaves the room, it resets. If you go in and paint the walls or piss on the carpet or whatever, next time you go into the room, it’s exactly how it was – clean and brand new. As a consequence, you can’t leave anything in there because it vanishes.” At the end of the first episode of the miniseries, Miller’s daughter is accidentally reset inside the room and vanishes, leaving the detective to figuratively tear apart the world to get her back.
However, the mystery of the motel room doesn’t end there. The key is merely one of 100 Objects within the room that have supernatural powers – some useful, some not so much. “For instance, there’s a pencil and when you tap it on the table, a penny falls out. That’s it. That’s all it does,” said Leone. “So you could sit there and tap the pencil all day and maybe make five hundred bucks a day tapping a pencil, but that’s it. It’s semi-useful, but you’d drive yourself insane if you tapped a pencil that long. There’s a comb that will stop time for 10 seconds and that could be really useful. There’s a whole range of peculiar Objects and he discovers there’s this whole underground war going on over these things.”
It’s these Objects that help form the main mythology of “The Lost Room.” Different organizations, known in the series as “Cabals,” have formed in this world to collect Objects for their own goals be they good or evil. “Our protagonist has to deal with all these people on his quest, he has to form alliances with some people and becomes enemies with others in his quest to get his daughter back,” said Harkcom. The writers plan to expand this network of organization with season two. “We will be introducing some new Cabals in the comic and they will be examining what’s been going on since the events of the miniseries.”
While Joe Miller’s story may have come to a conclusion by the end of the miniseries (with Miller himself becoming an Object), the ongoing saga of the room itself still has a ways to go – and the direction that Harkcom and Leone are taking with the series tells a story that isn’t really about a single person, but of an Object. “I think the most interesting part of it was actually to follow the journey of the key, not necessarily one character or another,” said Leone. “Our hope in doing it was always to create new protagonists who get the key and have new problems of their own who suddenly have this very important Object and are dealing with it. What we see in the ongoing comic book is at least a new protagonist in the next book and probably further protagonists, if we get farther down the road, who get the key.”
The second season will pick up a year after the events of the televised miniseries and follows the path of a hardened criminal who was framed for the one crime he didn’t commit and finds the mysterious key. However, just because there’s a new Motel Man doesn’t mean that old familiar faces won’t pop in. Making appearances will be drifter Wally Jabrowski, Howard “The Weasel” Montague, Object specialist Dr. Martin Ruber and perhaps even one incredibly familiar face. “We might even see Joe come back eventually, not as the protagonist, but as a part of this universe of ‘The Lost Room,'” said Leone. “But he’s vanished. When the story picks up, nobody knows what happens to him.”
“Now he’s an Object and people are actually calling him The Miller Object and he’s got a mythology building around him as an Object now,” continued Harkcom.
Much of the continuing mystery of “The Lost Room” has to do with the room itself and The Event that caused it to splinter from reality. Occurring at t 1:20:44 p.m. on May 4, 1961, very little is known about how the room actually came to be and how the Objects within were imbued with the supernatural qualities they now possess – will fans finally be able to discover what caused The Event? “The more we talk about it, the more we reveal, but it’s not a simple answer,” said Leone. “It’s not like you’re going to read it and say, ‘Oh, it was aliens.’ You’ll learn more and more about it as we go along, but it’s not like you’re going to read the book and say, ‘There’s the magic bullet.’ We’re not through. There are a lot more stories we want to tell.”
“There is, just so everybody knows, an answer to what The Event was and what caused this fracture in the fabric of time/space,” said Harkcom. “We do have an answer for that, but it’s got some finality to it, so we want to make sure we tell all the stories we want to tell in this world before we blow the big reveal of what that actually was. We have events and are orchestrating some storylines and new characters and events that will lead up to the reveal of what that is.”
“Plus, I think some of the big ideas, you almost need to be walked through it step-by-step to discover the whole logic of it. It’ll take some storytelling to walk through the logic that goes through it. It’s not a simple answer – well, it is, but you need to lead up to it in order to explain it,” continued Leone. “If I just explained it to you, it wouldn’t make any sense. If we walk through the whole thing, then it’s pretty bugged out.”
Both Harkcom and Leone are best known in the comic book community as the creators of “We Kill Monsters.” After their first run in comics, they’re ready to take the lessons they learned with their first comic book endeavor and head back to their original universe. “We did our first comic ‘We Kill Monsters,’ which just came out in trade paperback, but having gone through that process, we learned a lot about writing for comic books. Even though I’ve read ten million comic books, there are basic rules to writing them that are so obvious in hindsight. Just working with an artist – which I love, I love doing that kind of stuff – but I think now we’re in a good stop to go back to ‘The Lost Room,'” said Leone.
“Yeah I think this might be a little easier for us than ‘We Kill Monsters’ because we had a bigger learning curve for that than we will on this,” continued Harkcom. “So many of these ideas have already been floating around in our head for a couple of years and we have a pretty clear idea of how we want to execute them for the comic. Because we have so many ideas, maybe the biggest challenge will be to parcel them out in a way that’s not overwhelming or convoluted. It is, as Chris was saying before, a fairly complex setting to begin with for people who aren’t familiar with the series. We just want to make sure what the world is and how it works is clear to our readers before we jump in and start telling these stories.”
As for the transition from television to print, the creators are actively excited to take the leap. “It seems like a pretty natural transition. Comic books are obviously very visual storytelling. I think it’s actually a fun way to step through visually,” Leone told CBR. “Really what the objects are based on is rules more than anything. I think comics are actually a fun way to play with that. Like, this is the rule: you touch a bus ticket and the next second, they’re in this little spot outside New Mexico and they don’t know where they are. Once you establish the rule, you can play with the point of view and everything else, but I think it’s much more about that. In some ways, it’s really fun play with that in a comic book.”
While you can discover for yourself some of the odd and useful abilities each of these objects have, Harkcom and Leone have their own personal favorites that they’d like to have in their everyday lives. “There’s an object coming up that I would like to have but I can’t really talk about that,” said Leone. “The key originated from [‘The Lost Room’ series co-creator] Paul Workman. The fun thing about the key is that if you have it, you don’t really need a job anymore. You don’t have to pay rent, you have someplace to live, you don’t need a car because you can travel anywhere with a door, you don’t need a maid because the room resets itself. You still need food and money but with a key that opens anywhere that wouldn’t be too difficult. You could eat a five-star dinner, then go to the bathroom and they would never see you again! A lot of objects are fun or useful, but for me, the key is the one.”
For Harkcom, the answer was decidedly more practical. “I would definitely use the wristwatch that hard-boils eggs because I love hard-boiled eggs,” she laughed. “That would be very convenient for me.”
As for plans for the franchise beyond season two, the sky’s the limit as far as the creators are concerned. “We would love any medium. We just want to continue telling the stories,” said Harkcom. “If this reignites interest in the series, that would be great. Chris and I have toyed around with maybe a two-hour movie.”
“I always thought it would be cool as a video game,” continued Leone. “For us doing this, it’s really a labor of love. It’s a project that we love and are obsessed with. We just want to do it. We have all these ideas and stories that we can’t tell any other way. It depends on these objects that don’t really make sense in other formats. For us, it’s just a chance to tell some of these ideas that we have. Now, as I said, I think an audience has actually built up for this now that would be into reading more. In that way, it’s almost selfish [Laughs]. I want to do more of this and it’s fun to jump back into this universe we created.”