Friday afternoon at New York Comic Con, IDW Publishing announced an upcoming miniseries adaptation of cult Chris Carter TV show “Millennium” written by Joe Harris, who also pens IDW’s “X-Files: Season 10.” Featuring interior art by Colin Lorimer and covers by menton3, series creator Carter will reprise his “Season 10” role as executive producer.
Debuting in 1996 on FOX, “Millennium” followed the exploits of Seattle-based ex-FBI agent Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) as he tracked down serial killers using his paranormal ability to see through the eyes of murderers. The show lasted three seasons before its cancellation in 1999.
Harris spoke about “Millennium” with CBR News before the convention, revealing X-Files Agent Fox Mulder will appearing in the first issue and hinting at plans for both “X-Files: Season 10” and “Harsh Realm” crossovers.
CBR News: Joe, why are you and IDW Publishing coming out with a “Millennium” series now, 15 years after the show left the airwaves?
Joe Harris: I think the success of “The X-Files: Season 10” is what really made all this possible. We’ve worked really hard, on the other book, to make it an authentic experience for fans of the show while pushing to make the series a great read, and comic, in its own right.
IDW Editor-in-Chief, Chris Ryall had first hired me on “The X-Files” after I wrote up a take for where I wanted to push the canonical, comics continuation of that show. IDW loved what I came up with, as did FOX. And when “X-Files” creator Chris Carter put his arm around the venture and really, generously and effusively, validated our efforts, we were off to the races. And it was, I think, back over this past winter when Ryall again approached me about helping bring Chris Carter’s other series, “Millennium,” to comics.
We knew “Millennium” was going to be a different beast, but we also saw the opportunities to tie this all together a bit. “The X-Files” and “Millennium” shared a universe and my head lit up with lots of hooks and departures the stories could share. But, more interestingly, “Millennium” has a ton of great ideas that were never fully explored, along with shifting focuses of the show itself, from the dark and gritty serial killer-hunting going on throughout Season One to the more mythological world-building in Season Two, but all with this one man, Frank Black, caught in the middle.
I get asked about Frank Black a lot when I’m at conventions, and online. People love that character, and are devoted to the show. There’s so much to draw on and build from there, the chance to deliver some new moments makes me really excited.
Honestly, everyone’s been so supportive and appreciative of the work — from the publisher, to the licensor, to the creator and, really importantly, the fans — and that makes it really hard to not want to expand the circle a little.
What types of stories are you planning to tell with this miniseries?
Well, “Millennium” is a really unique concept and series with a lot of divergent ideas. The show really shifted in focus and tone over each of its three seasons on the air and those shifts, combined with its short lifespan, left a lot of unresolved stuff, and a lot of cool ideas that didn’t get to develop over the years, say, “X-Files” had.
Our opening story guest-stars Agent Fox Mulder, who finds himself drawn into something far stranger than he initially realized when a serial killer he helped put away back when he was just a cadet is revealed to be connected to the infamous Millennium Group. But that’s just one facet of this gathering of forces around Frank. It involves demons, the men who would hunt them, and the temptations they offer.
It’s also about a father searching for his lost daughter. Jordan Black was always on track to be more powerful than Frank, with psychic abilities the Millennium Group were determined to add to their roster. The Group wanted her, and Frank risked everything to keep her safe. But now she’s gone, and while Frank is hunting for her, darker forces are hunting them both.
In “The X-Files” episode “Millennium,” we saw Frank stuck in an institution following his harrowing ordeal with the Group, his own losses, and the weight his psychic powers placed on him day after day, case after case. Agents Mulder and Scully solicited his help in stopping a necromancer with Millennium Group connections from triggering the end of the world. The cataclysm was halted. The year 1999 flipped over to 2000 and life went on.
Or did it?
That’s one of the driving elements of this series. We’ll learn that this catastrophic “Millennium Event” everyone was counting down toward during the show did, in fact, take place at the turn of the new century. It’s just been simmering in the background, fucking with the world and steering it toward the apocalypse all along. Now it’s gathering steam, and only Frank can stop it.
Will there be an ongoing series eventually?
I believe our plan is to start with a five-issue series and really re-establish Frank Black, the shadowy remnants of the Millennium Group he once belonged to that turned on him, and which, we think, was dissolved, then gauge the temperature.
What’s it like working with artists Colin Lorimer and menton3 on this project?
First off, Colin has been wonderful. He stepped in and did a fantastic job on the two-issue “X-Files: Season 10” arc we’re in the midst of right now, “Immaculate” which will offer a surprise guest appearance in issue #17 that sets the stage for “Millennium,” the comics series.
And Menton is just a stud. We’ve been lucky to have so many talented cover artists who really love “The X-Files,” from Francesco Francavilla to Charles Paul Willson III to Mark Haley and Carlos Venezuela, but something about Menton’s take on some of the more complex and seamy elements of that mythos, like his incentive covers for issue #3 featuring the Cigarette Smoking Man, or Flukeman from issue #6, just made him the perfect guy to portray Frank Black on the stands.
Is “Millennium” creator and “X-Files: Season 10” executive producer Chris Carter involved in this new series?
Chris has been our “Executive Producer,” trusting my vision to shepherd these stories and characters along. He seems comfortable with me, but he’s reviewing what we do and I expect I’ll know if he’s not happy!
Going back to when it was on the air, why do you think “Millennium” never connected with an audience the way “The X-Files” did?
Well, it’s a headier brew. At its best, “The X-Files” certainly rose above genre trappings and the overall ‘thriller’ genre tag I think you can apply to it. But “Millennium” is more philosophical, more haunting, and, I think, more challenging. It’s a broody, contemplative exploration of the coming apocalypse, the evil outside and, most important, the capacity for evil within.
What were your experiences with the show before being brought on to the comic? What were some of your favorite episodes?
I watched it back when. Definitely not as much as I did “The X-Files,” but I was supportive of what they were trying to do and intrigued by Lance Henriksen’s amazing portrayal of Frank Black. I don’t think I grasped the challenge of falling into this show, back when I was a kid, as much as I dig it now. It’s a meditative experience.
So far as favorite episodes go, I’ve got a bunch, mostly from the first two seasons including “The Judge,” “The Hand of Saint Sebastian,” “A Room With No View,” “The Curse of Frank Black,” “Midnight of the Century,” along with the multi-part serialized episodes like “Owls” and “Roosters.” Season Three’s “Sound of Snow” is a memorable episode, too.
On TV, “Millennium” famously crossed over with “The X-Files.” Since you’re writing both comic books now, could we see those crossover as well?
If I told you those plans, we’d have nothing to talk about next time!
Are there any other classic TV shows you’d like to adapt for comics? Perhaps “Harsh Realm,” Chris Carter’s other FOX show?
Hey, I’m up for it. I suspect we can probably find a place to tease “Harsh Realm” without getting into trouble so keep a look out.
Switching gears to your creator-owned work, what’s going on with your Image series “Great Pacific” at the moment?
We’re presently wrapping up our “Big Game Hunters” arc which has just been a traumatic experience of death, destruction and failed dreams. But both it, and the sadistic villain we recently introduced, Baston Duvalier, are about to reach a pretty twisted and satisfying end.
Soon after that, artist and co-creator Martin Morazzo and I are going to make an announcement regarding some 2015 plans.
“Millennium” #1 will be available in early 2015 from IDW Publishing.